This easy chilli con carne with hidden vegetables is a delicious family meal. It's easy to adapt for different tastes and a great way of getting picky eaters to eat more of their 5-a-day.
I find it's no problem getting my family to eat meaty dishes and dishes that are made with mince such as burgers, meatballs or kebabs. But try to get them to eat vegetables and it's a different story!
This chilli con carne recipe was the very first savoury hidden vegetable dish I managed to get my daughter to eat. The problem was that she didn't like sauces and so hiding vegetables in a sauce just didn't work.
So what did I do?
I blended all the vegetables first. I don't know why I hadn't done that before. So simple but it makes them impossible to pick out. I also made the chilli quite thick so she couldn't pick out the pieces of meat from the sauce. In fact I don't think she even realised it was full of vegetables!
What do you need to make this hidden vegetable chilli con carne?
To make this hidden vegetable chilli con carne you will need:
- Vegetables - I used a mixture of onions, carrot, celery, red pepper. You can adapt this to suit whatever vegetables you want to use up though. I always add onion but the rest are flexible.
- Garlic - I used fresh garlic but a puree would also work
- Cooking oil - I use light olive oil but you can use an alternative cooking oil
- Spices - smoked paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, coriander
- Minced beef - Minced beef is what I always use but feel free to use turkey mince or even pork as an alterative
- Chopped tinned tomatoes
- Seasoning - A pinch of salt and black pepper. If you're making it for very young children you can miss out the salt and seaon a the table instead.
- Black beans - I use beans from a tin. If you don't have black beans you can use kidney or cannellini beans instead. It'll still taste good.
How to make chilli con carne with hidden vegetables
Do check out the printable recipe card further down the page too. First I put all the vegetables including the garlic into a food processor and blitz. Sometimes you need to add a splash of water to help too.
Then heat some oil in a pan and fry the vegetable puree gently for about 15 minutes. Stir in the spices followed by the mince. Keep stirring and breaking it up as it browns.
Then add the tinned tomatoes and a little water. Cover and simmer for an hour. Stir in the black beans near the end of the cooking time. Keep checking and stirring occassionally to make sure it doesn't get too dry.
How can you adapt this veggie chilli recipe?
This chilli con carne is a great recipe for hiding vegetables in. I hid onions, carrots, celery and red pepper. But, if you don't have exactly the same vegetables then don't worry about substituting some of them. Courgette would work well in here too. You could simply miss out one of the vegetables. It would still be delicious.
You'll see that this chilli is not very hot and spicy. I haven't added lots of chilli peppers to the chilli as I wanted my kids to eat it. To get more heat, I simply add sliced fresh red chillies to my portion and stir them in. You could also use dried chilli flakes or a hot sauce.
To get a richer tomato flavour, add some tomato puree in step 3 when you add the spices.
And finally, if you don't have black beans then use kidney beans or even cannellini beans.
What to serve with this chilli con carne?
There are so many things you could serve on the side or top this chilli with. I like to serve this chilli with rice but if you don't have any then just try it with another grain. Couscous and bulgur wheat are great served with it.
It's also delicious served in either soft or crispy tacos. Don't forget baked potatoes too. I love to top a jacket potato with a load of this.
And what about the chilli toppings?
It really depends on what you like. I usually put lots of options out on the table so everyone can pick and choose what they have. Ideas include
- Sour cream
- Tomato salsa
- Tortilla chips
- Herbs such as coriander (cilantro)
- Pickled jalapenos or sliced chilli peppers,
- Guacamole or avocado slices.
What can you do with the leftovers?
This chilli con carne with hidden vegetables is a perfect recipe to cook once eat twice. It's ideal for batch cooking so I often prepare a big batch, then freeze most of it in individual portions. It's a great option for a hassle-free meal for the children.
How long can you freeze it for?
You can keep this chill con carne in the freezer for at least 4-6 months. Just defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven or microwave.
Easy Chilli Con Carne with Hidden Vegetables
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 1 carrot roughly chopped
- 2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
- ½ red pepper roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon light olive oil or an alternative cooking oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 500 g minced beef
- 400 g chopped tinned tomatoes
- pinch black pepper
- pinch salt (optional)
- 230 g cooked black beans (drained weight)
Optional to serve
- sour cream
- chopped coriander
- tortilla chips
- chopped fresh chilli pepper
- Put the onion, celery, carrot, red pepper and garlic in a food processor and blitz thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and then fry the vegetables, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the spices.
