Chipotle Chocolate Chili

Okay, for any of you who have been reading for awhile, you’ll know that I have uber-picky eaters at my house, namely my husband and my son. So imagine my surprise when I made this chili for the first time last year and both of them ate it up. Willingly. And then they had more. And then my husband told me that this was THE chili recipe he’d been longing for the whole time we’d been married. So imagine his surprise when I told him that this was no ordinary chili–there’s a rather unusual ingredient that you’d think would be gross, but it adds a depth and complexity to the flavor of the chili that makes it taste as though it’s been simmering all day. Luckily for you, it’s more like 30-40 minutes. Which is totally doable. The super-secret ingredient? Unsweetened chocolate. Wait! Come back! Have we led you astray yet? I didn’t think so. Hear me out…

The bones of this recipe come from Cooking Light. However, the consensus of the online reviews were that there was waaaay too much chocolate in the chili–they felt it tasted muddy and bitter. So when I made it, I kept that in mind. And then I started tasting and adding and simmering and adding some more. Until I got it right. And it’s so, so right.
I’m betting there are some chili cook offs in your future, so give this twist on an old classic a shot! And don’t be afraid to change things according to your personal tastes–that’s part of the magic of chili!
Chipotle Chocolate Chili
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 14.5-oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can beef broth
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Nesquik! That would be very bad!)
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Chipotle sauce (from the can of chipotle chilies)
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (1/2 unsweetened baking cube), chopped (optional; use to taste as needed; be careful, because too much will make your chili bitter)
Light sour cream
Chopped green onions
3-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Shredded cheddar cheese
Heat some olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and ground turkey until meat is cooked through. Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, tomatoes, beans, and beef broth. Add all of the chipotle sauce from a small can of chipotle chilies. Heat to boiling and then reduce to a simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until thickened as desired (I like it about 30-40 minutes). If desired, add some chopped chipotle chilies. Add 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar and a small amount of chopped chocolate at a time until desired richness is reached. If necessary, add more red wine vinegar to cut the sweetness of the chili. This is where you can play around a little with the flavors.
When thickened and seasoned as desired, serve with chopped onions or green onions (green onions, though not pictured, are better, in my opinions!), sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.


  1. I am soooo trying this! We have a chili cook off next week for our ward Halloween party, and I’ve been looking for a good recipe that’s original, and I think I just found it!!! Thanks! Ü

  2. That looks way yummy. I’m always on the lookout for new chili recipes! My family loves chili. Thanks again for another “recipe to try” added to my list!

  3. I am definitely going to try this. I already have my chili recipe for this year’s cook off, so maybe this will be my secret weapon next year!

  4. I am with Erika, I am going to be using this for our wards Chili cook off. And we are having it on Halloween!

  5. Am I the only one not having a chili cook-off?! Maybe I need to host one at my house, lol.

    Chili is sounding very yummy today- and I agree that chocolate adds the perfect flavor (hello- what does chocolate NOT add the perfect flavor to?)


    Sara – I really can’t think of a better “secret ingredient”.

    mmmmmmm. . . looks delicious!

  7. I just made this for dinner tonight, along with the naughty corn muffins (cake :)) My suggestion would be to only use half a can of the chipotle sauce if you want your younger kids to eat it. It was very spicy, but good nonetheless.

  8. We just had this for dinner with the naughty cornbread. YUM! Even my picky 3 year old ate it. Well, after I pureed it. Baby steps. I’m a huge wuss for spice, though, so I only put a tiny bit of chipotle sauce. Just the chili powder gave it plenty of kick for my weak tastebuds! Thanks for another great one!

  9. Just made this tonight and it was really good! My husband said it’s a keeper. It will definitely have to replace my usual chili recipe. Thanks!

  10. This is the chili I have been waiting for too. I love chipotle stuff and everyone loved it. THanks!

  11. I went looking for the Chipotle salsa you pictured here and only could find Chipotle peppers in Adobo. I'm guessing this is not the same thing. What aisle are you finding your sauce on? I looked in the Mexican Food section.

  12. Vanessa–I normally can't find that brand, either–I just got lucky that time! The peppers in adobo sauce works great, you just want the sauce that's surrounding the peppers.

