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Hearty Venison Chili

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This hearty venison chili recipe is loaded with ground venison, lots of beans and big flavor. The best part is it is really simple to put together and the leftovers are every bit as good if not better than the first bowl.

Bowl of venison chili with lots of beans topped with shredded cheese, jalapenos and a dollop of sour cream.

If you have a freezer full of ground deer meat, this recipe is for you. We make it on repeat all fall and winter long and we are always looking forward to the next batch.

Venison has such a rich, earthy flavor so it pairs well with big bold flavors. We love using ground venison for tacos and backstrap for grilled bulgogi medallions.

While it can be used in place of ground beef in a lot of recipes, it really does have its own flavor profile and it works best in recipes created for it. And the flavors of chili really compliment the earthiness of the venison.

There is nothing like making a big batch of chili on a Sunday morning and eating small bowls throughout the day while watching football. Plus the leftovers reheat well so it makes great lunches throughout the week.

The Venison

We grind our own venison and don’t add any extra fat, so it is really lean. To keep the chili on the healthier side, I don’t add oil to the pan to brown it either.

You may want to drain any excess grease if your butcher adds suet to the venison when he grinds it. It is sure to taste good either way.

For a meatier chili, go ahead and use two pounds of meat. We like to make sure we have plenty of venison for several batches of chili plus lots of tacos, so we tend to stick with one pound.

I like to cook the meat with the seasonings to really infuse it with flavor. When it is almost cooked, I add a diced onion and jalapeno.

Sometimes I add bell pepper as well, but usually I just keep it simple. When the onions are translucent, add the remaining ingredients.

Beans in Chili

I know that whether or not beans belong in chili is a topic of hot debate. If you are on team beans in chili, this is definitely the recipe for you.

The beans really help to fill you up and add more nutrients to the meal. Plus they are a great way to stretch a pound of meat.

So we not only use quite a few cans of beans, but we use a variety of types. It adds visual and textural appeal to the bowl.

Large serving spoon filled with a heaping scoop of venison chili showing a variety of beans.

Instead of starting from scratch, we use several cans of chili beans. It is a great place to start with spices and sauce that will make getting this chili together even easier.

Black beans adds just a tiny touch of sweetness. Creamy navy or cannellini beans help to add visual contrast too.

A can of great big butter beans is always a fun addition. There is just something about those big beans that makes the bowl of chili even more interesting.

You can easily sub out whatever beans you have on hand. Chickpeas or extra kidney beans are also great options.

Easy Additions of Substitutions

This recipe is pretty mild as written, so it is palatable for most taste buds. However you can easily turn up the spice by adding an additional jalapeno or two or some crushed red pepper flakes.

A sprinkle of chipotle powder is another great way to add smoky spice to the mix. Or keep the pot mild and have pickled jalapenos or hot sauce available at the time of serving.

Bowl of hearty venison chili with red dutch oven in the background.

As I mentioned earlier. a second pound of ground deer can be added for a meatier chili. And the combination of beans is endless.

Feel free to use your favorite chili seasonings. If you are into cinnamon in your chili, go wild! A bit of paprika or even a pinch of Mexican oregano could be good too.

Taste the chili after it simmers for a while and add more salt, garlic or chili powder as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my chili thicker?

A good long simmer always helps to thicken a pot of chili, but if you are in a hurry and want it thicker there are a few options. The first would be to add a little bit of pumpkin puree or refried beans. Either will add body and thickness. Or you can mash a few of the beans already in your chili, stir them in and then simmer for a few more minutes.

What if I want a thinner chili?

That is easy! Just add a little bit of water, beef broth or tomato juice until you are happy with the consistency.

Serving Suggestions

I love serving my chili with a bit of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. A sprinkling of chives or a couple of shakes of hot sauce is always good too.

Serve with some tasty corn muffins, a skillet of cornbread or a nice big handful of corn chips. There is nothing like a perfect bowl of chili with your favorite fixings.

Bowl of venison chili topped with shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos and sour cream served with corn chips on the side.

If you have a freezer full of venison, check out these other great ground venison recipes. And if you have a favorite way to use venison, let me know about it in the comments below. We are always looking for new ideas to try!

Bowl of venison chili with lots of beans topped with shredded cheese, jalapenos and a dollop of sour cream.

Hearty Venison Chili

Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Carlee
This hearty venison chili recipe is loaded with ground venison, lots of beans and big flavor. The best part is it is really simple to put together and the leftovers are every bit as good if not better than the first bowl.
4.94 from 15 ratings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 6 15.5 oz. cans chili beans
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 15.5 oz. can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 15.5 oz can butter beans drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz. tomato sauce


  • In a 7 qt. pot or larger, cook the ground venison, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and salt over medium heat until mostly cooked through.
    1 lb. ground venison, 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Add the onion and jalapeno, cooking until the onion is translucent.
    1 onion, 1 jalapeno
  • Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook over medium heat until bubbly.
    6 15.5 oz. cans chili beans, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, 15.5 oz. can black beans, 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, 15.5 oz can butter beans, 28 oz. tomato sauce
  • Drop the heat to low and simmer for at least a half hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings to you liking.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 290kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 24gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 1304mgFiber: 12gSugar: 7g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.94 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating

Andrea Nine

Monday 17th of October 2022

I love a good, hearty chili! This sounds delicious! I made a big pot of chili yesterday to have tonight it’s such a rainy day here!


Monday 17th of October 2022

It is definitely chili season! Thanks, Andrea.