Venison Chili Recipe

When recipe developer Kristen Carli brought us this venison chili, we automatically assumed that the word venison referred to deer. That is after all, what some people mean when they say venison (via Grassland Beef). However, venison actually comes from the Latin word meaning "to hunt," and it can refer to meat from any number of game mammals, including reindeer, elk, and of course deer. Carli's venison chili calls specifically for elk meat, as it turns out. And once we did a little investigating and saw how lean and healthy elk meat is according to Montana Elk, it made perfect sense that Carli, who is also a registered dietitian at Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, would be cooking with elk meat. 

"It's leaner than beef," and overall a healthier option, Carli explains. In addition, Carli also likes to add beans to her chili, "to increase the fiber content, which helps to keep you full." Also, it makes the perfect foundation for guacamole, not to mention sour cream and shredded cheese. That said, Carli does point out that these last two will up the dish's fat content. As far as elk meat, if you're wondering whether you'll have to hunt your own elk for this venison chili, the answer is no. "You usually can find [it] at a local farmer's market or meat supply store," Carli advises.

Gather your ingredients for the venison chili

First of all, Carli's recipe for venison chili calls for venison in the form of elk meat. In addition, you'll need the following ingredients, many of which you may already have in your kitchen: olive oil, a yellow onion, salt, pepper, pinto beans, black beans, corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, and tomato sauce. If you love topping your chili with goodies like guacamole, sour cream, and Mexican cheese as much as we do, then you'll want to have these optional ingredients on hand as well. 

Start with a brief sauté for depth of flavor

To imbue this venison chili with the depth of flavor that it deserves, Carli starts by sautéing both the elk meat and the onions in the same pan. This helps the flavors instantly begin marrying for a deeper, richer taste. Here's how to get this done: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and when shimmering, add the venison and the onions. Cook for around 8 minutes until the meat is no longer pink in the middle. While cooking, break the meat up with the back of a wooden spoon. Be sure to season it with salt and pepper.

Here's where this turns into chili

So, now we come to the part where this venison chili really comes together, and it's as easy as opening a mere five cans — pinto beans, black beans, corn kernels, fire-roasted tomatoes, and tomato sauce. In the case of everything but the beans, simply empty the contents into the skillet with the meat and onions. As for the beans, you'll want to rinse and drain them before adding them to the skillet. 

From here, it's just minutes until this venison chili is ready to serve

After adding the pinto beans, black beans, corn kernels, fire-roasted tomatoes, and tomato sauce, be sure to stir your chili thoroughly. Then, turn up the heat, and bring the entire mixture to a boil. At this point, lower the heat to allow the chili to come to a simmer. Cover the skillet and allow the dish to simmer for 30 minutes. Serve the chili with your choice of toppings, including guacamole, sour cream, and shredded Mexican cheese.

Venison Chili Recipe
5 from 51 ratings
Step up your chili game with this delicious and easy venison rendition. You'll find everything you love about chili with extra flavor and nutritional value.
Prep Time
Cook Time
venison chili
Total time: 45 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
Optional Ingredients
  • guacamole, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving
  • shredded Mexican cheese, for serving
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion and ground venison.
  3. Break up the venison using the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  5. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the pinto beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
  7. Stir all of the ingredients together.
  8. Bring the contents of the skillet to a boil.
  9. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Serve with optional toppings.
Calories per Serving 255
Total Fat 4.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 10.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 33.8 g
Dietary Fiber 9.9 g
Total Sugars 5.6 g
Sodium 790.6 mg
Protein 21.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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