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. Michelle

    the best chili recipes5 stars

  2. Meghan

    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. meggan

      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!

  3. TONY

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

    Thanks!

    1. meggan

      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!

  4. Christina

    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

  5. Robin

    This was AWESOME!!! Thank you5 stars

  6. krystina b.

    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. krystina b.

      Any idea how many cups this makes? Or how much is in one serving?

    2. meggan

      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!

  7. Paula

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

  8. Georgette R Helton

    I love it ….Thanks5 stars

  9. Justina Leal

    I love to cook a lot and I went to culinary school and I love it5 stars

    1. meggan

      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.

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