Ed's Chicago Cocoa Chili

"PLEASE READ: YES! CHOCOLATE CHILI! Here is my quite excellent balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy, which I hope you will enjoy as well. 10/14/2011: For those of you out there looking for a traditional chili recipe, THIS ISN'T IT. I've removed the 'sour mix' from the recipe (you can add it if you want) because it really is just adding more sugar, lemon, lime and water, so I adjusted the lemon/lime juice in the recipe and you can add more sugar if you think the chili needs some. If you are trying to go for a more unbalanced, traditional-style taste for this chili, you might want to add brown sugar separately from the rest of the spice mix in smaller amounts until the chili tastes the way you like. I've listed additional salt and pepper without specific measurements because when cooking meat and the veggies, it's standard operating procedure for most chefs to season as you cook. Need that extra layer of heat and flavor? Add 1/2 finely diced Poblano pepper."
photo by Edward Heller photo by Edward Heller
photo by Edward Heller
photo by dividend photo by dividend
Ready In:
6 1/2 quarts




  • Assemble the spice mix into an airtight container ahead of time. Most of these ingredients are approximate. Seasonings must be to taste; you're shooting for the perfect SWEET,SALTY,SPICY combo.
  • CHOP ALL THE VEGGIES UP BEFORE YOU START ANYTHING ELSE. (If you want to save some time: instead of the onion and bell pepper, you can use a bag of frozen "seasoning mix", which includes onions, bell peppers and sometimes small amounts of carrots and celery. you can find this in most frozen veggie aisles.).
  • Inside a BIG, DEEP, REALLY DEEP cast iron pot (about 7 qt), on HIGH HEAT, BROWN THE GROUND MEAT to about medium rare (You do not need to completely brown the meat, because it will continue to cook in the pot).
  • Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Drain off or use the ladle to take out the excess fat, but leave some of it in the pot to fry the vegetables.
  • Push the meat to one side to make space to fry the vegetables.
  • Reduce the heat to MEDIUM/HIGH.
  • On the empty side of the skillet, add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos, then add all the rest of the vegetables.
  • SAUTEE/FRY the veggies for a few minutes.
  • Season the veggies lightly with salt and pepper. Try to get the veggies on the bottom of the pan, and the meat on top of the veggies. This way the meat doesn't burn and the veggies get cooked. (If you're freaking out about this, just take the meat out first (put it in a bowl), add the veggies to the bottom of the skillet, then add the meat back on top. I'm just trying to keep this a ONE-POT cooking experience.).
  • Make a little space on the bottom of the pan and.
  • Add the tomato paste (don't worry if you can't get the entire contents of the can out).
  • Cook the paste for a minute, then mix everything in the pot together.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes.
  • Season the tomatoes with a little salt.
  • Keep stirring, keep a very slow boil or a simmer.
  • Add Lemon juice, Lime juice and Orange juice.
  • Also add the dark chocolate pieces. Let the heat from the chili melt the chocolate and then.
  • Taste it. Something not right? Fix it! If it's too hot or sour, add a little more brown sugar. If it's not salty enough, add a little more salt. Not hot enough for ya? Add more hot peppers, or a splash of tabasco hot sauce. Chili is more of an art than a science. Do what tastes good to you!
  • Set the heat to LOW.
  • Partially cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. TURN OFF THE HEAT.
  • Congratulations! You now have the best chili on the planet.
  • You can keep this chili covered in the pot for a few hours. Serve with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and fritos corn chips or cornbread.
  • STORING THE CHILI - I like to put the chili in those Ziploc disposable/reusable containers. You can refrigerate or freeze the chili in them really easy. The chili reheats very well in the microwave. Refrigerated chili is probably good for a week. Frozen chili is probably good for months. The chili defrosts in about 2 days if moved from freezer to refrigerator.
  • AWESOME CHILI DOGS! - Use all-beef hot dogs like Vienna Beef, Klement's or Nathan's. Other hot dogs do not deserve this chili.
  • NO BEANS? WHAT GIVES?. As a big fan of chili, I've discovered that it's origins do not include beans. "Anyone who knows beans about chili, knows that chili ain't got no beans!". Beans were added later, probably because beans are cheaper than meat or out of sheer confusion between chili and baked beans. -- but BEANS ARE FREAKIN GASSY! I don't like gassy chili, and I'd hope you don't either. If you REALLY MUST HAVE BEANS, you can add a can of them to this recipe, it won't hurt the chili.
  • You can also substitute those soybean crumbles for the meat, which works very well with this recipe, but then remember to make sure you add some type of oil to fry the veggies.

Questions & Replies

default avatar
  1. mrpaul
    I'm dying to try this for New Years Eve but I don't think the pot I have is gonna hold all of this. I've got a 7qt crock pot. Can I start things in the pot that I have and transfer it over to the crock pot and finish it off in there ? I would hate to get everything in my small little pot n the stove and not be able to stir it .....


  1. Kelly H
    I made this last night for an event. It was a HUGE success. Every bite was eaten. Thank you!
  2. bobbie h
    This was the most wonderful chocolate chile I have ever tasted. It moved my taste buds to heights of orgasm!
  3. Charity C
    I make this often for football parties. It's always a hit! I leave out the sweet and sour sauce and I add chili beans (I like 'em, darn it!). My hubby has requested this for our New Years Eve party. What a great flavor to start the new year with. Thanks!
  4. ReneeT
    Brought this to our neighbor's for 4th of July and it was a hit! I bought indidual Frito bags and had everyone laddle some chili right in the bag. Great way to have easy clean up. Can't wait to have it again!
  5. lourdeshaviland
    Firstly, my own chili needed lots of help. My daughter referred to it as "unseasoned soupy meat." So when I saw this recipe author's ingredients list and uncommonly detailed and helpful instructions, I had to give it a shot. When I put the cocoa powder in with the meat, I have to warn those of you that have never done so: I felt my heart sink into my stomach. I thought, '&*%$!! It looks like cake batter!' I was sure I had just wasted all this meat. I followed the instructions faithfully and when I checked on it later, I was just so pleased. It's definitely the best chili I've ever made. It looks and TASTES like actual chili and not the crap I usually make. Thanks for posting this recipe and for all the great notes with your instructions.


  1. timbur
    Very good chili! We doubled the jalapenos and used urad dal and kidney beans instead of the ground beef.
  2. Five Cent
    I'm not sure what happened here! This came out INCREDIBLY bitter. Not sure if everyone else is using hot chocolate instead of cocoa powder, but this really didn't work for me. Sorry!


For info on making Chicago Style pizza, check out http://www.RealDeepDish.com If you like any of my recipes, please send me an email or post a review on the recipe page and let me know how you located my recipe. Thanks. :-)
View Full Profile

Find More Recipes