Rich and hearty homemade Bison Chili loaded with vegetables and beans is the best comfort food! This easy chili recipe simmers for just 30-minutes and is guaranteed to be your go-to recipe for cooler weather. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, then wrap your hands around the bowl and let the chili deliciousness warm you from the inside out!
You won’t believe how incredibly flavorful this quick and easy chili tastes. The base for this recipe is my dad’s award-winning chili recipe. I made just a few small tweaks and added a few tasty extras, like beans and green chilies and revised the amount of some of the ingredients that were used in the original recipe. I’m so happy with how it turned out! And so was my husband!
We really like bison too, so instead of ground beef we made this chili recipe with ground bison. If you’re a meat eater and you’ve never given bison a try, you really should. It’s much leaner than even your lean cuts of beef, and we think it’s tastier than ground chicken and ground turkey.
What is ground bison?
Contrary to popular belief, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. They both come from the bovidae family, but the two are not closely related. In fact, bison are actually more genetically similar to cows. Bison spend their lives on grass, not in feedlots and they are not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones.
Bison tastes very similar to high-quality beef with a slightly sweeter, richer flavor. It’s not gamey, and it doesn’t have much of an aftertaste. The popularity of bison meat continues to grow and you will likely find it at your local grocery store. The two large grocery stores in my area, Kroger and HEB both carry grass-fed lean bison steaks and ground bison.
Is ground bison healthy?
Bison is leaner than beef and may be a healthier choice if you’re looking to reduce your calorie or fat intake. It has nearly 25% fewer calories than beef and is lower in total and saturated fat. It’s an excellent sources of iron and zinc and provides good amounts of phosphorous, niacin, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12. Also, like all meats, bison is composed mainly of high-quality protein, providing all nine essential amino acids your body needs for growth and maintenance. When comparing bison with turkey, they have essentially identical fat content. However, bison takes the prize over turkey when it comes to B vitamins!
Not only is this bison chili recipe easy to make and super delicious, it’s also really versatile. I’ve listed our favorite ingredients below, but feel free to substitute or completely leave out any ingredient to suite your family’s taste preference. Here’s the lineup:
- Ground meat. Any ground meat will work great. However, be aware that if you’re using ground bison or beef with a higher fat content, you’ll want to drain off any excess grease after it’s cooked. I chose to use lean ground bison because it’s a really good lean, flavorful meat. We use it for tacos, casseroles and other recipes that call for ground meat.
- Onions. A must for most any chili recipe! If you like garlic in your chili, feel free to add that in too.
- Bell pepper. Adds a slightly spicy and aromatic flavor. Any color bell pepper works!
- Tomatoes. I like to use crushed or stewed tomatoes, which are larger and softer than diced tomatoes. You can totally use either, though! Fire-roasted tomatoes would be great too! You’ll need 28 ounces, so one of the larger cans or two regular-sized 14.5 ounce cans.
- Beans. The recipe calls for either black beans or kidney beans, but feel free to use any beans you’d like. Pinto beans or chili beans would also work great.
- Chopped green chilies. You’ll need one small can of green chilies. Be aware that you can buy spicy or mild.
- Spices. We’re using a delicious blend of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Feel free to use as much or as little as you prefer. If you like a spicier chili, you can add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper.
- For serving. Top your chili with any favorites! We love sour cream, shredded cheese and diced avocado.
How to make bison chili
You may have tried other classic chili recipes, but let me tell you, this one is SO fantastic! It’s incredibly flavorful and super easy! Here’s the simple process, but for the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Sauté. The first step is to heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the ground bison. Meanwhile in a large pot, stockpot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and bell pepper until soft.
- Simmer. Now, add the rest of the ingredients (except the ground meat) – tomatoes with juices, beans (undrained), green chilies with juices and spices into the pot. Bring to a boil, decrease hit and let everything simmer away! How easy is that?! The longer the chili simmers, the more flavorful it will become.
- Serve. Once cooked to your liking, add the meat with the other ingredients and stir to combine. Ladle chili into bowls and top with your favorite chili toppings. Enjoy!
If you’ve got the time, I recommend letting the chili simmer over a couple of hours to let the flavors intensify and really shine. However, you can totally enjoy the chili after about 30 minutes of simmering. The bison chili is even better the next day after all of the ingredients have really had a chance to meld together and become stronger. So good!
