Chili with Chocolate: What Your Grandmother Didn’t Know

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Sneak Preview: Chili with Chocolate is a recipe for beefy chili with a touch of chocolate added. No one will guess chocolate is the secret ingredient that smooths out the flavors and adds depth.

bowl of chili with chocolate and cheese on top.Pin

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My younger sister told her future husband she was stirring up some chili. He was surprised to see macaroni in the chili, just like my mom made it.

Of course, her future husband informed my sister that she was serving chili-mac, not chili. So I made a mental note: “Never add macaroni to my chili.”

But chocolate? Just say, “yes.

Three Reasons To Say “Yes” to Chili with Chocolate

  • Chocolate balances out all the spicy flavors.
  • Chocolate adds richness.
  • Chocolate adds umami.

Happy Cooks Speak Up

Made this yesterday…best chili that I have ever made! I’m going to enter it in our families annual pumpkin craving/chili contest this year! We don’t eat much beef so we used turkey and pork for all the meat. We also added a can of mild chili beans. Thank you for sharing! “–MARIA

Ingredients and Substitutions

ingredients for chocolate chiliPin
  • Vegetable Oil: Use olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. If your meat contains a lot of fat, you may not need much. Use olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. If your meat contains a lot of fat, you may not need much.
  • Meat: Freshly ground meat is always the best if you can get it. For me, chili is a chance to clean out the freezer. Try adding one or all of the following:
  • Leftover beef roast, stew meat, or leftover grilled meat ground up in the food processor
  • Ground turkey will substitute for the pork.
  • Frozen pork chops or loin chops–barely thaw them, cut them into 1-inch chunks, and use your food processor to process them into ground pork.
    • I don’t have a hunter in my family, but ground deer or venison is another option.
  • Onions: If you are sensitive to fresh onions, substitute frozen onions for fresh ones. If I’m in a hurry, using frozen onions is a timesaver. Also, they’ve never made me cry.
  • Spices: Since this recipe was first published, I’ve changed how I put this chili recipe together. Add the spices after softening the onions in oil before adding the meat. Hot oil allows the spices to “bloom” and intensifies the flavor.
  • Tomatoes: My favorite tomatoes are the Red Gold Brand. Use your favorite. I use one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of diced tomatoes. Suit yourself or use what you have in the pantry.
  • Corn Masa: If you don’t have corn masa hanging around the house and don’t want to buy an entire bag for two tablespoons, you can substitute flour or even leave it out.
  • Chocolate: This chili recipe calls for semi-sweet baking chocolate. For less sugar, use bittersweet or dark chocolate. Unsweetened cocoa powder is a substitute for solid chocolate. Use about 2 tablespoons.

chocolate hummus


  • Substitute chocolate hummus for the corn masa and semi-sweet chocolate.
    • Dump a container of chocolate hummus into your chili instead of chocolate and corn masa.
    • The flavor is indescribable. The velvety smooth beans in the hummus give the chili body and thickness, while the chocolate smooths out the flavors.
  • Add more tomatoes or substitute beef broth or chicken stock for some of the tomatoes for a chili that feels lighter on your tummy.
  • Make Texas chili and step up the heat. Add hot sauce, chopped jalapenos, chipotle, or chipotle chili powder.
  • Add pinto beans to your chili. Some would scoff, but they probably wouldn’t add tomatoes, either.
  • Keto follower’s favorite: To add more veggies, fill your bowl with mashed cauliflower before adding the chili. Use the chili as gravy.
  • Another way to add more veggies is to clean the produce drawer in your fridge and add chopped carrots, celery, or scallions.

This Makes a Lot! What Else Can I Do With This Chili Recipe?

  • Add warm chili to a lettuce salad with a little cheese and a few tomatoes.
  • Pour over a hot dog or hamburger. Add shredded cheese and mustard, if desired.
  • Make breakfast for dinner by adding chili to your fried eggs and eating with a tortilla.
  • Make chili enchiladas. Fill corn tortillas with chopped onions and Cheddar cheese and roll. Line up enchiladas in a casserole dish. Cover with chili and lots more cheese. Bake at 350˚F until the whole dish is hot and melty. Please invite me for dinner.

What Goes Well with Chili?

How To Make Chili with Chocolate:

browning onionsPin
1. Add oil to a large Dutch oven and set to medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes when the oil glistens. Next, add garlic and cook for another minute.
adding spices to the onionPin
2. Add spices to the pan and stir to bloom the flavors.
browning ground beefPin
#3 Add raw meat to the spices and brown in the pot.
adding tomatoes and bay leafPin
4. Add tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir. Cook for one hour–two hours is even better.
adding masa and chocolatePin
5. Add corn masa and dark chocolate. Stir until smooth.
cooked chiliPin
7. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why add chocolate to chili?

