This Slow Cooker Bison Chili is magic in a bowl: spicy, smoky, and slightly-sweet, this healthy recipe has some major kick to it! This easy, no-fuss meal is also Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Whole30 (just sub beef broth for red wine). Enjoy the best of both worlds with this chili: health and taste!
Slow Cooker Bison Chili
If you’ve never tried bison before, well that is a darn shame & it’s high time that you do so, like pronto. Everyone voted, and they all agree. By everyone I mean ME myself and I. You’re outnumbered 3-1 here, if you do the math.
Ignoring technicalities (“wait she only counts as 1 vote not 3 votes”, as an example) and using a calculator or piece of scratch paper, simply crunch the inflated numbers I have provided you! Barring concern with exactitudes, you will come up with a ratio of “3 votes:1 vote” as your final answer, which is correct.
See. Everything is ‘correct’ when it’s negotiable, can I get an amen?! Which is exactly how I do math, folks. Which is perhaps is why I failed math, folks. Jury’s still out on that one though… now back to BISON! Ok so: not having tried bison is a sad thing which we’ve established. It is a healthy, tasty protein that deserves more attention!
What does bison taste like?
Bison (buffalo) is similar to beef (cow), but with a few differences. Bison is leaner than beef and often recognized for its “cleaner” taste. Bison offers a sweeter flavor than beef, although the two are quite similar otherwise. While bison is not as tender as, say filet mignon, it definitely still ranks high up on the ‘tender” scale. In fact, bison meat being slightly less tender actually works in its favor; yielding a fuller taste and satisfying ‘mouth feel’.
Ok, so we’ve also just established- as fact, that bison tastes yum. But another major concern of mine is regarding those of you who have had bison, but never had bison CHILI before. Sadly, you ALSO have been missing out in a big way. You’ve been missing out on awesome-sauce, as it is known. Tsk tsk…. you are actually officially diagnosable as “awesome-sauce-deficient!!!!” Shit! Now what?
Don’t worry, no need to panic. This condition is curable and may subside within months or years on its own, but can also last a lifetime in extreme cases. The prognosis significantly improves with treatment; generally the condition dissipates within the first 1-2 bites of bison chili, never to return again. Since we are now speaking on the important topic of health, and your bummer of a diagnosis- you may be wondering:
Is bison healthy?
Yes, very! Bison is an especially lean red meat. It is both low in fat and cholesterol, and high in protein. It also delivers important nutrients like iron, zinc, omega 3’s to name a few. Despite being quite lean, bison still offers the flavor and ‘marbling’ of beef- with much less fat of course! Best of both worlds! It is now time to jump into this bison chili slow cooker recipe! Right after this public service announcement, one sec…
One final concern that must be addressed. We have clearly proven the following thus far: #1. Not having tried bison is bad. #2. Not having tried bison chili is REAL bad. HOWEVER. We now come to #3. Not having tried this here Slow Cooker Bison Chili is a tragedy, but I forgive you because I have a really big heart and I’m also super forgetful & would not remember to hold a grudge. (But mostly it’s my big heart)
This slow cooker bison chili is your super easy and super healthy ticket to Yum-town (it’s a real place, ok people); escorting your taste buds along with smoky chipotle and sweet potatoes and bell peppers and onions and tomatoes and other stuff okaaay? It tastes smoky, spicy, and sweet all at once. Which, side note, is precisely how you know you’ve entered the gates of Yum-town because it’s a real place, one with gates thank you very much.
Ok, so to conclude our 3-part “bison-awareness series”, let’s quickly recap: This slow cooker bison chili is smoky/spicy, healthy, paleo, gluten-free, Whole-30, nutrient-dense, oh and super flippin’ easy to make. That’s a lot of good stuff rolled into one thing. So basically I just want to know if you are still doing ok, knowing now that you have been deprived of such awesomeness for so much of your life.
You may love traditional beef chili and be skeptical of putting “buffalo” in there instead… I can’t even blame you for not wanting to mess with a good thing. In fact, you can use beef stew meat instead of bison if you prefer- you will still arrive precisely at destination Yum-town using that vehicle instead. Your choice! Still not sure which vehicle to take?
Bison vs Beef: which is better?
