How to cook: an awesome easy chilli

This is one of my most favourite recipes and I'm really happy to be sharing it with you! As with all of my cooking, it's very simple to do. I gave my boyfriend this recipe for him to take home and try - because he enjoys it so much! - and he did a brilliant job. Although he did add baked beans which I thoroughly told him off for!! Since it's initial release in April 2013 I have tweaked this recipe ever-so-slightly for the Currys Student Cookbook, due for release in September 2014! 

The key here is taste, taste, taste and add your spices a little at a time; which is why you'll see I use a teaspoon (tsp) measurement throughout this recipe. Everyone is different, some like it hot while others prefer the gentle hum of mild chilli. This recipe is a great base to use, and adjust to your own preferences once you're familiar with it.

I used a slow cooker in this recipe, but you can always use a casserole dish instead. This makes enough for about 6 people, so you may well have leftovers to freeze or have later in the week. I love batch cooking. 

So here we go!

As you can see, I got very lucky when I went to Tesco and managed to get the mince for just 95p per pack! That is what made me decide to cook this which threw my entire shop into disarray but thankfully I still had enough spices in the cupboard to get the job done!
  • 750g lean beef mince, extra lean doesn't work as well
  •  3 peppers, not green!!!!
  •  2 small-medium onions
  •  1 garlic clove, you might need more
  •  1 tin condensed tomato soup, vital!!
  •  1 tin chopped tomatoes
  •  1 tin kidney beans
  •  3 beef oxo cubes
  •  mild chilli powder
  •  cayenne pepper
  •  paprika
  •  crushed chillis
  •  coarse salt
  •  ground black pepper
  •  dried mixed herbs
  •  fry light or olive oil
  •  high sided pan
  •  wide based frying pan
  •  slow cooker or casserole dish
  •  colander
  •  garlic crusher
  •  freshly boiled water

The first job we have to do is get the mince cooking, so heat up your pan on a high heat and add a little bit of oil. Add your mince and separate it up making sure you don't have any meatballs in there. Turn the heat down to low. Add a good amount of salt and pepper, then crumble in your oxo cubes. Mix well to ensure there is an even coating and leave to brown, stirring frequently. 

Hopefully your pan is big enough to empty out all three packets out into the pan at once, but if not, brown them off separately and just tip it into a bowl while you do the next pack then combine them again once they're all done and season as above.

Once the mince is fully browned it's time to add the first batch of spices: 2tsp paprika, 1tsp cayenne, 1tsp crushed chilli and 3tsp mild chilli powder. Mix well and add a little splash of water from the kettle. Leave to simmer gently on lowest heat. 

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

Now it's time to chop the onions. I know, this bit sucks. You don't have to dice them up or anything fancy, just do the best you can to get them fairly thin. 

This is what I do: 

ThatRedheadSaid : how to chop an onion

Chop in half. Slice as thin as safely possible across the width of the onion. Hold the ends together then just slice down the length of the onion through the middle. Repeat and voila. Two chopped onions!

Now it's time to leave the kitchen for a moment, wash your hands and dry your eyes!

During this process it's important to keep an eye on the mince, keep stirring it and add more water if it's looking a bit too thick or is sticking. The mince should be able to move around easily. Don't worry about making it too thin, we've got a lot of cooking time left so it will reduce down vastly! 

Turn on your frying pan, add a little bit of oil and heat on high until the oil is hot enough, then add the onions with a sprinkling of salt. Mix the onions in the oil and turn the heat down to a medium-low, as we want to soften the onions without giving them much colour.

Check the mince.

Now we need to prepare our peppers. During this part you need to keep checking both pans, which is why they are on such a low heat. We don't want them to run away with us and cause stress. My kitchen is always a stress free zone!!

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilliThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

To speed up the process of getting our peppers ready, I use this method: Chop off the very top part of the pepper to reveal the remainder of the stem and the membrane. Using a small knife, run it around the edge of the pepper to disconnect the membrane. Get your fingers in two of the gaps, and pull upwards. You will be able to pull out the seeds and most of the membrane, leaving you a tiny amount to remove before you slice it up. Easy!

I absolutely love how colourful this is. You can chop your peppers any way you like. I like to cut each pepper differently but leave them big enough to hold their shape and flavour when they've been cooked. The reason I don't use green peppers is because they're a dull colour and bring nothing to the flavour party.

