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Easy Venison Chili Recipe

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What’s better than a big pot of chili on a cold winter night? Not much! Chili is one of my family’s favorite dinners – even for the picky ones! And I love it because it is so fast and easy to make on busy school nights. It is also cheap and healthy!

As you probably know, you can find all kinds of deer chili recipes online. But don’t overthink it like I used to; chili is one of the easiest things to make and customize! If you have ground deer meat on hand, this recipe is the perfect way to use it. The ingredients are very inexpensive and easy to store, so I always keep enough on hand for last-minute dinners.

I recently took a large pot of this chili to a chili feed fundraiser night at my daughter’s school. I didn’t think it would be overly popular since it was venison instead of beef, but it was one of the most popular dishes there!

Venison chili basics

Though we’re using venison here, chili can be made with just about any meat you like, such as ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken. Or you can leave the meat out altogether. Chili is a great way for our family to use ground venison and other game meat over the winter when we have a full freezer. 

This is such a versatile dish; you can add or omit pretty much whatever you want. As long as you have the basics – beans, tomatoes, and seasonings – the rest is up to you!  

I prefer to make my chili in a Dutch oven on the stove (I use this one), but this recipe is super easy to adapt to a slow cooker or Instant Pot. See the notes below the recipe instructions for some tips and variations.

When I make chili, I seldom use an actual recipe or strictly follow measurements, so feel free to wing this one! The beauty of chili is that as long as you get the basics in, it almost always turns out great. 😉

Venison chili recipe

Chili Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds ground venison
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilis 
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans or mixed beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) chili beans 
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped large onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder 
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, cook the venison over medium-high heat until the meat is almost browned. Use a bit of olive oil, if necessary, to add some fat and keep the meat from sticking.
  2.  Lower to medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and green pepper. Cook for a few more minutes until the meat has finished browning and the vegetables have softened. 
  3. Stir in the canned beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, and cumin, then bring the pot to a boil. 
  4. Reduce to medium-low heat and let the ingredients simmer for 30-45 minutes. 
  5. Add more salt or pepper to desired taste. 
  6. Spoon into bowls, top with favorite toppings, and serve!

Venison chili tips and variations:

  • To get an extra dose of veggies in your meal, add in whatever other vegetables you like, including celery, carrots, or other root veggies. I like to sneak some greens – like chard or spinach – into our chili when I have them on hand. 
  • If you aren’t partial to green chilis, omit them altogether or add more tomatoes in their place. 
  • You can use just about any beans you want in this recipe. If you don’t want to use canned beans, cook your desired dried beans and substitute them with canned ones. I like to use a mix of kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans.
  • I don’t let the chili simmer long when I am in a hurry or impatient. Instead, I crank the heat up to a mid-boil and cook it faster. If you do this, you may need to add some extra water and stir often to keep it from sticking. 
  • Onion powder can be used in place of (or in addition to) diced onion. Similarly, garlic powder can be used in place of (or in addition to) diced garlic.
  • Get creative with your favorite chili toppings! Cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocados, chives or green onions, fresh herbs, corn chips, and crushed crackers are all great options. 
  • Add tomato sauce or tomato puree and some beef stock as the chili cooks for a more hearty venison chili.
  • Add chili peppers, chopped jalapenos, or cayenne pepper for more spicy chili.
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes also taste great in chili. This is a great way to use up your late tomato harvest in the fall or frozen garden tomatoes over the winter. 
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy for a few days. 

Slow cooker venison chili

If you want your chili ready and waiting for you after a long day at work, you can easily make this recipe in a slow cooker. 

Brown the meat and vegetables following steps 1 and 2 above. Add to a slow cooker and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add some water or beef broth if the mixture seems too thick. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours. 

As you probably know, finding good wild game recipes can be a huge challenge, but I think you’ll find that chili is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to use it. It’s a hearty and delicious dish perfect for a cozy night in or a game day gathering. The unique flavor of the venison adds a twist to the classic chili recipe and makes for a satisfying and filling meal.

By following this recipe, you can easily whip up a batch of venison chili your family will love. So go ahead and give it a try, and enjoy the savory and spicy flavors of this comforting dish. And don’t be afraid to adjust any ingredients to suit your taste!