This delicious Venison Chili recipe is easy to customize and is the perfect way to use ground game meat. Combining all of the health benefits of game meat with all the iconic chili flavors results in a hearty meal that you’ll want to put on repeat.
Both my husband and I are huge fans of game meat, both for the huge array of nutrients and for the taste and texture.
Jeff has been a hunter for a number of years and while I’ve never joined on one of his hunts, your girl can put away a serious amount of game meat.
For those of you who are hunters or are a part of a hunting family, or those of you who are trying to incorporate highly nutrient-dense foods into your diet, I present to you a very basic yet very delicious way to enjoy any game meat.
I find chili to be a delicious way of using up a great deal of ground deer. The big bold flavors of chili cover some of the gamey flavor, and also classic chili is just all around delightful, am I right?
While I love the flavor of game meat, I could also probably eat chili every single day and never get sick of it, so here we are!
Health Benefits of Venison:
Ground venison is one of the richest sources of B vitamins on the planet. Other great sources of B Vitamins are other types of wild game and grass-fed beef.
In addition to the high concentration of B Vitamins, the amount of protein per ounce of ground deer meat is proportionally higher than many other types of animal protein.
For this reason, you can take in an abundance of protein and micronutrients in relatively little calories.
While deer meat is very lean, the fat contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, making it a great source of healthy fats.
Which is Healthier, Beef or Venison?:
Addressing whether beef or venison is healthier can be fairly individualized and depends on the goal of the person.
For instance, those looking to maximize their protein while minimizing fat would benefit from keeping game meat a regular part of their diet and can view deer as a healthier alternative to beef.
However, those who struggle to get enough calories from good fat sources may benefit from fattier cuts of grass-fed ground beef such that the fat is still comprised of a good proportion of omega-3s.
Objectively, venison is more nutrient dense than grain-fed beef (standard factory farm beef) and can therefore be labeled as healthier.
Overall, ground venison is typically a better option over ground beef for most individuals.
Where Can I Find Ground Venison?:
One of the most common ways of sourcing deer meat is hunting.
Jeff and I both put in for deer, elk, and antelope tags this year but were unsuccessful in the draw.
So while we would normally get our wild game meat from hunting (specifically, Jeff’s hunts), we are currently out of stock when it comes to our own harvest.
That said, I’ve been buying ground venison online because I simply refuse to go without my much coveted game meat.
Many grocery stores now carry game meats like ground venison, ground elk, and ground bison. If your local grocery store doesn’t carry it, there are online retailers that will ship to you for free. I like sourcing my ground venison from Maui Nui Venison.
Ingredients for Venison Chili:
Ground Venison: The star of the show here! You can use anywhere between 1 pound and 2 pounds of ground venison, depending on how meaty you like your chili. Ground elk, ground antelope, ground beef, and ground bison also work well here.
Avocado Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables and brown the meat, we use a quality high-temperature cooking oil like avocado oil. While any oil such as olive oil or canola oil will work here, I like the health benefits of the omega-3 fats, the high smoke point, and the neutral flavor of avocado oil.
Yellow Onion, Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Garlic: The combination of onions, minced garlic cloves and bell peppers boosts the boldness of the flavor and also adds a touch of natural sweetness.
Chili Powder: The iconic ingredient that makes a chili a chili! Chili powder is a combination of ground cumin, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and coriander.
Because all of these spices are already contained in chili powder, I typically don’t add extra of any of them. Ground cumin tends to be one that folks like to add more of, but I’m fine with the cumin content in chili powder without the need for more.
If you like adding cocoa powder for some richness, add 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Diced Tomatoes: Also iconic in classic chili recipes, diced tomatoes bring heartiness and tangy flavor.
You can also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste if you’d like but I typically find this addition unnecessary.
One 8-ounce can of tomato sauce works well as a replacement in this hearty venison chili recipe.
Beef Broth or Chicken Broth: Add beef broth or chicken broth to your desired consistency. I love my chili recipes nice and thick and hearty, so I tend to use minimal broth (1 to 2 cups). For brothier chili, use 3 to 4 cups of broth.
Pure Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar (optional): If you like a little sweetness to offset some of the acidity of tomatoes, feel free to add 1 to 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup or brown sugar, to your personal taste. I like adding a little pure maple syrup to my chili recipes.
Black Beans (or any kind of beans): Choose your favorite canned beans and toss them in! I use one can of black beans, but you can use up to 2 cans of any type of beans you love. Red kidney beans, chili beans, and pinto beans are popular beans for chili.
Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Add sea salt and pepper to your personal taste. Because there isn’t a lot of fat in ground venison, you may want to use slightly more salt than you normally do so that the chili is nice and flavorful.
