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 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 ½ and ½ 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

An easy and hearty venison chili recipe! A great recipe to use ground venison from hunting season.
4.93 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 218 kcal


  • 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
  • ½ cup brown sugar


  • 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
Keyword chili, venison
Made this recipe?Mention miznelliebellie or tag #NBRecipes!

join the 30 day soup mania

30 days of our readers favorite soup recipes straight to your inbox. Plus over 15 homemade spice mix recipes. AND everything in a downloadable recipe book.

11 thoughts on “the BEST Venison Chili Recipe”

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

Scroll to Top