When I visited Kyle in Campbell River back in August, I made chili one night for us and his parents. It was an unseasonably cold day, and we were craving something warm and comforting. Now that we are approaching colder months, it finally seems like a good time to post the recipe. At the time I had never made chili before, but I figured it was the kind of recipe you could pretty much just “wing”. I used this recipe from Merely Marie just as a jumping-off point, but mostly just played around with the ingredients that were available to me.


(Photo credit to the blog What About Second Breakfast?, which also has a great recipe for bison chili.)

Here’s what I gathered from the fridge/pantry:

  • 1 lb. ground bison meat (from a few bison burgers)
  • 1 can (~16 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (~16 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (~16 oz.) crushed tomatoes (I would have used diced, but Kyle and his dad both hate tomatoes/tomato chunks)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 (or whole) red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • Hearty sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 square dark chocolate, grated
  • A few twists of ground pepper

*I didn’t use them, but sliced mushrooms would also be a great addition.

Here’s what to do:

1. Drizzle a little bit of oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the bison meat, breaking into chunks with your spoon/spatula. Cook (you will have to stir them around a bit) until all the chunks are browned on the outside.

…I hate the word chunks. Shudder.

Note: The bison burgers I used were frozen initially, so I had to defrost them first before cooking.

2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot.

Note: The recipe on Merely Marie calls for two cups of water. I didn’t notice that when I made this recipe, and it ended up being fine without (the juices from the meat and crushed tomatoes were enough), so add water to your discretion based on the consistency you want.

3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. I cooked my chili for only one hour – we were hungry!

4. Top your bowl with grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese, sour cream, and/or whatever else you like on your chili. This recipe made roughly five heaping bowls.


Final note: Feel free to use another kind of meat in your chili. Bison happens to be quite a flavourful and lean meat, so I thought it would be great for chili, and I used nutmeg/cinnamon/dark chocolate to help complement its slightly gamier flavour. But you could use turkey, chicken, or beef and adjust your other ingredients accordingly. Chili-making is really a creative process, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Stay hungry,