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.

Venison chili in a white bowl.

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.
4.98 from 37 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 301kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

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

Nutrition

Calories: 301kcal
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  1. 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

  2. Cindy

    Great recipe couldn’t of done better in a hundred years5 stars

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Rochelle D Martin

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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. Maggie

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

  12. Craig

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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Catnip

    Made this tonight with beef. Very good!5 stars

  17. Danielle

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

  18. 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!

  19. Dennis McCarthy

    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. meggan

      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!

  20. Kelly

    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. meggan

      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!

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