Authentic Chitlins Con Carne Recipe

In the South, chitlins con carne is classic comfort food with deep roots in African American culture. Simmering chitlins (pig intestines) in a spiced tomato sauce with tender beef creates a dish that is uniquely flavorful, hearty, and nostalgic.

While chitlins may seem intimidating to prepare and eat for some, the rich taste and tradition behind this dish make it well worth trying. In this guide, I’ll share my family’s time-honored method for making mouthwatering chitlins con carne from scratch. You’ll also learn tips for properly preparing chitlins so you can enjoy their full flavor in a sanitary way.

A Brief History of Chitlins in the South

Chitlins con carne originated during slavery in the American South when plantation owners would give enslaved people the leftover pork scraps like intestines, feet, and heads. Out of necessity, they devised creative ways to clean, cook, and transform these undesirable cuts into delicious soul food.

Over generations, preparing chitlins became a tradition passed down through families. While labor-intensive, the ritual of cleaning and simmering them together created lasting memories and connection. The dish remains an important part of African American culture and meals today, especially during holidays.

Benefits of Homemade Chitlins Con Carne

There are several great reasons to take the time to make chitlins con carne from scratch yourself:

  • You control the quality of ingredients going into the pot
  • Tailor the spices to your individual tastes
  • Experience the tradition and pride of this historical dish
  • Share food and stories with younger generations
  • Enjoy the unmatched texture and rich flavor
  • Make memories cooking together as a family

While ready-to-eat packaged chitlins are widely available today, nothing compares to the real deal prepared at home. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of how it’s done.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • 2-3 pounds cleaned chitlins
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast, cubed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper


  • Large stockpot or Dutch oven
  • Colander
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Slotted spoon
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps carefully for scrumptious homemade chitlins con carne:

Prep the Chitlins

  1. Rinse chitlins thoroughly under cool running water in the sink to remove excess fat and membrane. Cut into 2-3 inch strips using kitchen shears.
  2. Place chitlins in a large stockpot and cover completely with cold water. Bring to a boil then drain and rinse. Repeat this parboiling process 2 more times, replacing the water each time. This ensures a clean taste.

Brown the Beef

  1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown cubed beef in batches, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside.

Sauté the Aromatics

  1. In the same Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook 3-4 minutes until soft.

Simmer the Chitlins

  1. Return beef and any juices to the pot. Add chitlins, water, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cayenne.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until chitlins are fork-tender.
  3. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

Finish and Serve

  1. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chitlins and beef to a serving platter. Spoon over some of the sauce from the pot. Enjoy warm with cornbread, collard greens, and hot sauce!

Cooking and Safety Tips

Follow these tips for the safest, best-tasting chitlins possible:

  • Look for chitlins labeled “fully cleaned” which have been inspected and prepped. Avoid unprocessed raw chitlins.
  • Clean your sink and equipment thoroughly before and after handling raw chitlins to prevent bacteria spread.
  • Repeat the parboiling process 2-3 times until water comes out clear. This removes excess odor and residue.
  • Simmer chitlins slowly over medium-low heat so they become tender, not rubbery.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw chitlins vs. other ingredients.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours and enjoy within 3-4 days. Reheat thoroughly before serving again.

Serving Suggestions

While traditionally served as a main course, chitlins con carne also pairs well with:

  • Steamed white rice to soak up the savory sauce
  • Sliced avocado for creaminess
  • Diced onions and hot sauce for acidity and spice
  • Jalapeno hushpuppies for crisp contrast
  • Sautéed greens like collards, kale, or cabbage
  • Skillet corn bread or corn muffins
  • A refreshing green salad or slaw

Feel free to get creative with sides based on your tastes! A chilled lager or ale beer makes a nice accompaniment too.

Common Questions

Still have some questions? Here are answers to some frequently asked ones:

What are chitlins made of?

Chitlins are pig intestines that have been cleaned, processed, and cooked. They provide collagen and a chewy texture.

Is the smell normal?

Chitlins have a very distinct aroma even after cleaning and cooking. This funky smell is totally normal and dissipates some over time.

Do I have to boil chitlins multiple times?

Yes! Repeated boiling is vital for removing bacteria and making chitlins palatable. Never skip this step.

Can I use beef sausage instead of beef chuck?

Absolutely. Smoked sausage or kielbasa would be tasty. Just sauté with aromatics and skip browning separately.

Is there a meatless option?

You can leave out the beef entirely and just make a meatless tomato sauce. Add beans or seitan for protein. But the texture won’t be quite the same.

Why are my chitlins tough?

If your chitlins turn out chewy instead of tender, they likely needed more extended cooking time at a lower temp. Toughness means they weren’t cooked through fully.

Let me know if you have any other chitlin questions! I’m happy to help you answer them in the comments section.

Chitlins Con Carne Recipe

A classic soul food dish with tender chitlins and beef in a spiced tomato sauce, deeply rooted in African American culture.
Course Main Course
Cuisine South American


  • Large stockpot or Dutch oven
  • Colander
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Slotted spoon
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels


  • 2-3 pounds cleaned chitlins
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast cubed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15- oz can tomato sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper


  • Rinse chitlins under running water, remove excess fat and membrane, cut into 2-3 inch strips.
  • In a stockpot, cover chitlins with cold water, bring to boil, drain, and repeat 2 more times.
  • Pat dry beef, season with salt and pepper, brown in a pot, set aside.
  • In the same pot, sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
  • Return beef, add chitlins, water, tomato sauce, and spices.
  • Bring to boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours until chitlins are tender.
  • Season with hot sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Serve chitlins and beef with sauce, enjoy with your favorite sides!


  • Look for “fully cleaned” chitlins.
  • Clean sink and equipment thoroughly after handling raw chitlins.
  • Repeat parboiling to remove odor.
  • Simmer chitlins slowly for tenderness.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours and reheat before serving.
Keyword Chitlins, con carne

Share the Tradition

I hope this guide gives you the knowledge and confidence to make time-honored chitlins con carne for yourself or with the special people in your life. With quality ingredients and the proper technique, you can do this historical soul food justice.

The ritual of preparing them together and passing down recipes across generations is such an important tradition to preserve. While it takes effort, the rewards of incredible flavor, memories, and culture keep this dish going strong.

Let me know how your homemade chitlins con carne turns out by leaving a comment below.

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