I am about to prepare chilli con carne. I have found more recipes than I would even like. I have quite an idea what ingredients and spices to put in. The last question is whether to use chocolate, cocoa powder or nothing. How do mexicans cook chilli con carne?


The origin of chili con carne is actually from the American southwest, not Mexico. It's tex-mex, not mex.

There are many variations on chili con carne, however if you go back to the earliest known recipes cocoa or chocolate are not on them. It's pretty basic, flavored mostly by cumin and chili. So if you want to make the most authentic chili to the origin then skip the cocoa.

However, there are many good recipes out there which have chocolate or cocoa in them and they are as valid as any other, so it all comes down to personal taste. I add unsweetened cocoa powder to my chili because the bitterness balances out the acidity of the canned tomatoes, and I like the flavor combinations you get. The umami from the chocolate enhances the flavor, and I like the way it hits the tongue, it gives it more punch.

Once I made a chili and split it into two, with one I added some cocoa powder, otherwise the chilis were identical. I served both and asked people which they liked better and the vast majority preferred the one with cocoa in it. You can also add a tsp or two of instance coffee instead although I don't think it's as good. Adding sweetened dark chocolate instead of cocoa powder works just as well, there's no much difference except the chocolate adds a bit of sweetness. The main benefit of using chocolate rather than cocoa powder is that you can try different varieties, however as it's just an undertone you aren't likely to notice.

So it's all down to taste.

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    Unless you get a really dark bittersweet chocolate it can add too much sweetness, so you have to be more careful than with cocoa. – Chris H May 21 '15 at 13:47
  • @ChrisH You can always add some heat if it gets too sweet for you...Nothing more deadly than the sweet/hot combo. – Satanicpuppy May 21 '15 at 19:10
  • @Satanicpuppy, or a little salt perhaps. Either way though my toddler might disagree and she loves chilli. – Chris H May 21 '15 at 19:49
  • @ChrisH Can't be too sweet for a toddler, but I take your point. If you can't heat it up, you're going to have to live with oversweet chili. – Satanicpuppy May 21 '15 at 19:56
  • @Satanicpuppy it would be too sweet for me then! Just use cocoa and it's fine. Besides I'd eat the chocolate before cooking. – Chris H May 21 '15 at 20:37

Cocoa powder (unsweetened) by all means. It adds a bit of smokiness. The other thing to add is a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Even if I add tomatoes to my con carne, I find the acidity of the vinegar brightens the flavor.

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If you go to Mexico and look for Chilli con carne , the closest thing you can find is a dish called "Picadillo Rojo", both of them are very similar and I can say that cocoa/chocolate is not used in the preparation of it

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