Buffalo Meat Chili: A Native American and Cowboy Classic

Many of us today might be making our own grand migration across the country on a family road trip, just like the buffalo moved across the great plains. Sitting down for a bite to eat at an all-American diner, you've surely come across chili from menus to Super Bowl Sundays.  

Buffalo chili is a healthier, tasty meat without any game-meat flavor. The texture actually works better than beef in chili as well.

This chili recipe uses buffalo, or bison meat, instead of the usual ground beef. Buffalo chili is lower in fat and calories than chili made with beef since the buffalo is a leaner animal. 


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground buffalo meat
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 jalapenos (seeded and diced. Skip if you need it cooler)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes (diced, with juices)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato puree or sauce
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups beef broth (or water or vegetable broth)
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans (drained)

buffalo meat bison chili ground

Steps to Make It

  1. Cook the ground buffalo in the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned and broken into small pieces.

  2. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.

  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

  4. Add the beans and cook for 15 minutes more. Water can be added during the cooking to adjust for thinner or thicker chili.

Serving toppings:

Serve up buffalo chili the same way you would classic beef chili -- with warmed flour tortillas or crackers for carbs. I

f you like loaded chili, top with shredded cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese. If you really think its lower-fat buffalo meat gives you license, add a dollop of sour cream or keep it healthy with a bit of greek yogurt to cool the heat.

Leftovers are tasty.

Whether it is like making chocolate in Switzerland, some food tastes better as it heats and cools.  This means don't be afraid to make a big batch, letting it cool in your fridge and reheating it is actually a scientific way to increase and meld flavors.  

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