Cozy up to big bowl of healthy Venison Chili. Chock full of herbs and spices, this recipe will warm you from the inside out and leave plenty for second helpings.
When you’re lucky enough to have a freezer full of deer meat, or you know someone who does, making a big pot of chili is a no-brainer. Ground venison makes a fabulous substitute for ground beef, and since it’s so lean, there’s no need to drain off the extra fat.
This recipe can be made on the stove, Instant Pot, or in the crockpot; instructions for what you’re looking for are below. Plus, like every award winning venison chili recipe, there’s loads of ways to make this recipe exactly the way you want it: beans or no beans, spicy or mild…you get the picture.
Making a double or triple batch of Venison Chili for tailgating? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make Venison Chili:
These instructions walk you through the basics of chili making without giving you specific ingredient quantities, which are all listed below in the recipe card.
- First find a sturdy stock pot or Dutch oven, especially if you’ll be making extra chili to freeze. (By the way, it freezes beautifully. Break it up into smaller portions to reheat when you’re hungry.)
- Next, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili pepper or cayenne, and the salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables soften, maybe 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, then add the venison. If you’re using ground venison, break up the larger clumps with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. 5 minutes ought to do it.
- Then add the (drained and rinsed) beans, tomatoes, and tomato purée, and bring the contents to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes, then cook for 30 minutes longer with the lid off.
- Before you serve the chili, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Then serve it up in big bowls with all your favorite chili toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and lots of chopped scallions.
How to make this Venison Chili Recipe in a crockpot:
Slow cooker venison chili is easy.
- Get the chili started in a Dutch oven by softening the vegetables and browning the meat, following steps one and two in the recipe.
- Then transfer everything to a slow cooker large enough to hold it all, add the tomatoes and beans, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
Instant Pot Venison Chili:
The great thing about cooking chili in a pressure cooker is that you do everything in the pot, rather than start off on the stove and finish cooking in a crock pot.
- Soften the onions and peppers in the pot on the sauté function, then add the spices, venison, and garlic.
- Once the venison is cooked through, add the tomatoes and beans.
- Seal the Instant Pot, turn the pot to the Chili/Bean setting, which takes about 20 minutes. Depending on how quickly you want to eat,
you can either release the pressure manually, or wait for the pressure to naturally release over the next 10 to 15 minutes.
- If the chili is too brothy, you can thicken it by letting it cook down with the sauté function for another 10 minutes, until you get the right consistency.
How to make award winning Venison Chili:
Because this is a straightforward chili recipe that pleases almost everyone, here are some ideas to make your version uniquely yours and worthy of applause .
- Spicy chili. Add dried ancho, chipotle, guajillo, or New Mexican chilies to the pot to bump up the heat, add some sweetness, or make deer chili a little more complex.
- Just add bacon. A handful of diced bacon or crumbled chorizo cooked with the onions, and add another layer of delicious flavor to the pot.
- Venison chili without beans. Low carb diets usually avoid beans, while some chili lovers insist they don’t belong in a traditional chili. No matter where you stand on the bean issue, you can leave them out. Just add extra meat and some extra veggies.
- Chocolate in chili. Yes, you read that right! A square or two of unsweetened baking chocolate makes a bold, deeply delicious chili (Skyline's famous Cincinnati Chili uses a little bit of chocolate). Some cooks even pour in a little strong coffee to get that roasted taste. Try it!
- Venison chili with beer. A can of good beer cooks down and gently flavors your deer stew. Especially good over open fires, with lots of friends.
- Stew meat chili. You can use chunks of venison for a heartier stew, but it might take longer to cook. Dredge the stew meat in salt, pepper, and flour and add to the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until fork tender.
- Super healthy venison chili. Beef up the vegetables. Add celery, red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, even a little chopped carrot.
- Chili with dried beans. It’s so economical and healthy to use dried beans instead of canned. Cook your beans in unsalted water beforehand, then measure them out and add them to the pot.
Can I substitute dried beans?
According to the Kitchen Companion, 1 pound (about 2 cups) of dried beans yields 6 to 7 cups cooked beans.
One 15-ounce can of cooked beans yields 1 3/4 cups beans after draining, making it equivalent to 1/4 to 1/3 pounds ( or 1/2 to 3/4 cup) dried.
Venison Chili Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder or 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds ground venison
- 2 (15.5 ounce) cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2 (10 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
- Shredded cheese, sour cream, and scallions for serving, optional
- Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add venison and cook, breaking up the clumps with a spoon, until the venison is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with preferred toppings including cheese, sour cream, and scallions.