the BEST Venison Chili Recipe

This is a hearty and easy venison chili recipe perfect for using ground venison from hunting season or, if you prefer, ground turkey or another lean meat.

Are you looking for a cozy delicious chili recipe? Try my Sweet Potato Chili recipe for a yummy twist on Grandma’s classic chili.

A chill in the air seems more manageable when you have warm chili in the belly, doesn’t it? Many homes have a go-to chili recipe they use time and again that is a personal favorite. Chili recipes are like ordering coffee… no one person makes it the same way. Deer chili (as my kids call it) is even more familial and can be widely found in states where hunting is popular…like WI and MN. Dontcha know ;).

venison chili in a bowl topped with sour cream and green onions

Key Ingredients for Venison Chili:

This yummy recipe calls on the use of canned tomatoes and sauce to speed up the process and get chili on the table fast, fast, fast. Using canned products also makes it easier and less intimidating for the beginning cook. Don’t worry, you are NOT sacrificing flavor in any. which. way. Promise!

Start with the basic ingredients, master it, and then learn your favorite changes and additions. Included is a list at the bottom of the post with ideas to personalize this recipe so you can create your personal chili recipe that your family adores.

  • Ground venison. Any ground meat like lean ground beef or ground turkey works too.
  • Onion. We use a large onion in chili. I prefer a yellow or white diced onion for this recipe.
  • Garlic. Just a few cloves garlic does the trick.
  • Diced tomatoes. A couple cans works fine. The tomato juice from the can goes in, too.
  • Chili beans. Go ahead and swap black beans or pinto beans for some of the chili beans.
  • Tomato sauce. This isn’t the same as pasta sauce, be aware.
  • Chili powder. I mean….obviously :).
  • Brown sugar. I think a bit of brown sugar adds depth to the chili. Give it a try.

Adaptations to try…

  • Diced jalapenos, bell peppers, or green chiles.
  • add chopped green or red peppers or chili peppers :).
  • use kidney or pinto beans instead of or in addition to the chili beans
  • try different meats like sausage, lamb, beef, or turkey.
  • add a can of beer
  • simmer on low for several hours
  • add spices like cumin, cayenne pepper, or oregano
  • go beanless.
  • or meatless.
  • try additional wild game like boar, buffalo, or elk.

Can I substitute ground venison for ground beef in recipes?

Anything that uses ground beef, pork, or similar can be substitute with venison. However, venison is a very lean meat and if you are subbing for ground beef or another meat with a high-fat content you may want to add a little bit of oil to your pan to help add needed fat to the dish.

How to make Venison Chili:

There are those chili recipes that employ long periods of time on the stove; or cooking chili in a slow-cooker, or all sorts of different ingredients, this isn’t one of those.

  1. In a dutch oven on medium-high heat, saute up some chopped onions, add minced garlic, and then brown up your meat.
  2. Add your remaining ingredients and let that simmer on the stove on medium heat for about 20 minutes.  One-pot. The end.
  3. Top with some fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Is deer meat good for you?

Venison is high in protein and is leaner than many types of meat. So, if you are looking for a good, lean red meat, venison is a great choice! But gosh, I can’t answer for you if venison is good for you. That’s your doctor’s job :).

We primarily use venison whenever we make chili. Ground turkey has similar fat content and texture to venison if you prefer or don’t have access to venison. My husband comes from Wisconsin and a hunting family so we have our own meat easily available to us.
If you have access to venison but don’t particularly like using venison try using a 1/2 and 1/2 blend of venison with higher fat content type of meat like beef or sausage. Using the meat mixture gives me the needed flavor and fat while still saving money by using what is available.

bowl of venison chili with sour cream and green onions, two spoons, and cinnamon rolls. Ground venison, beans, and tomato look hearty and warm!

Let’s bring up the fact that this chili is served with cinnamon rolls in the pictures. This is for the Iowan readers in da house. Apparently, serving a big pot of chili with cinnamon rolls is a thing where you all live. Maybe it’s not true but just in case, the chili is being served with cinnamon rolls.

Venison Chili Recipe

| 6
Prep Time | 10 minutes
Cook Time | 25 minutes
Total Time | 35 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
An easy and hearty venison chili recipe! A great recipe to use ground venison from hunting season.


  • 1 lb. ground venison or ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans 14.5oz diced Hunt’s tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 2 cans 14.5oz chili beans
  • 1 can 14.5oz Hunt’s tomato sauce (this is NOT pasta sauce, rather tomato sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Check out our Kitchen Reference Guide for help with unfamiliar terms.


  • Coat the bottom of a large soup pan with a small amount of oil.
  • Add the venison and brown the meat in the soup pan on medium high heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.
  • NOTE- if using ground beef drain off the fat right now, before adding the other ingredients.
  • Add the cans of diced tomatoes, un-drained beans, sauce (these will be undrained), chili powder, and brown sugar. Stir.
  • Simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes or until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
  • Add additional salt & pepper as needed.
  • Serve with sour cream, cheese, and chives.


Using a low-fat meat like Venison works perfectly for this recipe because the liquid from the canned tomatoes nicely adds the moisture needed to compensate. Chili is a great recipe for ground venison!


Calories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 17gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 128mgPotassium: 385mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 1186IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 3mg

16 thoughts on “the BEST Venison Chili Recipe”

  1. You know…I bet you could! I never have. I would, of course, recommend you have the ground beef cooked first.

  2. I’m certainly not a canning expert but from my knowledge when the jar lid is bulging like that and then does an exploding business when you open it…there were gasses that built up in the jar. Don’t eat it, for sure. From what I understand, those gasses are dangerous to consume. I hope that helps! And what a bummer!

  3. Hi, Nellie Alice here I was wondering what went wrong with my deer chili sauce I made it before and canned it up with no problem except I had to add more spices after opening the jar. This year I got flooded I had an excellent freezer and hubby got too small deer last fall so I just froze it. Well, that flood has taken my home car, and freezer. I wasn’t worried about the meat in it because I had canned it in the past but I ran into a problem. The lids on some of my deer chili started welling up and when I took the lids off it was working like it was pickled when I took the lid off it exploited not all in that batch, did just a few cans. What went wrong and is it eatable?

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! My husband said it was the best chili I have made 🙂 making this again. Thank you for great recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    We have made your “Deer” chili several times, always enjoying it. However, this time we were out of venison and ended up using some Bison we had in the freezer. It turned out fantastic. We used chives and shredded smoked Gouda on the top.. Thanks again for all your wonderful recipe ideas.

  6. So glad to hear it!! This is definitely a recipe to pull out in the fall for hunting season.

  7. 5 stars
    One of our favorite meals. Easy to make and very tasty. My brother-in-law gave us the ground venison from his deer hunt. I also added green chilies. It is delicious!

  8. Oh yippee! So glad to hear you enjoyed this. And if Texas boys are happy…that is high praise, indeed!

  9. 5 stars
    Made some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten with this simple recipe. I highly suggest it to anyone. I use it every time. Y’all know how us Texas boys are bout our deer and chili. Thank you for sharing

  10. allie @ Through Her Looking Glass

    Great basic recipe, Janel. Have never made chili with venison, but I happen to have some ground moose in my freezer. Not kidding. (It’s a long story.) Definitely need to try this!

4.72 from 32 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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