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.

Venison chili in a white bowl.

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.

And, this recipe can be made on the stove, in an Instant Pot, or in your slow cooker.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Venison Chili Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled venison chili ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient notes

  • Bell peppers: Or add or substitute carrots, celery, corn, or zucchini.
  • Chipotle chili powder: Substitute ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or omit if you don’t like spicy food.
  • Kidney beans: 3 cups cooked beans can be substituted for the 2 cans (that’s about 1 cup dried beans before cooking). You can use any type of canned or cooked bean instead of kidney.
  • Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies. Ro*tel tomatoes work, too.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil in over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle chili powder, thyme, coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
Vegetables cooking in a black pot.
  1. 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.
Venison chili ingredients cooking in a black pot.
  1. Stir in kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 minutes longer.
Venison chili in a black pot.
  1. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded cheese, scallions, and sour cream.
A bowl of venison chili.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 8 (1-cup) servings, about 2 quarts chili.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Cool within 2 hours, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance. Reheat the full recipe on the stove over low heat to 165 degrees. Reheat small batches in the microwave.
  • Freezer: Cool cooked chili to below 40 degrees on an instant-read thermometer within 2 hours and place into airtight containers. Frozen chili will last 4 to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Instant Pot: Sauté the onions, peppers, spices, garlic, and venison in an Instant Pot until the venison is browned, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaf and mix well. Cook on manual or high pressure for 10 minutes. Fast release the pressure when done.
  • Slow cooker: At the end of step 2, transfer the cooked venison mixture to a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 3, cover and cook the chili on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
  • More toppings: Cheese, sour cream, and scallions are classics. You can also try diced avocado, cooked bacon, fresh cilantro, minced onion, hot sauce, lime wedges, tortilla chips, corn chips, or oyster crackers.

Homemade Chili Seasoning

The best secret ingredient for chili is Homemade Chili Seasoning, a blend of herbs and spices that take ordinary ground beef and beans to the next level. Skip the packet and the expensive little jar…

3 minutes
View Recipe

More hearty recipes

A bowl of venison chili.

Venison Chili

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.
5 from 134 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 8 servings (1-cup each)
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 259

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (see note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds ground venison
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans kidney beans drained and rinsed (see note 3)
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles undrained (see note 4)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf
  • shredded cheese and scallions and sour cream, for serving

Instructions 

  • In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil in over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle chili powder, thyme, coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ 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, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 30 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with shredded cheese, scallions, and sour cream.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Bell peppers: Or add or substitute carrots, celery, corn, or zucchini.
  2. Chipotle chili powder: Substitute ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or omit if you don’t like spicy food.
  3. Kidney beans: 3 cups cooked beans can be substituted for the 2 cans (that’s about 1 cup dried beans before cooking). You can use any type of canned or cooked bean instead of kidney.
  4. Canned tomatoes: I love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, but you can substitute regular canned tomatoes and add 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies. Ro*tel tomatoes work, too.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 8 (1-cup) servings, about 2 quarts chili.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: Cool within 2 hours, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance. Reheat the full recipe on the stove over low heat to 165 degrees. Reheat small batches in the microwave.
  8. Freezer: Cool cooked chili to below 40 degrees on an instant-read thermometer within 2 hours and place into airtight containers. Frozen chili will last 4 to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  9. Instant Pot: Sauté the onions, peppers, spices, garlic, and venison in an Instant Pot until the venison is browned, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaf and mix well. Cook on manual or high pressure for 10 minutes. Fast release the pressure when done.
  10. Slow cooker: At the end of step 2, transfer the cooked venison mixture to a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 3, cover and cook the chili on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
  11. More toppings: Cheese, sour cream, and scallions are classics. You can also try diced avocado, cooked bacon, fresh cilantro, minced onion, hot sauce, lime wedges, tortilla chips, corn chips, or oyster crackers.

