Learn how to make award-winning venison chili with ground deer or elk meat you have in the freezer. Simple to make, flavorful, and well-balanced.
Venison chili. I mean, man. The pressure is on. The steaks are high. Your expectations are up. And quite honestly, they should be.
One of the most common recipes people make with ground deer meat is chili. But if we’re being honest, the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest and the internet leave me a little underwhelmed. And subbing venison directly for beef is *fine* for chili. Sometimes. Alas, I venture to bet that if you’re cozying up to a big bowl of chili at the end of the day…fine isn’t what you’re going for.
So I give you…my award-winning venison chili.
What makes this chili award-winning, you ask?
The foundation of this chili is one I and my family have used in a church chili cookoff…and taken home the blue ribbon. If you’ve ever been to any sort of church potluck, cookoff, luncheon, or picnic, you know this isn’t something to be taken lightly.
But before we go any further I’m sure you’re wondering why you can’t just take your favorite beef chili recipe and use deer. So I’ll tell you…
Can you sub venison for beef in chili?
The reason you don’t want to directly sub venison for beef in a chili recipe is because of the difference in flavor profile and fat composition. If you eat a lot of beef, you’re likely used to a more mild, buttery flavor of red meat. Venison or deer meat is bold, earthy, and fresh. It also comes from a much leaner animal.
So, if you use your family’s favorite beef chili recipe you’ll likely be looking for that notorious beefy flavor you’re used to. Which is perfectly understandable. But, by using a recipe developed to work with, transform and enhance the flavor of wild game…you’re going to have a recipe that will knock your socks clean off. I’ll tell you right now, I prefer this to beef any day. And I didn’t grow up eating wild game.
How do you get the wild taste out of deer chili (the BEST secret ingredient for venison chili)?
Now I’ll tell you, the ultimate secret ingredient for making great deer chili is acid; fresh lime and orange juice to be exact. It’s such a small part of the dish but the addition of this fresh citrus will make a world of difference, waking the whole dish up and making your taste buds sing.
However, the use of Worchestershire sauce here shouldn’t be overlooked and the hefty amount of spices is 100% worth it in the end. As a result of these wonderful flavorful notes, you’re left with a perfectly balanced pot of chili.
What is in deer chili?
The rest of my venison or deer chili recipe is pretty traditonal. We’ve got:
- ground venison (yes you can use elk, antelope, moose – this would even be great for bear & bison)
- black beans
- kidney beans
- diced tomatoes
- tomato paste
- chili powder
- Worchestershire sauce
- venison or beef stock (homemade is always best)
I like to make this on the stovetop, but of course, you can dump it all in your slow cooker and it will come out just fine. If I do this, I do like to saute my meat first, but that’s truly up to you.
Be sure to take a peek at the order I cook things in, however. There’s a method to my madness and I’ll help you get the most flavor out of your food possible.
I KNOW this recipe will be a staple in your household for years and years to come. Comment below and tell me how you’re serving it + check out this Chocolate Chipotle version from my cookbook!Print
Learn how to make award-winning venison chili with ground deer or elk meat you have in the freezer. Simple, flavorful, and well-balanced.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 lb. ground venison
4–5 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 and ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 orange, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 and 1/2 cups venison or beef stock*
28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Begin by heating the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion and peppers and cook until the onions start to brown on the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Then, add the venison and brown.
- Once the venison is browned add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Saute for 1-2 minutes and then add the tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute, incorporating the tomato paste.
- Then, deglaze the pot with Worchestershire sauce, orange juice, and lime juice. Scrape the bottom of the pot and add the stock, tomatoes, and beans.
- Stir well and bring the chili to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover partially with a lid and let the pot simmer for at least 30 minutes but up to all day. If you’re cooking longer than an hour, be sure to cover the chili fully with a lid so all of the liquid doesn’t evaporate.
- Ladle up generous portions, top with your favorite chili toppings, and serve.
- For flavor interest, try swapping out the venison/beef stock with 12oz of your favorite beer. A larger or stout work best but a pumpkin ale is always fun in the fall.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican American
Keywords: chili, venison, deer, deer meat, beans, chili beans
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