Chilli Con ‘Tuna’
(tuna & beans)

tuna and beans

The idea for this tuna and bean based recipe came from one of my Simple Meal Plans Members.

It’s a brilliant ‘pantry’ recipe to have in your repertoire.

I would never have thought to replace the meat in chilli con carne with fish.

But canned tuna works incredibly well.

Especially with some fresh herbs and a little sour cream. Simple. Good.

If you’re not a fan of beans, the spicy tuna is delicious with vegetables. See the ‘keto’ variation below for ideas.

Oh and there are actually 7 ingredients here, not my usual 6. Woops!

For a more simple version skip the onion and/or the herbs.

Chilli Con ‘Tuna’ (tuna & beans)

Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword 30-minutes, beans, chilli oil, sour cream, tuna
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people


  • 1 large onion peeled & chopped
  • 2 medium cans tuna in spring water, not drained (200g / 7oz) each
  • 1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
  • 1 can beans (400g / 14oz), drained
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes or chilli powder
  • 1 cup sour cream to serve
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley or coriander cilantro, to serve


  1. Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook over a medium heat until soft. About 10 minutes.
  2. Add tuna and canning liquid, tomatoes, drained beans and chilli.
  3. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until everything is hot.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper and more chilli, if needed.
  5. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream and a few handfuls fresh coriander (cilantro) or flat leaf parsley leaves.

NET CARBS: 32g/serve
Calories: 550 / serve

Variations for Chilli Con Tuna (tuna & beans)

pantry-friendly – sour cream = cashew yoghurt or tahini sauce or mayo.. skip herbs.

no beans / keto – very low carb – skip onion and beans and serve spicy tuna on a bed of roast cauliflower, beautiful broccoli, baby spinach or cooked greens. Also good with crisp cos, romaine or ice berg lettuce.

dairy-free – serve with chunks of avocado or cashew yoghurt instead of the sour cream.

paleo – replace beans with diced roast root veg, roast cauliflower or beautiful broccoli. Use cashew sour cream or mashed avocado.

carnivore – replace tuna with 450g (1lb) ground or minced beef. Brown beef in the pan with the onion before adding the remaining ingredients and continuing from step 3.

vegetarian / vegan – replace tuna with 2 cans drained lentils or 450g (1lb) cooked lentils (boil like pasta until tender) OR add extra beans or poached eggs.

different legumes – red kidney beans are traditional in chilli but feel free to use chickpeas or white beans such as cannellini or butter beans instead. Black beans will also work.

different tomato – use 1.5 cups tomato passata (puree) or 100g (3.5oz) concentrated tomato paste + 1 cup water.

different chilli – if you can’t find chilli flakes, feel free to use any other fresh or dried chilli peppers. Chipotle chillies in adobo sauce add a lovely smoky flavour. For a milder version use smoked paprika.

different fish – any canned fish like mackerel or salmon will work. I love the idea of sardines, but the flavour will be significantly stronger. You could also simmer chunks of fresh fish in with the beans just before serving.

more substantial (carb lovers) – serve with corn chips, warm tortillas, baked potatoes or just add extra beans.

more substantial (low carb) – extra tuna. Mayo. Sour cream AND avo. Roast cashews or macadamias.

short on time – skip the onion. Simmer everything rapidly with the lid off for 10 minutes.

more fancy / for entertaining – serve with avocado AND sour cream and some roast cashews. Consider serving with a nice side like this Crispy Iceberg Salad with Almond Crust or Broccomole (a mix of broccoli and avocado) without the fish Or serve with a big pile or warm tortillas.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

tuna, onion, beans & tomato – will all keep in the pantry.

sour cream
– will keep in the fridge but pop in the freezer if it’s close to its use by date.

herbs – parsley will last for more than a week in a plastic bag in the fridge but coriander (cilantro) won’t. Either freeze them or use to make pesto or pop the leaves in a jar and cover with oil to make a herby oil.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt. More chilli or serve with some hot sauce like Tabasco.

too dry – add a little water and bring back to a simmer.

sloppy – remove heat and simmer rapidly until the sauce has reduced. Or add some bread crumbs or almond meal (ground almonds) to soak up the extra liquid.

too hot! – oh noes! You’ve added too much chilli. The only solution is dilution. Add more tomato, beans and / or tuna and bring back to a simmer. Serving with extra sour cream or avocado will help balance the heat. A can of coconut milk will change the flavour profile but is especially effective at cooling.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook chilli as per the recipe but keep the sour cream and herbs separately. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, bring back to a simmer and top with sour cream and herbs.

tuna & beans

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Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

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  • Thanks Jules as always I can trust you to come up with something that’s yummy and more importantly that’s good for you and doesn’t take an age to prepare or cook. Will look forward to having this for dinner today ? any of the alternatives sound just as yummy too ?? and I will definitely be trying a few of them out over the next few days.

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