This hearty, sweet and smoky pineapple chipotle chili has a bit of a kick to it and has two secret ingredients that gives it a full-bodied more rounded and nuttier flavour. Can you guess what it is?

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I was recently invited to a chili competition, that I sadly could not attend so this recipe is dedicated to my friend Michael as this was the chipotle chili I was going to enter the competition with! 🙂


I have made many chipotle chilis in the past and it was always missing something and I never really was satisfied with it. My failed chili experiments always resulted in:

  • Too tomatoey. Tasted literally like tomato sauce.
  • Too beany! Every bite was flavours of beans and not enough anything else.
  • Too spicy. I mean I love spiciness don’t get me wrong! But I have made chipotle chilis in the past that tasted just spicy and nothing else.
  • Not sweet enough. This should be easy enough to fix right? Just add a sweetener! Nope, because that just made it desserty. It was missing all the other flavours to make the sweetness enhance rather than overpower.
  • Watery and flavourless – gross.

After many attempts and many failed chilis over the years and much tweaking, I can finally say I have a sweet and smoky chipotle chili that I truly love and I want to share it with everyone!


Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili


With chili, everyone has a preference. Some like it sweet, some like it meaty, some like it spicy – you get the idea.

So what does this chili taste like?

  1. Spicy & Smoky – The chipotle in adobo sauce gives this a very nice smoky flavour but also makes it very spicy as well. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, use half the amount in the recipe to maintain a bit if the spiciness and smokiness.
  2. Slightly Sweet – I prefer my chili slightly sweetened. The pineapple lends its sweetness at just the right amount. If you prefer it even sweeter, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup to it at the end after you have adjusted all the flavours (which is what I did).
  3. Hearty & not soupy – The balance of meat the beans approximately 1:1. The chili has a medium thick texture – no more runny, soupy chili!




For this chipotle chili recipe, you can find most of these ingredients in your local grocery store, however gochujang paste would most likely be found at a Asian grocery store.


Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili


I used pork because pineapple and pork are a classically great combination but you can use any type of meat or protein (beef, chicken, sausage, tofu etc) for this chili and it will keep it just as flavourful.


I used a fresh pineapple for this recipe but you can use canned pineapples if you want to keep it simple. I personally like to control how big I cut the pineapple chunks which is why I went for the fresh one. I like the pineapples in 1cm cubes so that they don’t all melt away during the cooking process. Each bite has tiny burst of the sweet pineapple that pairs wonderfully with the smokiness from the chipotle.


To create the smokiness for this chipotle chili, I used a can of chipotle in adobo sauce. This gave it a lot of heat as well, so if you are not a fan of heat, I would suggest either putting only half a can or pairing up this chipotle chili with a side of sour cream (which by the way is the best thing you can do for chili, seriously. If there is only 1 topping you should not skip it should be the sour cream.


I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, what? It’s not the cheese??”

Nope, it’s the sour cream. It gives the chili a full-bodied creaminess with a very slight tang.


I used canned crushed tomatoes for simplicity but you can use fresh tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes and it would be equally as delicious.


Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili


Personally, I am not a huge fan of beans in my chili but Terry is! So there’s a bit of compromise here. I used navy beans because they are smaller and less intrusive (intrusive, like every bite feels like I’m eating spoonful of beans) however, if you enjoy beans feel free to substitute it with any kinds you like! The most common one would be kidney beans.


To keep it simple, I used canned beans for this recipe. You can use dried beans if you prefer, but I highly recommend soaking them the night before in water before using them.


…and here it is! My secret ingredients for a full flavoured well rounded nutty chipotle chili!

  • Cocoa Powder : This gives the chili a nice deep nutty flavour, especially after you caramelized and browned it with the meat.
  • Gochujang Paste : The paste gives the chili a slightly sweet and spicy flavour with a very nice touch of earthy nuttiness. Trust me on this. You won’t even notice this is in the chili but it definitely gives it that flavour you can’t quite put your finger on. 🙂




Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili


The first thing we should do is chop up all the ingredients that need chopping. This would be: the onions, garlic, peppers, chipotle, pineapple, and tomatoes if you are using fresh tomatoes.


Tip #1: Don’t throw away the adobo sauce once you chopped up the chipotle peppers. Add it in the slow cooker! This is where you will get a lot of the smokiness from.


I used a slow cooker for this recipe, it makes it a whole lot easier and you don’t need to watch it! If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a pot on the stove on low heat but you will need to stir it more often to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.


Add the tomatoes, pineapple, chipotle and beans into the slow cooker and set it on low.