Nutrition

Calories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 27gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 220mgPotassium: 641mgFiber: 4gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2435IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 6mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!
Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Excellent recipe! The only thing I changed was the amount of venison and garlic. However, I guess I am alone on that thinking. One pound of venison turned out perfectly for my taste. I can’t imagine how thick it would have been with 2 lbs. Overall, I will keep coming back to this chili recipe! Don’t be afraid of the 1/4 c of chili powder:)5 stars

  2. My husband and I both agreed that this was the best chili we’ve ever eaten. I didn’t have coriander and also left the green pepper out because hubby doesn’t like it and was still delicious.

  3. Delicious!! Made this while snowed in and it was the perfect cozy meal for a winter day. Went great with honey cornbread – love that combo of savory and sweet 😋

  4. It turned out ok. I read that some people had concerns about the 1/4 cup of chili powder. TBH, it’s really not that Spicy in the end result. Overall, it’s tasty, but I also added additional salt and pepper. I still feel like SOMETHING is missing but I can’t quite put my tongue on it. I’d make it again, but with alterations.

  5. I came across this recipe a couple of years ago. We make a lot of venison chili. This has become our standard with a couple of mods. I don’t put beans in chili and i use chili peppers ranging from Pablanos to Longhots inplace of the bell pepper. We like to chop up a dried anchio and add it with the tomatoes.5 stars

  6. What is the serving size? I may have missed that somewhere. I appreciate the breakdown of nutrition facts! Working on changing some habits to be more healthy.5 stars

  7. This is a terrific recipe. I use Dixon chili powder (Medium heat) for 1/2 of the ‘regular’ chili powder. Grind cumin and coriander in a mortar. Rest is exactly as shown. Great flavor, and easily halved or doubled.

  8. Very pleased! This was my first time cooking with venison. Added 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. black pepper. I did not add chipotle chili pwd. and only 3 T. Chili pwd. No green pepper. My parents were visiting and my mom has a sensitive stomach. I’m very particular about my chili and I thought this had a nice balance of herbs and spices.5 stars

    1. Hi Sandra, yes that is correct. Feel free to start with a smaller amount and add more to taste if you’re worried about it! – Meggan

  9. Absolutely amazing. I did add half pound of pork ground because when we butchered our deer we forgot to add fat. Ops. Venison is super lean so needs help. Doing the veg and spices first really bloomed the spices and seasoned the meat perfectly.5 stars

  10. Hello Meggan,.
    Do you sell a cook book dedicated to preparing venison,
    if so, how do I order it?
    Or if you sell a book with Venison Recipes in it, please advise
    which book to buy!
    Thanks
    Ted

  11. If I could give this 10 stars I would! I used 1lb venison and 1lb beef. Stuck to the rest to a T. WOW! Thank you for this wonderful recipe.5 stars

  12. I tried your recipe for this venison chili . It was a hit I’ve got six hungry boys to feed and they said it smelled good5 stars

  13. Followed the recipe for the most part and it was delicious! I added a teaspoon of cacao powder and will add bacon next time. Served it with sweet potato and tortilla chips, super yummy:)5 stars

  14. My son and I just made this chili with a few changes due to what we had on hand and it was excellent! We added two deseeded jalapenos to it. We added half a pack of bacon cooked and chopped up. We added two stalks of celery diced up. We left out the chipotle chili pepper because we didn’t have any. We also used crushed tomatoes because we did not have pureed ones. We used chunky rotel tomatoes with green chili’s. This was very very good! Thank you for giving us a starting point for making a delicious dish using ground deer meat. We also made it in the Instant Pot according to your directions.5 stars

    1. Hi Megan, this chili could have some spice because there is not a standard for what chili powder is- it’s usually made up of different combinations and amounts of chilies. I would recommend first tasting a little of the chili powder you are going to use, and consider omitting the cayenne or chipotle if it will be too spicy for you. I love spicy food, so I find myself adding more heat, but for some who don’t like chili spicy, this is where I would start. I hope you enjoy it and let me know how it turns out! – Meggan