The taste will be unrecognizable. But somehow, the chocolate mysteriously adds depth and smoothness to chili. Of course, adding cheese, sour cream, and cilantro doesn’t hurt the flavor either.

Can I freeze chili?

Yes. Divide chili into smaller packets and store them in the freezer. Making chili ahead is just one of the methods I employ to make homemade food convenient.

Store frozen chili for up to six months.

Can I make chocolate chili ahead of time?

Yes. Making chili a day ahead helps the flavors marry, resulting in a richer taste.

How does adding a spoonful of vinegar improve the chili?

According to the Kitchn website, a spoonful of vinegar stirred into the pot right before serving brightens up the finished product and gives it that full, rounded taste.

I like aged balsamic vinegar the best. Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar would also work.

Parting thoughts: Sometimes, I still like to make Chili-Mac for old times’ sake. But I never call it chili and usually add a little chocolate. 😉

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

bowl of chocolate chili with tortilla chips on the sidePin
Yield: 12 servings

Chili with Chocolate Recipe

You will love this classic chili with chocolate added. You can’t taste it, but the chocolate mysteriously adds depth and smoothness to the flavor.
4 from 48 votes


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons (37 g) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups (200 g) chopped onions 1 medium onion
  • 2 teaspoons table or sea salt divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 pounds (1361 g) ground beef
  • 1 pound (452 g) ground pork
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 28-oz cans (1588 g) peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons corn masa “Masa Harina de maiz”
  • 2 ounces (56 g) semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar balsamic or apple cider (optional)


  • Heat 3 tablespoons (37 g) vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1-1/2 cups (200 g) chopped onions. Cook until softened for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add 2 teaspoons table or sea salt, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 4 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground oregano, and 6 tablespoons chili powder. Cook until the spices are fragrant. Stir often so they won’t burn.
  • Add 4 cloves garlic, chopped and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Turn up the heat to medium and add 3 pounds (1361 g) ground beef, and 1 pound (452 g) ground pork, to the pot and brown. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  • Add 2 28-oz cans (1588 g) peeled and diced tomatoes and 4 bay leaves. If you want the tomatoes to disappear into the chili, crush them with your hands or use a potato masher. Or put them in the blender for a few seconds.
  • Simmer chili for 1 hour. Two hours is even better.
  • Remove bay leaves and stir in 2 tablespoons corn masa until smooth; then add 2 ounces (56 g) semi-sweet chocolate baking bar.
  • Optional: Add 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  • Continue simmering for 10 more minutes to combine flavors.
  • Freezes well.


  • If you don’t have corn masa hanging around the house and don’t want to buy it for just two tablespoons, you can substitute flour or even leave it out. Add flour along with the spices before the hour-long simmer.
  • Fresh onions can be substituted for the frozen. I prefer frozen because they are milder and easier on the digestive system after the freezing process-and they’ve never made me cry.
  • Step up the heat by adding hot sauce, chopped jalapenos, or some chopped chipotles.
  • I like to add beans to my chili when eating it straight in a bowl. Some would scoff, but they probably wouldn’t add tomatoes either.
  • This chili is even better the next day which will also give you a chance to remove any congealed fat off the top that you don’t want.
  • If this chili is too rich for you, add 2-3 cups of water or more tomatoes. It will be more like “Wendy’s chili” if you’ve ever tried that.
  • Substitute 8 ounces of chocolate hummus for the masa and chocolate bar.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 471kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 553mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1209IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 4mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a

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4.48 from 48 votes (45 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was yummy! Was not able to cook for 2 hours but was perfect after 1.5 hours. Amazing what the chocolate does to the flavor. Who knew?? Can’t wait to try the leftovers. Thanks Paula!

  2. Made this yesterday…best chili that I have ever made! I’m going to enter it in our families annual pumpkin craving/chili contest this year! We do eat much beef so we used turkey and pork for all the meat. We also added a can of mild chili beans. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I hope your entry into the contest does well! Thanks for writing.

  3. jack burton says:

    I have found the best chocolate to add is the octagon packages of Mexican chocolate. Start with a quarter round and taste from there. Best to add about 30 minutes before serving.

    1. The next time I see this chocolate for sale, I will pick some up and try it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. 5 stars
    thanks for the wonderful chilli and chocolate must be eaten to find the total enjoyment, thanks from England

  5. Laura Linder says:

    I’m looking forward to being on your email list!

