Low Carb Chili Con Carne
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The hot summer days are getting shorter and the nights are starting to feel longer. As I sit out on our balcony drinking my morning coffee writing about my favourite spicy meat stew, I can feel a familiar chill in the air, my balcony garden has all but stopped growing, and some of the seasonal plants have even started to die off.
All these signs point to one thing, I’m bad at gardening…No wait, Fall is coming..
As the cool fall air begins to creep into your home, you need something hearty, warm and comforting like my low carb chili con carne.
What Is Chili Con Carne?
Chili con carne, literally means chili with meat, and that’s exactly what it is. You may know it by the more common shorthand, ‘chili’. As in, “Let’s have a bowl of chili to warm our soul on this cool fall day”. But there is just something about the way ‘chili con carne’ rolls off the tongue, so I think we will stick with it.
What Is In Low Carb Chili Con Carne?
Chili purist trigger warning: In some parts of the world, cooking chili is a big deal, and people take it seriously. There are many nationwide chili cook-offs in North America every year, some with very specific rules about what constitutes a chili, and what doesn’t.
The online world is full of debates about what should, and what should not go into chili con carne. Some claiming that ingredients like beans and even tomatoes don’t belong in a true chili con carne. So to any chili purist reading, understand this isn’t about making a 100% pure authentic chili con carne. This is about making a 100% delicious low carb chili con carne.
Some ingredients were chosen because I just like them in chili, and others were chosen as low carb replacements. At the end of it all, what we end up with is a hearty, comforting, and warming bowl of chili with only 8g net carbs to keep you cozy on those cool days ahead.
Here are the ingredients in my low carb chili con carne:
- Dry Chorizo sausage
- Ground beef
- Dried Red chili
- Bay leaf
- Sweet bell pepper
- Fresh Jalapeno pepper
- Canned Tomatoes
- Dry Red Wine
- Black Beans
- Green onion
- Fresh Cilantro
Let’s talk a bit about the ingredients used, and how you can change them up to your liking.
The “chili” part of the chili con carne
I use the peppers I have on hand at the time. A sweet red, yellow or orange pepper, and a few fresh jalapeno peppers add a great amount of flavour while keeping the spice level tolerable. I kick that up a notch with some whole dried red chili, cayenne powder, and paprika.
You can moderate the spice level as you feel fit, remember you can always add more spice, but it’s hard to dial back once it’s in there.
If you are growing your own hot chili peppers like mine, which were featured in the summer 2020 seasonal highlight newsletter, (which you would know if you were part of our gang because it would be sitting in your inbox! So join the gang already!)
then chili con carne is a great dish to display those homegrown flavours and spices. Not to mention use up the massive yield of peppers you get from each bush!
Not mine though…I got literally 4 and they sucked. My green thumb is still a work in progress.
‘Con’ Carne (With Meat)
Starting with a dry cured fatty spiced sausage like Spanish chorizo is a great way to add flavour and depth to a pot of homemade chili. Slowly rendering off the chorizo releases a wonderful spiced red fat which is the only cooking oil you will need to make this recipe. No additional cooking oil required.
I like to use the hard cured chorizo but use what you have available to you.
If you can’t find dry cured chorizo or it’s too pricey, go to the corner store or gas station, and buy one of those jumbo chorizo meat sticks sitting on the counter. I have done this, it’s not top quality chorizo but it works great.
You could also use bacon or any fatty cured meat to render off as your starter.
The main meat in my low carb chili is good old ground beef. Any ground meat will work, but ground beef makes chili hearty and satisfying, and it pairs well with the spicy sausage and red wine.
Low Carb Chili Gravy
The remaining ingredients are what will make your chili gravy along with all the wonderful juices and drippings from the meat and peppers. Onions and garlic are a no brainer and will fry up with the meat nicely.
Cumin is in my opinion essential for the flavour I am going for, and cayenne pepper and paprika will help enhance the “chili” flavours since they are both peppers.
The base of the gravy will be canned tomatoes. You can use fresh, but I actually prefer canned stewed/crushed/whatever tomatoes for this. Just buy a good quality canned tomato and it will taste great.
Red wine it what is going to take that chili gravy to the next level by adding a rich underlying flavour that can’t be beat.
Use a good quality dry red wine that is low in sugar. Not only will it help keep the carbs low, but it will help prevent your chili from getting too sweet.
Yes the ever controversial bean. Many feel that beans do not belong in an authentic chili or as a part of a low carb diet. Well I am going to heavily disagree with both of those things.
When I think if chili it has beans, and more importantly, when I think of what I want in a chili, it’s beans!
Remember, we aren’t trying to make a 100% authentic chili con carne, we are trying to make a 100% delicious low carb chili con carne. So if you like beans, then add them in, if not then feel free to omit them, Just don’t expect me to be happy about it.
