5-Alarm Ground Elk Chili Recipe (In 6 Easy Steps)

Bowl of elk chili
Five-Alarm Ground Elk Chili

Some people say that elk chili is Earth’s most delicious comfort food. And, by some people; I mean I do. It’s me. I freakin’ looove this elk chili recipe. It’s got everything: the ground elk, the beans, the tomatoes, the spicy. Mama-mia.

Here you have a flavor-bursting recipe that makes for a hearty and flavorful dish perfect for a cold winter day (but I’ve been known to smash this nostalgia-producing meal year-round). Chili is the perfect food to make ahead for meal preppers and stores well for delicious late-night leftovers.

Elk chili is a healthy, delicious treat that’ll please everyone’s taste buds.

Please note: this is a very spicy version of a classic chili, so if you aren’t used to a bit of heat, I suggest you cut back on the peppers and spices in the recipe.

Or, tell your city-slicker dinner guests to get out of the kitchen if they can’t stand the heat.

Whether you’re looking for a good way to use up your elk harvest or are simply embracing a notch and taking them tastebuds on a one-way ticket to flavor town, ancestral and carnivore-style diet, this elk chili recipe is a clever and healthy way to kick things up.

You can make this recipe in a regular pot, an Instapot, or a Crockpot. Just make sure you thoroughly cook the elk meat in a skillet before adding it to the mix (just to be on the safe side.)

Eat it by the bowl or smothered on some french fries or a hot dog, but eat this elk chili, darn it!

Ground elk meat, spices, tomatoes, various vegetables, cans of beans, seasoning, oil on a granite countertop
Everything you need for our famous elk chili


  • One pound (16 oz) of ground elk meat (We get ours from The Honest Bison)
  • One medium white onion, chopped
  • One orange/yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • Two jalapeno peppers chopped
  • Two tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
  • One Habanero Pepper (Or try a scorpion pepper if you’re a real masochist)
  • Two cloves garlic, minced
  • One (15-ounce) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes


  • One tablespoon of chili powder
  • One tablespoon Fitzies Everything Spice (optional)
  • One teaspoon of ground cumin
  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper

Toppings (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

  • Calories: 515 Calories
  • Fat Content: 2 Grams
  • Carbs: 5 Grams
  • Protein: 30 Grams

Cooking Directions

Bowl of elk chili with a pile grated cheese across cutting board
Ready for some of the heartiest (and spiciest) chili of your life?

Step One

  • In a large pot, heat a small amount of olive oil and add the garlic

Step Two

  • Add the elk meat and brown over medium heat. Elk is very lean. You won’t need to drain any fat.

Step Three

  • Add the chopped onion and peppers to the browned meat and continue to saute over medium heat.

Step Four

  •  Add a ¼ cup of water, the beef bouillon, and the seasonings. Cook on medium heat while stirring often.

Step Five

  • In a separate pot (instant pot or crockpot work) Add the meat and vegetable mixture from step 4, the beans, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (or until the flavors get a chance to get to know each other.)

Step Six

  • Top with desired toppings and serve hot. Enjoy!

Elk Chili Pro Tips

  • Substitute ground beef or turkey if you don’t have elk meat. Our favorite source of fresh, sustainably sourced meats is The Honest Bison.
  • If you’re looking for a bit of razzle-dazzle to go with your chili, serve it with freshly baked cornbread.
  • To make the chili ahead of time, cook it according to the instructions, then let it cool completely. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, thaw the chili overnight in the refrigerator, then heat it in a pot over medium heat until it is hot.
  • Feel free to throw a few kernels of sweet corn into the mix if you’re into that sort of thing.

Where I Learned This Recipe

Spoonful of elk chili with bowls of spices and vegetables in the background
Prep it, cook it, and have a bite

I grew up from an early age chasing elk through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. I didn’t always go home with my freezer full after a grueling hunt. But, when I did, I typically ended up with tons of ground meat afterward.

The most common meal we made from elk ground, besides burgers, was chili. My Mom wasn’t the biggest fan of the taste of elk and venison unless it was heavily masked with other flavors. So, naturally, we ate lots and lots of chili growing up.

The recipe above is what I’ve cooked for years in my home, although I admit I’ve taken some liberties by adding ingredients and upping the heat a bit with the habanero and jalapenos. I enjoy spicy food, so it’s the perfect mix of sweet, spicy, and hearty.

Again, this chili  is a bit on the spicier side, thanks to the jalapenos and cayenne pepper, but feel free to dial it back a little bit if you don’t prefer the heat.

Our elk chili recipe is an easy to make, delicious meal year round. I especially like it around the holidays when the cold weather’s got you down,

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Last Updated on December 13, 2023

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