  15. Hi Meggan
    I plan on making this recipe for dinner.
    Does one can of beer make the chili too runny?
    Thanks
    Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda! I think you’re fine adding a can of beer. Great idea! If the chili seems runny, just simmer it longer so the extra liquid cooks off. I am sure it will be perfect! I use beer in my Shepherd’s Pie and it’s amazing, and not too runny there either. Beer is always a good idea. :) Thanks! -Meggan

    1. Hi Lynsi, I honestly don’t know for sure exactly (sometimes I forgot to measure the full batch when it’s done cooking so I can answer this question). It’s probably about 2 cups but I don’t know for sure. I will test it again when I get a chance so I can list out the exact serving size. I’m so sorry about that! Thanks. -Meggan

  16. 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. 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. Kevin,
      I normally brown meat then seasonings but I followed this recipe and I see why she does seasoning first. As you brown your meat in the seasonings I found the meat was seasoned perfect. This may be the best deer chili I’ve ever eaten.

  17. 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

    1. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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. 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

  22. 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

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

  24. 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. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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!

  36. 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. 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

  37. 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

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

    1. 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!

  38. This is so close to how I make mine. I go one step forward and grow my own spices. Good luck on your cooking career. You’ve got a great start! Look forward to reading more.

    1. Dennis you made my day! Thank you! I grow a few herbs in an Earthbox on my patio, mostly just basil, parsley, and thyme. I look forward to having a yard/garden/hobby farm again someday where I can grow all kinds of things. Thanks so much for the lovely comment. :) Take care and thanks again!

  39. Is this chili recipe spicy?im looking for not less spicy. From scale of no spice to a mild (salsa) spicy me and my boyfriend don’t like a lot of spice 5 stars

    1. Hi Kelly! The thing that gives the chili the spice is the chili powder and the cayenne pepper. So, you could start with a tablespoon, or two of chili powder, perhaps no cayenne pepper, and see if you like it. Just taste as you go. Make it how you like it! I hope this helps. If you have any other questions just let me know! Take care and good luck!

  40. Can you use this with any other venison besides ground?  We have a bunch of venison steaks that I can cube but won’t be able to get ground venison in time for when I need the chili by.  Thanks!

    1. Hi Meghan! Yes you definitely can. I would brown the cubes of beef separately first and try to get the dark, caramelized effect on them (so do it in batches so they don’t steam). If that makes any sense at all. I also have a recipe for Chile Con Carne which is super tasty, spicier than this one, but it uses beef roast which is closer to venison steaks. You can see it here in case you want to check it out. https://www.culinaryhill.com/slow-cooker-chili-con-carne/ BTW it’s a slow cooker version but you could make it on the stove or in the oven or however you want to do it. Please let me know if you have more questions! I’m delighted to help. Thank you and take care!

  41. What size slow cooker would you recommend? I’m trying to gauge if I should halfen the serving size and ingredients..

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Tony, I’d recommend a 6-quart slow cooker. If yours is a lot smaller than that, yes you may want to cut the recipe in half. Thanks, if you need anything else just let me know!

  42. I really loved this recipe!! I started it last night and let it cook on low in my crock pot all night and it turned out amazing! The only other ingredient I added was a couple of diced jalapeños to add a little spice to it. Thank you so very much for this recipe! I will definitely share this and highly recommend it! 5 stars

  43. Is the calories 388 or 338? It says it different in different spots on the page.
    How much is one serving – grams, cups, doesn’t matter. As long as I can calculate. Thank you,

    1. So sorry about that! It’s 338. I calculate it in the nutrition label and then drop it in to the recipe above, so the spot above is a typo (I didn’t transfer it correctly). As for the serving, I need to make this again so I can calculate the yield. Until then, all I can say is 1/8th of the recipe. Which is not very helpful. :-/ I will definitely make it again in the next week or so (which I realize doesn’t help you right now, but I’ll make it a priority). Looks like most of my recipes that are similar don’t have this info. Sorry about that!

  44. This chili is awesome and deserves more comments! It’s my go to venison chili recipe. Thank you for sharing.5 stars

    1. Hey Justina! So cool. Are you working as a chef now? I will have to work in a restaurant as part of my program (internship type of thing). I’m nervous and also looking forward to it! Thanks and take care.