  13. So i made this halloween night for dinner and i so dont know what i did wrong but mine came out way spicy hot. our mouths were on fire. any suggestions? also the only change i made is switchin out the ground turkey for ground beef instead. and i also was only able to get the chipotles in adobo. (do you think that did it?) Thanks!!

  14. Oh My Gosh!! Delicious! I would definitely make this for a cook off. I used ground beef (because that's what I had on hand.) I also couldn't find same chipotle salsa showed in photo. I used chipotle in adobe sauce. It was pretty thick but I got as much sauce as I could to come out. Everyone loved it. I served it in bread bowls and a green salad on the side! My only complaint is that I didn't make a double batch!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! for this site.

  15. I'll admit, I was skeptical…Chocolate? Chipotle?And I was proven wrong. This recipe was so amazing, I don't know what else to say, other than YES! YES! Perfect. Can't wait to have the one and only cup of leftover chili for lunch tomorrow!

  16. Yes, I also could not find Chipotle Chilis and didn't know that you could use the sauce from chipotle peppers until I came home and read the comments to this recipe. I live in Utah and went to FIVE stores before I found a small can of chipotle sauce (at Smiths). I am excited to make this tonight!!

  17. Made this last night (minus the chipotle sauce) and ohhmygoodness!!! I normally stay away from ANYTHING with ANY kind of bean… but this was absolutely incredible!!! Best comfort food ever!!

  18. Does anyone know how big a can of diced tomatoes to use? I only have giant cans in my grocery store, but the pic doesn't look that big.

  19. kristennw–Yep, very freezer-friendly! Most soups are, just be careful of the cream-based ones or ones with bread/dumplings/noodles in them.

    1. Jamie, I tweaked it so much that I don’t think the original CL nutritional info will be relevant at all. There are lots of sites that calculate nutrtional info, though–try googling spark people recipes.

  20. I decided to try this chili a couple of weeks ago and I thought it came out great. But the best compliment I got on it was just when my sister — who normally hates chili — told me she kept thinking about how good it was and asked if I would make it again!

  21. This is Cincinnati Style Chili! I live in Cincinnati, so I can get it on every corner – i’m sure it’s slightly different than what you’ve made here but here you either love Skyline or Goldstar – one has chocolate, the other has cinnamon! DEE-LISH!!

  22. This was delicious and easy to make! Haven’t tried a recipe I didn’t like! You guys are ah-maze-ing!

  23. Made this last night to use up some chipotles I had opened. My husband was incredibly skeptical when I told him I was using a “new” chili recipe because he regularly requests my “regular” chili. As soon as he took a couple of bites he said this should be my new “regular” chili recipe. Delish & thanks!

  24. I actually looked on here for a chili recipe, as this is my first time making homemade chili. Then when I saw the title of it, I closed the page. Didn’t even read it. Then I thought about it and remembered that you girls have NEVER steered me wrong on a recipe. I decided to give it a shot. The only things I’m doing differently is 1, it’s in the crockpot, 2, I used chipotle flavored tabasco instead of chipotle sauce since I didn’t have any, 3, instead of ground turkey I am using some left over steak from steak fajitas Sunday night. Holy cow, it’s Deeeelicious!

  25. Sorry. This was NOT a winner for me at all. I am a huge fan of your blog. I own your cookbook. I love all of your other recipes. It wasn’t even the chocolate in it – I have a BBQ chicken casserole recipe that has chocolate in it and I LOVE it. This was over-the-top spicy, and I even reduced the amount of spicy. It was really sweet too.

  26. I was looking for a chocolate chili recipe and would love to try yours. I have everything I need to make it except the can of Chipotle Chilies. What I do have is some Chipotle Chile pepper powder. Could I use this instead? I could go on the hunt for the can….but would rather not if I don’t have to. THANKS!

  27. I just won a chili cook-off this weekend with this recipe! It was even my first time making it. I absolutely love it, but I have to admit it was a little too spicy for my younger kids.

  28. Just had to drop in and say I won our ward’s Chili Cook-Off last night with this recipe! Yay! Thanks for all the great recipes! 🙂

  29. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this since I discovered your blog 9 months ago. When we first started dating, my husband tried to woo me over with his chili recipe. He always claimed it was so awesome and that chili was HIS dish to make. And so it was for years. Until I made this. His chili just quietly fell by the wayside after the first time we tasted this recipe, never to be mentioned again. And now he’s even learned how to make it himself!