Are Beans High In Carbs?
As for the carb factor, it’s true, some beans are packed with starchy net carbs, and that may be something you choose not to consume as a part of your low carb diet. But there are some lower carb varieties of beans you can choose from.
My favourite type of bean for instance is the common black bean, sometime called the black turtle bean which you can find at any grocery store for cheap. You can usually best identify which black bean you are looking for from the nutritional label, look for the one that works for you. I aim for a bean with around 25g net carbs per cup.
Now that may sound like a lot, but this chili recipes makes quite a few bowlfuls, meaning the beans, of which we only used 3/4 of a cup, are only contributing around 4g of net carbs per serving.
And ask yourself if the carbs from beans are something you are really worried about. I know that when you really get down to it, all carbs are very similar, but when you made the decision to lower or cut out carbs, were beans one of the foods you were really worried about limiting?
Again it will all come down to personal preference, and tolerance. Some people won’t handle beans well, maybe it makes you feel ill, or those carbs actually do mess with the satiety you have worked so hard to achieve by eating low carb. Perhaps you have a reason for trying to maintain a strict state of ketosis and those are all valid reasons. Don’t add the beans if you don’t want to.
There are also some brands of beans that claim a very low carb count like these Eden Organic black soy beans which state 1g net carb! So feel free to give them a try and let me know how it turns out!
Either way, use what you like, and what you know works for you. Even if that means no beans, some of the chili purists out there will be happy with that.
How To Make Low Carb Chili Con Carne
- Start by rendering off the chorizo/bacon in a large pot over medium heat. Rather than frying the chorizo/bacon you want to start the meat in a cold pot and slowly raise the temperature in order to release as much of the flavourful fat as possible.
- Once the fat has rendered, add the sliced onions, garlic, and ground beef and fry until the onion has softened. It’s ok if the beef is still slightly underdone, there is still a lot of cooking left.
- Next cook off your spices with the onions and meat for a few minutes to enhance their flavours before adding in sliced jalapenos, bell peppers, 28 oz of canned tomatoes, softened black beans, and the dry red wine. Everything needs to simmer for at least 25-30 minutes to cook out the alcohol from the wine and meld all the flavours together.
**If you are starting with dried beans you will need to soak them overnight or boil them with the lid on, for 1-1.5 hours until soft.**
5. Stir in fresh cilantro and green onions, and serve low carb chili con carne topped with fresh grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, chopped jalapeno, and green onions. Enjoy!
Make Ahead Tips
Not only can chili be made in large batches ahead of time, I recommend that you do! Chili tastes even better the next day after it has had time to sit and the ingredients have had time to mingle.
There are some who feel that chili is a 2 day process. Not because it takes that long to cook, but because chili is truly at it’s best the following day so that’s when it’s ready! Also means it makes great leftovers and low carb meal prep!
If you are looking for a simple and comforting low carb recipe that can be made in large batches ahead of time, then my low carb chili con carne is the recipe for you!
Time To Dive In!
I really hope that you enjoy this low carb chili con carne, and may it keep you warm, cozy, and satisfied on the cool days ahead.
I had a lot of fun with this low carb recipe and I hope that you do as well!
Let me know in the comments down below what you think and what modifications you made to make this low carb chili your own!
If you liked this recipe make sure you share it with others so they can enjoy it as well!
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Low Carb Chili Con Carne
- Chili Pot (Big pot)
- Cutting board
- 3½ oz Dry chorizo sausage diced
- 1 pound Ground beef
- 1 small Onion sliced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne
- 2 teaspoons Paprika
- 1 large Bay leaf
- 1 whole Dry Red Chili
- 1 large Sweet bell pepper diced
- 2 large Jalapeno pepper diced
- 28 oz Canned tomato stewed or crushed
- 1 cup Dry red wine
- ¾ cup Low carb black beans
- ½ cup Cilantro fresh
- Start by rendering off the chorizo in a large pot over medium heat. Rather than frying the chorizo on high heat, add the chorizo to the cold pot and slowly raise the temperature in order to release as much of the fat as possible.
- After a few minutes once the fat has rendered, add the sliced onions, garlic, and ground beef. Fry until the onion has softened. It's ok if the beef is still slightly underdone, there is still a lot of cooking left.
- Next add the cumin, cayenne, paprika, red chili, and bay leaf. Cook off the spices for a few minutes to enhance their flavours before adding in sliced jalapenos, bell peppers, a full 28 oz can of tomatoes, softened low carb black beans, and a low sugar, dry red wine. Everything needs to simmer for at least 25-30 minutes to cook out the alcohol from the wine and meld all the flavours together. The Longer it simmers the better!
- Add fresh cilantro, and serve low carb chili con carne topped with fresh grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, chopped jalapeno, and green onions. Enjoy!