Healthy and Hearty Bison Chili: A quick recipe for the weeknight.


Abba and Ima (Dad and Mom) have a fond appreciation for flavorful, fabulous chili. It dates back to their years in Austin, Texas. They know how to make decadent chili down South! Our munchkins adore beans and meat: it’s a win-win.


I buy responsibly sourced, delectable bison (i.e. buffalo) for my chili. It is heart and tasty. Plus, lean, ground bison is low in fat and high in protein and iron. Bison are naturally grass-fed, so their meat is rich in healthy omega-3 and -6 acids.


With all of the heme-rich iron in the kidney beans, black beans and lean meat, this meal will get your red blood cells pumping and put a spring in your step.


Freshly grated, aged Manchego and 2% Greek yogurt is a topping must. Do feel free to garnish with your green herb of choice, such as parsley or cilantro, for a bit of freshness and color. Truly, this chili has amazing depth of flavor as is.


Enough said. Let’s. Get. Cooking. Ima’s stomach is growling!            DSC_1836

Combine the vegetables in a dutch oven or stockpot…


… Include the flavorful seeded, deep green jalapeño.


Sauté until the vegetables are tender.


Break up the bison (i.e. buffalo) and place on top of the vegetables.


Break-up with the back of a wooden spoon and brown.


Add all of the spices.


Stir well. Season mixture with salt and pepper.


Incorporate the unsalted beans, including the juice…


… and the tomatoes and citrus juice or vinegar.


Give the mixture a good stir.


Simmer, covered, for about an hour.


Simmer, uncovered, for about half an hour – until thick, rich and scrumptious.


Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh, chopped parsley or cilantro; Greek yogurt and grated, mature Manchego cheese. Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting our family at Curls and Carrots. Are you ravenous yet?

Warmest wishes,




Hearty Bison Chili

The perfect weeknight meal: this recipe comes together in a flash. Use the best quality spices you have for maximum flavor.


3/4 cup carrots, chopped

1 large yellow onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

3/4 cup corn

6 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (I freeze and defrost our garden chiles)

1 pound (16 ounces) 96% lean bison (I purchased mine at Whole Foods)

2 cans organic, unsalted kidney beans (included juice)

2 cans organic, unsalted black beans (included juice)

1-28 ounce can organic, fire-roasted tomatoes

1 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice – or any acid (such as vinegar)

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

2 Tbsp. dried, smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. each: dried cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano and parsley

salt and pepper, to taste


  • In a Dutch oven or stockpot, over medium heat, sauté the carrots, onion, corn, jalapeño and garlic – just until tender. The onion will be translucent and the corn slightly golden.
  • Crumble the bison over the vegetable mixture. Using a spatula or a metal spoon, brown the meat while breaking it into small pieces.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Incorporate all of the dried spices and stir well.
  • Add the kidney and black beans, tomatoes, lime or lemon juice and chicken stock. Cover.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low or low – whichever maintains a gentle simmer while covered.
  • Allow to simmer for one hour (covered) to develop flavor.
  • Take off the lid and allow to simmer, uncovered, until appropriately thickened. To your liking, of course. About 30 minutes for us.
  • Taste, season with additional salt and pepper (if necessary), and serve with your desired garnishes.


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.



38 thoughts on “Healthy and Hearty Bison Chili: A quick recipe for the weeknight.

    1. Thank you, Gretchen! Yes, bison is very lean. It can be more expensive than ground meat – but the chock full of beans allows you to use less meat in the recipe. I appreciate your visit – enjoy your day. Warmly, Shanna

  1. Southern cooking is a taste sensation! Bison is a wonderful choice. Love the peppery spices that keep our metabolism ticking away at top speed. I think this would make a great party food, and Grey Cup weekend is approaching… a good excuse for a pot of chili! Thanks for posting 🙂

    1. Hi, Sharon, I am glad you are here – thank you for your visit and kind compliments. I do hope that you make this for your upcoming sporting weekend! I looked up the Grey Cup and it appears to be quite the jubilatory festival! 🙂 Warmly, Shanna

  2. love bison love bison love bison!!! My 11-year-old is reading over my shoulder right now getting really excited (she loves bison, too) and asking me to make this 🙂

    1. Hi, Liz,
      HA. Your daughter sounds like such a cutie. And one with excellent taste! I, too, adore bison. So much great flavor. I do hope you try this recipe – I am sure your daughter would help. 😉 Thank you for your enthusiastic, sweet words – and your visit. Have a great day! I

    1. Hi, Dan,
      Oh, do give bison (i.e. buffalo – they are the same animal by different names) a try. You will enjoy it in a chilli. The meat is very lean, so it lends itself well to any soup or stew. Thank you for your warm comments and your visit! Have a great day.
      Best wishes,

  3. You know Shanna I have never tried cooking bison. I’m not even sure i can get it in my small town here…but I guess I can also use lean ground beef for this. It sounds really delicious, more like chilli con carne. Thanks for sharing, I have bookmarked.

