Cozy up to a warming recipe for hearty and flavor-packed Chipotle Chili con Carne. It’s a satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs type of chili. Less beans, more beef and a bit of bacon to top it all off. And speaking of toppings… Grab the sour cream, cheese, crispy bacon, scallions and optional hint of heat from jalapeños to make this meal-in-a-bowl a meal-time slam-dunk. And don’t forget the cornbread!
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Few foods are more comforting than a big ol’ bowl of chili. I’ve whipped up many varieties over time, with the list of ingredients stretching far and wide. In fact, I’d say chili is one of my all-time favorite comfort food recipes ever.
What is chipotle chili con carne? Essentially, it’s chili made with meat and chipotle chiles (I like to use canned chipotle chiles in adobo for their smokey heat). Unlike traditional chili or even other chili con carne recipes that use ground meat, my recipe calls for chunks of beef chuck, which are browned and then simmered to make them incredibly tender. Before doing anything else, though, I cook bacon and then use the bacon fat to brown the beef and veggies. This adds so much flavor.
Topped with more crumbled bacon, grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream and served with my cheddar biscuits, it’s exactly what I want to eat when it’s cold outside (or on gameday!).
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Bold and smoky flavor.
- One-pot dish.
- Serves a crowd.
- Ultra comforting.
- Bacon: You’ll use the bacon fat for browning the meat and cooking the veggies and the reserved cooked bacon in the chili.
- Boneless beef chuck: Beef chuck will be cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes for this recipe. This cut of meat likes a good, long simmer to become tender… which is exactly what you’ll be doing here! If you can’t find boneless beef chuck, try top-blade roast.
- Onion, bell pepper and garlic: This trio makes up your aromatics. They add loads of flavor, as well as some sneaky veggies into each serving.
- Cocoa powder: This might seem like an odd ingredient, but cocoa powder adds a subtle richness and depth to the chili, enhancing the savory flavors. Make sure you use the unsweetened variety.
- Ground cumin: Provides warm and earthy notes, a key spice in chili recipes.
- Bay leaf: While you may be wondering, “Do bay leaves really do anything?” The answer is yes! Adding a bay leaf lends a subtle herby, oregano-like flavor.
- Diced tomatoes: You’ll need two large cans of diced tomatoes for this recipe. If you want to amp up the smokiness, you could swap half of the amount for fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Chipotle chiles in adobo:
This is what will add a kick to your chipotle con carne! Feel free to use more if you prefer a spicier flavor.
- Kidney beans: I like kidney beans for their mild flavor and creamy texture.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Cook the bacon. Brown chopped bacon in a large, heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and keep the fat in the pot.
- Sear the beef. Season the beef chuck pieces with salt and pepper. Then, cooking in batches to avoid overcrowding, sear the meat until browned all over (about 5 minutes per batch). Then, transfer to a plate.
- Saute the veggies. Pour out all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Saute until they start to brown, stirring intermittently.
- Build flavors. Add the cocoa powder and cumin to the veggies, sauteeing until fragrant (about a minute). Then, add the beef and any accumulated juices back to the pot.
- Simmer. Add the tomatoes and chiles to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover. Cook the chili for about 3 hours or until the beef is extremely tender.
- Boil the chili. Uncover the pot, increase the heat and let the chili boil for about 10 minutes or until it has thickened.
- Add the beans. Stir in the kidney beans and season the chili with salt and pepper, simmering for 5 minutes. Then, stir in the reserved bacon.
- Serve. Serve with any and all of the toppings!
Pro Tip: You’ll want to drain and rinse the kidney beans well. A fine mesh strainer (or a colander) is the easiest tool for the job. Rinse the beans until any foaming subsides.
For those with a love of all things cooked low and slow, I’ve got my go-to Slow Cooker Chicken Chili (with a little something special to up the taste factor), and for those longing for an autumnal spin (plus added nutrients and vitamins), it’s Pumpkin Turkey Chili.
But I couldn’t stop there! If it happens to be the post-holiday “What’s for dinner?” conundrum, it’s 30-Minute Leftover Turkey Chili for the quick-fix winner.
And last, but certainly not least, polar opposite of what I’m dishing up here, I’ve got my veggie lovers covered with The Best Vegetarian Chili. Beans, beans and more beans!
- Browning the Beef: While it’s tempting to speed up the beef-browning process, take your time to really let each batch brown fully. It’s that browning that contributes an intensely rich flavor to the chili.
- Meal Prep Tip: This chili tastes great (and even better!) on the second day, so feel free to make it a night in advance and keep it in the fridge before rewarming and serving.
- A Prep Tip: Coring a bell pepper is actually easy! Simply slice off the top and stem, then pull the core of the seeds out of the bell pepper. After that, slice the bell pepper in half vertically and brush away any errant seeds.
Leftover chili can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
You can also freeze the chili for up to 3 months. Simply let cool completely, then place into an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag (this will save space in your freezer!). You can also freeze individual portions of the chili in smaller containers. If you’re using containers, leave some space at the top to allow for expansion as the chili freezes. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
While chili’s toppings are uber important and customizable, so is what’s served alongside it! Here are some things I recommend:
- Easy Homemade Dinner Rolls
- Simple Skillet Cornbread (with or without Cowboy Butter)
- Secret Ingredient Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Easy Homemade Bread (No Yeast)
- Quick Homemade Garlic Knots
- 30-Minute Homemade Flour Tortillas
Frequently Asked Questions
While chili can be made with a variety of meat (chicken, pork, turkey, beef and even meatless meat), it can also be totally vegetarian—relying just on beans for its bulk like in my The Best Vegetarian Chili. Chili con carne is only made with meat, however, as its name means “chili with meat.”
Chili con carne is typically made up of meat (ground or larger pieces), beans, chopped vegetables, tomatoes, chiles and spices.
A long simmer time builds tons of flavor in chili. I also love to add a little unsweetened cocoa powder, which really compliments the savory ingredients and flavors.
- Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Salsa Corn Chowder
- Chicken Wild Rice Soup
- Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup
- Quick Tortellini Soup with Greens
- 8 slices bacon, chopped
- 4 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 1/2 cups diced onions
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 (28-oz.) cans diced tomatoes in liquid
- 2 Tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
- 2 (15-oz.) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Assorted toppings, such as shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and scallions
- Cook the bacon in a large, heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat until browned. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve all of the bacon drippings in the pot.
- Season the beef chunks with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté the beef chunks, in 4 to 5 batches (so the pieces aren't overcrowded), in the bacon drippings for 5 minutes per batch until they're browned. Transfer the beef to a plate.
- Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pot (add vegetable oil if you don’t have enough fat left), reduce the heat to medium, and then add the onions, peppers and garlic. Sauté the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cocoa powder and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Return the beef, along with any juices, to the pot. Stir in the bay leaf, diced tomatoes (with liquid) and chipotles in adobo. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cover the pot.
- Simmer the mixture (covered), stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours.
- Uncover the pot and increase the heat to a boil. Boil the chili, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until it thickens slightly.
- Stir in the kidney beans and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the chili for 5 minutes and then stir in the reserved bacon. Serve the chili with assorted toppings.
- While it’s tempting to speed up the beef-browning process, take your time to really let each batch brown fully. It’s that browning that contributes an intensely rich flavor to the chili.
- This chili tastes great (and even better!) on the second day, so feel free to make it a night in advance and keep it in the fridge before rewarming and serving.
- Coring a bell pepper is actually easy! Simply slice off the top and stem, then pull the core of the seeds out of the bell pepper. After that, slice the bell pepper in half vertically and brush away any errant seeds.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
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