Ed's Chicago Cocoa Chili ( aka Chocolate Chili ) Recipe

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I like cooking and I love chili and chocolate, so if there was any way I could combine the three, I was gonna do it. So here is my quite excellent balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy, which I hope you will enjoy as well.

(This recipe has been on recipezaar-dot-com since 2002, where 50 people have posted reviews of my chili recipe. Update below is the latest update that I made for this recipe on that site.)

01/06/2010: For those of you out there looking for a traditional chili recipe, THIS ISN'T IT. "Sweet and sour mix" is a lemon-lime flavored non-alcoholic LIQUID that you get from your grocery store liquor aisle or from a liquor store. It is NOT the same thing as the stuff you eat with egg rolls! Most of the seasoning is combined into one step — THE KILLER COCOA CHILI SPICE MIX. If you are trying to go for a more unbalanced, traditional-style taste for this chili, you might want to add brown sugar separately from the rest of the spice mix in smaller amounts or leave it out altogether. The only other seasoning is a bit of salt and pepper when cooking the meat and the veggies, which is standard operating procedure for most chefs. Need that extra layer of heat and flavor? Add 1/2 finely diced Poblano pepper to your chili (or substitute for one of the jalapenos) or add a few drops of hot sauce.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 10-20 servings


Cost per serving $1.85 view details
  • 2 lbs ground beef (you can actually use any ground meat combination, turkey, chicken, pork, italian sausage)
  • 1 cup yellow sweet onion (1 medium or large chopped or diced vidalia, oso, etc.)
  • 1 cup sweet bell pepper (1 whole pepper, chopped or diced, any color)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped or diced)
  • 1 carrot (chopped or diced)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (sliced or chopped)
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4-8 garlic cloves (smashed silly)
  • salt and pepper (a few shakes here and there can't hurt)
  • 1/4 cup prepared sweet-and-sour mix (pick up a bottle of Mr. & Mrs. T's sweet-and-sour mix from your grocery store liquor aisle)
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 cup lime juice (or juice from 1 lime)
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)
  • 1-2 ounce dark chocolate or 1-2 ounce bittersweet chocolate
  • THE KILLER COCOA CHILI SPICE MIX, which contains the following ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (leave this separate if you want to adjust the sweetness of your chili)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder


  1. Assemble the spice mix into an airtight container ahead of time. Most of these ingredients are approximate. Seasonings must be to taste; you're shooting for the perfect SWEET,SALTY,SPICY combo.
  2. CHOP ALL THE VEGGIES UP BEFORE YOU START ANYTHING ELSE. (If you want to save some time: instead of the onion and bell pepper, you can use a bag of frozen "seasoning mix", which includes onions, bell peppers and sometimes small amounts of carrots and celery. you can find this in most frozen veggie aisles.).
  3. Inside a BIG, DEEP, REALLY DEEP cast iron pot (about 7 qt), on HIGH HEAT, BROWN THE GROUND MEAT to about medium rare (You do not need to completely brown the meat, because it will continue to cook in the pot).
  4. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Drain off or use the ladle to take out the excess fat, but leave some of it in the pot to fry the vegetables.
  6. Push the meat to one side to make space to fry the vegetables and
  7. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM/HIGH.
  8. On the empty side of the skillet, add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos, then add all the rest of the vegetables.
  9. SAUTEE/FRY the veggies for a few minutes.
  10. Season the veggies lightly with salt and pepper. Try to get the veggies on the bottom of the pan, and the meat on top of the veggies. This way the meat doesn't burn and the veggies get cooked. (If you're freaking out about this, just take the meat out first (put it in a bowl), add the veggies to the bottom of the skillet, then add the meat back on top. I'm just trying to keep this a ONE-POT cooking experience.).
  11. Make a little space on the bottom of the pan and.
  12. Add the tomato paste (don't worry if you can't get the entire contents of the can out).
  13. Cook the paste for a minute, then mix everything in the pot together.
  14. Add the crushed tomatoes.
  15. Season the tomatoes with a little salt.
  17. Keep stirring, keep a very slow boil or a simmer.
  18. Add Lemon juice, Lime juice, Orange juice, and Sweet & Sour Mix.
  19. Also add the dark chocolate pieces. Let the heat from the chili melt the chocolate and then.
  21. Taste it (Something not right? Fix it! If it's too hot or salty, add a little more brown sugar. If it's not salty enough, add a little more salt. Not hot enough for ya? Add more hot peppers, or a splash of tabasco hot sauce).
  22. Set the heat to LOW.
  23. Partially cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. TURN OFF THE HEAT.
  24. Congratulations! You now have the best chili on the planet.
  25. You can keep this chili covered in the pot for hours. Serve with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and fritos corn chips or cornbread.
  26. STORING THE CHILI - I like to put the chili in those Ziploc disposable/reusable containers. You can refrigerate or freeze the chili in them really easy. The chili reheats very well in the microwave. Refrigerated chili is probably good for a week. Frozen chili is probably good for months. The chili defrosts in about 2 days if moved from freezer to refrigerator.
  27. AWESOME CHILI DOGS! - Use all-beef hot dogs like Vienna Beef, Klement's or Nathan's. Other hot dogs do not deserve this chili.
  28. NO BEANS? WHAT GIVES?. As a big fan of chili, I've discovered that it's origins do not include beans. "Anyone who knows beans about chili, knows that chili ain't got no beans!". Beans were added later, probably because beans are cheaper than meat or out of sheer confusion between chili and baked beans. -- but BEANS ARE FREAKIN GASSY! I don't like gassy chili, and I'd hope you don't either. If you REALLY MUST HAVE BEANS, you can add a can of them to this recipe, it won't hurt the chili.
  29. You can also substitute those soybean crumbles for the meat, which works very well with this recipe, but then remember to make sure you add some type of oil to fry the veggies.
  30. Go to my website, http://www.edheller.com , for any updates or additions to this recipe. There is also a printable PDF version of this recipe that uses up less paper.


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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 355g
Recipe makes 10 servings
Calories 413  
Calories from Fat 164 40%
Total Fat 18.2g 23%
Saturated Fat 7.41g 30%
Trans Fat 0.01g  
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 602mg 25%
Potassium 1156mg 33%
Total Carbs 44.49g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6.1g 20%
Sugars 24.79g 17%
Protein 21.15g 34%
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  • Chris Tinkham
    Absolutely fantastic. I've made it twice and the whole family love it.
    I've cooked/tasted this recipe!


    • ShaleeDP
      February 17, 2016
      This looks good... i like heat in my food.

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