    1. Hi, Liz,
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a kind note, as always. 🙂
      If you can get your hands on any ground bison/buffalo, venison, elk or game meat, it would be just lovely in this chili. You may try peaking into the frozen section of your town’s store – sometimes game meats are frozen before selling in smaller regions. Of course, lean ground meat would be great, too.
      Have a lovely day!

    1. Hi, Ada,
      Thank you for saying such sweet things. I appreciate it. Yes, do buy a couple of one-pound orders of ground bison (buffalo) from the meat counter – and freeze them so that they are on hand. Thank goodness for Whole Foods. Have a fantastic day.

  4. Bison is becoming more common around here. For some time now, it was only available in 1 lb packages. Lately, I’ve seen it coming in a 2 lb size. I grind virtually all my meats and look forward to the day when I can buy a chunk of bison chuck to grind. I won;t wait, though, till that day to try your chili. It sounds wonderful, Shanna. I like that you included corn. Those little yellow kernels really brighten up a chili or soup. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi, John,
      I am so impressed that you grind your own meat. It is great to know the source of the meat and what is in ground meats. Lately, I buy freshly ground bison at Whole Foods (in one pound, brown paper packages so that I can freeze one and use one. The butcher is so accommodating!). Do let me know if you try a bison chili – and what delicious flavors and textures you add. You are quite the chef! I do appreciate your warm comments and your visit. Thank you.
      Enjoy your weekend, as well.

  5. Wow! Looks great! I’ve heard that bisons are making a comeback in numbers in the US. Also, not sure if they’re talking about the same species; but ‘buffalo’ has a higher percentage of fat in their milk but half the cholesterol of cow’s, which means cheese and yoghurt made from their milk is super heavenly creamy and delicious! It’d be awesome if you could get your hands on some buffalo greek yoghurt to make this dish 100% bison!
    Anyway, looking forward to more savoury recipes from you (going back from a vegan diet, I’m gonna need some tips on cooking sustainable meat)

    1. Hi, Lz,
      I have found buffalo-milk cheeses at a specialty store and they are quite tasty! I have yet to see Greek yogurt from buffalo/bison, but wouldn’t that be lovely?!
      I am so glad to have you here: WELCOME! I look forward to your feedback and ideas. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a lovely, kind note.
      Best wishes,

      1. Yoghurt is so much easier and time-consuming to make than cheese! (But I guess you need the culture, I haven’t tried yoghurt making myself, even from bought yoghurt) I’m surprised they haven’t ventured into that. Perhaps you could suggest it to those people you got the bison meat from? Or do they only do meat?
        No problem! Your recipes are fascinating 🙂

      2. If you can get a hand on the buffalo milk, perhaps you can try making the yoghurt yourself? I’ve heard there are places you can buy your own yoghurt lactobicillus (something) bacterial culture.
        On a side note, have you tried making cottage/cream cheese? It requires the curdling of milk, so I guess that’s similar to yoghurt making-ish. It’s so easy.
        And it’s Iz/Izzy not Lz haha!

      3. Hi Izzy (my apologies! silly keyboard),
        These are some inspiring ideas. I may be making yogurt soon – or even cottage or cream cheese. I love a challenge and a kitchen adventure. Good luck in your health and culinary pursuits. And thank you for your warm comments.
        Best – Shanna

      1. Venison, wild boar, roe deer venison, hare, and those are just the ‘furry’ types of game 🙂 (We also have ‘feathery’ types like pheasant or pigeon.)

      2. Hi, Stefan,

        Your furry game (minus the fur, of course) would be delicious in any soup or stew. MMM. I am sure that you have some fabulous culinary creations of such types on your blog.

        Pheasant and pigeon – how delicious. They are considered a delicacy here and not widely available.

        Have a fantastic weekend,

    1. Hi, Chef Janet,
      Ah, pic monkey – yes, I have! I am having issues with transferring the collages to WordPress. They appear VERY small on the screen when published. Any thoughts? You are the collage expert!
      Best regards,

  6. Bison chili, what a great idea! I use ground bison a few times a year, but never thought of making my chili with it! And your chili looks fab Shanna!

    1. Thanks, Lidia! I do appreciate your generous and kind note. 🙂 Of course, we can’t blog 1/4 of what we are making in our kitchens… but this recipe seemed like one folks would enjoy making – and devouring. I am big fan of game meat (bison, elk, venison, reindeer, haha). Sending you a piping-hot bowl, topped with melting Manchego, right. now. Warmly, Shanna xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s