- Add the mince and cook until it is browned on the outside. Keep breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring.
- Add the tinned tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water and add it to the mince too. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for an hour.
- Five minutes before the end, stir in the black beans. Season with salt and black pepper
- Serve with rice. Add whatever optional toppings you like.
More Easy One pot Family Recipes
I also have an amazing recipe for a vegan lentil chilli with black beans. But if you're looking for some meaty recipes then how about one of these dishes?
Or this bacon and chicken chilli?
And if you are looking for desserts with hidden vegetables then my cauliflower chocolate mousse is definitely worth trying!
I've also got a great recipe collection for easy spicy midweek meals with lots of tasty recipe ideas. Do check it out!
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I do this too but usually roast the veg before blending... works brilliantly for bolognese too
oh yes, roasting makes it even more flaourful! And I totally agree about doing the same for bolognese as well.
Mr Sahad Masood
Is the Calories per serving? Or per portion? Also where it says 4 portions, is that like 200 grams per portion, or how would it work?
Hi, this recipe makes 4 serving which is the same as 4 portions. So, if you make this recipe using the ingredients given and divide it between 4 people then there would be approximately 518 calories per person. This doesn't include the calories in the rice or toppings.
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie
Fab recipe and fab way to sneak veggies into fusspots! I must say I am very grateful Mr G is relatively unfussy. Fussy kids are relatively easy to deal with (amazing how well the no main course, no pudding line works), fussy grownups, not so much!! Eb x
I also use that line a lot! Usually pudding is just ice cream at the moment and they both want that! x
Cat | Curly's Cooking
I love a chilli! What a great way of hiding vegetables from your children so they can't tell they are there. I think as a child I would have been like your daughter and tried to pick everything out - onions were the worst!
I think I was a bit picky as a child too but I think I used to avoid the meat. I would only eat chicken but I would eat vegetables! Luckily the fact that so many people say they were picky when they were younger gives me hope that at least one day in the future she will willingly eat more vegetables than tomatoes!
Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food
I can SO relate to your travails with picky eaters! I must confess that I frequently resort to the blitzed veg hack—it's BRILLIANT because you can hide those veggies ANYWHERE! This chilli con carne looks really delicious—and I've also never tried adding cinnamon. YUM!
I love a little bit of cinnamon in a chilli Michelle! I think it's a very child-friendly spice too.
I love those recipes where you can hide vegetables. This looks yummy. I could totally use a bowl of this right now.
Me too Balvinder! I wish it always worked as well as it did this time too.
Rebecca - Glutarama
I saw this on twitter I think the other day, it reminded me of my idea to hide veggies in chilli but boy-oh-boy my two kiddies would have their heads blown off with these gorgeous flavours...this is a mum and dad recipe that I'm going to make in batches so we can have our chilli and eat it so to speak ... Oh AND have our veggies too! 😉
I'm so pleased your kids would like this recipe Rebecca! I find it so difficult to find healthy recipes that we can all eat so I'm really happy with this one. Well, my husband doesn't really like chilli but as you say, at least it's a recipe I can make in batches!
Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder
We all do love Chilli con Carne but kids are never too keen on peppers and they always pick them out and leave on the side of their plates. Why I never thought to blend the veg is beyond me lol. Fantastic idea and will be definitely giving it a go next time! xx
I know! Blending the veg is such a simple idea but it really worked here. I hope it works on your boys too x
I love chilli, and anything with hidden veg is always good! My kids love vegetables...it's the husband I have to smuggle them into! #CookBlogShare
This would be perfect for your husband then!
This recipe is genius! I'm lucky I don't yet have to deal with any fussy eaters! I expect one day I'll feel your pain! xx
Good luck if you ever need it! The worst thing is that before I had kids I never expected them to be picky - I thought they'd eat anything because we eat anything. I was so so wrong! x
I have a fussy hubby too! This is the perfect way to add more veges into his diet too hehe!
Good luck! I find my husband is very difficult to get to eat things he doesn't want to but it then means I avoid cooking certain things. For example he hates mashed potato so I never make it and now the children don't like it either. It may be that they wouldn't like it anyway as they dislike plenty of things he likes but I don't think it helps!
I love chilli con carne but have never thought on adding in cinnamon to it so will do that next time. My little boy will start being weaned soon so blitzing veg to put through his meal is a perfect way to get him to eat it, especially if he is as fussy as his father 😀
I hope he likes it. I'm sure my children got their fussy eating off their father!