4-Bean Bison Chili

If you are looking for a great chili to bring to your next chili cook-off or football game, then try this recipe and let the compliments roll in. Even better the second (or third) day—if there are any leftovers.

Ingredients (Serves 10):

  • 2 – pounds Wild Idea Buffalo Premium Ground
  • 2 – tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 – onion, chopped
  • 2 – tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
  • 2 – tablespoons cumin
  • 2½ – tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ – tablespoon oregano
  • ½ – tablespoon thyme
  • 2 – teaspoons coriander
  • ½ – teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne
  • 1 – tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 – teaspoons salt
  • 1 – quart stewed tomatoes
  • 1 – quart tomato sauce
  • 8 – golden pepperoncini, diced + juices
  • 1 – 15oz can each: butter beans, black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, (drained - but not rinsed)
  • 1 – lemon, juiced
  • 2 – cups water


  1. Mix all dry spices together.
  2. In heavy stew pot, over medium high heat, heat olive oil.
  3. Add Wild Idea bison meat, crumbling into small pieces.  Lightly brown, stirring constantly for 4 minutes.
  4. Add onion, garlic, and seasonings. Continue to brown, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for ½ to 1 hour, or until desired thickness is achieved.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with fresh lime or lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, or grated cheddar cheese.

Photo Credit: Jill O'Brien

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  • Hi Harold. I would puree or flash process jared roasted red peppers & hatch roasted green chilies as a substitute for the tomatoes. It will give you great flavor too! Thank you! jill

  • I made this the other day and it was wonderful! My family loved it! Since then, my husband has learned he is allergic to tomatoes. I wondered if you might have any suggestions for a good substitute? I’m thinking of maybe adding some beef or veggie broth for the liquid, and maybe some black beans for substance? Just wondering if I should add some extra seasonings too, and/or if there are some other things you might recommend. Thank you!?

    Harold Burton

    Harold Burton
  • JUST defrosted the packaged 4 Bean Chili I bought probably 2 years or so ago. All I have to say is WOW!!! Tastes like it was made FRESH. I look forward to my next purchase, maybe a Quarter . . .

    Gerald King
  • Thanks for sharing such a healthy recipe! Have a great day!
    rose martine

    Rose Martine
  • Came across this recipe in Pinterest and been in love with your blog ever since.. I tried it today with whatever I could get a hold of and it was super yummy!!! Thank you

    Ross Alisha

    Alisha Ross
  • This was so delicious! Since I prepared my spice combination ahead of time, this recipe was quick to put together for dinner. This was the first recipe I have used from Wild Idea so I wanted to give you kudos for such a wonderful combo of spices in this great chili.

  • First snow! Temps in teens! Good day to make a hearty chili! I halved the recipe and had to adjust to the pantry’s offerings but it worked. I did it in my old cast iron on the stovetop too. And my lifelong habit is to saute the garlic and onion before the meat. I LOVE the idea of combining all the spices together first and then adding them to the pot. It’s a lovely spice combination (though I have to forego cayenne so mine is milder).
    Since I’m on Weight Watchers, I figured out the points afterward. The beans are mostly zero points, as are the tomatoes. It’s just the meat and oil that adds up. If you’re careful which white bean you use (no great northern), this will be 3-4 points per cup! GREAT!
    Thanks, Jill!

  • I have never, ever made Chili, from a recipe, in my life! However, I am going to give this one a go. Whittling it down to 1/2 of the recipe, I will use only kidney and pinto beans and may substitute beer, for the water. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • This is the umpteenth time I’ve made this chili recipe, comes out fantastic every time. Making it tonight with ground moose meat. ’Tis the season here in Maine. Thank you, Jill!

    Penny Gray
  • Can the Chile be done in a crock pot?

    Roger Weinreb
  • Made this chili this week and it also was delicious. Many of the ingredients are in my chili recipe, so I was delighted with this one. Excellent flavor!


    Nancy Spoolman
  • I’ve made this twice – it’s fantastic. Ancho chili powder is perfect. I used only one cup of water, and subbed 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of beer for the other. It’s become my go-to chili recipe. My only wish is for nutrition information – is it available (as-written, of course)?

    Connemara McDonough
  • I agree, this is the best chili recipe ever! Made it several times last year, and am happy it’s the time for chili once again!

  • I made this exactly as it is written. The flavor of this chili is complex and enjoyable~! Thank you for this recipe! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the Butter Beans in our New England area grocery store, so I had to add an extra can of black beans or dark red kidney beans, but that substitution seemed to be fine. I froze the cooked chili ( don’t scorch or over-cook it )and took it with us a few days later when we went camping in the mountains of northeastern Vermont. It is honestly the best chili recipe I’ve ever used,( aside from my Mom’s chili recipe, of course )!

    Brooke Mackie-Ketcham
  • Can this be frozen? Sounds delicious


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