Bourbon Bison Chili

December 23, 2013


A few weekends ago we were invited to a chili cook off. Because the event was put together at the last minute, we didn’t know we were making our own pot of chili until that morning. After a bit of brainstorming over Voxer, Matt and I decided to bump up a typical meat + bean + tomato chili with some of our favorite things: bourbon and pumpkin beer.


Matt brewed a 9% Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin beer this year that would be the perfect all-in-one flavor, but you could use any pumpkin beer (or any dark beer) you have on hand. Or really you could just leave out the beer : )





We decided the chili needed to stand out even more, so we added a cup of pumpkin puree and an ounce of the Good Guy as well.


Bison is one of our favorite meats – here is a neat chart about how it stacks up compared to others. We buy Virginia bison at the Organic Butcher in town.

The beans and Worcestershire added to the recipe bring the chili down to earth while the pumpkin, cinnamon, and brown sugar are intended to remind you of the sweetness of the bourbon.

Bourbon Bison Chili

by Kath Younger

Keywords: soup entree beer beans bison Super Bowl Weeknights fall winter

Ingredients (10ish servings)

  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 15 oz can kidney beans. drained
  • 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (whole can)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 oz pumpkin beer
  • 1 oz bourbon {Maker’s!}
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar


Begin by browning the meat over medium high heat, working in batches if necessary.

Add all other ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 15-60 minutes, depending on desired thickness.

Powered by Recipage

Enjoy on a cold winter’s night!


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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh December 23, 2013 at 7:41 am

Way to throw together something yummy on the fly!


2 Elizabeth December 23, 2013 at 8:31 am

When I read the title my mouth started to water! I love bison, we have a really great local restaurant around us that has the most amazing bison burgers. I can’t wait to try this out on one of those cold nights!


3 Sanaz@runforcake December 23, 2013 at 8:51 am

Um. You officially made me crave chili at 8:30 in the morning. Looks delicious!


4 Hannah @ eat drink and save money December 23, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yum! Can’t wait to try this. How of you feel about canned goods? Do you buy organic? From a nutritionists point of view, how bad is the metal in the can? I try to use dried beans when possible (more to save money, than for health reasons). Just wondering what your thoughts were on this. Thanks!


5 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I just buy run of the mill beans from Whole Foods. Wish I had more time/energy to do more beans from scratch!


6 Jennae December 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Beans from scratch are super easy, you should really give it a go. I do mine in the crockpot so it it almost zero time involvement: I put them into soak one evening, then the next night I start them cooking on low. In the morning they’re done, I turn off the crockpot on my way out, and my husband packages them up for freezing or using immediately an hour or so later before he has to leave for work! I love always having some black beans or chickpeas on hand in the freezer to thaw out and toss on salads. Really, they are so much cheaper and easier than canned, plus no worries about BPA!


7 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I’ve done them many-a-time, but Mazen keeps me on my toes 24/7. I’ve done some this year though. I just need to plan my meals in advance so I can remember to make some!


8 mary @ minutes per mile December 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

how did you do in the cook-off?! :)


9 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

We didn’t win, but it was fun!


10 Candice December 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

How did you do at the chili cook off? I love that green pot! Where did you get it?


11 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

We didn’t win – sadly. But we both voted for another chili! The vegetarian one with mushrooms was awesome!


12 Christine@ Apple of My Eye December 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

Mhmm that chili looks delicious! I made a Healthy Loaded Chili the other day because the colder (relative- I live in California so I’m a weather brat 😉 ) weather always makes me crave a big pot of steaming chili!

Love the added bison and bourbon! What great flavor additives :)


13 Florence December 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

Bison is so delicious and I bet it’s rich and wonderful with the bourbon. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll definitely be trying it after the holiday craziness ends!


14 Bernie December 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

That is the cutest, tiniest little Dutch oven I’ve ever seen (or Matt is a giant)! What brand is it?


15 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

It’s Le Creuset. It was a $75 wedding gift, but I’m not sure of the quart size.


16 Kate December 23, 2013 at 10:48 am

Like the inclusion of bourbon…but is the 1/2 tsp of chili powder a typo? That doesn’t seem like nearly enough!


17 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

It’s just a touch. Didn’t want it to overpower. Feel free to add more to taste!


18 Emma December 23, 2013 at 10:59 am

So interesting how many varieties there are! I would never think to put pumpkin in chili, but mine is packed with onions, bell peppers, celery (stalks and chopped tops), and diced carrots as well as about your same proportions of meat and beans.

Husband and I eat a lot of raw vegetables for lunch, and lately I’ve been finding all kinds of uses for celery greens (top leaves). The easiest thing is just to add them into other salad greens!


19 Emma December 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm

And, I forgot to say, salt, pepper, red pepper, cumin, jalapenos, parsley … mine is so crowded! I have the bad habit of, even if I’m trying a straightforward, simple recipe, I have to add a pinch of this and a little of that. I don’t want it to TASTE too much like any one spice, but if it has some cumin and some chile and some red pepper, I figure it adds depth and flavors in general.


20 Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run December 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

My Montana resident brother would love this recipe!


21 Becki @ Bites 'n Brews December 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

You forgot one essential part – pair with said pumpkin beer and/or whiskey! Looks wonderful!


22 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm
23 Darcel Hunt *Fitness* December 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Sounds delic! Especially the pumpkin beer part :) This woul dbe the perfect cold day or Sunday football meal! Thanks for sharing!


24 Sars December 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

How much is each serving for 10ish?


25 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

It depends on if you’re having a lunch mug or a dinner bowl. That’s why it’s wishy washy, but I’d say an average of a cup and a half


26 Liana@RunToMunch December 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

With those angles, the dutch over loves soo small and cute!

Yum, gonna have to try this at home.


27 Livi December 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm

ooh maker’s mark– classy + yummy!


28 Annie December 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm

What’s “the Good Guy” that you reference in the post, but leave out in the recipe? Very confusing!!


29 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Bourbon! We’ve always used the phrase to talk about alcohol.


30 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Maybe it’s a regional thing or something?


31 Becky @ Life Outside The BOX December 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Man oh man your house must have been smelling awesome while making this ! This is a mans kinda meal for sure! :) Maybe I’ll save this one for fathers day!


32 Nancy December 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm This made me think of you and your table project


33 KathEats December 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Those are awesome! I’d love them spray painted gold too!


34 Liz December 23, 2013 at 10:23 pm

The chili looks delish! I have a Le Creuset in the same color :)


35 Lisa @bitesforbabies December 24, 2013 at 8:13 am

I’m not a fan of hard liquors but that sounds yummy! Any idea on what liquor I can use as a substitute?


36 KathEats December 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

I would just use more beer


37 Jess December 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

Yep, totally need to make this ASAP. I have tons of bourbon to use up from a birthday celebration that turned out to be much mellower than anticipated, and chili sounds like a great idea! Thanks for sharing.


38 Elizabeth February 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Had this pinned for a while and now made for superbowl guests!

Thanks for the recipe!


39 Kim R October 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

I found this accidentally while Google searching for another bison chili recipe I’ve tried. I had to try this and made it yesterday. Excellent! My only changes were that I was afraid it would be too sweet for my taste so I increased the chili powder to closer to 2 tsp. I also added 2 tsp of smoked paprika. After tasting, we loved the flavor but wanted to add a little more heat without changing it too much. I decided a sprinkling (maybe a tsp or a little more) of red pepper flakes would do the trick. It was perfect! The red pepper flakes added just a touch of heat for a little bit of “kick” without sacrificing the wonderful flavor blends. I will defini
tely make this again!


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