If your onions cook before you're ready for them, turn off the heat and cover.  The lid from my the sautee pan I'm using conveniently fits perfectly on my frying pan! Once you're ready to add the onions to the mince, add 1tsp dried herbs along with the onions and mix well.

Add water as needed.

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilliThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

Turn the heat back on your frying pan along with adding a little oil to heat up for the peppers. Add once the oil is hot enough with a small amount of salt. Turn the heat to a medium-low and leave to colour slightly, turning often to make sure they don't burn.


Obviously, be careful because it will be very hot! The flavour will be rather intense at this stage, but that's ok. The mince is what is holding all the spices for when we add more liquid ingredients soon. It will calm down, I promise!! What we're looking for here is a balance of flavours. I am adding 1 and a half teaspoons of dried mixed herbs and water. 

If you want to use hot chilli powder now is your first opportunity. I would suggest starting with 1 teaspoon for now and seeing how it develops until we adjust the spices again later on in the recipe. 

Check on your peppers and give them a good mix around in the saucepan. They should be nearly done. 

Now we're ready for our kidney beans; so drain them all out into a colander and rinse them thoroughly under cold water. The starchy water they have been sitting in tastes horrific and we don't want that anywhere near our chilli!! Leave them to drain for a moment.

My pan is getting pretty full now so I'm going to transfer out the mince and onions into the slow cooker pot before adding anything else and making life difficult for myself. The extra space is really useful at the stage because we're going to be adding a lot more elements now and getting everything mixed in well is essential.

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

This is what you're after with your peppers. They should be softened, but not falling apart or turning to mush, and have a slight char to their skins. When you're ready, mix the peppers into the mince. We're not far off now. If you're using a slow cooker make sure it's on high, or if you're using an oven turn it on and pre-heat to 180 degrees. 

Now we're going to start adjusting the overall flavour of our chilli. To give it a little extra something garlic works great, so grab your garlic crusher and add one clove to start with.

My garlic is from Abel and Cole and is a lot stronger than what you will find in Tesco or Sainsburys, which is why I really recommend adding one at a time and tasting as you go. You don't want it to be an over-whelming flavour, but an almost soothing element on the after-taste. Plus it's wonderful smell works so well with the spices. Here, one was enough.

Now it's time to add the kidney beans and the tin of chopped tomatoes.

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli


You should really start to notice a difference between now and the first tasting! Add 1 tin of condensed soup, fill the can two thirds of the way with water from the kettle, mix around to get any leftover soup and mix very well.


What's the verdict now? If it seems watery, don't worry, it will reduce down. Worst case scenario, if after cooking it's still too thin you can use a little bit of cornflour. That stuff is like the batman of cookery.

This is our last chance to adjust the overall flavour of our chilli.

As I want my chilli to have a gentle hum of heat and lots of spice flavour, I am going to add: 1tsp paprika, 1tsp mild chilli powder and 1tsp dried herbs. If you wanted more heat, just swap out the mild chilli powder for hot.


For me, this is pretty much perfect.

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

If you want more heat, go for it, but maybe try adding a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper rather than hot chilli powder. Remember: You can always add but you can't take away and tasting as you go is vital when you're using so many different spices.

Your chilli needs to cook for at least 30 minutes.

ThatRedheadSaid : How to cook an awesome easy chilli

Awesome job!

As always; please leave comments or questions here or tweet me. 

Happy cooking and don't forget to keep checking the Currys Student Cookbook for more amazing recipes!! 


  1. This sounds so lovely!! I'm on a bit of a cooking phase at the moment and this sounds so simple :) definitely Going to give it a go xxx

    1. Ohhhh how exciting!!! :) pleeeease let me know how you get on! xxx

    2. I'll keep you posted :D will most likely be burnt beyond belief ahha worst chef!xxx

    3. If my boyfriend was able to follow the recipe and not make a total hash of it, anyone can ;) his cooking skill was terrifying before I started helping him!! Haha!! Plus you can't burn it - remember all the water you keep adding throughout the recipe? :) Aah, I'm all excited now! xx

  2. Thanks for posting this.This is awesome!!

  3. This looks delicious! I love chilli but haven't made it in ages, I'm sure this would work with Quorn mince too!

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches


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