Bison chili is a comforting bowl of chili made with lean ground bison combined with a unique blend of flavors. It's spicy, smokey, and delicious.
Pairing ground bison with a blend of unique flavors, this bison chili recipe makes a healthy and flavorful bowl of chili. Bison is lean meat that provides high-quality protein.
This is one of our favorite chili recipes, it's full of deep flavor and leaner than our beef chili.
- Bison chili is healthy! Bison is lean red meat that is a healthy alternative to beef with a deep rich flavor.
- This bison chili recipe can be made ahead of timeand it freezes well; leftovers taste great!
Here is What you Will Need to Make Bison Chili
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this recipe, scroll down for the full recipe on a printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.
- Olive Oil
- Ground Bison
- Black Beans
- Fresh Garlic
- Bell Peppers
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Chipotle Chipotle Chili Powder
- Chili Powder
- Unsweeetened Cocoa Powder
- Crushed or Diced Tomatoes
- Brewed Coffee
- Fresh Cilantro
Equipment Needed to Make This Recipe
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven
- Kitchen Knife
Here is How To Make Bison Chili
Prepare the ingredients: Chop the onions, garlic, and peppers. Drain the beans if using canned, and measure the seasonings, tomatoes and oil.
Step 1. Cook the Bison
Add the oil to a dutch oven or large pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the ground bison meat, chopped garlic, and onions - cook, until the meat is almost cooked through.
Step 2. Add the Vegetables & Seasonings
Once the beef is almost cooked through. Add the peppers, chili powders, cocoa powder and gently stir to combine.
Step 3. Add the Remaining Ingredients
Stir in the coffee, tomatoes, and beans. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot loosely and cook over low heat for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
Total Estimated Time to Make This Recipe: 50 to 60 minutes
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Ground Bison Meat is lean, high in protein, and rich in flavor. It's a great alternative for ground beef. If you would rather stick with beef, bison can be replaced with lean ground beef in this recipe.
Black Beans should be cooked before adding them to the chili. You can use canned drained black beans (which are cooked), or you can use dried black beans that have been cooked.
Black beans can be replaced with kidney or pinto beans.
Garlic can be replaced with ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
Bell Peppers of any color will work. I like to use a combination of green and red bell pepper.
Onions. You can use any type of onion in this recipe. I like to use yellow all-purpose onions, sweet or red onion when I make chili.
Jalapeno Peppers add a nice amount of heat to the chili, if you prefer more mild flavors, you can leave the jalapeno out, use half of the jalapeno pepper or use a poblano pepper which is milder.
Chili Powders. The two chili powders add an interesting dimension to the chili. If you don't have chipotle chili powder or don't like a smokey flavor, you can use all plain chili powder.
Cocoa Powder. Make sure the cocoa powder is not sweetened.
Tomatoes. You can use canned diced, crushed or fresh chopped tomatoes.
Brewed Coffee. Even though there is a small amount of coffee in this recipe, it brings all of the flavors together.
Cilantro - If you don't like cilantro, leave it out.
Add more veggies - for an extra punch of veggies, add diced zucchini, butternut squash or carrots to the chili with the peppers.
Mix up the Beans - use a combination of kidney and black beans or all kidney beans.
Coffee - if you don't like the flavor of coffee, you can cut back the amount to 1 tablespoon.
Change up the ground meat - substitute the bison with lean grass-fed beef, or organic ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork or use a combination of two!
Serve bison chili with a splash of fresh lime juice, a side of tortilla chips.
Don't forget to add some of your favorite chili toppings such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, shredded cheese, sliced avocados, tortillas, cornbread, olives, sour cream, Greek yogurt, or guacamole.
A salad on the side, like this chopped salad or kale caesar salad, will complete your meal.
Storage and Leftover Ideas
Store leftover bison chili in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Freeze it - chili is one of those foods that are easy to freeze, and usually tastes better! Store bison chili in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Be sure to cool the chili to room temperature before placing it in the freezer.
Thaw the bison chili in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in the microwave or on top of the stove.
Leftover chili tastes great in salads, tacos, nachos on top of hot dogs, baked potatoes, rice, or pasta.
Plan ahead and make extra coffee in the morning to use in the chili.
What is the Differece Between Beef and Bison?
Bison is a healthier alternative to beef. It's leaner, yet deliciously tender. It has a more delicate flavor than beef and does not taste gamey at all.
Bison is rich in protein and is a good source of iron, Omega 3's, and vitamin B12. Even better, bison are raised on farms where they are grass-fed for at least most if not all of their lives, making them a sustainable choice.
Are Buffalo and Bison the Same?
No, they are not. Buffalo is larger than bison and native to Africa and Asia. Bison are found in North American and Europe. They are both from the Bovidae family, but they are not the same animal.
Where Can You Buy Bison Meat?
Bison meat can be found in some grocery stores and specialty meat shops. You can also purchase bison from local farms or farmer's markets if they are near where you live. Another option is to purchase ground bison meat online. ButcherBox usually has ground bison in stock.
Can I make Bison Chili in a Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can. Here's how: brown the meat and vegetables in a skillet on top of the stove with the spices. Once the meat is brown and the spices are mixed into the meat and veggies, transfer it to a slow cooker and stir in the tomatoes, coffee, cocoa, and beans. Cover and cook on low for at least 4 ½ hours.
Like this recipe? Subscribe to receive a free e-book and meal suggestions straight in your inbox!
Have You Tried These Chili Recipes?
If you like this recipe, please comment and rate it below!
Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- 1 tablespoon [olive oil]
- 1 pound ground bison
- 1 large onion diced about 1 cup
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bell peppers diced about 2 cups
- 1 jalapeno pepper diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ cup brewed coffee
- 2 cups diced tomatoes fresh or [canned ]
- 2 cups cooked or canned black beans
- ⅛ cup of chopped cilantro
- heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat
- add the ground bison, onion and garlic - cook until meat begins to brown and vegetables become translucent.
- add the peppers, and chili powder; cook until the peppers begin to soften - about three minutes.
- stir in the coffee, cocoa and then the tomatoes; cover loosely and reduce to a simmer
- cook the chili for 30 to 40 minutes stirring occasionally.
- just before serving add the cilantro. Service with a splash of lime juice and your favorite chili toppings.ve
Bison Chili Tips and Variations
- For an extra punch of veggies, add diced zucchini or carrots
- Mix up the beans, add a combination of kidney and black or all kidney or leave them out
- Leave beans out and add 2 cups of vegetables such as zucchini, peppers and carrots
- Substitute bison with lean ground grass-fed beef or organic ground chicken or turkey
- Use leftover chili in salads, tacos or nachos
- Garnish bison chili with any combination of a sprinkle of lime juice, a dollop of Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, chopped onions or avocado
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
Success. To those who were wondering, the coffee and coco give it a smoky campfire bite. You don't taste either of them distinctly as coffee or coco within the mix. It really does work.
Thank you Andrea! I'm glad you liked it.
When you say coffee is it grounds or actual coffe
Hi Denny, It is actual brewed coffee not the grinds.
Ok to freeze leftovers?
Yes Susan you can freeze leftover chili. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before re-heating it.
Angela Ledgerwood says
Pretty darn tasty! I made the black beabs from dried using chicken bone broth instead of water, which added some richness. Topped with sour cream, Cheddar cheese, chopped green onions. Delicious!
Thanks Angela! I am glad you liked it and I love the idea of black beans cooking in chicken bone broth.