Venison Chili Recipe

This easy Venison Chili recipe is hearty and delicious, perfect for the cold months of hunting season or any time you have ground venison in your freezer.

I grew up on venison. If you lived in a family of hunters, you probably would too.

Because deer are HUGE, you end up with a lot of meat and eat it in everything from goulash to tacos to spaghetti to burgers. And everything else, ever. Including chili.

Venison Chili - a photo of a black bowl full of chili covered with cheese and green onion with a blue bowl in the background - click photo for full recipe

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If you’ve ever hunted, or know/love someone who hunts, they probably have a freezer full of venison and are always on the lookout for new recipes.

A lot of hunters have their meat “processed” by a service and you get back neat little packages of ground venison, venison steak, venison tenderloin, venison sausage, stuff like that. But in my house, we did it the old-fashioned way. Manually, on the kitchen table, as a family.

I usually ran the meat grinder.

Venison Chili - a photo of a a blue pot full of chili and a ladle scooping chili out of the bowl - click photo for full recipe

If you’ve ever cooked with venison, you know it’s extremely lean. That means you don’t have to drain off the fat in your after you cook the meat which is a nice bonus.

The rest of the chili is pretty straight-forward. My mom normally adds celery instead of bell peppers, so feel free to make that swap if you’re feeling adventurous.

If you don’t know a hunter and can’t track down ground venison, you can still enjoy this chili recipe. Just substitute lean ground beef and you’re on your way.

If you want to make Slow Cooker Venison Chili, follow the recipe below through Step 2. Then, combine everything in a crockpot, cover, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

Happy Hunting!

Venison Chili - a photo of a black bowl full of chili covered with cheese and green onion with a blue bowl in the corner - click photo for full recipe


5 from 21 votes

Venison Chili Recipe

This fall, 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.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword chili, venison
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 338kcal
  • 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.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook All-American Beef Chili.


Calories: 338kcal


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  1. Kay K Spence

    EXCELLENT! My family loved it! Great use of all the venison in the freezer!5 stars

  2. HalWal

    I made this tonight with my boyfriend and he LOVES it, even after years of loving his dads venison chili, he totally approves. You know it’s good when there is silence at the table interrupted by long “mmm’s”!!! We followed the recipe almost to a T, added 1/2 cup or water and a dash of smoked paprika- Perfection!5 stars

  3. Nicki Greenwood

    Best chili I have ever had! Added diced celery to the onion and pepper mix, a splash of marsala wine to deglaze, and two heaping spoonfuls of Better Than Bouillon Beef Base. Came out perfect! Will definitely be making this a fall and winter staple in our house.5 stars

  4. Cindy savage

    Great recipe couldn’t of done better in a hundred years

  5. Mike Dobbins

    We’ve canned it over the years and find it very tender and tasty. Simply, home from work add a little bbq sauce and heat in microwave. Great. Chilli, tacos, whatever.
    Before reefers became available. Meat hunters would sell venison for $1.50 a hind quarter to settlers crossing the Mississippi heading west. Had to can or brine the meat to preserve for the long journey.

  6. My husbands mom gave us some canned venison, she canned her self. I was not sure what to do with. Im not big on venison,or canned meat for that matter.
    So i saw your recipe as the first search. I looked at others but i kept going back, so i found its the most wonderful chilli i have ever tasted with canned venison, and so easy to follow.
    My family are Chilli freaks, and they all loved it and i had to make a second batch its wonderful!!!!!
    Canned in Springfield, Oregon
    Terri Nelson
    Thank you5 stars

  7. Jessica

    This is the best chili I’ve ever had! Seriously.. I only had one pound of venison so I added 1 pd. of elk. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly as it’s shown. I did the crock pot method. Thank you so much! This one is definitely a keeper! 5 stars

  8. Mike Dobbins

    Think this is actually theraputic. I sleep well after some for dinner. Perhaps herbs and spices? Any idea of sodium content? Have heart disease and trying to limit. Used half recommended salt and Beans with no salt added. Just a bit more bland, but living longer is a plus.5 stars

  9. Rochelle D Martin

    This was wonderful….i did step by step and it taste great!!5 stars

  10. Ken Mothershed

    This was great chili, but I had issues in step one trying to sautee all those ingredients with just two tablespoons of olive oil. I had a big dry mess in the pan just sticking to the bottom and burning.
    So I went to the fridge and grabbed some chicken stock and put in about 16 oz.
    After that everything was fine and the chili came out awesome!5 stars

  11. Patti

    Excellent! I did add an extra can diced tomatoes but otherwise made the exact recipe. I would make sure to sauté the veggies first before adding the spices so they don’t stick to the pot. Will be my go to recipe for venison chili. Served it with diced onion, cheese, sour cream, and jalapeños. 5 stars

  12. Mark

    Very flavorful Chili and great recipe! It comes out tasting like Italian chili. I think next time, I’ll forgo the 28 oz can of Tomato Puree so the chili can shine through a little more. All around great recipe though and thank you for posting!

  13. Maggie

    Could I make this from frozen venison in the the instantpot? How long would you recommend it cook?

  14. Craig

    This has been my go to deer chili recipe for the past couple years, it’s fantastic!5 stars

  15. Jen

    This recipe was great!! Would it work to cook the whole batch and freeze half? (I have never done this before but it made a lot of chili for two people). Thank you!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jen, thank you! Yes! Cook the whole batch and freeze half. (Or just make half a recipe if you prefer.) Chili is basically the best thing for freezing, ever. You can reheat it on your stove or in a crockpot or in the microwave, however you would normally do it. Thanks again and good luck! Let me know if you need anything else. -Meggan

  16. Mason

    A five quart slow cooker is as small as you can go without cutting the recipe. Mine is a five quart and it all just barely fit. Just an FYI! Happy cooking!5 stars

  17. Jenny

    Can we just use 1 pound of meat? 

    1. meggan

      Hi Jenny, yes definitely! Feel free to cut the whole recipe in half, you’ll be fine. Thanks! -Meggan

  18. Catnip

    Made this tonight with beef. Very good!5 stars

  19. Danielle

    I have made many venison chili recipes and this is my favorite so far!5 stars

  20. Sierra

    Looks delicious! Any tips on how to convert the recipe for an Instant Pot?

    1. meggan

      Thank you Sierra! To make in an Instant Pot, I set the pot to Saute, and once hot, follow steps 1 and 2. It may take a little longer than listed to saute the meat so it is no longer pink. (It took me about 10 minutes) Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato puree, place the lid on and close (including closing the steam release valve), and chose the Meat/Stew setting and set to cook for 25 minutes on normal. Allow to natural release the steam when done. I hope you enjoy this chili as much as I do!

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