Warm up with this hearty and nutritious bison stew with autumn spices! This stew is made with tender bison meat, seasonal grains and vegetables, and a blend of earthy autumn spices, such as cinnamon & turmeric.
As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp, there’s nothing quite like cozying up with a warm, hearty bowl of stew to embrace the flavors of autumn. Bison, known for its lean and flavorful meat, takes center stage in this comforting dish. This bison stew is infused with rich, earthy spices and ingredients that define fall, adding layers of warmth to this nutritious and satisfying dinner.
Why bison? Well, if you haven’t had bison before, you’re missing out! It has a similar flavor profile to beef, however, it’s higher in micronutrients like zinc and B12, lower in saturated fat, and higher in omega 3s. It is a high quality source of protein, and my family loves it!
Any cut of meat you’re used to getting from a cow can come from a bison. Every roast, steak, brisket, short rib, etc you think of…you can get! And yes, even bison stew meat.
We get our bison from a local farmer and buy a quarter at a time to fill our deep freezer. If you’ve never bought directly from a small farm before, buying a quarter means that when an animal was processed, the meat was split 4 ways. You can typically buy an eighth, quarter, half, or whole animal. Some farms may sell you individual cuts, but that’s going to vary. We always buy a quarter and typically come home with 80 pounds of meat or so, depending on how big the animal was.
If finding a small local farm isn’t an option, there are many online retailers that sell sustainably raised bison meat at varying price points.
With all that said, let’s make this stew!
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Bison Stew Ingredients
To make this hearty bison stew, you will need:
- 3 pounds bison stew meat (if you don’t have access to bison stew meat, you could also use ground meat to make this a hamburger stew)
- 4 cups beef broth
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup hulled barley (hulled barley is more nutritious than pearled barley as it is less processed and contains more fiber. However, pearled barley can be easier to find, so use what you have access to. I got my hulled barley on Amazon.)
- 1 lb fingerling potatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Spices: turmeric, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and a bay leaf
The first step is to brown your meat in a tablespoon of olive oil. However, this step is also optional. I enjoy the flavor and tenderness this gives to the stew, but I’m lucky in that my slow cooker has a stove top setting where I can do this easily right in the pot. If your crock pot doesn’t have this setting, feel free to just dump & go. It will still be wonderful.
While the meat is browning, chop your onion and add it to the pot. Then peel your garlic and grate it right into the meat & onion.
Once your beef is browned, add your 4 cups of broth.
Next, rinse your barley and throw it into the pot. Then chop your potatoes, carrots & celery into bite size pieces, and then throw them in as well.
Then, add the balsamic vinegar and your spices. Add your salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir it thoroughly to mix.
Finally, turn your slow cooker dial to low for 8-12 hours, or high for 4-6.
Enjoy having a warm, nutritious, one-pot meal ready to go after a long day!
Tips & Variations
While this recipe uses stew meat, bison stew meat is not typically sold in grocery stores. You can order it online, or simply pick up ground bison meat and make this a hamburger stew. Simply follow all the same instructions, just swap the meat.
You can also use this recipe with beef, venison, elk, or really anything you like. It will be absolutely delicious with whatever you’re able to find!
Low and slow cooking, like this recipe, is a phenomenal way to cook lean meat like bison to make it tender.
I also suggest making a delicious loaf of whole grain sourdough bread to accompany this meal. You won’t regret it!
For 1/6 of this stew recipe:
- Calories: 478
- Protein: 51 grams
- Fat: 17 grams
- Carbs: 31 grams
- Fiber: 6.7 grams
As you can see, this hearty, delicious meal has phenomenal macros!
I make this bison stew in my Ninja Slow Cooker that I’ve had for over a decade. I love it because of the stove top options that allow me to brown the meat right in my crockpot before adding the rest of my ingredients. Ninja no longer sells my exact model, but they sell a model with even more options now and great reviews.
However, a crock pot with a stove top option is not necessary at all. You can certainly skip browning the meat and just throw everything together and let it do it’s thing! You could also brown the meat in a skillet and then add it to the slow cooker after.
Is Beef More Your Thing?
If you aren’t sure about bison and would rather stick to beef, try our Fall Apart Sirloin Tip Roast Recipe.
Bison is often thought to be tough and gamey, however, properly raised (and properly processed) bison is so tender and delicious. Cooking bison well does require some care due to the low fat content, but you shouldn’t need to do anything too out of the ordinary to cook it well. The same cooking techniques that work for other lean meats also work well for bison. Lean meats can dry out if cooked too long, or at too high of a temperature. For that reason, cooking bison low and slow, like we do in this bison stew recipe, is one way to get optimum results.
Bison tastes very close to beef, especially when comparing it to leaner cuts of beef, or very lean ground beef (like 93/7). Honestly, when we have people over and serve them a meal made with bison, they don’t even know they’re not eating beef. If you think you don’t like bison, or have heard it’s tough & gamey, learn some cooking methods for lean meats and you will be so happy. That said, they way a bison is raised can certainly impact the flavor (as it also does with beef). So if you’ve tried it and think you don’t like it, you may like bison from other farms.
Both can be wonderfully nutritious options. “Healthy” is subjective, and we all have different goals we are trying to achieve with our diets. That said, bison is significantly leaner than beef, especially conventionally raised beef, and has higher levels of micronutrients like copper, B vitamins, and selenium. Bison also has slightly more protein per ounce than comparable cuts of beef. But beef is still a healthy option as well, especially when you control for the same level of fat content.
Bison Stew with Autumn Spices
- 1 Slow Cooker
- 3 lbs Bison Stew Meat See notes
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 Onion
- 4 cups Beef Broth
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 Carrots medium
- 3 Celery stalks
- 1 lb Fingerling Potatoes
- 1/2 cup Hulled Barley
- 1 1/2 tsp Turmeric ground
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
- Turn on your slow cooker to the stove top setting on high (or use a skillet on your stove). Add your tablespoon of olive oil followed by your bison meat. Stir to brown the meat on all sides. If you wish to skip browning the meat, just add your meat to your slowcooker.
- Dice your onion into small pieces and add to slow cooker. Peel your garlic and mince it, or grate it into the pot. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Add your 4 cups of beef broth. Turn off the slow cooker.
- Chop your carrots, potatoes, and celery into bite size pieces and add to the pot.
- Rinse your 1/2 cup of hulled barley, then add it to the slow cooker.
- Add your tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pot, followed by the turmeric, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- Set your slow cooker to low for 8-12 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.