Home » 12th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #2 – Venison Chili

12th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #2 – Venison Chili

Many, many men in my life are hunters. Deer hunters, for the most part. For the life of me, I will never understand the lure to the woods to patiently await a clear shot of Bambi. Never mind everything that must go on in order to eat Bambi. That said, it’s one of those things that enough people do that perhaps I’m the one missing out. But…yeah, nothing about it sounds enjoyable to me.

Furthermore, I know the dangers of hunting. A few years ago, my father-in-law had a freak accident and held onto a WAY HIGH UP tree branch, upside down, from BROKEN ANKLES…until help arrived. Help to the middle of the woods…after he DIALED using HIS NOSE. I think I’m recalling the story correctly.

Just retelling the story here gives me chills. So freaking scary. But, his love for hunting is steadfast and he has done lots of hunting since that time.

Hunters are like cooks, however – they want to share their food with others. Many hunters have offered venison to us over the years, and none more so than Mark’s dad. Generally speaking, venison is something that Mark and I don’t love but that’s perhaps because we’re not (okay, I’m not) confident in cooking with it. This Chicago girl did not grow up on venison. But when I sent the text asking for a few pounds of ground venison, Dale was happy to share!

When I received this recipe submission into this year’s chili contest, I immediately considered whether or not I have a single venison recipe on my blog and I think the answer is no. In 12 years, I think this is a first! And I’m guessing that that makes several-to-many people in my life excited to try this recipe!

And…it was delicious! Ground beef can certainly be subbed in (or turkey or veggie crumbles) but it was the chiles that were the star, in my opinion. In reading the recipe, I knew there would be no shortage of flavor or spice and that was certainly the case! Enjoy!

Venison Chili

Venison Chili

Yield: 12 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours 4 seconds
Total Time: 14 hours 4 seconds

This venison chili has coffee undertones and bold chile pepper flavors while being full of good-for-you pintos amid plenty of heat!


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 12 dried peppers (4 of each: ancho, guajillo, pasilla)
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • 1/2 lb chorizo
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 lbs ground venison
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 qt low-sodium beef broth


  1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with several inches of water; leave at room temperature overnight to soak.
  2. Remove the stems from the chiles and tear length-wise to remove seeds. Tear into smaller pieces and place into a heat-proof bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the chiles to submerge and let stand for an hour.
  3. Remove chiles using a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender or (mini) food processor; pulse into a paste. Add 1 cup of the reserved soaking liquid and the coffee; puree until nearly smooth.
  4. Heat a Dutch oven or other large, lidded, oven-proof pot on medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking up into a crumble as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Remove the chorizo to a plate and set aside.
  5. Return pot to the cooktop and add the venison, increasing to high heat and adding the salt. Cook the venison, breaking up into a crumble as it cooks, about 6-7 minutes. Add the onion and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until softened.
  6. Add the reserved chorizo, along with the garlic; stir and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the soaked and drained beans, paprika, cumin, coriander, and chipotle chili powder one at a time, stirring to combine after each addition.
  8. Add the chile puree and tomato paste; stir to combine well. Add the molasses and beef broth, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook gently for 3 hours or so with the lid halfway over the pot, stirring occasionally.
  9. Serve the chili hot and topped with cilantro, and cheese.


Recipe from Honest Food, submitted by Kelan

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314Total Fat: 8.2gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 615mgCarbohydrates: 29.0gFiber: 7.7gSugar: 6.3gProtein: 35g

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Looking for more GREAT chili? These have been some killer chili contest submissions of the past!

Be well,

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