Serve chili with your choice of favorite chili toppings, such as grated cheese (I love cheddar cheese or colby jack cheese on chili), tortilla chips, sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro, chopped green onion or red onion, etc.
If you’re a cornbread lover, whip up my Gluten-Free Cornbread.
- Because ground venison is so naturally lean, you may consider adding some extra fat to the chili for added richness. Duck fat, beef tallow, and avocado oil are all great options. Even ghee or butter will work here. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons and add more to your personal taste.
- If you aren’t a fan of the flavor of wild game meats, you can mask the flavor by adding more chili powder. Use up to 4 tablespoons of chili powder and be sure to take the option of adding sweetener like brown sugar or maple syrup.
- Cook 6 strips of thick-cut bacon in the same pot you’re using to make the chili to render bacon fat for cooking the chili. You can remove the cooked bacon strips and chop them to use as toppings, while using the fat for flavor.
- Make spicy chili by adding cayenne pepper to your personal taste or increasing the amount of jalapeno peppers and leaving the seeds in. You can also add chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for smoky chipotle flavor.
Why Add Fat To Ground Venison?:
Deer are very lean animals with a high ratio of muscle to fat. Fat not only keeps meat moist throughout the cooking process but it also adds a great deal of flavor.
For this reason, adding fat to ground venison recipes ensures the meat stays nice and tender and adds richer flavor.
Due to the leanness of game meat, many hunters choose to use a good portion of the meat for ground meat because many parts of the animal tend to be tough when kept whole.
Larger roasts can be slow cooked in the crock pot and will tenderize but typically won’t become as tender as a beef roast or pork roast.
All of that said, if you’re accustomed to the leanness of game meat and don’t feel you need the addition of fat, you can easily prepare a lower far chili by not adding excess oil or lard.
Similarly, elk and antelope are very lean as well, so antelope recipes and elk recipes benefit from the addition of fat.
Nevertheless if you don’t mind the leanness (I fall into this camp), enjoy your wild game meat as is!
Now that we’ve covered some basics, let’s make some deer chili, shall we?
How to Make Venison Chili:
Heat the avocado oil in a large thick-bottomed pot such as a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stove top.
Add the yellow onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the ground venison to the soup pot and brown the meat for a few minutes, breaking it into smaller chunks with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Stir in the remaining ingredients (bell peppers, garlic, and chili powder, diced tomatoes, black beans, beef stock, pure maple syrup, and sea salt) until everything is well-combined. Cover the pot and bring it to a full boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low or low heat and continue cooking for at least 20 minutes (ideally one hour if you have the time). The longer the chili cooks, the more the flavors develop. Stir the chili occasionally while it cooks.
Taste the chili for flavor and add more salt, chili powder, or pure maple syrup to your personal taste.
Serve chili in big bowls with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream (or Greek yogurt), grated cheese, chopped red onions, green onions, cilantro, corn chips, etc.
Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
This easy venison chili recipe is even more flavorful the next day and the 2-3 days following preparation. For this reason, have no fear about making it in advance!
If you prefer cooking in the pressure cooker or slow cooker, feel free to use your Instant Pot or Crock Pot to prepare this recipe.
And that’s it! Make a big pot of chili the next time you’re craving energizing comfort food.
If you’re looking for more ground venison recipes, you can use it in any of the following recipes as a replacement for beef.
More Ground Venison Recipe Ideas:
- Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Ground Beef Enchilada Casserole with Corn Tortillas
- 30-Minute Ground Beef and Vegetable Skillet
- Ground Beef Taco Casserole
- 20-Minute Mongolian Ground Beef
- 30-Minute Ground Beef and Mushroom Skillet
The best venison chili recipe, here we go!
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1.5 lbs ground venison *
- 2 bell peppers color of choice
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped.
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 to 3 Tbsp chili powder to taste
- 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-oz) can black beans **
- 1 to 3 cups beef broth ***
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or brown sugar optional
- 1 tsp sea salt to taste
- Heat the avocado oil in a large thick-bottomed pot such as a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stove top.
- Add the yellow onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground venison to the soup pot and brown the meat for a few minutes, breaking it into smaller chunks with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients (bell peppers, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, diced tomatoes, black beans, beef stock, pure maple syrup, and sea salt) until everything is well-combined. Cover the pot and bring it to a full boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low or low heat and continue cooking for at least 20 minutes (ideally one hour if you have the time). The longer the chili cooks, the deeper the flavors will be. Stir the chili occasionally while it cooks.
- Taste the chili for flavor and add more salt, chili powder, or pure maple syrup to your personal taste.
- Serve chili in big bowls with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream (or Greek yogurt), grated cheese, chopped red onions, green onions, cilantro, tortilla chips, etc.
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