This next step is CRUCIAL and should not be skipped. I am all about keeping things simple and quick except when it compromises flavours (and sometimes texture). So please please please do not skip this step of toasting and browning the spices and meat.


Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili


In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, add in some oil and set it to medium-high heat.


When the oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook it for a few minutes until it is slightly brown and soft.


Next add in the cumin, cocoa powder, garlic, tomato paste and gochujang paste then cook it for a few minutes. You want to toast and brown the spices and paste to bring out the flavours.


Next add in the pork and cook it until the pork has browned and is fully cooked. You will get burnt bits but that is okay – that is flavour! Once that is done, put that in the slow cooker.


Cook it for 3-4 hours on low.


Tip #2 : Do not add salt or sweeteners until after the 3 hour mark. In the beginning the chipotle chili has not ‘melded’ together it is hard to taste for sweet and salty. The pineapple has not been softened yet so the sweetness has not come out. Add your salts and sweeteners at the very end when the flavours are more polished. I like to use fish sauce for salt and umami and maple syrup as a sweetener.


TOPPINGS [Optional, but highly recommended and fun!]

One of the most fun (and delicious) ways to enhance the flavours and textures of chili is through toppings!


Sweet and Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili

Here are a few ideas:

  • Green onions
  • Red onions (finely chopped or sliced and soaked in lime juice)
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream (this adds a very nice creaminess to the chili and the slight tang gives it a nice finish. If you can handle dairy I would highly recommend it)
  • Sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos (if you like more heat)
  • Tortilla chips (crushed on top or whole for scooping up the chili)
  • Fresh avocado or guacamole
  • Olives
  • Bacon bits
  • Fresh limes – a quick splash of fresh lime juices gives it a nice tartness with a refreshing lime scent.
  • Be creative! 🙂
Sweet and Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili
Sweet and Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili
Sweet and Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili



Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili

  • Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Category: Appetizer, Side, Main
  • Cuisine: American, Asian, Tex Mex


A sweet and smoky pineapple chipotle chili with 2 secret ingredients. Cocoa powder & Gochujang paste that gives it a full bodied more rounded and nuttier flavour!


  • 1 pineapple (chopped)
  • 1 can navy beans (540ml – approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (796 ml – approximately 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can chipotle in adobo sauce (186ml – chopped)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 can tomato paste (156ml – approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang paste
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 pepper (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


  • limes (juiced)
  • grated cheese
  • sour cream
  • green onions (finely chopped)
  • nacho chips
  • red onions (finely chopped or lightly pickled in lime juice)
  • jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled)



  1. Chop the onion, garlic, peppers and put aside for later
  2. Add the tomatoes, beans, chopped pineapple and chipotle (and sauce) into slow cooker and set it on low. (or a heavy pot on the stove set to low)

Browning the Meat & Spices (Do not skip this step!)

  1. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, add some oil and set it on medium-high heat
  2. When the oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook until brown (approximately 5 minutes)
  3. Add in the garlic, cumin, cocoa powder, tomato paste and gochujang paste and toast it for approximately 3 minutes. It should look goopy
  4. Add in the meat and mix well with the onions and paste. Break up the meat into tiny bits and cook until it has browned. (approximately 5-8 minutes)

Setting the Slow Cooker

  1. Add in the meat and mix well with the onions and paste. Break up the meat into tiny bits and cook until it has browned. (approximately 5-8 minutes)
  2. Set the slow cooker to cook for 3 hours.
  3. Refrain from adding the salt and sweetners (fish sauce, soy sauce or salt and maple syrup) until after it has cooked for 3 hours and the chili has had time to meld in flavours.
  4. Prep the garnishes and enjoy on its own or with a side of nacho chips! 🙂


  • 1 can of chiptole with adobo sauce is quite spicy. If you don’t like heat, use half the can.
  • Highly recommend serving with a side of sour cream
  • Goes fantastic as a dip with nacho chips
  • Add the salt and sweeteners at the very end when the chili has finished cooking after all the flavours has melded so you can adjust the saltiness and sweetness at the very end


  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 449 kcal
  • Sugar: 34 g
  • Sodium: 1860 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 73 g
  • Protein: 15 g

Keywords: chipotle chili

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21 thoughts on “Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili”

  1. I never thought to add gochujang to a chili. In fact, I never thought to go in an Asian direction with chili at all. This one’s absolutely fascinating. Fish sauce, pineapple and pork. Makes complete sense once you see it. Nicely done as usual!

    1. Yea I was really bent on using pineapple, and as usual I start to learn towards the asian flavours. What’s funny is you don’t taste any asian flavours at all in this, it’s just a very full flavoured chili! 🙂 So glad you find this fascinating!

