Filson Food: Homemade Venison Chilli

venison chili, cheese, avocado, sour cream, onion and herbs in a cast iron skillet on a grill grate

“In my book, there is only one type of chili and it isn’t packed with beans and a scant amount of low-quality ground meat. A real chili should have chunks of high-quality meat in a rich flavorful sauce, no filler, plus some wicked toppings. Some people may say this isn’t “traditional,” but keep in mind that even traditional recipes are constantly evolving: the original chili of the 17th century is different than the chili of the 19th century. As far as I am concerned, this is 21st-century chili. Instant coffee, beer, and whole chilies and spices are key to building the deep, rich flavors of this chili. Thick, high-fat sour cream and freshly grated good quality aged cheddar make all the difference. And using venison in chili makes perfect sense, as it is much more flavorful than the more commonly used beef. Like any stewed dish, this chili will get better after sitting overnight and being served the following day.”

Connor Gabbott, Backcountry Chef

man in beanie and overalls holding an onion by his setup for cooking venison chili in a kitchen

Makes approximately 5-6 servings.

ingredients yellow text green background


3 lbs Venison stewing meat, 1” diced
3 Tbsp Oil
1 Onion, ¼” diced
8 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
3 Morita chilies
1 Tbsp Cumin seed
1 tsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Chili powder
1 tsp Smoked paprika
1 tsp Oil
5½ fl oz Tomato paste
½ can Beer
3 Bay leaves
2 Chipotles in adobo
13 fl oz Fire roasted tomatoes in liquid
1 Tbsp Instant ground coffee
Venison stock (substitute beef stock as needed)
1 Tbsp Salt

Note: The type of dried chili used in this recipe can be changed to suit your personal preferences. Morita chili is a lightly smoked red jalapeño that has a lot of fruit flavor. For a milder level of spice, a guajillo chili might be better; to ramp up the flavor, look to something like an ancho chili.


1 Avocado, ½” diced
½ cup Sour cream
4 oz Aged cheddar, grated
15 sprigs Cilantro
¼ White onion, diced in ¼” pieces
2 cups Fritos

preparation yellow text green background


1. Toast the chilies in a heavy-bottomed hot dry pan for 1 minute per side. Transfer the toasted chilies to a dish and cover with boiling water.
2. Add 3 Tbsp. of oil to the pan and brown the venison in batches; remove and set aside.
3. Add the garlic cloves to the pan and brown slowly over medium-low heat, approximately 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the diced onions to the pan and roast until browned, approximately 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, de-seed and roughly chop the chilies. Combine with the cumin seeds, oregano, remaining oil, and chipotle chilies in a mortar and pestle. Crush into a paste.
6. Combine the chili paste and browned meat in the pan.
7. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
8. Roast the mixture over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
9. Add the remainder of the ingredients and enough stock to cover the meat by ½”.
10. Simmer the chili gently for 2-3 hours or until the chunks of venison are tender. For this recipe, we cooked the chili in a wood pellet grill for a more smoky flavor.
11. Once cooked, re-season the chili with salt to your taste.


1. Mix the cilantro and onion and pile all the toppings around the outer edge of the chili.
2. Serve with the same beer you used in the chili.

hand sprinkling salt into a cast iron skillet of venison chili