This hearty bison chili recipe is full of flavor and goodness! Chock full of veggies & lean protein, this healthy chili is full of nutrients while packing a punch of spice to warm you up on a cold day.
There’s nothing better than tender, sweet American bison (aka the American Buffalo). We eat a LOT of bison in our house. It’s our red meat of choice! We are lucky to have a great bison farm nearby that we can buy from directly. I love stocking our freezer with high-quality, local bison meat.
It’s no secret that bison is a little different to cook than beef, however, when you master the technique and cook it properly, the taste is incredible. No one we feed it to can tell that it’s not beef!
One great way to cook bison is in a bison stew or chili. The low heat from the long simmer combined with plenty of moisture keeps the meat incredibly tender.
This bison chili recipe is also great for discretely packing in some veggies. Not only is it naturally heavy on tomatoes, but bell peppers, zucchini, and corn are all wonderful additions to put a delicious twist on a classic chili recipe.
Equipment & Ingredients
For this healthy bison chili recipe, grab a large pot or Dutch oven. You will also need a baking sheet.
For ingredients, we are going to use:
- Delicious seasonal vegetables, including a bell pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic, and frozen corn
- An array of canned goods–diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato juice, plus diced green chiles, diced jalapenos, and kidney beans.
- Lean ground bison
- An array of zesty spices, such as chili powder, dried parsley, cumin, oregano, and a little cayenne & black pepper for a kick
Putting together this tender, healthy bison chili recipe involves a little bit of work on the front end to prep the vegetables, but it is so worth it. Once the veggies are prepped and meat is browned, it’s basically “dump and go” with the canned goods!
Follow these steps to make this delicious chili:
1. Preheat Oven
Our first step is to get our veggies roasting. You will need to preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Prep the Vegetables
Chop your bell pepper into large pieces. Then cut the zucchini into long strips. Finally, dump your corn onto the baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Using a pastry brush, brush the vegetables with olive oil.
3. Roast the Vegetables
Roast your vegetables in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they’re nicely charred. When they are finished, remove them from the oven and set them aside until they’re cool enough to handle.
4. Dice Onion & Garlic
While the vegetables are roasting, peel your onion & garlic cloves. Dice your onion into small pieces and mince the garlic.
5. Brown Bison Meat
Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Add your ground bison to the pot. Break it apart with a spatula or meat chopper and cook it until it’s brown. Use a large spoon to remove the browned bison meat from the pot and set aside.
6. Saute Onion & Garlic
After you have removed the bison meat, add your olive oil to the pot and scoop in your onion & garlic. Cook them until they are soft and fragrant.
7. Add Meat, Canned Goods & Spices
Now you’re going to get everything except your roasted vegetables in the pot! Add your browned bison meat back to the pot, followed by your canned goods: diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, drained kidney beans, diced jalapeños, diced green chiles, tomato juice, and spices.
8. Dice Roasted Veggies
Now that your roasted veggies have cooled, put the peppers and zucchini on a cutting board and chop them into bite-size pieces. Dump those into your chili pot followed by the corn kernels.
Bring your chili to a simmer, then place the lid on your pot and allow your chili to simmer for 30-60 minutes to develop all of your wonderful flavors.
Cozy up to a bowl of this comforting chili with your loved ones.
Enjoy with your favorite chili toppings like sour cream and cheddar cheese, and a side of cornbread. Other favorite toppings in our house are tortilla chips, red onion, and Fritos.
If you want to take this to the next level, make a side of hot dogs to put together some chili dogs. You won’t regret it! One of the best metric for the quality of chili recipes is how it does on a hot dog. 😉
Complete the meal with some Orangey Roasted Brussels Sprouts. If cornbread isn’t your think, cranberry sourdough is also a festive fall-themed side that would perfectly counter the spiciness of the chili.
Tips & Variations
Slow Cooker Instructions
This healthy chili could also be made in the slow cooker. You could go about this a couple of ways. One way would be to simply brown the meat, and then saute all of the veggies with the onions and garlic instead of roasting them. Then get everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4.
You could also brown the meat and saute the onions and garlic. Then add everything except the veggies to the pot, and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4). An hour before you want to serve the chili, you could roast the veggies and add them in right before serving.
Or, if you want it to be super easy, don’t worry about pre-cooking the veggies. Just throw them into the crock pot raw. That’s still plenty delicious.
Beans, Beans, the Wonderful Fruit…
As for the beans, kidney beans are the perfect chili bean to me, and that’s why I use two cans of them. However, feel free to sub in a can of black beans or pinto beans if you’d like more variety. Canned chili beans are another great option!
If you cannot find bison in 1 1/2 lb packages, you can easily use 2 lbs of bison instead, or combine 1 lb of bison with another half pound or pound of a complementary meat, like ground pork or another lean meat, such as lean ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground chicken.
For 1/8 of this large and tasty recipe, the nutritional information is as follows:
- Calories: 389
- Protein: 25 grams
- Fat: 19 grams
- Carbs: 32 grams
- Fiber: 9.5 grams
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This meal would be a great option for meal prep. It also freezes really well, so feel free to pack leftovers in a freezer-safe container to enjoy another night.
Want another recipe to use with ground bison? Try our Easy Baked Bison Meatballs!
Other Red Meat Recipes
Want to try some other hearty & comforting red meat recipes?
Ground bison is cooked similar to other lean ground meats. Since there is not much fat content, it could dry out or even burn if you try to cook it on too high of a heat. With a proper heat level (I recommend using medium), you are fine to cook ground bison just as you would ground beef.
Roasted vegetables add a robust flavor and level of sweetness to the chili. It is an extra step, but I find it adds a beautiful touch. That said, it’s fine to use all the veggies raw if you’re pressed for time. They will cook up just fine right in the chili!
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Bison Chili with Roasted Vegetables
- 1 Large Dutch Oven or Stock Pot
- 1 1/2 lbs Ground bison
- 28 oz Diced Tomatoes
- 15 oz Tomato Sauce
- 2 cans Kidney Beans
- 4 oz Diced Green Chiles in can
- 4 oz Diced Jalapeños in can-omit if you don't like spice
- 4 cups Tomato Juice
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 Onion large
- 1 Bell Pepper any color
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 cup Frozen Corn
- 2 tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Dried Parsley
- 2 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper omit if you don't like spice
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut the bell pepper into large pieces and the zucchini into long strips. Put on a baking sheet along with the corn. Brush all of the veggies with olive oil using a pastry brush
- Roast your vegetables in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they're nicely charred. Set aside to cool.
- While the vegetables are roasting, dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Add your ground bison to the pot and break it apart with a spatula or meat chopper. Cook the ground bison until it is browned and cooked through. Use a large spoon to carefully remove the browned bison meat from the pot and set it aside.
- Add your olive oil to the pot and scoop in your onion & garlic. Cook them until they are soft and fragrant.
- Return the browned bison meat to the pot, followed by the canned goods: diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, drained kidney beans, diced jalapeños, diced green chiles, tomato juice, and spices.
- When the roasted vegetables are cool enough to hand, carefully chop the peppers and zucchini into bite-sized pieces on a cutting board. Add the chopped vegetables and corn kernels to the chili pot.
- Bring the chili to a simmer, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30-60 minutes, or until the flavors have developed.