The Best Ways to Use Chocolate in Chili

Chocolate is beloved in the culinary world, and daring professional and home cooks have long experimented with adding cocoa to unexpected dishes. From chocolate-covered bacon to chocolate-flavored beer, chocolate has proven that it's so much more than a dessert food. 

Enter: chocolate + chili. The ultimate in savory dishes gets an infusion of rich, earthy, chocolatey flavor in each of these seven recipes, which will prove once and for all that chocolate is endlessly versatile... 

Beef Chili with Pancetta, Ancho and Chocolate

Impress dinner guests (and your stomach) with this filling and flavorful dish. The ingredients list is a bit long, so you might have to drop a little extra dough at the grocery store. But when you cook up all those ingredients—which include ancho chiles, pancetta, ground beef, a ton of veggies, a slew of spices, brown sugar, dark beer, beans, and unsweetened chocolate—you'll forget the cost. 

Black Bean and Chocolate Chili

Ordinary vegan chili gets a major upgrade thanks to the addition of semisweet chocolate. This chili recipe is also jam-packed with veggies and good-for you spices. The chocolate isn’t the only unusual ingredient; the recipe also calls for soy sauce (to level-up the umami!) and a topper of vegan cheese or sour cream. The whole thing is ready to eat in a measly 35 minutes.

Dr. Pepper and Chocolate Chili

If you thought adding chocolate to chili seemed kind of weird, then pouring a can of Dr. Pepper in there might be a walk on the wild side. But according to the recipe’s creator, it’s a great way to add mouth-popping flavor. (The unsweetened cocoa powder is the icing on this flavorful, proverbial cake.) While soda may be an indulgent ingredient, the rest of the recipe has plenty of nutrients thanks to the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and spices.

Mexican Chocolate Chili

This recipe was designed by nutritionists, so you can rest easy knowing that it was created with healthy living in mind. The dish is packed with antioxidants thanks to a slew of spices, veggies, and cocoa powder. That cocoa powder also adds plenty of complexity and flavor; same with the additions of molasses and dark beer. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring!

Paleo Chocolate Chili Recipe

Stay strong on your Paleo diet and enjoy the flavor of chocolate by adding unsweetened cocoa powder to this meaty chili recipe. The recipe’s creator recommends experimenting with different meat combinations and toppings (such as sliced olives or avocado) and doubling up the batch so you can freeze half and enjoy chili on demand the next time you find yourself with a craving.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chili with Three Beans

Just 20 minutes to prep plus 6 hours in the slow cooker and to enjoy this easy, tasty chocolate chili recipe. This recipe’s secret weapons are bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and honey, which add sweetness and richness to elevate to add a little extra dimension and balance out the savory and spicy ingredients. It'll keep you full until breakfast thanks to tons of fiber and protein from theground beef and three types of beans.

30-Minute Chocolate-Espresso Beef and Black Bean Chili

We all know chocolate-covered espresso beans are a delicious combo, right?!  Right, so how out-of-the-box is it really to liven up your chili with the two?. This recipe’s creator boldly goes there thanks to the additions of espresso powder and unsweetened cocoa powder. They're also not afraid to add in some honey and hickory smoked sea salt (or smoked sweet paprika) to further distinguish this recipe from your average chili. The notes say this recipe freezes well, so make a massive batch and store leftovers in the freezer for up to three months (meal prep win!).