  6. I made this Sunday night and we ate it for dinner Monday, we loved it! I only used 4 tbsp chili powder (2 dark la mesa, 1 regular chili powder, 1 aleppo chili powder), and 1 oz baking chocolate, and it turned out great! I also diced a large carrot and 2 stalks of celery very fine. Husband said it’s a keeper recipe 🙂

  7. Justathot says:

    Is it possible to make this in a slow cooker instead of a dutch oven? I have a slow cooker, but no dutch oven.

  8. Love the shoe picture and your comment about it. :+)

  9. Just made chili tonight for neighbors, without a firm recipe, as I never seem to make chili the same way twice. Mine also had chocolate — dark chocolate infused with chili pepper — along with a bottle of beer, and a mix of whole wheat flour and cornmeal (no masa on hand). I’m bookmarking your recipe to try next!

  10. 5 stars
    thanks for the wonderful chilli and chocolate must be eaten to find the total enjoyment, thanks from England

    1. Thanks Sheila. Wish I had a bowl for lunch right now. Paula

  11. Made this last night and it was amazing!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Just made this for the first time tonight… Good Lord, did my house smell good! Thank you for an extremely satisfying meal. Not sure that there’s gonna be anything left to freeze…

  13. Our family loves chili and you can be sure I will be trying this soon. Chocolate makes everything better. YES! I usually freeze some of my chili too. I will try freezing smaller quantities for more options from now on.
    I knew who those feet belonged to before noticing the pedicure or the mismatched shoes. Mothers are like that. Seems to me that she must have too many shoes if she can’t keep them straight right? I remember a pillow she bought while decorating her room at ACU. It said if the shoe fits, buy it in every color. Thanks for the continued entertaining post and the wonderful recipes.

  14. This sounds awesome! I love any combination of chocolate and spices. Thanks!

  15. I love new chili ideas and you have me curious at whats to come. I’m liking the idea to make now and freeze for later. The chili dog sold me! 😉

  16. I hope by now that your family has power restored. Such a tragedy and I’m sure you were beyond relief when you got word that they were all O.K.

    Your chili is the perfect dish to serve with the Spring time that we are having up North. Wet and cool!

  17. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    I’m so glad your family in AL is ok. Your chili looks and sounds delicious- I’ve never added chocolate to my chili, but I’m looking forward to adding it the next time I make it! It has actually been perfect chili weather here for the last couple of days, and I’m thinking that this would be good to make for tomorrow night’s supper. It looks like it would make enough to have leftovers to freeze, too! I love the shoe photo. 🙂

  18. Chocolate and chili?? Such an intersting combination but you always have delicious recipes so I am sure it is great. Love the picture with the pretty toes and the one of the
    family. Everyone looks so happy. Glad your family is okay!

  19. Just made your chili recipe sans the corn masa. (What is that?) Many years ago my husband had duck with chocolate sauce at a nice Mexican restaurant. It was delicious. Also I think most Cincinnati chili recipes include cocoa powder. You don’t really taste “chocolate” but it makes me happy just knowing it’s in there! By the way, I only used 4 T of chili powder and it is spicy enough. I may use less next time. Thanks for the great ideas.

    1. Hi Rhonda, Thanks for taking the time to write about your experience with this recipe. Corn masa is used to make corn tortillas. It’s a thickening agent. No harm in leaving it out. Duck with chocolate sauce sounds interesting…and good.

  20. *Just Fran* says:

    Yum. I think that chocolate pairs with spice beautifully. Thanks for sharing the chili recipe.

  21. Chung-Ah Rhee says:

    Chocolate in chili? I’ve never heard of that but I’m sure it’s amazing! Will definitely give this a try. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  22. ShopCookMake says:

    My niece lives in Tuscaloosa with her mother right where the tornado hit. They’re fine and also their property, but their neighbors weren’t so lucky. Lots of devastation. The worst part was having no communication with them for an entire day, thinking about the worst possible scenarios. I hope your family is well and healthy.

    BTW, the chili looks amazing!

  23. Paula, that is brilliant that you add chocolate in the chili! I bet it tastes wonderful. I am cracking up at the shoes–how funny! She can definitely pull it off with that pedicure, though! Have a great weekend! xo

    1. The idea is not original with me, of course, but we love it.

  24. Glad to hear that your sister and her family are OK. I put chocolate in my favorite chili too.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation Mimi.

  25. ha! I had to look close to notice the shoes were mismatched! Pretty toes are a great accessory! Chocolate in chili… It must do something really special to the flavor!

    1. Lorraine. The chocolate adds a very subtle difference–not at all pronounced.