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3 Bean Chocolate Chilli (vegan)

A Tex-Mex vegan chilli with a rich deep flavour from the mix of spices and chocolate used. Serve it on wraps with salad leaves, on a baked potato or with rice. This chilli freezes really well.

Chocolate in Chilli

Yes I did say chocolate. Don't you add chocolate to your chilli? I'm sure some of you do. It gives the chilli a wonderful depth of flavour with less of a tomato taste.

I would love to claim this is a traditional Mexican dish, but it's not. Mexicans do add chocolate to dishes, but chilli con carne (or chilli non carne) came from the American Southwest not Mexico, so it is more of a Tex-Mex dish with a Mexican flourish.

I add bitter dark chocolate cocoa, but you can add cacao powder or even a few squares of dark chocolate.

Chilli Spices

My spices are simple, I add cumin, chilli powder and black pepper. I like to keep it simple. If I have some fresh coriander I will add it towards the end, but I don't worry if I don't have any to add.

I've been making this chilli for over twenty years.

The basic recipe has remained the same, but I used to make it with kidney beans and the only spice I used was chilli. I didn't add chocolate back then either.

Linda McCartney Home Cooking

I do wonder if the original recipe may have been from a really old Linda McCartney book as that was my first cookbook?

It got lost somewhere along the way.

It was a little paperback with none of the beautiful glossy lifestyle shots we expect in our coffee table cookbooks.

Wherever the original came from I have tweaked it over the years and it is absolutely delicious.

I make a big pot of chilli and it lasts us a few days.

We like it on wraps with salad leaves; sour cream (dairy free plain yogurt); and grated cheddar (dairy free cheddar) or with rice or on a baked potato. I shan't tell you that Graham likes it with mashed potato as that is best kept in the family.

The other thing I bulk my chilli out with is frozen vegetarian mince (soya).

Not everyone likes soya, so it's up to you if you add it. I've been eating and cooking with it since I turned vegetarian, so I'm used to adding it to chilli and bolognaise.

It's actually a healthy ingredient in a vegetarian or vegan diet. It's high in protein and fibre, but low in sugar, salt and fat.

I'll let you decide if you want to add it or not. If you don't add it, then you'll need less stock. so just add a little to begin and add more if you need it.

also try Fajita Seasoning

Student Cooking

Chilli is the perfect dish for students starting or returning to college or university this autumn. 

It's easy to make in one pot and can be either shared or the extra portions can be popped in the fridge or freezer for another night. It's a cheap dish to make too if you use own brand labels.

If you like chilli you should also try my Mexican Sweet Potato & Puy Lentil Mole and  Sheet Pan Vegetable Fajitas

print recipe

3 Bean Chocolate Chilli
A Tex-Mex vegan chilli with a rich deep flavour from the mix of spices and chocolate used. Serve it on wraps with salad leaves, on a baked potato or with rice. This chilli freezes well.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced or chopped
  • 400g frozen veggie mince
  • 500ml vegetable stock (3 cubes)
  • 400g tin kidney beans, well rinsed
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, well rinsed
  • 400g tin green lentils, well rinsed
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tube tomato puree (usually between 150g - 180g)
  • 1 glass red wine (about 150ml)
  • 4 tbsp cocoa (or cacao) powder
  • 3 tbsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp mild chilli powder, more if you want it hot
  • a good grinding salt and pepper
1. In a large pot saute the onion in the olive oil until soft, then add the mushrooms and gently cook for a few more minutes.2. Add the soya mince and stir in well, then add the stock.3. Next add the tomatoes, tomato puree, spices, wine and cocoa, then stir well.4. Bring to the boil then simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes. Season, then serve.Notes: This chilli can be kept in the fridge for a few days and freezes well too. It tastes even better on day two.
Total time:
Yield: Serves 6-8


  1. I love chilli (though I can't help but call it chilli non carne because we always called it chilli con carne when I was growing up) - but haven't made any for too long - I sort of have a standard base and love playing with it - cocoa definitely is a great addition but I don't do soya mince as I have never liked the sound of it. I notice you use a lot of chilli powder - in Australia chilli powder is just chillis - is your chilli powder a mix of spices! Definintely will put this on my list for a dinner soon!

    1. Whoops, meant to add 1-2 tsp, but you can add more. I add mild chilli pepper and sometimes chilli flakes. I will adjust. The chilli powder is a personal preference.

  2. I actually haven't tried chocolate in chilli yet. I know, I know I'm lagging behind everyone else! We rarely have chocolate in the house (on the odd occasion we do have some it lasts just minutes and I devour it all) but it might be worth trying cocoa powder instead...great suggestion!

    1. Oh definitely try the cocoa, you will see a difference to the flavour. It's gorgeous!

  3. I never thought about having chilli in a wrap - great idea! This looks delicious

    1. It's Cooper's favourite meal and my favoourite way of eating chilli.

  4. I haven't made chilli in so long... think high time I made a big batch! Like to add (dark) chocolate in mine although I usually end up nibbling it and not adding it.

    1. Yes, maybe just as well I am using cocoa. I'd probably do the same.

  5. For sure I am trying this. Sounds and looks delicious. xo

  6. Chocolate is a MUST in a good chili! Love the deep flavor it brings!

  7. Yes! I love chocolate in chili! I've also added cinnamon, but my kids didn't like that. This looks so good, perfect for the cooler weather that will be here soon.

    1. Haha, they d get suspicious when you change the flavours in the dishes they are used to.

  8. This looks so rich Jac! I always add either dark chocolate or cocoa to my chilli but never as much as in this recipe. Perhaps I've been too tame, I will turn up the cocoa volume for sure next time! And...those serving dishes.....!!!

    1. Ummm yes I have rather increased it as time has gone by. I was timid at first too, but I like the flavour it gives it. The serving dishes are from Turkey.

  9. Now this is what I call comfort food! Looks delicious, Jacqueline :D I do remember adding chocolate in a chilli I made years ago (when I first started learning to cook), but completely forgot about that trick! Definitely need to start using it again. Thank you for reminding me! :D

  10. The idea of chocolate in chilli actually intrigues me! I will definitely be trying it as it looks absolutely divine!

    1. Oh goodness do try it. It makes such a difference.

  11. It sounds so interesting. I saw a few recipes of chilli with chocolate, but I didn't try it.

    1. You have to Anca. All the best chilli has chocolate.

  12. I always put couple of pieces of dark chocolate into my chilli, but for some reason never made a veggie one - need to give yours a go :)


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