This hearty, sweet and smoky pineapple chipotle chili has a bit of a kick to it and has two secret ingredients that give it a full-bodied more rounded and nuttier flavor. Can you guess what it is?
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! 🙂
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?
- Spicy & Smoky - The chipotle in adobo sauce gives this a very nice smoky flavor 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.
- 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 flavors (which is what I did).
- Hearty & Not Soupy - The balance of meat the beans approximately 1:1. The chili has a medium thick texture - no more runny, soupy chili!
INGREDIENTS FOR PINEAPPLE CHIPOTLE CHILI
- Pineapple - I used 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 gives you tiny burst of the sweet pineapple that pairs wonderfully with the smokiness from the chipotle.
- Ground Meat - 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 or firm tofu) for this chili and it will keep it just as flavorful.
- Gochujang - The paste gives the chili a slightly sweet and spicy flavor 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 flavor you can't quite put your finger on. 🙂
- Cocoa Powder - This gives the chili a nice deep nutty flavor, especially after you caramelized and browned it with the meat.
- Beans - I like using navy beans instead of kidney beans in my chili because I find kidney beans tend to be very large and overpowers the chili. If you can't find navy beans, white kidney beans also work as well. To keep things easy and simple, I use canned beans. Just remember to drain the liquid from the can and rinse out the beans before using it. If you want to use dried beans, make sure the soak them in water the night before.
- 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 a few tablespoons of the sauce. 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) also helps with the spiciness
- Tomatoes - I used canned crushed tomatoes for simplicity but you can use fresh tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes and it would be equally as delicious.
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.
BROWNING THE MEAT WITH THE AROMATICS (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!)
This next step is CRUCIAL and should not be skipped. I am all about keeping things simple and quick except when it compromises flavors (and sometimes texture). So please please please do not skip this step of toasting and browning the spices and meat. Browning the meat gives it an additional layer of flavor by removing excess water from the meat, and when combined with the caramelization of the garlic, onions, gochujang and tomato paste it makes the meat sauce even more intense flavor.
TOPPINGS FOR PINEAPPLE CHIPOTLE CHILI [Optional, but Highly Recommended!]
One of the most fun (and delicious) ways to enhance the flavors and textures of chili is through toppings!
Here are a few ideas I occasionally like to mix and match:
- 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
- Bacon bits
- Fresh limes - a quick splash of fresh lime juices gives it a nice tartness with a refreshing lime scent.
- Be creative! 🙂
LOOKING FOR MORE COZY RECIPES? TRY THESE!
- Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
- Spicy Soondubu Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)
- Bangers and Mash (Deconstructed) + Stout & Onion Gravy
- Beer-Braised Pork Belly (Chinese Style)
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Sweet and Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Chili
- 1 full can of chiptole with adobo sauce (187ml) is quite spicy. If you don't like heat or spicy foods, use ⅓ to ½ the can but if you handle the heat, I highly recommend using the full can. It will give the chili a smokier flavor.
- Highly recommend serving with a side of full fat sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and finely chopped green onions.
- 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
- 1 pineapple (peeled, cored and finely diced)
- 1 can navy beans (540ml - approximately 2 cups Can also substitute with white kidney beans)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (796 ml - approximately 3 ½ cups)
- ½ can chipotle in adobo sauce (95ml - chopped - Using a full can will make the chili very spicy and smoky)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional, to make it sweeter)
Gochujang/Cocoa Powder Meat Sauce
Toppings (Mix and Match)
- 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)
- chopped avocado or guacamole
- bacon bits
- Chop the onion, garlic, peppers and put aside for later
- If you are using fresh pineapples, peel and core it, then dice them into small pieces (around the same size as the beans). If you are using canned pineapples, drain the water out of the can and roughly chop it into smaller pieces. Add the pineapple into the slow cooker.
- If you are using canned beans, pour out the liquid from the can and rinse the beans out. Add the beans into the slow cooker.
- Add the tomatoes into slow cooker and set it on low.
Browning the Meat & Spices (Do not skip this step!)
- In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, add some oil and set it on medium-high heat
- When the oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook until brown (approximately 5 minutes)
- Add in the garlic, cumin, cocoa powder, tomato paste and gochujang paste and toast it for approximately 3 minutes. It should look thick and goopy
- 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
- Once the meat is done cooking, add it into the slow cooker and mix everything together until it is combined.
- The smoked chipotle is very spicy, so start off by mixing 2 tablespoons of the sauce into the chili first and do a taste test. Keep doing this until it is the right amount of spiciness for you. If you want a bit more flavor and heat, finely chop the chiptole and add that into the chili 1 tablespoon at a time and do a taste test to ensure it is not too spicy for you.
- Set the slow cooker to cook for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours has passed, the chili is done! Add the maple syrup and fish sauce in to flavor it and do a taste test to ensure it is the right amount of sweet and salty to your liking! 🙂
- Prep the garnishes and enjoy on its own or with a side of nacho chips!
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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