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"Is It Any Wonder" Texas - Style Bison Chili {Recipe & Video}

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A cold winter night calls for a big comforting bowl of chili. Even better, make it this tasty bison chili. It is super easy to make, just as flavorful as beef but a bit leaner.

This chili is cooked like normal beef chili as in no beans, just ground bison, chili gravy, and peppers. There are a few twists that help make this bison chili recipe next level. Make sure you read the detailed notes and instructions to unlock all that extra flavor.

For a hearty and filling chili that's sure to please, give this ground bison chili recipe a try. This chili is packed with flavor, thanks to the ground bison, pureed tomatoes, and green chilies.

A touch of spice is added with ground cumin and chili powder, while garlic and onion give it a nice savory flavor. This chili is perfect for a cool winter evening or game day gathering. Serve it up with some shredded cheese and sour cream on top, and enjoy!

Bison is like a lean beef with a mildly gamey unique flavor. It's a high-quality protein with many health advantages to standard beef. To keep my cholesterol in check and avoid the hormones I've gotten in the habit of substituting bison for red meat in recipes.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Beats and Eats (Song pairing for Bison Chili)

Bison chili is a bit modern but has a really old soul. In this way, it's like a Durand Jones & the Indications song, specifically "Is It Any Wonder." The song is smooth and intense at the same time. And that's basically what you get from the chili. Obviously, the spices and chilis provide the intensity, but that pureed tomato base provides that smooth character.

Ingredients Need To Make Bison Chili

  • Lean Ground Bison
  • Onions
  • Garlic cloves
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Ground Ancho Chili Pepper
  • Ground Guajillo Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • White bread
  • Pureed San Marzano tomatoes - crushed tomatoes can be substituted.
  • Beef Stock
  • Beer (Stout)
  • Brown sugar
  • Cumin
  • Cider vinegar

How To Make Bison Chili (Step by Step)

There is nothing tricky about making bison chili. Just treat this recipe like a typical beef based chili, which if you're from Texas is the standard. I did borrow a technique from Oaxacan soup cooking to level up the depth of flavor in this chili.

Step 1: Make the Puree

Place the bread into a bowl. Top with the chicken stock and allow the bread to absorb most if not all of the stock. Bread should soak at least 30 minutes so plan for the additional time.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil then saute the tomatoes and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic along with the bread and puree.

Clean the skillet and set aside.

Step 2: Make the Bison chili

Preheat the cleaned skillet. Add more oil then brown the ground bison until fully cooked. Drain the bison in a paper towel-lined bowl.

Pre-heat a large soup pot or dutch-oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook fully on both sides. Remove the bacon and set it aside.

Add the garlic, onions, red bell pepper, and green chiles and saute in the leftover bacon grease. Add some of the spice seasonings as you go.

Add the beer and cook long enough to cook off the alcohol (about 3-4 minutes)

Add beef stock, more of the seasoning and tomato bread puree mixture.

Add the ground bison back to the large pot plus the remainder of the seasoning. Bring to a boil then simmer the chili covered for an hour.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and cumin. Mix all the ingredients one last time.

Top with your favorite toppings. Be as simple or complex as you desire. Ideas include a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, or jalapeno peppers.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Tips and Considerations For Making Bison Chili

  • Bison is leaner than beef, so not as flavorful. If you prefer more flavor then crank up the seasoning used or add some more fat. For me, the bacon was more than enough, but you could also supplement the ground bison with ground pork, a fattier beef, or even chorizo. It's your call.
  • If going with the bread enhancer, use white bread. It will absorb the stock better and more easily integrate into the puree. Plus it's more flavorful.
  • Bison is becoming more mainstream though it will never have the same availability as most commercial meats. Many meat markets at your typical grocery store will have it pre-packaged. Likewise, specialty stores will definitely have it.
  • I typically eat this as a one-dish meal topped with cheese, fresh jalapenos peppers, and pickled red onions along with a sprinkle or two of hot sauce. I know many who like a side of cornbread. For me, if I go the bread route it's either this hot water cornbread or my classic buttermilk biscuits.
  • I like to make a big pot of this on Sunday then refrigerate and enjoy during the week as an easy weeknight dinner option. Meal prep is actually pretty easy for this one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can this chili be cooked in crockpot?

Yes, it can. I'm not much for crockpot cooking as I see it as a warming tool. But if you should use one be mindful of the amount of liquid. The steaming action will water down the flavor some.