This one is impossible to call, and obviously entirely objective in the first place. Stating the obvious, bison and beef are both superstars when it comes to flavor, so take your pick there. When it comes to health and dietary considerations, however, there are trade-offs. While it may be true that bison is a healthier choice than beef, bison is (considerably) more expensive. It is also harder to come by, and selection is smaller.
One last thing: be mindful of restaurants taking advantage of the growing bison bandwagon. Some may offer a bison burger, sure. But they also may prepare that burger solely with ‘trend’ in mind, not health. If that new hotspot down the street offers this on their menu: “Double-patty Bison Burger with loads of crispy bacon, mayo, plus 4 pieces of healthy arugula, all atop a Krispy Kreme Donut-Bun.”
Well. Clearly the health benefits are completely nullified. But hey if you want to eat a bison burger on a Krispy Kreme bun, I will NOT judge you. I will be jealous of you actually. I wonder if this is really a thing p.s.?? In the meantime, I will patiently eat my slow cooker bison chili, and eagerly await the arrival of a KrispyKreme-BisonBurger to a town near me.Print
Spicy, smoky, & slightly-sweet, this easy Slow Cooker Bison Chili is magic in a bowl. It is also Paleo, gluten-free, and Whole30 (sub beef broth for red wine & skip the 1 tsp beef bouillon). This chili has nice flavorful “kick” to it, for all you spice-lovers out there! (& for the spice-haters, simply reduce amount of spicy ingredients called for, and enjoy!)
- 24 oz bison stew meat/chunks
- 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
- 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, & diced into thick chunks
- 1 jalapeno, seeded & minced (optional)
- 1 fresh diced green bell pepper + 1 diced yellow onion, OR can use (1) 12 oz bag frozen bell peppers/onions blend instead (do not thaw)
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- (2) 8 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (only slightly drained)
- 2 chipotles in adobo, minced, plus 2 tsp adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp beef bouillon (if following Whole30, skip this ingredient)
- 1 tbsp chili powder (use less if you want a milder chili)
- 2 tsp roasted cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1.5 cups beef broth
- 1/2 cup red wine (if following Whole30, replace with beef broth)
- 2 bay leaves
- Quickly brown the bison on stovetop first (optional, but worth it). Brown meat on all sides in ghee or olive oil, approximately 6-7 minutes total. Tip: add an extra 1-2 shakes of chili powder at the start to help lock some flavor in meat.
- Add browed bison to a slow cooker or crockpot that has been sprayed with oil. Dump all remaining ingredients over top. If desired, add any additional seasonings to taste. Stir to combine. If you prefer a “soupier” chili, add more beef broth to the slow cooker until desired consistency.
- Cover slow cooker and heat on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 6 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.
- For bison meat: We used (2) 12 oz. packages of the brand Simple Truth Bison Stew Meat, which is already cut into chunks. (Just clarifying that it is not ground bison). But I’m sure you could easily sub ground bison, following same steps (browning meat a bit before throwing in crockpot), though I have not tried it that way yet.
- For sweet potatoes: we leave them unpeeled in this recipe, because they hold their shape much better after hours of sweating in a crockpot. They are also easier to cut, and less prep work which is an added bonus. Since we leave them unpeeled, we recommend buying organic sweet potatoes for this.
- Slicing the sweet potatoes: bigger chunks= better. (Because tender sweet potatoes are good. And mushy, disintegrating sweet potatoes are bad.) The 1st time I made this, I cut mine too small & had mushy taters. 2nd time I made this, I chopped much bigger chunks and they were tender-perfect. To slice: Cut into THICK slices, then halve & quarter them at most.
- For serving: We recommend serving it with a squirt of lemon juice on top (sounds weird but it’s good, try it!), sliced avocado, and cheddar cheese if not following Paleo or Whole30 diet. If chili ends up too spicy, add a dollop of plain yogurt to mellow it out.
- For presentation: The pretty green/orange/yellow bell peppers turn into red bell peppers after bathing in this tomatoe-y chipotle-y chili-to-be for hours. If you want a more colorful final dish, save a few of the frozen bell peppers when adding ingredients to pot. Keep frozen until serving, then toss a few directly on top of each chili bowl. They add the color back immediately & incorporate in seconds (with no adverse effect on taste). & they cool your chili down a smidge, so you can dive in quicker!