This Slow Cooker Venison Chili is a rustic, stick-to-your-bones meal packed with protein and fiber. It’s made in a crockpot with lean ground venison, three types of beans, veggies, and smoky chili seasonings. Instant Pot and stovetop instructions included.
Wild venison is often overlooked as an everyday protein source, but this Slow Cooker Venison Chili may be the one recipe to make deer meat a weeknight staple!
Ground venison is a delicious alternative to ground beef, with nearly 50% less fat. It can have a bad rap for not being as flavorful or tasting gamier than ground beef, but not in this recipe. Instead, this failproof slow cooker recipe yields a glorious pot of dimensional sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy chili with traces of succulent venison in every bite.
Whether you’re new to venison or an enthusiast with a deep freezer full of it, there’s no better way to use the ground meat than in this chili. If you end up with extras, put them to use in my Instant Pot Beef Chili or Slow Cooker Turkey Chili recipes as well!
What is venison?
The term “venison” technically refers to meat from hunted boar, hares, goats, antelopes, and other wild animals. In this recipe, it refers to deer meat.
Venison has an earthy flavor thanks to the deer’s wild and rustic grass-fed diet. Some may describe it as gamey, but this deer meat chili has a naturally delicate and sweet flavor profile instead.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ground venison - Venison isn’t typically available in major grocery stores. Instead, find it at local gourmet food stores, European grocers, butcher shops, or local farms.
- Aromatic vegetables - Onion, garlic, and bell peppers are must-haves in most chili recipes (like my Three Bean Vegetarian Chili) because they provide an aromatic and savory baseline of flavor. To experiment with the flavor, try substituting the bell peppers for ancho, poblano, or anaheim pepper. If you like spicy foods, turn up the heat with jalapenos or serrano peppers.
- Chili seasonings - You’ll need a pre-mixed or homemade blend of chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
- Flour - All purpose flour is used as a thickening agent in the chili. If you’re gluten free, use a 1:1 gluten free flour blend instead.
- Beef broth - Use a great-tasting homemade or storebought beef broth or stock. My Homemade Bone Broth takes this chili to the next level!
- Beans - Feel free to experiment with different types of beans to pack in as much fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein as possible. Pinto, kidney, and black beans are my top three for deer meat chili but you can also add chickpeas, great northern beans, cannellini, or navy beans.
- Salsa - Use your favorite jar of mild, medium, or hot chunky salsa.
- Tomato sauce - This gives the chili volume and depth.
How to make venison chili in a slow cooker
Making the chili entirely in a crockpot is easy when it has the “Saute/Sear” function. If yours doesn't have this function, follow steps 1 to 3 in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove instead (or keep scrolling for the stovetop directions).
Step 1: Set your slow cooker to saute mode and pour in the oil. Once it’s hot, add the ground venison, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until the meat is browned.
Step 2: Stir in the tomato paste and flour next. Once the moisture is absorbed, add the beef broth and mix well. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Step 3: To finish, stir in the chili seasonings, beans, salsa, and tomato sauce.
Step 4: Cancel saute mode (or, at this point, transfer the chili from the pot on the stove to your slow cooker) and cover the slow cooker with a lid. Cook on High for 2 hours. Once it’s ready, scoop the chili into bowls with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Instant Pot instructions
Step 1: Saute the meat, onions, garlic, and peppers in the Instant Pot using Saute mode. Stir in the chili seasonings once the meat is browned all over.
Step 2: Whisk in the broth, tomato paste, and flour. Finally, add the beans, salsa, and tomato sauce and stir well.
Step 3: Cancel Saute mode, lock the lid in place, and set the steam valve to the Sealed position. Pressure cook on High for 15 minutes.
Step 4: When the timer stops, allow the steam to naturally release for 10 minutes before quick releasing the remaining pressure. Serve and enjoy!
Brown the ground deer meat, onion, garlic, and peppers in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat on the stove. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Let the chili cook uncovered until it’s nicely thickened (1 to 2 hours).
Tips and tricks
- Browning the meat is important - Remember, venison has very little fat. Browning it first locks in the fat and keeps it juicy as it cooks low and slow in the crockpot.
- Deglaze the pot with red wine - Deer meat benefits from the acidity of red wine as it helps tenderize the extra lean protein fibers. Add about ¼ cup to the cooker after coating the meat with the tomato paste and flour. Once the alcohol cooks off, that’s your cue to add the beef broth.
- Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder - It won’t make your deer chili taste like chocolate! Instead, the cocoa will deepen the warming flavors, leaving you with an extra satisfying batch.
Toppings and serving suggestions
This crockpot venison chili is a hearty meal on its own but there’s always room for toppings! Pile on:
- Cooked bacon
- Green onions
- Diced jalapenos
- Oyster crackers
- Tortilla chips
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Diced red onion
- Roasted chickpeas
As for sides to serve with slow cooker venison chili, there’s nothing better than a slice of crusty artisan bread or buttery dinner rolls. Pair the bowls with a light, flavorful salad to balance the meal, and enjoy!
Storing, freezing, and reheating
To store: Once cooled, ladle the extra chili into individual containers and keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.
To freeze: The chili also freezes well for 2 to 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat: To reheat venison chili without drying it out, you can return it to the slow cooker on low heat for 1½ to 2 hours, but it’s much quicker to reheat it on the stovetop in a covered pot over medium heat. Add a splash of beef broth if you need to.
Looking for more slow cooker recipes?
- Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pot Roast
- Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Slow Cooked Roasted Beef Brisket
Slow Cooker Venison Chili
- Slow Cooker/ Crock Pot
- 1 lb ground venison
- 15 oz canned pinto beans
- 15 oz canned kidney beans
- 15 oz canned black beans
- 16 oz tomato salsa medium heat
- 28 oz tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Turn slow cooker in sauté mode (if your slow cooker does not have a sauté option do this step on stove) heat oil then add in venison, onion, garlic and bell pepper. Sauté meat until browned (about 12-15 minutes)
- Stir in tomato paste and flour until mixture has soaked up all moisture (about 1-2 minutes) then immediately add beef broth and still well.
- Next add in all the seasoning along with beans, salsa and tomato sauce. Give it a good mix and cover.
- Cancel sauté mode (or at this point transfer everything from stove top to slow cooker). Set slow cooker on high and cook for 2 hours.