It seems like I’m on a savoury kick at the moment; little sweet baking is going on in the Apple Chapel. I kinda have baker’s block – there are ideas for new bakes and countless recipes to do on my ever expanding list but I find myself not tempted enough to bake. Fortunately, rumour has it there is more to life than cake and as we are trying to pinch the pennies at the mo to pay back the last of the student/wedding debt.

Meaning, recipes like my Whole Spice Chilli are being cooked in lieu of rows of beautiful friands, collections of cupcakes or delicious donuts.  A big pan of chilli is a very economical dish and perfect to bag up and freeze in individual portions for days when you’re too tired to cook, too tired to shop or it’s simply nearly payday and you’re just too broke for anything else!

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Like my lasagne, this recipe has evolved over the years and being tweaked on many occasion. I will admit now that back in my early student days, I would only make chilli using a Schwartz packet mix (the hot and spicy one please) and it took some time to become confident enough with spices to make something thoroughly homemade and more wholesome. It has since graced the tables of mine and Hungry Hubby’s homes and also many a family party in its various renditions.

Boiled rice, crusty bread, heaps of green salad, corn bread, sweet corn pudding, baked potatoes both sweet and white, even just cheese or guacamole have been the supporting roles to the star of the show chilli. Did I mention that it goes beautifully with a sweet potato and spring onion waffle or two?  A bowlful of plain yogurt is handy to have on standby in case you’ve lost the game of chilli roulette and it’s burning with the power of a thousand hell fires 😉


A brilliant recipe to have in your “homemade and wholesome” arsenal, a good chilli is an essential in my mind. In my student days, I didn’t always have a glass full of red wine hanging around to slosh in the pan so in case you don’t either, add a little extra tomato puree and even a squirt of ketchup to enrich your dish.

Whilst it clearly is a carnivore’s dinner as stands, the meat is definitely a minor part of this dish with the whole spices and vegetables really making it what it is. I find a great way of sneaking in extra veg. Depending on what is lurking in my veg drawer, store cupboard or deep freeze you may find cubed up carrots, diced broccoli, baby mushrooms, frozen mixed veg or extra cans of beans – cannellini, haricot, black and borlotti are all good. Which helps stretch each portion further both cost wise and nutritionally too. A win-win din dins if ever there was one!

Whole Spice Chilli con Carne

This is one dish I really do like to be hot and fiery so there is quite a bit of chilli in it. Do quench the flames if you must and remember, not all fresh or dried chillies are created equal and if you really can’t take the heat then please err on the side of caution and add more at the end. I’ll be back baking something sweet if not something to go in your bread basket before you know it 🙂

5 from 1 vote
Whole spice chilli con carne
Whole Spice Chilli

Whether you make it on the stove top or in your Instant Pot, this chilli is full flavoured and delicious. A great dish to make and freeze in portions for hungry and tired days ahead. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: English
Servings: 6 people
: 201 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 cm cassia bark or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 rounded tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2-3 fat red chillies finely chopped (adjust to your taste)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli powder or paste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 200 ml red wine approx
  • 500 g lean beef mince
  • 1 can of tomatoes approx 400g
  • 1 can kidney beans thoroughly washed and drained
  • 1 small can of sweetcorn approx 200-300g
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
Stovetop Cooking Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, stovetop safe casserole or wide deep frying pan – it just needs a lid then add the whole spices and sizzle for a minute until they release their aroma. 

  2. Add the onion and cook until soft and brown around the edges. Add in the garlic and chilli, cooking for a minute until fragrant. 

  3. Add the beef mince and allow to cook, stirring regularly until no pink remains. Add the wine and when reduced by half, add the canned tomatoes, a full can of water and the tomato pureée. 

  4. Now bring to the boil stirring well then reduce to barely a simmer and partially cover. Cook on the stove top for at least 40 minutes, two hours would be ideal. If it looks dry add a splash more water and stir on occasion to ensure it’s not sticking.
  5. When the mince has cooked, it will be rich and the sauce thick – at this point you can add in your beans and sweetcorn heating them through for 5 minutes or so before serving. If you chose to add extra veg, just be mindful that frozen or large pieces may need 20 minutes to cook through in the chilli.
Instant Pot Cooking Method:
  1. OPTIONAL: If you want to, you can cook 100g dried kidney beans in the Instant Pot for 25 mins on Manual High. Make sure there are a couple of inches worth of water above the beans and when cooked, rinse and drain them well. Wash the pot before cooking the rest of the chilli. 

  2. Essentially proceed as above but use the Sauté mode to cook the onions, spices, and brown the beef. 

  3. Add only a half can of water instead of a full one and be sure to stir very well so the tomatoes are well distributed throughout the chilli. Place the lid on, close the valve and cook on Manual High for 15 mins. NPR.

  4. When the pressure has released, take the lid off and turn Sauté on once more. Stir in the kidney beans and sweetcorn and allow to warm through as the chilli reduces and thickens. Stir occasionally. 

Recipe Notes

You can cook this chilli from frozen in the Instant Pot. Simply tip the frozen chilli into the pot and add 1/4 cup of water. Cook on Manual High for 15 mins and when done, NPR and stir very well. Taste for seasoning and use Sauté to thicken it if needed. 

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