A rich and smoky 3 bean chilli that combines borlotti, cannellini and kidney beans with spices, chilli and a hint of cocoa for a sensational sauce.
🍴 Why you will love this recipe
This deliciously spicy and smoky bean chilli is so versatile - perfect served with rice, in fajitas, as a jacket potato filling or on its own as a speedy lunch. Beans are so nutritious, packed with protein and fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are also very cheap, and so easy to use if you buy them pre-cooked in tins.
I've used a blend of deep and smoky spices in the recipe, alongside a hint of cocoa for a deep richness, (but not too chocolate-y, I promise!).
This 3 bean chilli is very easy to make, and freezes well so you can make a big batch and freeze in individual portions.
📝 What you need
Tinned beans I used borlotti, cannellini and kidney beans which are my favourites in a rich and smoky chilli like this, but by all means use whatever tinned beans you have to hand or swap in a tin of lentils instead. Or you can soak and pre-cook dried beans - here's a useful article from Delicious magazine on how to soak and cook beans.
Passata makes a smooth and thick sauce for this chilli. You can swap in tinned chopped tomatoes instead if you prefer.
Stock cube I love the meat-free beef-flavour OXO cubes for a rich chilli like this
Spices really make a difference between a tomato stew and a rich, smoky chilli. I've used ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli powder and dried oregano but you can tweak these to your own taste or according to what you have in the cupboard.
Cocoa is my secret ingredient for a really sensational sauce - it doesn't taste chocolate-y, but just incredibly deep and rich. The trick is to use just enough to add that wow-factor, but not enough to turn the sauce into chocolate soup!
👩🏽🍳 How to make your 3 Bean Chilli
For a full, printable recipe with ingredients and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this page 👇🏼 .
Peel and slice the red onion and pepper. Fry gently with crushed garlic cloves.
Add the red chilli, cumin, smoked paprika and chilli powder and cook for a further minute. Drain and rinse the three tins of beans and add to the pan.
Add the passata then refill the bottle / carton half way with water and add to the pan. Add the stock cube, oregano, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes then serve.
🔪 Top Tips & FAQs
Adjust the spices to your taste - you can leave out the fresh chilli and halve the chilli powder for a milder chilli, or add extra for more punch!
Adjust the consistency towards the end of cooking time - if the sauce is too dry add a splash of water, and if it is still too runny keep bubbling for another few minutes.
Yes - this freezes really well so you can batch-cook it and freeze individual portions in airtight containers or bags. Sometimes spices and seasoning become slightly dulled in freezing and defrosting, so taste and adjust before serving.
As long as the chilli is kept in airtight containers it will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. In fact I think it gets better after a day in the fridge for the flavours to mellow and develop, so this is great for leftover lunches!
Smoky 3 Bean Chilli
- 1 large red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoon ready-chopped garlic / garlic purée
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red chilli
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or ½ teaspoon for a milder chilli)
- 400 g tin borlotti beans
- 400 g tin cannellini beans
- 400 g tin kidney beans
- 600 g passata
- 1 stock cube I like the meat-free beef flavour OXO cubes, but any vegetable stock cube will be fine.
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar light brown or demerara sugar
- Peel and finely slice the onion. De-seed and slice the pepper. Peel and crush the garlic cloves.
- Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole dish. Fry the onion, pepper and garlic over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
- De-seed and chop the chilli. Add to the pan along with the cumin, paprika and chilli powder. Cook for a further minute or two.
- Drain and rinse the three tins of beans and add them to the pan. Add the passata, then refill the bottle / carton half way with water (approx. 300ml water) and add to the pan.
- Stir in the stock cube, oregano, cocoa powder and brown sugar, then season well with salt and black pepper.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until the chilli has become a thick stew. Taste and adjust seasoning then serve.
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