CROCKPOT bison CHILI
This bison chili recipe can easily be made in your Crockpot! Using the slow cooker method for making chili is great. Because you’re cooking low and slow, the flavor of the chili is rich and robust and the texture of the bison is nice and tender. Six hours of slow cooking creates some really delicious chili!
For best results, sauté the onion, bell pepper and meat. Then, add the meat mixture along with all of the other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. I don’t recommend cooking it on high, as the meat is likely to become dry.
TIPS FOR making this bison CHILI RECIPE
This is seriously the best bison chili recipe and it comes together with very little effort, but here are few tips to consider.
- Ground meat. I like to use 90% lean ground bison or beef. It’s got plenty of flavor without all the extra fat. If you are using a higher fat meat, it may be necessary to drain the excess fat before adding the meat to the other ingredients.
- Versatility. This recipe is super versatile and you can easily customize it to fit your taste and ingredients you may have available. Feel free to add different spices or different amounts of the spices and do the same with any of the other ingredients.
- Double the recipe. We like to double this recipe for game day and family gatherings. Everyone loves it!
- Leftovers. Most any chili recipe is great for meal prepping and is awesome leftover. Chili only gets better with time, as the flavors meld and marry together. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 or so days, or in the freezer for up to three months.
- Toppings. Serve this chili with plenty of topping choices such as avocado, guacamole, cotjia cheese, cheddar cheese, cilantro, green onion, red onion, jalapeño slices, sour cream, Greek yogurt, Pico de Gallo, crushed tortilla chips, and/or crumbled cornbread.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHILI
Cornbread is the classic side dish for chili, and my Low Calorie Mexican Cornbread Muffins or this incredible Mexican Cornbread (personal favorite) pair wonderfully for a complete meal! Other great options include serving this chili over a baked potato, on a hot dog, or poured over french fries. There are so many different ways to enjoy chili and you just can’t go wrong with this recipe!
To add even more flavor to your bowl of bison chili, top with any of the following options!
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled cotija
- Sliced jalapeños
- Diced avocado or guacamole
- Chopped fresh cilantro
HOW TO SERVE leftover CHILI
One of the many things that I love about chili is how easy it is to turn leftovers into a whole new meal. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Pair with crackers, corn chips, tortilla chips or warm tortillas
- Serve over rice
- Top fries or potato wedges with your leftovers
- Stuff the chili inside baked potatoes (sweet or russet)
- Use it to make Sloppy Joes, piled high on hamburger buns
- Make chili dogs
HOW TO FREEZE bison CHILI
Bison chili is a great candidate for the freezer! It reheats really well. I like to keep some stocked in my freezer at all times – it makes such a convenient and delicious dinner!
It’s also great for meal prep! I freeze small batches for an easy lunch throughout the week. Or sometimes I make a double batch, then freeze a batch for dinner the next week or even a month or two later.
HELPFUL TOOLS FOR MAKING CHILI
- Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven – If you’re open to spending a bit of money on a piece that you’ll own forever, Le Creuset is my favorite brand for heavy pots and cookware.
- Lodge Dutch Oven – Lodge is a great brand as well. I own several of their cast iron skillets and have been very happy with them. This one is more budget-friendly, but still great quality!
- Ground Beef Chopper – This cheap ground meat chopper is life-changing! I seriously don’t know why I waited so long to order one. Makes cooking ground meat so much easier.
If you try this bison chili recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
- 1 pound ground bison, or lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green or red bell pepper, diced
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, undrained (stewed tomatoes work too)
- 1 (15 oz.) can black or kidney beans, undrained (any of your favorite bean variety will work)
- 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, more if you prefer
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin , or to taste
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt , start with 1 teaspoon salt and add more as you'd like
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, plus more as preferred
- Optional for garnish: avocado, guacamole, thinly sliced scallions, freshly chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook ground meat until no longer pink. Meanwhile, add onion and bell pepper to a large pot and sauté until soft.
- Then, combine all other ingredients (not the meat) with onion and bell pepper, bring to a boil, decrease heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the meat in with all of the other ingredients and stir just before serving.
- Chili is ready to go and delicious after 30 minutes, but the leftover chili (after the seasonings have had a chance to intensify) is amazing. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.