chilli sin carne

What you’ll get

This is a very hot and rich, vegan chilli con carne. Scotch bonnets are the star of the show here. They have a delicious flavour and will add a nice heat and spice.

I like to serve this with rice and freshly made guacamole (smashed avocadoes, chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh lime juice, fresh coriander, salt) to balance some of the heat.

What you’ll need


  • cooking oil
  • cumin seeds
  • corainder seeds
  • onion
  • garlic
  • scotch bonnet chillies - for 1 pack of mince, I usually use 2 chillies, seeds and all, but this works fine with just 1 (or scrape the seeds out of 2) if you’re not as tolerant of heat
  • ground paprika - I use smoked paprika if I have some, but unsmoked works fine
  • vegan mince - my preferred mince is Meatless Farm’s plant-based mince but use whatever you’re comfortable with
  • salt - I use flaked sea salt
  • tomato paste
  • tinned tomatoes
  • tinned kidney beans
  • tinned black beans
  • lemon juice
  • vinegar - I prefer cider or red wine vinegar
  • red pepper - I often forget to put this in, so it’s not essential
  • fresh coriander
  • black pepper - I prefer fresh coarsely ground pepper
  • sesame oil


  • sharp knife
  • chopping board
  • large pan
  • cooking spoon

I use a big Anolon casserole pan I’ve had for years - good for frying with enough space for making the sauce without needing a second pan. If you don’t have an option like that, you might want to start with a frying pan for the dry ingredients and transfer it all to a separate saucepan before adding the wet ingredients.


  • 1 hob ring


~1 hour

What to do

  1. [Act] Drain and rinse the tinned kidney beans and tinned black beans.

  2. [Act] De-seed and chop the red pepper. Aim for pieces that would easily fit on a fork with a mouthful of other stuff.

  3. [Act] Chop the onion however you prefer. I do thin half-rings, but I quite like the pulpy onion result (and I’m too lazy to dice them).

  4. [Act] Finely dice the garlic and scotch bonnet chillies.

    Tip: If you’ve never cooked with scotch bonnets before, be careful. They’re spicier than most chillies you’ll probably have cooked with and they will turn your fingers into weapons. Wash your hands well immediately after handling them or wear gloves (and still be careful around your eyes and nethers for the rest of the day).

    Tip: The hottest part of a chilli is the pith - the white flesh on the inside. If you want to keep the flavour of the chilli but reduce the heat, carefully scrape the pith and seeds out with the tip of your knife before chopping. I like the heat, so often leave it in depending on who’s eating. Check with the people you’re cooking for before you make assumptions about their heat tolerance.

    Tip: I use a knife for everything, but if you want, you could use a food processor for these. But clean it well or everything will taste like scotch bonnets for a while.

  5. [Act] Add cooking oil to the saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to temperature. You want just enough to submerge and deep fry the spices.

  6. [Act] Add cumin seeds and coriander seeds to the hot oil and fry for a couple of minutes until they start to brown. I use about twice the volume of cumin compared to coriander, and enough of both to cover the the base of the pan.

    Important: The oil needs to be hot before you start cooking or the spices will get soggy before they get a chance to fry.

    Tip: Frying your spices opens up their flavour, but be careful not to burn them. They’re going to carry on cooking while you cook the other dry ingredients, so don’t overdo it.

  7. [Act] Turn the heat down a little to a medium and add the chopped onions. Fry until they start to go translucent.

  8. [Act] Add the chopped garlic and chopped chillies and fry for a minute or so.

    Tip: Frying the chillies will probably release lots of capsaicin into the air (🤓), making it very spicy, which will make people cough. Open some windows and turn on the extractor to its maximum. If you have guests, maybe make sure they have somewhere else to be that isn’t the kitchen. Or don’t and make it part of the fun?

    Tip: Lots of people add their garlic at the same time as their onions, but that means the garlic cooks for too long in my opinion and often burns. You do want to fry it a little to unlock the flavour, but that doesn’t take long at all, and it will keep cooking in the sauce, so it won’t end up raw. If you do want some of the sharpness of raw garlic, you can cut bigger pieces, or even put in whole cloves, and have little garlic bombs.

  9. [Act] Add the vegan mince and generous salt and paprika, and fry until lightly browned.

    Tip: Vegan mince tends to be very dry and suck up all the oil, which can lead to it sticking and burning. Feel free to add more as needed. I usually end up topping up the oil a couple of times at least.

    Tip: I sometimes go for a darker browning if I want a sharper flavour overall. Some charring of the mince, onions, and chillies can add some slight bitterness, which can be a nice addition, but don’t actually burn it!

  10. [Act] Add a generous squeeze of tomato paste, the tinned tomatoes, the rinsed kidney beans, the rinsed black beans, the chopped red pepper, a generous amount of lemon juice, and a glug of vinegar. Stir in and bring to a low boil.

    Tip: Measuring amounts is hard, so if you’re not sure how much tomato paste, lemon juice, or vinegar to add, add less than you think, let it cook in a bit, taste it, and adjust as needed. The flavour will develop over time as it cooks, so you should be looking for the right level of sweetness and acidity, not for whether or not you can taste the individual ingredients.

    Tip: If you’re a patient cook, you might prefer to wait before adding the beans and red pepper until 30 minutes from the end, so they don’t disintegrate. You want them to be soft, but still hold their form.

  11. [Wait] Simmer for 30 minutes or so, or longer if you have the patience (I don’t). Taste it as it cooks and adjust seasoning (salt, lemon juice, vinegar, tomato paste) as needed.

    Tip: The longer this cooks, the richer the flavours will get.

    Tip: Put a lid on it to keep it wet, or leave it open to let it reduce down. I like my chilli thick, so I leave it open, but it’s up to you how you prefer it.

  12. [Act] Roughly chop the fresh coriander.

    Tip: Use all of the above-ground coriander plant: stems and leaves. Don’t ignore the stems - they’re full of flavour (try chewing on one).

  13. [Act] Once the chilli’s cooked to the consistency and richness of flavour you want, take it off the heat. Add the chopped coriander, the black pepper, a drizzle of sesame oil, and any last salt needed. Stir it all in and serve.

    Tip: Don’t use too much sesame oil. It’s a strong flavour which can easily overpower some of the more subtle flavours if you’re not careful.