Slow cooker spicy bison chili is rich and comforting, with a kick of heat! The perfect hearty meal for a cold day. Made with ground bison, kidney beans, and jalapeños - just add your favorite chili toppings.
It's no secret that I love making chili in the slow cooker (see my taco chili and classic chili recipes). This bison chili is no exception! Preparing chili in the slow cooker makes this recipe simple to toss together in the morning. By dinnertime, your home is filled with the savory, spicy flavors of chili.
Bison chili is made with ground bison (which has a similar flavor to beef), kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, and a variety of spices. I've made this chili recipe extra spicy by swapping bell pepper with jalapeños, and extra spices like red pepper flakes and cayenne.
Serve slow cooker bison chili for your next dinner - no matter the time of year. But, bison chili is especially comforting on a cold winter day. Pairs well with skillet cornbread or buttery stovetop biscuits.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ground bison - Can be substituted with any ground meat you have on hand, like ground beef, ground turkey, or ground pork.
- Onion - White or yellow onions work well in this recipe.
- Jalapeño - For more heat, leave the seeds and membranes in. For a milder flavor, remove some or all of the seeds and membranes. For an even milder flavor, replace three jalapeños with one bell pepper.
- Crushed tomatoes - Can be substituted with petite diced or diced tomatoes for a chunkier chili (like in my slow cooker chili recipe). Or, substitute with tomato sauce for a thinner chili with more tomato flavor.
- Kidney beans - Any canned or cooked beans will work in this recipe.
- Garlic - Minced garlic will add the best flavor to your chili. However, two cloves of garlic can be substituted with ½ teaspoon of garlic powder if needed.
- Spices - Chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and salt. These add flavor to your chili. To make a milder chili, cut the cayenne and red pepper flakes in half.
Can I use raw beans?
No. Do not add raw or dried kidney beans directly to your slow cooker.
Raw or dried red kidney beans contain a toxin that needs to be heated to a certain temperature, for a certain amount of time, to kill it.
To use dried beans safely, soak your beans for 5 hours in water, then boil for a minimum of 10 minutes. Once you have done this, your beans can safely be used in any slow cooker recipe.
Canned beans are already cooked, so these extra steps don't need to be taken when using canned beans.
For more information: Allrecipes: Why you should never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker
What does bison taste like?
Bison is a red meat that has a similar flavor to high quality beef. It is not gamey, and some describe it as having a slightly sweet undertone.
Bison is a nutrient-dense food, and is an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, and the antioxidant selenium. When compared to beef, bison is lower in calories, higher in protein, and lower in fat. This makes it a great swap if you're looking to lighten up your meals.
Here's an article explaining the differences between bison and beef: Cooking Light - Why You Should Buy Bison Instead of Beef
Slow cooker size
You'll need a 3 quart slow cooker to make the recipe as written below.
This recipe also doubles well! I frequently double my chili recipes and use a 6 quart slow cooker.
Leftovers and freezing
Chili leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Bison chili can also be frozen for up to 3 months when stored in a tightly sealed freezer safe container. Try portioning your chili into quart or gallon sized freezer bags for easy freezing and thawing.
What to serve with bison chili
Here are a few great side dishes to serve with your slow cooker bison chili:
- Skillet cornbread (our #1 choice!)
- Skillet jalapeño cheddar cornbread
- Buttery stovetop biscuits
- Cajun sweet potato wedges
- Buttermilk cornbread muffins
- Jalapeño cheddar cornmeal biscuits
- Chopped kale avocado salad
Slow Cooker Spicy Bison Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground bison
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 jalapeños, diced
- 30 ounces canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 30 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and crumble ground bison into pan, cooking until browned. (If substituting with a fattier meat, like ground beef or pork, olive oil may be omitted).
- Add cooked ground bison to a 3 quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients - onion, jalapeños, beans, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. Stir to combine.
- Cook on low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 5 hours. Stir sparingly (once during the last half of cooking will suffice).
- In a stock pot over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and crumble ground bison into a stock pot, cooking until browned.
- Add the remaining ingredients - onion, jalapeños, beans, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 hours, stirring sparingly.
- This recipe makes a spicy chili. For a milder chili, remove all the seeds and membranes from your jalapenos (or replace with a bell pepper), and reduce the amounts of red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper by half.
- Chili leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- Chili can be frozen for 3 months or more if stored in a well sealed container or freezer bag.
- Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, chives, crumbled bacon, or fresh jalapenos.
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