  30. I made this and wrote about it here. This chili was amazing! The whole family enjoys it. We’ll be eating some more of the leftovers in a few days over beer fries again. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

  31. I really want to try this recipe, but I have ONE question. I DO not like spicy stuff, so can i just omit the chipotle sauce altogether? Or will that make it too sweet? I don’t have chipotle sauce in my pantry NOR do I want to drive all over town trying to hunt some down…..kind of wanted to make it tonight with the things I have on hand.

  32. tried it with 3 chipotle chillies and 1 jalepeno pepper and was way too hot! I love spicy things but it was just too much, if trying to make it hotter, I would just do 1 extra chipotle pepper. but aside from that best chilli I’ve ever made. thanks for recipe

  33. Awesome Chili!!!! My husband & I LOVED IT!!! And my hubby is pretty picky all around, but even more so when it comes to Chili! A few changes we may try next time, are: black beans, actual chunks of beef (instead of ground meat), and grilling the red pepper (char it on all sides on the grill, then peel it, for a nice roasted flavor). But, THIS CHILI TRULY IS AMAZING AS IS!!!! Thank you, Kate!

  34. Made this tonight and it was fab!! Do not agree at all with the people who claim it’s too spicy, though I do prefer spicy foods. Could easily cut down the spice by stirring in some sour cream. Love love, as always!

  35. This is amazing! It is so yummy and easy. I usually have all of the ingredients in my cupboards.
    I needed a quick last minute dinner one night and decided to make this because I had all of the ingredients. It was so good and had a different flavor than the chili’s I usually make. Thanks!

  36. I made this for my son’s birthday party. Everyone went wild over it. And I mean EVERYONE(10 people). Now I know what to take to my In-Laws when we go for the weekend:) Thank you!

  37. LOVE this! I wanted chili but I wanted something a little different than our usual recipe. As usual, OBB did not disappoint!

  38. We loved this recipe! It was so yummy! I couldn’t find the chipotle peppers with chipotle sauce so I used the adobo sauce and it was awesome.

  39. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I made it last night for our family’s big Mother’s Day Fire and Ice Party (we have a lot of people between my husband’s family and mine.) I doubled it and it turned out so yummy…smokey and rich. We also made your homemade lipgloss for gifts and it turned out great. Thanks ladies!

  40. Sorry to say…this didn’t do it for us at all and my family eats EVERYTHING! Doubled the recipe (3 teenaged boys and a skinny, bottomless pit husband). When it came time to ‘finish’ the chili, I started with 4 (not 6) tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1/2 ounce of chopped unsweetened chocolate. The vinegar completely overwhelmed the taste of the chili! Can’t figure out what went wrong unless I cooked mine down more than you do (?). A few pinches of baking soda tamed the acid somewhat but I was really bummed…have loved everything else that I have tried on OBB.

  41. The flavor profile in my batch is first tomatoes then, very spicy. I want it a little sweeter or something to level out the flavor profile. What do you guys think?

  42. Hi! Quick questions for the master chefs – I was actually able to find a 7 oz can of chipotle salsa like the one you pictured. This is my first time making this recipe (have never been led astray by any of your others and am EXCITED about this one!). Do I use the whole can? I don’t understand how to convert “sauce around the chilis” to use of the actual salsa … help! We love spicy stuff so just let me know what you think is best. Thanks!

  43. I’ve been making this chili for years, and our family loves it. Just made it last night for the Chili Cook-Off competition at my kids’ school–and won first place! Thanks, Our Best Bites!! 🙂

  44. I love this recipe. What a great richness the chocolate adds to the dish. I made this for an office chili cook-off and won first place. I forwarded the link to a number of people in the office. It was a hit!

  45. So this is my husband’s absolute favorite now! The chipotle sauce I’ve found to use doesn’t really make it spicy at all but gives it a nice smoky flavor. I take this to potlucks and people go crazy over it. It makes me feel like a real chef haha. Thank you!!
    P.S. I have yet to try one of your recipes that we haven’t liked. Anytime I say I’m trying a new recipe from our best bites my husband is just like oh it’ll be great.

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