  2. Anyone who’s ever been on my blog knows I’m a HUGE fan of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I just love the smoky heat that they bring to a dish. Mixing chipotle peppers with gochujang is GENIUS! For all the chipotle pepper recipes I’ve come up with, I’ve never ever thought to include gochujang. So so smart! I also love your tip on toasting the spices– definitely not to be skipped! It just makes the flavors so much nicer. Can’t wait to make this!

    1. Yes! I saw your chipotle posts and I absolutely loved them! They pack so much flavour and smoke! I am such a stickler for toasting and browning things. I am so happy to hear, let me know how it turns out for you!! 🙂

  3. WHOA WHOA. this is so inventive! have never thought to put pineapple, gochujang, fish sauce and cocoa in chili before, but i’m very curious now. none of the ingredients sound bizarre if i think about it (fish sauce adds so much flavor no matter what, gochujang has such a nice sweet/spicy balance, etc), but i’m still astounded you could come up with something so tasty and out of the box.

    1. haha thanks so much for your super kind words Heather! I always wonder if my creations would turn out haha, I can taste them in my head and theoretically it ‘should’ taste good right? So when the results are delicious I am SUPER happy haha but I have had to eat many failed batches of recipes and I really need to learn how to cook in smaller batches… >_<

  4. Thanks for this unique take! It looks delicious – I love the mix of smoky, sweet, and spicy. And, I completely agree with you on the sour cream, it’s the best chili topping! Glad I’m not alone on that one!!

    1. Thanks Alison! 🙂 I love sweet and spicy chili’s myself a well! and I was pretty amazed that the sour cream transformed the chili! Holy moly!

  5. Yes. yes to everything about this. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to realize pineapple BELONGS in a good, smoky chili, but I am so glad you did the honor of pointing it out! NEED to try this soon!

    1. Thanks Karly!! This was a complete accident haha Terry likes to buy pineapples for fun, I have no idea why. I’d like to say he enjoys eating it but that doesn’t seem to be the case since they just sit on the counter every time he buys it. What better way to use it than to throw it in a sweet chili! 😀 haha

  6. Spicy, smoky and sweet! Yes please! I would have never guessed the two secret ingredients, but it makes complete sense. Toasting and browning the spices and meat is key! Just so much flavour. I can already picture myself digging in this chili with tortilla chips!

    1. I got the idea of cocoa powder from mole sauce! and for the gochujang, it was the sweet and spicy in the paste that got me thinking..hmmm…haha and you’re right browning always makes everything better and I’ve made some pretty craptastically bland chili in the past lol so it had to be all about the flavour and browning! I pretty much ate the whole batch with nacho chips and sour cream and green onions haha! love being snacky!

  7. That last photo!!! Fantastic!!! And this sounds so so amazing. My husband has never been quite a fan of chili like I am, but I think that this so unique and not just your can of beans/ground beef usual. The addition of pineapple and chipotle is brilliant! He is going to love it and I can’t wait to try it!

  8. Pineapple is such a clever touch! And the cocoa powder too! This does look like the perfect chili! Yum!

  9. I absolutely love chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and embarrassingly enough have never thought to add it to my chili! Super excited to give your recipe a try! And I love the use of the slow cooker, my favorite tool in the kitchen! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I myself also love having dinners just bubbling away in the background to free up my time. haha! 🙂

  10. Just came across this gem of a recipe while browsing your site Joyce, and I think I now have a plan for supper! Love how unique this chili is, plus I already have everything on hand, which makes it nice and simple 🙂 One quick question though: I know it probably won’t taste as good as fresh, but is there any way I could sub canned pineapple chunks (or something like this) for the fresh pineapple? And if so, about how much do you think?

    1. Hi Shannon!

      I’m sure you can sub canned pineapple chunks with no issues. I’d probably stick to the same amount as well which is about 2 1/2 cups of canned pineapples 🙂
      Hope you enjoy this!

      1. Hi Joyce!

        I did end up making this the other night for supper (for my bf, since I don’t eat meat), and according to him it was really good! I must say, as I was making it even I was salivating over the delicious aromas wafting from the slow cooker. I did go ahead and add one can of pineapple chunks (I drained it before adding it to the slow cooker), and everything seemed to work great still! I was also happy because I had enough leftovers to make and freeze a few future quick and easy meals, which is always a big bonus. Served it over rice, and with sour cream and green onions on top – a truly excellent recipe, and will definitely be making it again!

        1. Ahh no way I am so happy to hear this! 🙂 Right I totally forgot to mention the draining of the pineapples haha! 😀 Honestly, leftovers are the best – let’s me be lazy for a few more days heehee

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