Lighter Chili With Cocoa Powder

February 25, 2024   68 Comments

What is the key to great tasting chili? (cocoa powder) Many would suggest that you put a lot of meat and sausage to make it delicious….

Chili With Cocoa Powder

I was a believer in meat until I attended a chili cook-off at a friend's house. Of course, I was sure I had made the winner, until I tried the host's chili. Something was different about his recipe and I couldn't figure out what.

His chili won (argh) and I was flummoxed. I kept after him (calling, knocking on his door, e-mailing) and he FINALLY told me the secret. Cocoa powder.

Yes, a depth of flavor was achieved by adding unsweetened cocoa powder that you find in the baking section of the supermarket. Cocoa powder gives the chili a richness that makes POUNDS of meat unnecessary.

Since my family is trying to save money and eat less meat (my daughter went vegetarian), I decided to cut the ground beef that I add to my chili in half and add more beans. I was shocked to find out that no one noticed!

A couple of my favorite vegetarian standards are my cauliflower potato curry and my vegetarian black bean soup recipe.

This chili includes thirty-four percent of your daily value of iron and 13% of your daily value of calcium. You can keep all the ingredients in your pantry except for the ground beef (which you can keep in your freezer).

This is my dinner that I will make at the end of the week after not having a moment to make it to the grocery store. It is cheap, fast, and delicious and great for a crowd.

We will eat it over rice, pasta, with tortillas or just plain. You can add fresh salsa, avocados, a spoonful of plain yogurt, or anything else you can think of to mix it up.

What is your favorite chili recipe addition?

Chile with Cocoa Powder Recipe

3.6 from 136 reviews

(serves 8)

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1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
3-15 ounce cans different beans (black, kidney, white, pinto, etc.), drained and rinsed
1-28 ounce can plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons good quality chili powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cumin
salt to taste
hot sauce (optional)


Brown ground beef in large sauce pan over medium high heat. When meat is brown, drain off the fat. Pour in tomatoes with their juices, beans and add spices. Heat to a simmer and taste for salt. Cook for about 10 minutes at a low simmer and serve!

Nutrition Facts

For one serving (about 1 cup): 228 calories, 4.4 g fat, 1.7 g saturated fat, 21.2 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g sugar, 24.2 g protein, 7.4 g fiber, 400 mg sodium, 2 Blue, 2 Purple, 3 Green SmartPts

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

Other posts you might like:

Cauliflower Potato Curry Recipe

This cauliflower potato curry recipe should be a standard dish in your house....

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup Recipe

This vegetarian black bean soup recipe should be printed out and put in your favorite recipe spot.....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 68 )

I actually use cracked wheat instead of beef, chop a carrot, add some corn, a green pepper and a jalepeno. My chili is thick and currently the favorite amoung my family of meat eaters. Liquid smoke helps too, of course. :)

Another great secret ingredient for chili is canned pumpkin. I use about a half a cup for a pot of chili. Adds fiber, vitamin A, thickens the broth and adds just a hint of sweetness to balance out the heat if I've gotten carried away with the chipotle chile powder.

I use ground turkey and turkey sausage. My family loves it! I am going to try the cocoa power with it now!

that is what the Cincinnati Chili's have as a secret ingredient - cocoa. You can do chili over spaghetti (wheat too) I think of Greek descent.

This sounds delicious!! The jalapeno sounds tasty too:)

This is a bit scary for someone with a cocoa allergy though, we wouldn't think to ask whether cocoa has been added to chili. I'll have to start asking no matter what it is.

Great served over a baked potato too!!

My friend Francine's mother made that recipe for me once. I have yet to taste a chili that matches that awesome.

Been putting cocoa powder in my chili for years!

Delicious...hit the spot. I used to buy the envelopes with the seasoning but no more. :)

This sounds great and can not wait to give it a try. The only problem I have is determining WHAT a serving size is? Thanks

@Lynn - Probably around one- one 1/2 cup of chili - this is the problem with home cookin' - I never measure. You could divide it into 8 right after you finish making it! (divide in half, divide in half again, divide in half again?)

sorry for not being more accurate. Thanks for the question.

Wow! Sounds great. I shall have to try it with my high school Knowledge Bowl team, we always make chili for our competition days. I think I will try the pumpkin idea too. Thanks for the great ideas everyone!

YES! I make my chili this way, it's sort of an Ohio thing. It's also amazing to add a little cinnamon! It adds such a deep flavor and is perfect for a nice cold day!

I always add cinnamon but haven't tried cocoa powder. Sounds good.

Thanks Lisa...yes, was hoping there was another magical way to figure the portion size..LOL...but dividing a 'half' a few times...lots easier than dividing the whole are brilliant! :)

Added a lot of eggplant to chili last summer as I planted too many eggplants. I was a big hit here. Been adding cocoa to chili for years and another secret is too make your own chili powder with the dried peppers from your garden and skillet roasted spices.

Cocoa - I would have never thought of adding it to chili but I'm definitely going to try it. If anyone has a recipe for homemade chili powder, please list it because I've been having allergic reactions to something in my chili & I suspect the problem may be the chili powder since the ingredients aren't listed on the containers.

We tried your chili last night and it was fabulous! Thank you soo much!

I love to add a touch of cinnamon and salsa to my chili.

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