Bison Chili

Recipe makes 4 servings.
Approximate Cook Time: 2 hours
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Votes: 25
Rating: 4.6
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1 tablespoon(s) coconut oil, tallow, bacon grease, or lard
1/2 medium onion(s), yellow, diced
3 medium celery stalk(s), diced
2 medium garlic clove(s), sliced
13/4 pound(s) bison, ground, (elk, venison, or beef may be substituted)
2 teaspoon(s) cumin
2 teaspoon(s) chili powder
2 teaspoon(s) thyme
1 jar(s) salsa (12 oz)
1 can(s) tomatoes, diced (8 oz)
1 can(s) green chiles, mild (7 oz)
2 teaspoon(s) sea salt, (optional)


  1. Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add coconut oil.
  2. Add onions, celery and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Next, add ground bison, cumin, thyme, and chili powder.
  4. Stir while this cooks, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Pour in salsa, tomatoes, green chiles and salt.
  6. Simmer for at least 1 hour.

This recipe inspired in part or in whole from here.


  1. wellsl

    Can I subsitute the bison for ground beef or ground turkey?

    • Jason G.

      Yes, you can definitely substitute ground turkey or beef. We just try and keep things a bit more interesting by mixing it up.

  2. dhidalg29

    I also used ground venison and it was really good!

  3. brownrose

    great chili!

  4. JCrow

    Ate leftover chili with 3 eggs scrambled today, and an orange on the side, its was awesome!

  5. Jeff

    This is one of my all time favorite recipes so far. I love the flavors and by using cumin I don’t notice that there are no beans. :D

  6. AzCaveman

    I made this last night and have to say that it was great. Followed the recipe to the T and it came out perfect. I will be making this one again.

  7. James

    I’ve been doing the Paleo diet for about two weeks and I have heard that you’re not supposed to use salt from my crossfit trainer. However, in the recipe it calls for salt…so I’m a bit confused. Is it really up to the person? I’d like to abstain from using salt, can you recommend any other spice besides salt that might still leave this dish tasting good? Thank you so much for your help!

    • Jason G.

      Salt is definitely one of the fringe items on the Paleo scale. I know many paleo “scholars” (to use the term lightly) who use very small amounts of Sea Salt. Others won’t touch it, so it’s really a personal decision. But if you want to avoid it, try making a salt substitute of your own, like this one. Just tasty herbs and powders from your spice rack, and should help make savory food more interesting.

  8. Catrina

    Tried this chili tonight: WOW! YUMMO!!! My non-paleo husband even liked it! I added 1/2c chopped fresh white mushrooms & 1/2c chopped fresh yellow & red bell pepper to make up for the lack of beans. Thanks!

  9. Randi

    I think it’d be easier for me to do this in a crock pot. Has anyone tried it that way?

  10. Tia Wickliffe

    This was great. My first official Paleo meal. I am full, it had tons of flavor. I thought I would miss the beans, crackers, and cheese I used to load up my chili with but I didn’t miss it at all. It made quite a bit so I will have leftovers for a couple of days. But with this flavor I am good with that.

  11. Heather

    @Randi-I did this recipe in my crock pot and it turned out fabulous. I added some mushrooms as well. Perfect!

  12. Nikki

    This was a great meal full of flavor and so easy to make… Two thumbs up!!!

  13. Michael

    Can anyone let me know what is specifically meant by an 8 oz can of tomatoes? Diced, stewed, puree, etc.?

    • Neely

      I edited the recipe to specify “diced” tomatoes. Good catch – thanks!

  14. cerlandson

    Means Diced…..

  15. cerlandson

    couple of things— why doesnt the ingredient list have the green chiles on them you don’t find out about them until the end of the recipe? Also is it 1 and 3/4 pds of meat or just 3/4 pds of meat…if it means 3/4 pds of meat why does it say 2 half cups of celery shouldn’t it just say 1 cup? Some of this is confusing, I hope it is good!

    • Neely

      Very sorry about that! I added the chiles to the ingredient list, and the recipe calls for the 1 3/4 lbs, as it says. And it actually reads 2 & 1/2 cups chopped celery – not 2 one-half cups… Hope that makes sense and thanks for the feedback.

  16. mcbentons

    I make this chili alot, but I add: 1 cup red and yellow bell peppers, diced; 1-2 zucchini, diced; 1-2 yellow squash, diced; 1 container of sliced mushrooms; 2 cups sliced okra; 1 bunch of kale, chopped. I cook the onions, bell peppers, and okra for just a few minutes to soften them and add them to the rest of th recipe with the mushrooms. Right before serving, I stir in the kale and cook for another 5 minutes. Sometimes you might need to add water to thin it out and double up your spices. It doubles the recipe and is spectacular!

    • Neely

      Great additions – thanks for the comment!

      Neely Quinn
      Nutrition Therapist
      Paleo Plan

  17. Carol

    Thank you for this recipe. I just made it. I didn’t make as much as the recipe calls for but I have enough left over for some lunch tomorrow :) It was soooooo good. I have to admit that it is the best chili I have had. I didn’t know what to put on the side.

