Jan 19, 2012

Chipotle & chocolate chili

I’m constantly refining my vegetarian chili recipe, in search of the ultimate version. I love this one to death, but it will probably not be the last chili you see from me!

At first I thought this recipe might be too much flavor for your brain to process, with four kinds of chile powder, chipotle vegetarian sausages, chocolate stout beer and bittersweet chocolate. But when I served it recently at a potluck for gojee food bloggers, it drew raves. In a stroke or serendipity, someone set a rice cooker filled with brown rice next to the chili. While I’m usually more of a chili purist, it turns out that rice was the perfect accompaniment. A dollop of fat-free sour cream or yogurt is essential, too (use soy versions for a vegan dish.)

More than one potluck attendee – and mind you, these were some seriously great food bloggers – said “If no one had told me this chili was vegetarian, I would have never known.”  That’s when I knew I had a winner on my hands.

When you make this chili, be sure to hunt down Field Roast chipotle sausages; other brands of vegetarian sausage don’t have the same chewy texture (and no, I’m on on Field Roast’s payroll!). They are frustratingly high in sodium, but  here I use only two links in a large batch, so not to worry.

The chili has an edge of bitterness, which I quite like. But if you want to tone that aspect down, use a lighter beer instead of chocolate stout, and eliminate the espresso powder. Trust me, it will still be a far cry from your average bland and tomato-y vegetarian chili.

Chipotle & Chocolate Chili (Vegetarian)

1¾ cups dried pinto (or Sangre de Toro or Rio Zape) beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
2 links Field Roast chipotle vegetarian sausages, crumbled
1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or organic canola oil
1 large green bell pepper diced
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons hot or mild New Mexico chile powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 26-oz carton Pomi chopped tomatoes or Bionaturae chopped tomatoes*
12-ounce bottle beer, such as chocolate stout
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons molasses (or substitute brown sugar)
1½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
Cooked brown rice (optional)

Toppings: Avocado, red onions, cilantro, yogurt or sour cream (soy or regular)

Drain the soaked beans, then place in a large saucepan and cover well with fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour, adding water as necessary. Let them sit until you’re ready to use them, then drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Heat a teaspoon of oil on medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the crumbled vegetarian sausages and cook for 3 minutes, stirring a few times (it will stick; it’s ok). Remove to a plate.

Heat the remaining oil on medium heat in the same pot. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot to incorporate the sausage remnants that stuck to the pan. Add the tomato paste, chili powders, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, beer, espresso powder and brown sugar or molasses. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the reserved vegetarian sausage and beans and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. If the chili seems much too thick, add a little of the bean cooking liquid. Stir in chocolate and lime and turn off the heat.

Serve on cooked brown rice with your toppings of choice, or refrigerate and serve the next day, when it’s even better.

*BPA-free brands

Serves 6-8


  • I made a chili recently with unsweetened chocolate, it was the awesome. This looks great too, does all the chili counteract the sweet stuff? Love the photo.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi Janet, yes this chili is not sweet in any way. Give it a shot!

  • leslie

    Elsie, I’m on my way to making this as soon as I arrive in the Bay Area in two weeks. I’ve sent a shopping list to my daughter so that all those wonderful beans and sausages and Pomi tomatoes will be waiting for me when I arrive. One question; if I make the night before, is it best to stir in the rice then or wait to cook that?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Leslie nice to see your comment! I should have explained that you serve it on rice, you don’t stir the rice in! Enjoy.

  • looks divine! i LOVE chipotle!

  • Hi Cathy! Thanks for the great recipe. This chili sounds awesome. Do you know what I could use as a substitution for the beer? I know that’s probably what makes it so tasty, but my husband doesn’t drink nor does he eat foods that have been cooked in alcohol (it’s a religious thing). I would love to still be able to make it for him though, because he absolutely loves chili. Thanks!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi. I think you could just use water or any kind of stock instead of beer. Guinness also makes a non-alcoholic beer called Kaliber. It may have slight traces of alcohol, so I don’t know if that is a problem.

  • I’m a bit of a chili nut, and this one looks amazing! The espresso powder, chocolate and molasses must give it great complexity. I’m totally hooked. Going to see more recipes, NOW!

  • leslie


    How many would you suggest this serves, with the brown rice of course?

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    I would say 8 people. Or six super hungry ones!

  • Chef Stu

    Chocolate and chili is a perfect match….. I also like Coffee with chili both of those ingredients blend very well with the flavor of Chili. If you are using dried Chili pepers I highly recomend toasting them in a dry skillet to bring out the natural oils before grinding them into a powder to bring out more flavor. I like to use cocoa powder because it blends very well into the chili and it is easyier to use then baking chocolate.

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  • I sincerely hope that my hubby hasn’t gone through the last bottle of chocolate stout we had because this sounds fantastic!

  • sarah

    question: where do I find chipotle powder? is it something I grind from dried chipotles? I am going to make it this weekend for a super bowl party/chili cookoff!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    I’ve found it at Fairway in NYC, and they probably have it at whole foods. But yes, you can grind up dried chipotles, that would be the same thing!

  • Chili is one of my favorte foods – and this sounds DELICIOUS! I can’t have beer (gluten intolerance) but I think coffee would go great, too – or so I hope.

  • Hi Cathy,

    I wanted to find out if it would be ok to feature this recipe on CraftBeer.com. I would create a post similar to this one: http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/beer-and-food/recipes/recipes-list/show?title=new-belgium-1554-ale-ice-cream-wbrownies-coconut

    and include your photo/bio/link to your blog. CB.com aims to educate about craft beer and bring it back to the dinner table through pairings and as an ingredient in dishes. Please let me know if this would be possible.



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  • Sarah

    I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for so long, and am so glad I finally did. Wow! So much flavor, and like others at the potluck, can hardly believe it’s vegetarian (or heart healthy!) even though I cooked it! This is hands down the best chili I’ve ever made – easy, fast, and relatively inexpensive since I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry. The flavors are really rich, it’s nice and spicy, but somehow it wasn’t overwhelmingly rich, it was perfect. This is going into my regular rotation for comfort food season! Thanks for this great recipe!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Thanks Sarah. You reminded me that I should make this again!

  • Terri

    I just found your site through a Greatist.com article on cooking with beer. This chili looks amazing! It’s been snowing for the last 24 hours and I think I will have to make a pot today to warm hubby and me up! (and I just bought stout the other day!)

  • Emma

    I made this recently, left a few things out to make it vegan…and WOW absolutely delicious! Your blog has become my food bible! I’ve made quite a few of your tasty recipes now. Every single one has been amazing. Thank you for sharing :-)

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Thanks, Emma. I’m glad to have you as a fan!

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