Everybody loves a good chilli con carne. Our healthy version is full of vegetables and low in fat but still packed with layers of great flavour.
Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean compromising on flavour. If you are looking to cut down on calories or reduce your salt intake, this chilli con carne recipe is a great place to start.
The secret is really in the spices, which create layers of amazing flavour without adding fat or sodium.
This is a great recipe for the colder months, when you’re looking for something cosy and delicious, warming and filling but good for you to.
This may not be the speediest recipe but it’s easy enough for a beginner and we find it goes down a treat if you have friends over.
What makes this chilli con carne healthy?
We’ve opted for reduced fat minced beef and used a slightly smaller amount than most chilli recipes. You still get that rich meaty flavour but you reduce how much saturated fat you’re consuming. Using olive oil adds healthy monounsaturated fats.
If you want to be even healthier, you can replace beef mince with turkey mince. It has a slightly different flavour but is still really tasty and is a much leaner meat.
Both types of mince will provide a nice amount of protein, which is bolstered by the addition of kidney beans. Many people worry that they won’t get enough protein if they don’t eat meat, but actually beans and pulses are a great source of this nutrient.
Kidney beans also provide one of the four portions of vegetables in this recipe.
When it comes to toppings, we like to finish our chilli con carne with a dollop of fat-free yoghurt (instead of soured cream), sliced radishes, a sprinkling of chopped spring onions and perhaps a small grating of cheese.
Without the sides and toppings, this recipe contains under 350 calories. Depending on the advice of your doctor or dietician, you may want to increase the portion size by serving alongside a wholemeal flatbread or a portion of brown rice.
Choosing brown and wholemeal options ups the fibre content, which is something around 90% of people don’t eat enough of. Fibre is not only good for you, it also helps you feel fuller for longer.
How to cook this chilli con carne recipe
Like most good recipes, this chilli con carne starts with onions and garlic. These are cooked gently until they just start to colour.
If you like your food extra spicy, you could try chopping up a couple of fresh chillies and adding them to the pan too.
Once the onions have softened, add the mince and cook until browned, breaking it up into chunks as you go.
Next come the herbs and spices, which all get added at once. You’ll get the best flavour from cooking them for a couple of minutes with the mince and onions (before you add the tomatoes). But be careful they don’t catch and burn.
Now it’s time to add in the tomatoes and puree, peppers, beans, stock cube and Worcestershire sauce. If you don’t have a stock cube to hand, you can add your own salt and pepper to taste, however we find using a cube (especially a low sodium version) is a helpful way to control how much salt you’re adding overall.
Bring everything to the boil, stir really well and reduce to a simmer. Now just let your chilli con carne bubble away until it’s reduced to the thickness you like and all the flavours have melded perfectly.
Although you can eat this after just 20 minutes of simmering, we recommend leaving it for longer to get the best tasting chilli. You don’t need to keep a close eye on it, just give it a stir every five minutes or so and top it up with a splash of water if it looks dry.
If you have a slow cooker, you could easily adapt this recipe for it. Simply fry the mince to brown it, and ideally the onions too if you have time, then add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Healthy chilli con carne recipe
Makes 6 portions
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 white onions, finely chopped
500g turkey mince or 5% fat beef mince
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 red peppers, diced
2 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 reduced salt beef stock cube
Wholemeal flatbreads or rolls
Finely sliced radishes and spring onions
Fat free natural yoghurt
A small sprinkling of grated cheese
1. Heat the oil in a large, thick-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and just starting to colour.
2. Add the mince and cook until browned, breaking up as you go.
3. Add the chilli powder, oregano, cayenne, cumin, coriander and black pepper and stir for a minute or two to slightly cook the spices.
4. Now add the tomatoes, red peppers, kidney beans, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce. Crumble in the stock cube and stir well to combine.
5. Bring to a boil then turn down to a gentle simmer. Leave it simmering for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing catches and adding a little water if it starts to thicken too much. The flavours will intensify the longer you cook it.
6. Ladle into deep bowls and scatter over sliced radishes, spring onions, a small grating of cheese and a dollop of fat free natural yoghurt. Serve with wholemeal rolls or flatbreads, or a small portion of brown rice.
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