  18. VJ

    Just made the chili for the first time…..Delicious!!!!!

    Thanks for a great receipe ;)

  19. kaitlin

    great chili! its on the stove right now and my ‘taste tests’ have come out great – the only problem (not really a problem just something to keep an eye on) my salsa had some unexpected added sugar! :( *gasp* I used it anyway… and its delish! my ‘almost paleo’ chili will be a long time fav!

  20. LisaJ

    This was wonderful and EASY! My kiddos gobbled it up too. When I can find a recipe the whole family loves and doesn’t take me hours in the kitchen, it’s a keeper. Loved the bison! Thanks!

  21. Moto6

    I made my own salsa, better than anything in a can…this is good stuff!!

  22. Big Dave

    Hey all, Im new to this and have been looking around at an assortment of website touting this natural way of life and to be honest, I cant wait to start up… Having said that, I must say that anything in a can ( salsa, tomatoes ect, ect.. ) should not be used in any paleo- hunter gatherer- caveman diet, as they will contain STUFF that shouldn’t be eaten… just a thought…

    • Neely

      @Big Dave – Sometimes you can buy canned goods that don’t have any of that extra “stuff” in there. If it’s just organic stewed tomatoes in a can, there’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to look at the ingredients to make sure. However, there is BPA in a lot of canned goods, so you have to know your source.

  23. joey

    What kind of Salsa is being used?

  24. Faye

    Love this recipe! I always add something different each time for variety. I added last time a cup of frozen corn (it was the end of the month so it was literally what I had left) 1 yellow bell pepper, a can of roasted tomatoes, a frozen bag of broccoli ( I know, weird, but works) 3 cloves of garlic. I had to half this recipe so only 1 pound of ground beef. Also added 1 cup of veal broth. Hope this helps for some variety!

  25. ShannonBR

    @Heather – in the crock pot, how long did you cook it and at what temp setting? I think the crock pot would be so much easier for me too since I don’t get home from work until around 6:00. Thank you!!

  26. bison01

    How do I change the ingredient amounts for 10 that eat more like 20?

  27. Rob

    This recipe sounds great.. Has anyone substituted jar salsa for fresh?? If so, would the quantity be the same??? I know the flavors would be awesome- as I make fresh Salsa from scratched regularly.. When I think of Jarred salsa, It makes me just go ewww….. LOL

  28. RobS

    By no means a great cook, but I do prefer to use a crock pot. Has anyone done this in a crock pot and could provide some basic instructions on how they went about that?

  29. MandyB

    Wow. Just tried this. I added some pinto beans instead of salsa. This is SO delicious. Definitely the best I’ve ever made

  30. Tricia

    I love this recipe. I make it at least once a month and there are never leftovers.

  31. Jacqueline

    This recipe is awesome. I have recommended it to everyone. I have never made chili without beans, and it is the best I’ve made! It fed my whole family of 5 with leftovers. I think the servicing sizes are a lot haha.

  32. DeMossFamily

    I thought beans and corn were not paleo??

    • Neely Quinn

      DeMossFamily – There aren’t any beans or corn in this recipe…

  33. Vuong

    Do you use Carrot or Tamari for Paleo.?.

  34. Stephenie

    Just realized I forgot to add salt. No need, tastes incredible without it.

  35. Geri

    confused by post and comments. How many does the recipe serve? I need to make this for a family of 3 adults and a 1 toddler.

  36. Beth

    Does the meat need to be cooked before adding to the onions, celery and garlic?

  37. Anonymous

    Try it with franks red hot. Best chili I’ve ever had

  38. Ashley

    Suggestions for brand/type of salsa?

  39. Barrett C.

    Best chili I’ve ever had. Didn’t miss the beans at all. Made my first batch last week and we ate it for three days. Yumm. Making it again today. I used grass fed lean ground beef as the bison was a little spendy. Only other change was no salt. Thank you for the recipe!

  40. ReWild ThySelf

    Ahh beautiful recipe.. You know whats up with bison too. Paleo peoples hunted bison, not domesticated cow. I always consume true wild foods when I can. I think I will be having this tomorrow night! If you like this you may enjoy my blog concerning rewilding one’s self back into nature, click my name to check it out. Thanks for the recipe!

  41. Amy

    Good basic chili recipe. I used ground beef, 16 ounce jar of medium salsa, and 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes. 1 teaspoon of salt seemed sufficient, probably because of the salt in my chili powder. I might add an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce just to up the tomato flavor.

  42. Brook

    This recipe is in our permanent rotation, and here’s why: 1) It’s a solid recipe as-is, but also lends itself to substitutions (different types of meat, extra/different veggies, etc.), 2) Kids like it, 3) It plays well with my Crock Pot – just throw in everything raw at the beginning of the day and stir a few times over the next 8 – 10 hours, 4) This recipe works well for non-Paleo dinner guests. Just have some shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or bread on the side. I wish all recipes worked this hard!

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