Contest-Winning Venison Chili Recipe

Whether competing in the office chili cook off or just making a pot to warm you up on a cold winter's day, this recipe is a winner.

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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Opening day of the Kentucky firearm deer season dawned unseasonably cold this year. And around here, a cold day afield means one thing. Venison chili. We’ve done chili before on Timber2Table, but you can never have too many chili recipes in your pocket.

Serve the chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, or your favorite toppings.

While I almost never make chili the same way twice, this recipe sees more use than most. I have made it for numerous chili cookoffs, and it always seems to place at or near the top.

While I am firmly in the “real-chili-doesn’t-have-beans” camp, I get outvoted four to one around here in that department. So most of our chili has beans. If you are going to eat beans, they might as well be good. In chili or just as a side, Ranch Beans are some of my favorite, so that’s what I normally use.

For spice and a well-rounded flavor, we use a blend of dark and light chili powders. You don’t have to use dark and light varieties, but try to use at least two of your favorite brands for more flavor. For a smoky background, we use a mixture of smoked paprika and diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.

Dice the onions, peppers and celery before adding them to the chili.

To build extra flavor layers, the chili powders and other spices go in at separate times during the cooking process. Feeding a hungry deer camp? The recipe easily doubles.

A blend of chili powders and other spices adds depth to the chili flavor.


2 to 3 pounds ground venison

yellow onion

1 green bell pepper, diced, or ½ cup chopped green chiles


dark chili powder

light chili powder

chipotle in adobo sauce

15oz. can tomato sauce

15oz can Ranch beans

14oz. can beef broth

chicken bouillon powder

ground cumin

smoked paprika

garlic powder

black pepper


Cooking Instructions

STEP 1: In a heavy pot, add:

2 lbs. course ground venison

1 tbls cooking oil

1 yellow onion, diced

½ cup diced green chile peppers or ½ green bell pepper, diced

½ stalk celery, very finely diced (I hate the texture, so I either do a fine dice or run it through the food processor)

1 chipotle in adobo sauce, diced

Brown the meat and other ingredients.

Brown the ground venison with the vegetables.



Add to the pot:

1 can (15oz) tomato sauce

1 can (14oz)  beef broth

Cook for 30 minutes



Add to the pot:

1 tbls light chili powder

2 tbls dark chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tbls cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp chicken bouillon powder

1 can Ranch brand beans (optional)


Simmer for 2 hours.



Add to pot:

1 tbls light chili powder

1 tbls dark chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tbls cumin

Simmer for 30 minutes.


Add beef broth or beer to thin, if needed


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