Bison Chili

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Bison Chili

Serves 6 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour


Bison is loaded with lean high quality protein. It’s a nice change away from beef if you’re ever wanting that change. Perfect for the cold weather.


  • 4 cups (1L) water (or bone broth) 
  • 3 large or 6 medium ancho chiles 
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles 
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo 
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 3 pounds ground bison, or grass fed ground beef 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 onions, small diced 
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2
  •  tablespoons tomato paste (I like the ones in the tooth paste tube for ease of use) 
  • 1 12-oz. bottle hard cider or lager-style beer (or equivalent amount in water) 
  • One 3″ cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon ground) 2
  • bay leaves 4 cups (1L) water 
  • 2 15.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed 
  • 1 cup plain coconut yogurt ( or Greek yogurt) 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice (from 1–2 limes) 
  • Handful of cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped 
  • 1 bunch of chives, minced 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • To serve: casava or tortilla chips and/or steamed rice

Chef Tips

Manage your time. Plan this one on a day you can allocate an extra 30 minutes. The little extra time will set you up for a quick meal later in the week. If you don’t be needing all of it feel free to freeze some. The chipotle chiles add heat to the chili. If you’re averse to heat just omit it entirely or go with a little hot smoked paprika for less spice.



Bring broth to a simmer in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Meanwhile, remove and discard stems from ancho and guajillo chiles. Tear flesh into a few pieces, letting seeds fall out. Transfer to a blender. Add hot broth and cover blender; let sit until chiles are softened, about 10 minutes. Add chipotle chiles and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute; set aside. 

Step 2 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pot over medium-high. Add the bison to pot and smash down with a wooden spoon to flatten against surface of pot and break into smaller clumps. Season all over with salt. Cook, undisturbed, until underside is browned, top side is no longer pink, and most of the liquid is cooked off, 8–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Repeat with some more olive oil and remaining bison.

Step 3 

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; season with salt and stir to combine. Cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, very soft, and starting to brown around the edges, 10–12 minutes. Add cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and sizzling, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring to coat vegetables, until paste darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Add in bison. Add in cider (if using), cinnamon, and bay leaves and scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of pot (if you’re not using cider, skip this step and increase water in next step to 5 cups). Bring to a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is mostly reduced, about 5 minutes. 

Step 4 

Add reserved chile purée and beans. Add 4 cups water to blender, swish around to loosen any remaining purée, then pour into pot; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened and very flavorful, about 30 minutes.


Step 5

Meanwhile, stir coconut yogurt, lime juice, and cilantro in a small bowl to combine. Season to taste with salt. 

Step 6 

Taste chili and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat and fish out cinnamon stick (if used previously) and bay leaves. Divide chili among bowls. Top with a dollop of yogurt-lime sauce. Serve with cassava chips if using.