My Favorite Chili (with Chocolate)

chocolate chili square post reduced

I like to keep this chili in my freezer at all times for days I have no time and/or desire to cook.

Small packets of homemade chili in the freezer are part of my philosophy to make healthy food convenient…all summer long.

mismatched shoes blog

Does a bowl of chili and springtime seem as mismatched as these shoes?

It may sound crazy but now is the ideal time to stir up a big pot of chili before your kitchen gets too hot to turn on the stove.

In another week or two, I plan to share several ideas for impromptu meals using these chili packets and I’m not even talking about chili-cheese hot dogs though they are quite popular with the men in my family and this chili complements a hotdog quite nicely.

This is a basic chili that lends itself to all kinds of variations and mutations. (See notes at the end for ideas.) Don’t let the chocolate scare you off.  The taste is unrecognizable but somehow, it mysteriously adds depth and smoothness while blending the flavors. Leave it out if you prefer–this recipe will still be fabulous.

By the way, the mismatched shoe picture was not a set-up. My unnamed relative actually wore these shoes an entire evening before noticing they weren’t a pair. Her fresh pedicure pulls the look together rather nicely, don’t you think?

My Favorite Chili (with Chocolate)
Recipe type: Soup, Entree
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A classic chili with chocolate added. You can't taste it but it mysteriously adds depth and smoothness to the flavor.
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups chopped frozen onions
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons corn masa (“Masa Harina de maiz”)
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Brown meat in large dutch oven. Drain excess grease. Add onions and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and spices including bay leaves. Simmer 1 hour.
  2. Remove bay leaves and stir in corn masa until smooth; then add chocolate. 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.
  • Even better the next day which will also give you a chance to remove any congealed fat off the top.
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

kelsey October 13, 2015 at 7:05 am

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 🙂


Justathot January 31, 2015 at 7:58 pm

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


sis January 30, 2015 at 7:09 am

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


Lammy November 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm

no beans? not chili!


Eric April 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm

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!


sheila January 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

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


Paula January 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

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


David August 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

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


Bud August 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm

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…


Sandy May 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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.


John May 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm

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


Megan May 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

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! 😉


Paula May 2, 2011 at 9:03 am

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!


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit May 2, 2011 at 12:23 am

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. 🙂


Debbie May 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

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!


Rhonda April 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

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.


Paula April 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm

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.


*Just Fran* April 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm

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


Chung-Ah Rhee April 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

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!!!


ShopCookMake April 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm

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!


Nina April 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm

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


Paula April 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

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


Mimi April 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

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


Paula April 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Thanks for the affirmation Mimi.


Lorraine April 29, 2011 at 7:17 am

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!


Paula April 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm

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


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