Venison Chili Recipe

This award-winning venison chili recipe is the perfect make-ahead dinner for guests.  Deer meat chili actually tastes better after it rests in the refrigerator overnight. Often, I use a mixture of ground deer meat and cubed deer meat for this recipe. I like to double this recipe—one batch for my family and one for a special night of entertaining.  

Venison Chili aka Deer Chili in white bowls with chili peppers on the side
This Chili is make with ground deer meat and cubes of venison.

Venison Chili Recipe: Con Carne Style

By the way, you should see the mess in my kitchen right now. I am browning 16 pounds of venison in two Dutch ovens and on the flat top of the stove. I have never really been a tidy cook!

Then again, I think that messy cooks are more imaginative and take more good risks. Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself while I make the messes that I make. This chili recipe definitely will make a good mess in your kitchen!

What is chili con carne?

Chili con carne just means “chili with meat.” This hearty chili-pepper dish originated in either northern Mexico or southern Texas hundreds of years ago, thus the Spanish name. In the early 1900s, Texas had tons of small chili parlors, and the trend soon spread across other states.

This deer chili recipe has an incredible flavor. I like it even better than chili with ground beef or ground turkey. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that I chop the venison into 1/4-inch cubes, sometimes mixing with ground venison and sometimes using just the chunks.

Although this meat will be super tender because I cook this chili low and slow, other deer meat recipes may disappoint. I you are experiencing that, here are Ten Tips to Know When Preparing Venison.

It’s all about the ingredients!

The tomato sauce and chipotle chilis in adobe sauce are puréed in a food processor to give a smooth sauce to enhance the meatiness of the deer meat and bacon! The bacon gives this dish a richness like none other.

Beans or no beans?

To add beans or not to add beans to chili is purely a matter of personal taste. I like beans in my chili, but many don’t. I use light and dark kidney beans, but you could also use pinto beans. Canned beans are fine for this recipe.

Spicy or mild? It’s your choice.

I use chipotle peppers in adobe sauce to add depth of flavor in this chili.  If you don’t want it “spicy hot,” you can just remove the seeds from the peppers before using them.  

It was difficult to make this dish mild while my kids were urging me strongly to add the entire can of chipotle peppers.  I hated to blow up the guests with heat!  

What spices should you use in venison chili?

After adding the chipotle, onions, and garlic, I am pretty traditional as far as the spices go. Some recipes call for cayenne pepper to spice up chili. I use chili powder (which contains some cayenne), cumin, and oregano. The one somewhat unique seasoning that I add is a dash of cinnamon. That’s it, besides salt and pepper.

Is chili better in the slow cooker?

The traditional chili recipe below calls for a Dutch oven, but a crock pot is another great way to make venison chili. Deer is a lean meat that can be tough, so a low temperature, slow cooking method is key. Crockpot cooking will yield tender venison in this chili.

Do you have to brown meat before crockpot chili?

To use the crockpot and get the most flavor from the meat, I recommend browning the meat mixture before cooking it in the crockpot. This will ensure maximum flavor. Cook the chili on the lowest setting for about 4 hours and you will be in chili heaven!

How to Freeze Venison Chili

This chili con carne freezes great. So even if you aren’t having guests, you can make a double or quadruple batch to freeze for later. Put the chili in freezer bags (or other airtight containers), date the bags, and lie flat in the freezer. It tastes just as good in three months as it does the day you make it.

Toppings and Sides

Add your favorite toppings to this chili: try sour cream, cheese, avocado, and cilantro. As for the sides, you can serve venison con carne with tortilla chips, corn chips, or even better, Jalapeño Cornbread or Southern Fried Cornbread.

Be sure to watch the video for Venison Chili Con Carne below for extra tips.

Venison Chili aka Deer Chili in white bowls with chili peppers on the side


One of my favorite things about this dish is that I don't use ground meat, but chop the venison into 1/4 inch cubes. I also use chipotle peppers in adobe sauce to add depth of flavor.
5 from 2 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican


  • 1 16- ounce can of tomatoes diced
  • 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chili in adobe sauce
  • 5 slices bacon finely chopped
  • 4 pounds venison stew meat cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chili seeded and chopped
  • 1- can kidney beans
  • 3- tablespoons chili powder
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow corn mix


  • In a food processor, place tomatoes and chipotle chili and puree until smooth (This should only take about 10 seconds). In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel. Leave the fat in the pan.
  • Pat venison dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the fat until smoking hot. Brown half of the venison. (Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of brown). This should take about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl and repeat.
  • Add the olive oil, onions, and jalapeño to Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in kidney beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, and dash of cinnamon. Cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, tomato mixture and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Add the meat to the Dutch oven then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for about 30 minutes longer.
  • Ladle 1-cup chili liquid into medium-sized bowl and stir in yellow corn mix. Whisk mixture into chili and simmer until chili thickens. Check seasonings. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or cheese and Jalapeño Cornbread.
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Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!


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  1. Tina Parham says:

    I cannot wait to try this recipe…Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Stacy Harris says:

    Thanks Tina! Let me know what you think! Thanks for commenting.

  3. we love you chili con carne so much over a bunch of boiled patatoes! AWESOME! We are buying your book. We are hunters and harvest aleast 2 t 3 deer a year. I am looking foward to cooking more thanks to you!

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      That sounds great! Even better over baked french fries. Yummy!!! THanks for commenting. I always love feedack. I love having enough venison for the entire year to eat. It is so incredibly healthy. I think that you will love the book. I have quite a few sides that go well with the main courses and a few desserts to boot. Please keep in touch.

  4. when you say to use yellow corn mix, do you mean corn meal? or a mix like Jiffy?

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      I did use Jiffy cornmeal mix for this recipe. It is a little finer and has a sweeter taste than plain cornmeal. This is a must try. Let me know what you think!

      1. Cooked the chili Friday night and ate it at the deer camp Saturday. Turned out great and everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe.

        1. Stacy Harris says:

          Thanks Chad. I am so glad that it turned out well. Let me know if you try another recipe!!

  5. Ray Allen says:

    Couple of questions: 1. Assume recipe means 2 T Olive Oil? Bullets got separated. 2. What are you using canned tomatoes and not making your own stewed tomatoes? That said, if using canned why not use flavored/enhanced (basil and oregano for example)? Don’t get me wrong, I use the canned tomatoes all the time (I find the flavored better), but, I also am growing a crop of tomatoes this year and want to can my own for use in spaghetti and chili…

    1. Ray Allen, thanks for bringing my attention to the bullet being separated on the olive oil. Yes, you are correct. 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. I will correct that. Now for your second question…I am using my HOMEMADE pints (16 ounces) of canned tomatoes. I am very sorry for leaving that point out of the recipe. You can use any canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, flavored tomatoes or any tomatoes you wish for your chili. Glad you are growing your own tomatoes this year. Making what you like is one of the benefits of gardening.

      1. When do you add the meat back to the other ingredients?

        1. Danny, add the meat back to the Dutch oven as soon as the brown sugar is dissolved in the liquid and the liquid is simmering. The meat needs to simmer or braise for another hour with the other ingredients. I hope you love the recipe.

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