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.

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. 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.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled venison chili ingredients in bowls.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Using dried beans: 1 pound (about 2 cups) of dried beans yields 6 to 7 cups cooked beans. One 15-ounce can of cooked beans yields 1 ¾ cups beans after draining, making it equivalent to ¼ to ⅓ pounds ( or ½ to ¾ cup) dried. Cook your beans in unsalted water beforehand, then measure them out and add them to the pot.
  • 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 cooked bacon or crumbled chorizo cooked with the onions, and add another layer of delicious flavor to the pot.
  • No beans: Some chili lovers insist beans 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!
  • 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 ½ to 2 hours until fork tender.
  • Super healthy: Beef up the vegetables. Add celery, red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, even a little chopped carrot.

Venison chili in a white bowl.

Slow cooker:

  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:

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.
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.
4.91 from 110 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 259


  • 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


  • 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


  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.


Calories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 27gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 220mgPotassium: 641mgFiber: 4gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2435IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 6mg
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  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

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

    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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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!

  26. 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

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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. 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!

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


    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!

  32. 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

  33. 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!

  34. 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.