Nigella's Cheesy Chilli recipe

Pan of cheesy chilli

Nigella's Cheesy Chilli is my go-to beef chilli recipe but I often find myself changing it, sometimes bulking it up with lentils, sometimes leaving out the cheese. However I change it, it's consistently good, which I think is probably because of the chorizo. Chorizo in chilli is a wonderful idea. 

The extras that I add are onion, garlic and black beans (in addition to the kidney beans), as well as dicing the chorizo into small chunks rather than half moons mentioned in the original recipe. Low fat mince (around 5% fat) works well, Cheddar cheese is fine in place of mozzarella and I tend to double the recipe as the chilli can be used in all kinds of dishes: enchiladas, quesadillas, baked potatoes or just plain with rice. When I double the recipe I still use the same amount of beef mince (500g) and add tinned lentils and more beans in place of the meat.

Until recently, I'd always used tomato purée in this dish but now that Tesco stock large jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil for something like £2.50, I always have a jar in my fridge for salads, pasta, paellas, etc. Replacing the purée with a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes was another good idea (one that I can't take credit for as the original recipe suggests using sun-dried tomato paste). As with the chorizo, the intense flavour of the sun-dried tomatoes combine with the other ingredients to make the chilli incredibly flavoursome.

The chilli can be made up to 2 days in advance (without the cheese) and freezes well.


Serves: 6

  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 inch chunk chorizo, diced
  • 500g beef mince
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs tomato purée (or sun-dried tomato paste or a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 125ml water (swilled from the empty tomato can)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tin kidney beans (drained)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 balls of mozzarella cheese
  • Small handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)


  1. Place a large heavy-based casserole pan or large saucepan (one that comes with a lid) over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil.
  2. Add a chopped onion to the pan and fry for a few minutes then add 2 chopped garlic cloves and fry until the garlic starts to colour.
  3. Add diced chorizo (from a 3-4 inch chunk of sausage) to the pan and fry until the chorizo releases its orange oil then add 500g beef mince, breaking it up in the pan.
  4. Once the mince no longer looks raw, add ½ teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of dried oregano and a tablespoon of tomato purée. Stir well then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, 125ml water (swilled out from the tomato tin), 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and a tin of drained kidney beans. (If I'm using extra lentils and beans I add them to the pan now.)
  5. Allow to come to a bubble, turn down the heat, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. At this point you can allow the chilli to cool or, if using it straightaway, turn off the heat, tear over 2 balls of mozzarella and optionally sprinkle with chopped coriander. Serve with rice, tortillas or baked potatoes.