This sweet chili recipe is a warm comfort meal that's perfect for fall and it's made with an unexpected ingredient... chocolate! This easy one-pot meal is a slightly sweet twist on traditional, savory chili recipes.
Chili reminds me of marinara sauce. There are so many variations and depending on our mood, the flavor can go from sweet to spicy. Typically, I prefer spicy chili but after having brunch with my cousin over the holidays, we were both shocked and intrigued tasting sweet chili at the cutest little cafe in my hometown in Georgia.
Chocolate in chili? It had a savory flavor but ended with a sweet flare that caught our attention and added amazing rich depth. I'd never thought about sweeter chili and now that I've tried it, it's definitely been added to the rotation.
Why You'll Love This Sweet Chili Recipe
Perfect for Cold Weather. Enjoy a hearty bowl of chili during the cold months; fall into the depths of winter.
Unique Flavor. Chocolate chili may sound like a wild concept but you have to trust me on this one! If you've had Mexican mole then the concept of chocolate in savory dishes isn't a new concept to you. These sauces are known for their rich, nuanced flavors, combining chili peppers with chocolate. Adding chocolate to chili adds a similar depth and complexity.
Easy to Make. This is a convenient way to make chili. There's no need for a long cooking time in a slow cooker or crock pot. Make sweet chili in just 1 hour right on the stovetop.
Ground beef, spicy sausage, and three bean varieties make this sweet chili super filling, and ingredients like chocolate, red wine, and tomato paste enrich the taste. This chili is sweet, smoky, and spicy.
- Aromatics. sweet onion, green pepper, garlic cloves
- Olive Oil. Use this for the sauté.
- Meat. I use ground beef and spicy ground sausage.
- Tomato Paste. this adds a bright acidic flavor.
- Seasoning. I use a mouthwatering mix of oregano, onion powder, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Red Wine. The alcohol cooks off but it deepens the flavor.
- Beef Stock. Use this for the rich, savory flavor that offsets the sweetness.
- Diced Tomatoes. Use a regular can and another two 10 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles.
- Beans. Use black beans, white kidney beans, and dark red candy beans.
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate. This "secret ingredient" does add sweetness but also an earthy depth. The bitterness and richness of chocolate can balance out the acidity of tomatoes.
- Cheddar Cheese
- Plain Greek Yogurt Sour Cream
How to Make Sweet Chili
Let's go over how to create this quick dish.
Sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in a large pot with oil on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add ground beef and sausage, crumble and brown, then add salt and pepper to taste. Drain beef and onion mixture if excess fat renders.
Add Remaining Ingredients
Add tomato paste to beef and onion mixture, and stir until combined. Then include seasonings and stir for an additional minute. Add wine and cook until completely reduced. Add diced tomatoes and beans, and stir.
Simmer Sweet Chili
Top with beef stock, stir, and let it simmer for 30 minutes to one hour. Gradually add chocolate, one tablespoon at a time, and then adjust sweetness to taste.
Garnish the sweet chili with your favorite toppings and finally, enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
- If the chili comes out too sweet, correct it by adding acidity like lemon juice or vinegar.
- Do not skip the sauté. It deepens the flavor base of this recipe.
- Serve sweet chili with cornbread, saltine crackers, grilled cheese, or salad.
- Chocolate. I prefer semi-sweet chocolate but you can use whatever chocolate you prefer. You can use dark chocolate as an alternative. It's less sweet but has a toasty, nutty taste.
- Meat. To save calories, use leaner protein such as ground turkey or ground chicken instead of pork and beef.
- Vegetarian Sweet Chili. Want a meatless meal? Simply omit the meat. The beans make this chili hearty enough.
How to Store Leftovers
Once the chili has completely cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. For longer storage, freeze it for up to 2 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat, simply microwave, warm it up on the stove or medium heat or in a crockpot on the warm setting.
Can I make Sweet Chili in advance?
Absolutely! Chili is one of those dishes that tastes better when the flavors have gotten a chance to meld.
Should I put sugar in my chili?
Although I prefer to add chocolate to my chili to make it sweet, you can use sugar instead. Adding sweetness balances out acidity and spice. It also adds a more complex flavor profile.
What makes chili taste sweet?
Some chili recipes use brown sugar to sweeten chili. If you prefer a natural sweetness, carrots or even peppers can add this quality too.
Where did chocolate in chili originate?
Adding chocolate to chili is not a new concept. It actually dates back to the Aztec civilization in the 1300s. The Aztecs often combined cocoa beans with chili peppers.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS CHOCOLATE CHILI RECIPE!
- 1 cup Sweet Onion
- 1 Green Pepper
- 5 cloves Garlic
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- ½ lb Ground Sausage spicy
- 2.5 tb Tomato Paste
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ⅔ cup Red Wine
- 1 cup Beef Stock
- 28 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
- 10 oz Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles 2 cans
- 15 oz Can Black Beans 1 can
- 15 oz Can White Kidney Beans 1 can
- 15 oz Dark Red Kidney Beans 1 can
- 1-2 tablespoon Semi-Sweet Chocolate
- Cheddar Cheese
- Plain Greek Yogurt Sour Cream
- In a large pot on medium to high heat, sauté onion, green pepper and garlic in oil for 1-2 minutes.
- Add ground beef and sausage, crumble and brown, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drain beef and onion mixture if excess fat renders.
- Add tomato paste to beef and onion mixture, stir until combined.
- Add seasonings and stir an additional minute.
- Add wine and cook until completely reduced.
- Add diced tomatoes and beans, stir.
- Top with beef stock, stir and let simmer thirty minutes-one hour.
- Add 1-2 tablespoon of chocolate, adjust sweetness to taste.
- Garnish with favorite toppings and enjoy!