It doesn’t get more comforting than this one-pot venison chili recipe. Juicy ground venison meat is cooked with various seasonings and tender beans, making for a warm, rich, hearty dish. Every bite will leave you wanting more!
Lately, my family has been obsessed with venison, especially in a venison stew or in this chili. It’s so similar to ground beef, and with everything simmered in a rich and flavorful tomato-based sauce, it’s a perfect winter staple.
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Why this recipe works
- Easy one-pot meal. Everything comes together in one pot, so cleanup couldn’t be easier.
- It’s healthy. Loaded with lean protein and fiber, this dish packs nutrition in every bite.
- Customizable. Switch the toppings, turn up the heat, add more veggies, or double up on the beans. There are plenty of ways to customize this chili to suit your preferences.
- Perfect for meal prep. As good as this chili tastes on day one, I’d say it tastes even better the following day. And my family makes sure I make an extra batch to enjoy during the week.
I love dishes that offer simplicity but don’t compromise on flavor, and this chili fits the bill. It couldn’t be easier to make, yet your family will think you spent all day in the kitchen. Only you will know how effortless it was!
Similar to my low carb chili, most of the flavor comes from the seasoning blend. The biggest difference comes down to the meat and the addition of beans. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Olive oil. For cooking the meat.
- Onion and garlic. Must-have aromatics.
- Tomato paste. For concentrated tangy tomato flavor.
- Ground venison. Venison technically refers to any game meat, including elk, bison, antelope, moose, or, most commonly, deer meat. For this recipe, we will be using ground deer meat. If you are after a particular kind, buy your venison from a butcher.
- Taco seasoning. I prefer using a spice mix for ease, but if you’d prefer to make it yourself, use a combination of salt, pepper,
- Italian seasoning. For added aromatics and herby flavor.
- Chili powder. For added heat. When I’m making this for my family, I keep this in but if you are making it for yourself or others who aren’t fans of spicy food, you can leave it out.
- Cumin and smoked paprika. For added warm and smoky flavor.
- Salt and black pepper. To taste.
- Diced tomatoes. To form the base of the chili. Choose canned tomatoes in their own juices with no additional flavorings.
- Kidney beans. What is a chili without beans? Kidney beans are my favorite because they are classic, but feel free to use whichever beans you like.
- Toppings. I keep things simple with shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, and sour cream but use your favorite toppings.
How to make venison chili
For how good this recipe will smell cooking on the stove, it couldn’t be simpler to make. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1- Cook the aromatics: Cook onion until translucent in an oiled Dutch oven or large pot set over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, then stir in tomato paste.
Step 2- Add venison: To the skillet, break up the ground venison with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
Step 3- Add the rest of the ingredients: Stir in the seasonings. Then, pour in the diced tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil.
Step 4- Simmer: Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the chili is thick, around 15 minutes.
Step 5- Garnish and serve: Remove the chili from the what and ladle into bowls. Add desired toppings, serve immediately, and enjoy!
Alternative cooking methods
Because I know many of you like to use a slow cooker or an instant pot, I’ve tested this recipe both ways too to make sure everyone’s favorite cooking method is covered!
Slow cooker venison chili- Sauté the onion, garlic, and tomato paste. Add the venison and cook until no pink remains. Transfer this to the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
Instant pot venison chili- Add oil to the instant pot and turn on the sauté setting. Cook the onion, garlic, tomato paste, and venison until browned. Add the remaining ingredients, close the lid, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the chili sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Switch up the toppings. I’d argue the best part of chili is the toppings! Try sliced avocado, pickled red onions, green onions, cotija cheese, or crushed tortilla chips.
- Add more beans. To make an even heartier, more satisfying chili, add extra canned beans. Some of my favorite beans for chili are black beans, red beans, cannellini beans, and pinto beans.
- Add extra veggies. Make an even more nutrient-dense dish by sautéeing mushrooms or bell peppers along with the onions or stirring in fresh spinach or kale into the chili as it simmers.
To store: Store the chilled leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. I like to keep the leftovers in individual grab-and-go portions for meal prep.
To freeze: Store the chilled leftover chili in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months. Let the leftovers thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Reheat chili in a pot set over medium heat or microwave single-serving portions in 30-second intervals.
Frequently asked questions
If you’re not a big fan of the “gamey” flavor in venison, you can add a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder, which will minimize the earthiness and add richness to the chili. Or add a dash of brown sugar to balance out the flavor.
Yes, if you can’t find venison, you can swap it for ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground pork.
More hearty soups and stews to try
- Stuffed pepper soup– All the flavors of the classic dinner in a hearty and thick soup.
- Oxtail stew– Another cozy and comforting dish that utilizes an underrated protein.
- Beef tips and gravy– The coziest one-pot meal where the meat MELTS in your mouth.
- Albondigas soup– Mexican meatball soup that is both hearty and filling.
- Roasted cauliflower soup– Super thick and creamy without a lick of dairy.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 pounds ground venison
- 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes canned
- 15 ounces kidney beans canned
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder optional
- Add the oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir through the tomato paste.
- Add the ground venison and break it up using a wooden spoon. Cook until it is no longer pink.
- Add all the spices, then pour in tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the chili from the heat, ladle into bowls and add your toppings of choice.
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