Elk Chipotle Chocolate Chili

Let’s talk about today because it was good. I got to sleep in. Meaning I didn’t have to wake up at 4:30am so I was already in a fantastic mood by 7am. Then I got Kaladi americano with heavy cream AND a bag of it to make at home. Then I woded and coached. Then the best part of the day came. Friends time. I got to hang out with Rj and Tom, listen to dubstep, and chat about life. I just love them. Good people. THEN, Laura shopping time came. Ok, this could have gotten ugly real fast. Well it kinda did when I tried on some dresses. Damn that sh*t is tight on my hips. Just not attractive. I almost cried. I’m such an emotional crap shoot at times. So annoying. Thank god Laura hates shopping too so it only lasted about 20 minutes, then we spent faaaaar too much time at Bath and Body Works….smelling candles. We didn’t even smell the lotion that much. We literally spent about 20 minutes smelling every candle. They pretty much all smelt like sh*t. Either cupcake frosting or pine cones. I’d rather not have my room smell like either of the two. I’m trying to meet a guy for gosh sakes…and I don’t shower regularly….I need all the help I can get.

After breaking out in song randomly in perfect unison, unannounced, we decided it was time for a Whole Foods run. What a surprise. We only do that about 6 times per week. It’s not an addiction. YOU DON’T KNOW US. But we were craving some apple cider to sip on while we cuddled up in the comfiest blanket and watched Christmas shows, so WF was a must (….and by Christmas shows, I mean Cupcake Wars: Holiday Edition). We hit the bulk isle, spent another smelling sesh in the cheese isle, then I eye flirted with a guy in the deli section. He was just such a cute guy. He was so smiley. I love smiley men. It rarely happens. I should have chatted with him! Grow some balls Juli!!! Instead I ate a wheel of goat gouda. Effin A.

Anywho, I have made the adult decision to make as many chili recipes as possible in the next week. Why? Because chili is really really good. And easy. And it’s stupid cold here in Colorado. It’s like the sun teases us. It’s out, but it’s doing nothing. Oh no wait, it’s slightly melting the ice to make it really convenient to walk on. I scream every time I almost fall. Scream meaning squeal. Well Jason, Tom, and Rj all tried this chili AND all of them liked it!!! Jason gave it a 10!! That’s unheard of from Jason. I wouldn’t exactly agree with him but I am PUMPED he said that! And Tom and Rj both said they thought it was super good. My life is complete.


Elk Chipotle Chocolate Chili


  • 1.52lbs ground elk (beef is just as great! I don’t discriminate!)
  • 1 small/medium mini pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14) oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14) oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken/beef/vegetable broth
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (found in can in the Ethnic section at store)*
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips (optional-but smart)
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fat, I used olive oil


  1. Pull out a large soup pot or saucepan and place under medium-high heat. Add olive oil and minced garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add your bell pepper and onion. Mix to combine and let cook down.
  2. Now add your venison to begin to cook down.
  3. Once the beef is halfway cooked (only about 3-4 minutes) add your tomatoes, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, broth, spices, and diced pumpkin. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked through. When the beef is cooked, taste to see if the spices are how you like them. This is when I added just a bit of honey and chocolate chips (is using) to offset the chipotle peppers, but it’s totally up to you!!

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*Just so you know, if you use this many chipotle peppers, it’s going to have some kick to it. A good kick, but definitely have some water near by. But I’m a baby when it comes to spices so maybe you shouldn’t even be reading this sentence….you were warned though.

Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


27 thoughts on “Elk Chipotle Chocolate Chili”

  1. Ohhh. Making turkey chilli tomorrow night for the big Christmas party pot luck. Maybe I'll throw in some chocolate too. That makes everything better, right?!

  2. I Just found cocoa chili powder in the clearance basket at Safeway and have been dying to figure out a way to use it….Bazinga! Also happen to have a plethora of venison in my freezer. Thank you J.Bauer, thank you.

  3. Damon- Let me know how your chili turns out!! I'm not sure many people are going to be caring about the food at your xmas party 😉

    Kaitlin–cocoa chili powder?!?! shut the front door. holy c*ck.

    Kat- why do you think I made it this week??! 😉

  4. This looks delicious. I’m going to make this for a Super Bowl get-together! Any recommendations of a substitution for the diced pumpkin?

  5. I cut up a beef roast into little chunks and threw it in the crockpot with all of the other ingredients. At 9pm. So now I have awakened to a lovely chocolate chili smelling kitchen, so I have no choice except to ladle some of this goodness onto my omelette. Good choice. It doesn’t even matter that it’s not chili weather! YUM!

  6. This was effing delish. I had to use veal mince instead of elk (we don’t really get those here in Australia!) and I used jalapeños instead of chipotle because my supermarket isn’t fancy enough, but it was super yummers and I’m glad I’ve got plenty left over for tomorrow. 5 star for sure, really quick and easy!

  7. Heck yes, this was the best chili I have had in for ever, just the right amount of heat and the flavors of the pumpkin and the teeny splash of chocolate that made it past my greedy mouth into the recipe was awesome! Gonna have to go hunting now, sorry elk Juli wins

  8. HI Juli,

    I just discovered your blog and really dig it. I’m a foodie and really getting into paleo and crossfit. I cant wait to try this chili recipe even though I have no idea where I will get elk, may have to substitute buffalo! I live in so. Fla so elk is not in these parts!

    Would love to contribute, and have you contribute on my site too and do some audience cross polination! LMK- check out my site and see if you think it would be a good fit…

  9. We do a chili cook off every year at our house – this year it’s Son of ChiliFest. This is going to be my entry. Hope I win the cup!

  10. The whole family loved this, even the 8-year-old! Not too spicy, just the teaspoon of honey did it for us.

  11. Got a huge Colorado elk this year so I’m set on making it taste amazing this fall/winter! Have any of you used this recipe in a crock pot or slow cooker or would you advise against it? Also, fine to use a roast? I was going to inject it with olive oil/garlic, bake, then flash fry and add to slow cooker… Scared, not a great cook here haha!

  12. We love love love this chilli!! I usually make it with deer we have some beef allergies here. I have subbed the pumpkin on occasion with other things including squash, sweet potato, and beans(gasp!!) not paleo with beans I k ow but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do :/ best chilli hands down!! Will try it with turkey meat one day since I hate ground turkey. Bet it will still be the bomb!! Thanks

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