Quick Chocolate Chili

Chances are you either know what chocolate chili is or you're very intrigued. Chocolate chili is not a sweet dish. It is actually a rich and flavorful chili recipe thanks to a hint of cocoa powder. This recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder and cinnamon in addition to your typical chili recipe spices like cumin and chili powder. It is important when making a flavorful dish like chili, that you're using fresh and fragrant spices. If your spices don't smell strong, they no longer have full flavor and need to be replaced. This yummy chili recipe can be made up to three days in advance and is best topped off with sour cream, lime wedges, and a little hot sauce.

Chocolate Chili
Photo: Sheri Castle
8 serves


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 pounds ground chuck or ground dark-meat turkey

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons premium chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup dark beer

  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with their liquid

  • 2 cups cooked or canned black, pinto, or other beans, drained

  • Juice of 2 limes (about 1/3 cup)

  • Serve with: sour cream, lime wedges, and hot sauce


  1. Warm oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and cook 5 minutes or until there are no traces of pink, stirring to crumble.

  2. Stir in onion and salt; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

  3. Increase heat to high. When onion begins to sizzle, stir in tomato paste; cook while stirring for 30 seconds.

  4. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, and cinnamon; cook while stirring for 1 minute. Reduce the heat if the spices start to scorch.

  5. Add beer and broth; stir to loosen glaze from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  6. Stir in tomatoes and beans; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  7. Just before serving, stir in lime juice. Check seasoning. Serve warm topped with dollop of sour cream, lime wedge, and hot sauce to taste.

Chef's Notes

Make-Ahead: For best flavor, make the chili at least one day and up to three days ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat and check the seasoning before serving.

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