Home » Past Issues » Venison Chili with Queso, Fresco and Cilantro

Venison Chili with Queso, Fresco and Cilantro

A chili with south-of-the border influence.

Venison Chili

Lower in fat and every bit as tasty as traditional chili, there are as many versions of venison chili as there are beef. 
My take on this classic, cold-season dish is stew-like. This venison chili is slow cooked with both ground and stew meat and also three different kinds of beans for a hearty, satisfying texture.
Not-so-secret ingredients include a dash of brown sugar and molasses to create depth and balance out heat. Instead of the usual shredded cheddar cheese, I top off this chili with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro for bright color and freshness.

Servings: 6-8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 4 hours


  •  11⁄2 pounds of ground venison
  •  11⁄2 pounds of venison roast/stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  •  1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  •  1 onion, chopped
  •  1 teaspoon of dried, crushed red pepper
  •  1⁄2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  •  Kosher/sea salt, to taste
  •  1⁄4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  •  1⁄2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  •  5 tablespoons of chili powder
  •  2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  •  1⁄4 teaspoon of Hungarian/sweet paprika
  •  1 bay leaf
  •  1 (15-ounce) can of red beans
  •  1 (15-ounce) can of refried beans
  •  1 (15-ounce) can of charro pinto beans
  •  1 cup of chicken/beef broth
  •  1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomato
  •  1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  •  2 tablespoons of molasses
  •  Crumbled queso fresco cheese, for garnish
  •  Chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt all over venison stew meat and brown – brown in batches. Remove meat and set aside on a plate. Add more oil to the pot if necessary and brown ground venison – adding a pinch of salt and breaking up meat. Add chopped onion and sauté until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the browned venison stew meat back into the pot.
  1. Add all other ingredients to the pot, except the queso fresco cheese and cilantro – do not drain beans. Bring to a slight boil, then simmer on low for 3 to 31⁄2 hours or until venison stew meat is tender, stirring occasionally. (Simmer covered or uncovered depending on how thick or thin you want your chili. I cooked it uncovered at first and then covered it when the chili thickened.)
  1. Add salt to taste. Remove bay leafbefore serving/storing. Garnish with queso fresco cheeseand chopped cilantro. Serve with cornbread.  ■

This recipe and photograph originally appeared on Jenny’s Food for Hunters blog 

Check Also

Tag a Monarch

Help Uncover a Mystery By Renae Blum, NEBRASKAland Contributor It’s one of the miracles of …