Venison Chili Recipe

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.

If you like venison, make sure you try my Venison Stew. Serve the chili or stew with a crusty piece of No Knead Bread or some Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls.

Venison chili in a white bowl.
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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.

  1. 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.)
    Venison chili ingredients in various bowls.
  2. 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.
    Vegetables cooking in a black pot.
  3. 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.
    Venison chili ingredients cooking in a black pot.
  4. 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.
    Venison chili in a black pot.
  5. 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.

  1. Get the chili started in a Dutch oven by softening the vegetables and browning the meat, following steps one and two in the recipe.
  2. 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.

  1. Soften the onions and peppers in the pot on the sauté function, then add the spices, venison, and garlic.
  2. Once the venison is cooked through, add the tomatoes and beans.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Venison chili in a white bowl.

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.

4.98 from 37 votes

Venison Chili Recipe

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 301kcal
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 301kcal

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  1. kevin

    The recipe would be much better if you browned the venison FIRST, then cooked your aromatics in the fond that develops. You dish will develop much more flavor that way!

    1. meggan

      Hi Kevin, I agree with you. I am going to try it out and see if the flavor changes significantly, there are so many recipes that will need to be updated if it does! Great idea. Thank you! -Meggan

  2. Lena

    Absolutely love the recipe! I tweaked it just a bit adding 1 lb. chorizo, 1 red onion instead of 2 onions, 2 cups beef broth, 3 garlic cloves vs 8, 3 chipotle peppers & pinto beans.5 stars

  3. Randy

    Is there an instant pot version of this recipe?

    1. meggan

      Hi Randy, yes! It’s in the post above, but let me put it here too for you.
      1. Soften the onions and peppers in the pot on the sauté function, then add the spices, venison, and garlic.
      2. Once the venison is cooked through, add the tomatoes and beans.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      5. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve with your favorite toppings.
      Thanks! -Meggan

  4. Bethany P

    Easily my favorite chili recipe! My 4 year old son even loves it and he’s not a fan of anything at this age. This is such a simple recipe and you likely have everything in your pantry already. I accidentally added more tomatoes than required and didn’t have red kidney beans so used black instead. Because I added too many cans of tomatoes I added a little more spice. Either way it was wonderful. Highly recommended!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.5 stars

  5. Cecille

    I fixed this with 2 lbs. of venison harvested from our west Texas ranch. It was wonderful. We both ate too much. However, I did add two tablespoons of brown sugar for a bit of sweetness to counter the tomato puree. Even better! We crumbled tortilla chips and grated Mexican blend cheese on top. Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

  6. Jen

    This chili turned out amazing! I made some minor adjustments: I used poblano peppers instead of bell (and doubled the amount) and I added chicken broth until it reached the desired consistency. My husband doesn’t care for venison (I’m the hunter in the house) but he really liked this chili. It’s definitely a winner!5 stars

  7. Brian

    Excellent chili recipe, made it the way it is written and I don’t think I’d change anything about it. Great flavor, and the heat from the spices didn’t burn my mouth but did make me sweat. Can’t wait to make it again!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      That’s such great news! Thank you Brian!

  8. David

    What is the measurement size of one serving?

    1. meggan

      Hi David, I don’t know exactly! I didn’t measure out the total yield when I made it, but I “think” it’s around 1 1/2 cups of chili per serving. Sorry I don’t know for sure. Next time I make it, I’ll measure it out and update the post. Sorry again. Thanks – Meggan

  9. Peetee

    how much chili does this make? I’m going to try it out at a chili cook off tomorrow, I have to make 6 quarts of chili.4 stars

  10. Chase

    Cut the garlic down to half a clove and it was be great5 stars

  11. Susan

    Husband came home with ground venison and I was thinking chili!
    This recipe was fantastic.. I also put me spin on it..5 stars

  12. Dustin Falgout

    Recipe is great! Add 2 cans of corn to perfect it!5 stars

  13. Kacey B.

    My husband and I love this recipe. It’s perfectly seasoned for venison. We serve it on top of elbow pasta with sour cream and cheese on top!

    I also did cayenne and Chipotle chili powder. Just kind of eyeballed a good mixture. So good.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Kacey, I’m so glad you liked it! Serving it on elbow macaroni is such a great way to round out the meal. Thanks for taking the time to let me know, I really appreciate that. Happy New Year! -Meggan

  14. Alexis

    This recipe is AMAZING!!!!! This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve stuck to this recipe and holy cow! I’ll make 5lbs at a time and feed my coworkers and let me tell ya it does not last long. My boyfriend and I are currently on our 3rd bowl of the night and sinking into food coma as we speak.5 stars

  15. Lee

    If you drain the beans, where does the juice come from? Just the tomatoes?

    1. Jake

      I accidentally forgot to drain the beans and it turned out awesome

  16. Esther from Texas

    I have a go to chill recipe but it takes hours & hours to make. I tried this one bc I had venison chili meat that was gifted to me. This recipe was quick & easy, and with excellent flavor. Definitely a keeper & my new go to for chili in an hour! Thank you for posting. (It was my first time making venison chili. however with this recipe there was no gaminess. My incredibly picky teen even loved it!) Thank you!5 stars

  17. Terry Hughes

    This is the best venison chili I have ever tasted. Mostly because it does not taste like venison at all!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Wow! Thanks so much Terry!

  18. Logan

    Awesome! I can’t even taste the gameness of the venison! A new family favourite for sure!5 stars

  19. Kay K Spence

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

  20. 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

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