Can this be made in an instant pot?

Most assuredly! Instant pot and chili recipes were made for each other.

Is Bison Chili Keto?

No it's not because of the beer and the bit of brown sugar. You can definitely adjust the recipe to fit your keto needs. Cinnamon can be used as a substitute for sugar.

Can You Add Beans To This Recipe?

Technically, you can add whatever you want. I'm from the school of no beans in chili. I'm not against beans, but I do think you have to call this something different if you add beans. If you insist on beans against my better judgment, then go with kidney beans or maybe a can of black beans

Can I substitute another ground meat if I can't find bison?

Bison is a lean meat, so if you plan to substitute but stay close to the original recipe then go with lean ground beef. Ground turkey or pork becomes something altogether different.

How Do I Store Bison Chili?

Simply package the chili in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

For other similar recipes try these:

Beef Brisket Chili

Venison Chili

Bison Steak Salad

Texas Classic Chili

Braised Beef Neckbones

Beef Stew

Make This Recipe

The chili is hearty, flavorful, and perfect for a cold winter night. If you’re looking for a new recipe to add to your rotation, this bison chili is definitely worth trying. So what are you waiting for? Grab the ingredients and get cooking!

If you make this classic chili recipe with bison or other tasty recipes on the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

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bison chili in white bowl topped with onions, jalapenos, and red onions

Texas Style Bison Red Chili

Texas-style bison chili that is intensely flavored & silky smooth. Fresh & ground chilis are combined to help make a tasty chili gravy.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Texan
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 351kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 4-5 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground guajillo chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 28 ounces san marzano tomatoes 800g
  • 3 cups beef stock 700 ml
  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Instructions

Step 1: Make the Puree

  • Place the bread into a bowl. Top with the chicken stock and allow the bread to absorb most if not all of the stock. Bread should soak at least 30 minutes so plan for the additional time.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add oil then saute the tomatoes and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic along with the bread and puree.
  • Clean the skillet and set aside.

Step 2: Make the Bison chili

  • Preheat the cleaned skillet. Add more oil then brown the ground bison until fully cooked. Drain the bison in a paper towel-lined bowl.
  • Pre-heat a large pot or dutch-oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook fully on both sides. Remove the bacon and set it aside.
  • Add the garlic, onions, and peppers and saute in the leftover bacon grease. Add some of the spice seasonings as you go.
  • Add the beer and cook long enough to cook off the alcohol (about 3-4 minutes)
  • Add beef stock, more of the seasoning and tomato bread puree mixture.
  • Add the ground bison back to the pot plus the remainder of the seasoning. Bring to a boil then simmer the chili covered for an hour.
  • During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and cumin. Mix all the ingredients one last time.
  • Top with your favorite toppings. Be as simple or complex as you desire.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Bison is leaner than beef, so not as flavorful. If you prefer more flavor then crank up the seasoning used or add some more fat. For me, the bacon was more than enough, but you could also supplement the ground bison with ground pork, a fattier beef, or even chorizo. It's your call.
  • If going with the bread enhancer, use white bread. It will absorb the stock better and more easily integrate into the puree. Plus it's more flavorful.
  • Bison is becoming more mainstream though it will never have the same availability as most commercial meats. Many meat markets at your typical grocery store will have it pre-packaged. Likewise, specialty stores will definitely have it.
  • I typically eat this as a one-dish meal topped with cheese, fresh jalapenos peppers, and pickled red onions along with a sprinkle or two of hot sauce. I know many who like a side of cornbread. For me, if I go the bread route it's either this hot water cornbread or my classic buttermilk biscuits.

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 1406mg | Potassium: 953mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1355IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




LaKita

Monday 5th of December 2022

I've never added bison to chili but this recipe looks too good not to give a try. Perfect for this season when the weather is cooler.

Lauren Michael Harris

Sunday 4th of December 2022

This chili sounds so good. My husband and I love bison but I never buy it. This is the perfect reason!

Tristin

Sunday 4th of December 2022

Sounds like the perfect chili for these super cold nights! I will definitely being taking your recommendation of topping it with cheese and jalapeños!

Enriqueta E Lemoine

Sunday 4th of December 2022

I made this chili with beef, which turned out to be delicious. Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration.

Mindy

Sunday 4th of December 2022

Incredible flavors! The chilies in this really take this to the next level. We love this, going to make again next week!