Bison chili (also called buffalo chili) is a healthier twist on traditional beef chili. It’s made with bison meat, black beans, and bacon. Plus, it’s flavored for fall with the unique addition of spiced apples and apple cider!
This chili recipe is perfect for fall tailgating and chili cookoffs.
When I last made this recipe, my family and I sat around the table eating bison chili and talking about deep things – like how much we liked the chili. We talked about how it’s made in a similar way to more traditional chilis, but with chopped apples instead of tomatoes and with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom in addition to the chili powder.
We debated over whether the chili was spicy enough – Jonathan would make it spicier, but my son and I thought it was perfect. We ruminated on the sweetness – with a touch of brown sugar, this chili is ever so slightly sweet, not dessert sweet. We then moved on to talking about last year’s neighborhood chili cookoff and how I really wanted to enter this chili in this year’s contest. I believe that it’s a winner!
Why Bison Chili?
Why make the switch from beef to bison in your chili?
- It’s considered healthier. According to The National Bison Association, Bison has only 2.4 grams of fat and 143 calories in 3.5 ounces once cooked, compared to 8 grams of fat and 200 calories in a piece of “select” beef.
- It’s often more humanely raised. According to the National Bison Association, “Bison are handled as little as possible. Bison are not domesticated, they spend their lives on grass, with very little or no time in the feedlot. They are not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones.” The association bylaws oppose the use of these substances in the production of Bison for meat.
What Tools Do You Need to Make Bison Chili?
To make bison chili, you’ll want a large pot or a dutch oven. Other than that, you don’t need anything special!
How to Make Bison Chili
The first step is to cook the bacon. Add oil and bacon to a pot on medium heat and cook until bacon is cooked but not crispy (about 4 minutes).
Next, you’ll need to cook the onions. Add finely chopped onions, stir, lower heat to medium, cover and cook until onions are translucent (about 7 minutes).
Uncover, add in minced garlic, and stir for about one minute.
Add ground bison, break up, and cook until browned (about 7 minutes).
Add spices and sugar. I use salt, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar.
Add peeled and finely chopped apples and apple cider and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook for thirty minutes.
Uncover, add canned black beans and tomato paste, stir, and cook for five to ten more minutes or until the beans are hot.
Serve hot, topped with cheddar cheese.
More Bison Recipes to Try
Other Recipes to Complete Your Meal
- Try starting things off with some deep fried pickles. If you’ve never fried up a pickle, you’re in for a treat! They come out so good!
- Serve the chili alongside a Hasselback potato – always a crowd pleaser.
- Consider a fall cupcake for dessert (like an apple cupcake or a pumpkin cupcake) or make a pecan pie!
- 4 teaspoons canola oil
- 3 slices thick cut bacon diced
- 2 cups yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds ground bison
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 28 ounces peeled and finely diced apples I used small Jonathan apples and this was about 14 apples
- 3 cups apple cider
- 30 ounces black beans, drained 2 cans
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- shredded cheddar cheese to taste
- Heat a large pot or other Dutch oven on medium-high heat.
- Add oil and bacon.
- Cook until bacon is cooked but not crispy, about 4 minutes.
- Add onions, stir, lower heat to medium, cover and cook until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.
- Uncover, add in garlic, and stir for about one minute.
- Add ground bison, break up, and cook until browned (about 7 minutes).
- Add salt, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar.
- Add apples and cider and bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook for thirty minutes.
- Uncover, add the beans and tomato paste, stir, and cook for five to ten more minutes or until the beans are hot.
- Serve hot, topped with cheddar cheese.