30-Minute Loaded Chocolate Chili — If you’re looking for a unique spin on classic chili, try this EASY and DELICIOUS chocolate chili recipe made with cocoa powder and cinnamon! Hearty comfort food that’s on the healthier side and perfect for chilly weather!!
Unique Chili Recipe with Cocoa and Cinnamon
I love chili, especially in the winter, because it’s hearty and warms me up from the inside out.
This chocolate chili is easy, ready in 30 minutes, and loaded with a variety of spices and ingredients that although I’ve never made chili with many of them in the past — namely cinnamon, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and Fisher Walnut Halves and Pieces — it all totally works.
It’s hearty and keeps you full for hours but it’s also naturally gluten-free. I urge you to give this unique chili a chance when you’re looking for a creative spin on a winter classic.
I’ve never made Cincinnati chili, which is known to have both cinnamon and chocolate or cocoa in it — along with cloves, allspice, and Worcestershire — so I can’t say how this chocolate chili compares to that exactly.
But I would say it’s a spinoff of Cincinnati chili, with a smokier twist since I used fire-roasted tomatoes and green chilis as well as smoked paprika. The recipe is adapted from my Smoky Beef and Black Bean Chili so if this chili looks good to you, also check that recipe out.
What’s in Loaded Chocolate Chili?
Like all chili recipes, there are a few ingredients, but none of them are hard to find.
For this chili recipe you’ll need:
- Ground beef
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular tomatoes)
- Tomato paste
- Fire-roasted green chiles (or regular green chiles)
- Chicken broth or water
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika (or regular)
- Cocoa powder or dark chocolate
- Cinnamon sticks (and cinnamon)
- Bay leaves
- Fisher Walnut Halves & Pieces
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown sugar
The Fisher Walnut Halves and Pieces add bits of texture and crunch, but since walnuts are already more of a tender nut, they work really well in this healthier chili. I absolutely loved their presence. They were little surprises of texture that were very welcomed.
Fisher recipe nuts are a wonderful way to add flavor and texture to any dish without adding preservatives or salt. Look for their stand-up resealable bag and enjoy the taste of these high-quality walnuts, pecans, and almonds.
Check out some of my other favorites I’ve made with Fisher Nuts, including Mini Crumble Topping Pumpkin Bread, Sea Salt Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies and The Easiest Foolproof Fudge, which are great for cookie exchanges and gifts.
How to Make Chocolate Chili
After browning the onion and beef, you pretty much add all the rest of the ingredients at once, which makes this such a foolproof chili.
Let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes, and get ready to dig in!
I’ve given instructions in the recipe card below for how you can adjust the chocolate and cinnamon flavors to your liking. If you’ve never used cocoa powder in chili or cinnamon in chili, start with less than I suggest and work your way up as desired.
A Few Notes About Using Cinnamon in Chili
The cinnamon adds to the depth of flavor and plays nicely into the overall flavor profile.
First, I used 4 cinnamon sticks and while I could very subtly can taste hints of cinnamon, it was very subtle. If that’s all you want, stop with cinnamon sticks.
However, if you’re feeling the cinnamon love and want it to be more pronounced, add 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. That will push the cinnamon flavor into the forefront.
Cinnamon is such a great spice for the holiday season and it’s a nice complement to the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, chocolate and gives this chili such a unique flavor.
Tips for Making Chili with Cocoa Powder
I made the chili with cocoa powder and dark chocolate and I couldn’t detect more of a chocolate flavor in one versus the other.
It’s very subtle and I doubt you’d have any idea it’s there unless someone told you. It’s one of those ingredients that serves to enhance the others and works in conjunction with them rather than standing in the forefront.
I almost always add a pinch of sugar to my chili recipes because sugar offsets the acidity from the tomatoes and tomato paste. In this case, I used brown sugar (you can use light or dark) rather than granulated.
Since sugar in savory items can be a touchy ingredient, if you’re very sensitive to sweetness, either omit it or add it just a pinch at a time. I can’t taste sweetness; rather I taste reduced overall (tomato) acidity.
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30-Minute Loaded Chocolate Chili
- 2 to 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef, 80 to 90% lean
- 1 large/extra-large sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if desired or necessary if your beef is very lean
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely pressed or minced
- one 15-ounce can black beans, I used no-salt added, drained and rinsed
- one 15-ounce can red kidney beans, I used low-salt, drained and rinsed
- one 14.5-ounce can petite diced fire-roasted tomatoes, regular petite diced tomatoes may be substituted
- one 6-ounce can tomato paste
- two 4-ounce cans fire-roasted diced green chiles, regular diced green chiles may be substituted; and/or reduce to 1 can for less spiciness
- 1 to 2 cups water, chicken or vegetable broth, or as desired
- 1 to 1.5 tablespoons chili powder, I used 1.5
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder OR 1 ounce unsweetened dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, regular paprika may be substituted
- 2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or taste (see step 3. below)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 3 to 5 cinnamon sticks
- 2 to 4 bay leaves
- ½ cup Fisher Walnut Halves and Pieces, plus more for garnishing if desired
- 1 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar, light or dark, optional and to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional and to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, optional but recommended (red wine vinegar or your favorite vinegar may be substituted)
- sour cream or Greek yogurt, optional for garnishing
- To a large Dutch oven, add the beef, onion, optional oil, and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through and onions are translucent, about 7 minutes; crumble beef as it cooks and stir intermittently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir nearly constantly.
- Add the the black beans, kidney beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, water/broth (if you prefer thicker chili start with 1 cup), chili powder, cumin, chili powder, cocoa powder or dark chocolate, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, optional cayenne, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, 1/2 cup Fisher Walnuts, and stir to combine.
- Bring to boil and allow chili to gently boil for about 5 minutes or until chili has reduced and thickened some.
- Stir, taste, optionally add brown sugar to taste (I added 3 teaspoons because the sugar balances the acid from the tomatoes and tomato sauce).
- If you prefer a stronger and more pronounced cinnamon flavor, add an optional 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional vinegar (brightens up the flavor), and additional salt, pepper, etc. if desired.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, ladle into bowls, and optionally garnish with sour cream/Greek yogurt, additional walnuts, or your favorite chili garnishes.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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More Easy Chili Recipes:
Easy 30-Minute Smoky Beef and Black Bean Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem!! This EASY, hearty chili with lovely SMOKY heat is ready in 30 minutes! PERFECT for busy weeknights!!
Slow Cooker Beef Chili – Easy, hearty, comfort food! As the chili simmers in your slow cooker it develops so much flavor! A foolproof chili recipe that you’ll want to add into your regular rotation!
Easy 30-Minute Turkey Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem! This easy, hearty, healthy chili is ready in 30 minutes and it’s full of flavor! Perfect for busy weeknights!
Easy 30-Minute Homemade White Chicken Chili – Hearty, healthy, loaded with tender chicken, and packed with bold flavor!! Fast and easy comfort food that everyone loves! It’ll be on rotation all winter!
Easy 30-Minute Chicken Enchilada Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem! This easy, hearty, healthier chili full of Mexican-inspired flavors is ready in 30 minutes! Perfect for busy weeknights!
Easy 30-Minute Beef Taco Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem!! This EASY, hearty chili full of Mexican-inspired flavors is ready in 30 minutes! If you like TACOS, you’ll LOVE this chili!!
Post is brought to you by Fisher Nuts. The recipe, video, images, text, and opinions expressed are my own.