Hearty and comforting Bison Chili made with ground buffalo, butternut squash, veggies, and warming spices makes an easy and delicious healthy chili recipe that only requires 11 ingredients and 45 minutes. Make it for meal prep, an easy weeknight dinner, or game day. Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
Last updated on February 9, 2020. This recipe first appeared on Instagram in partnership with Vital Proteins.
It’s officially the middle of winter and I’m here for all the comforting, cozy, and hearty recipes! Bring on the soups, stews, and chilis! We are kicking off 2020 on ETG with this bison chili recipe.
One of my favorite things about chili is it’s so easy to make with whatever you have on hand. Most of the time it’s made with pantry staples – meat, beans, veggies, stock, and spices. But if you don’t have something or don’t like an ingredient, you can change it up however you like!
That is exactly how my family made chili growing up. I remember both my mom and my dad would make it in the winter. I grew up in the northeast and it was such a comforting meal to have on chilly nights.
There was never an exact recipe, but I remember it being so good every single time. I would always go for seconds and loved having leftovers the next day.
Besides being easy, chili is also a really balanced meal – it has protein, veggies, healthy fats, and carbs.
This Whole30 and paleo bison chili (no beans!) makes a lot – it’s great for meal prep, a large family, or Sunday football watching with a group of friends. If you don’t need as much, feel free to halve the recipe or freeze the extras for an easy meal in the future.
What is Bison
You might be wondering what a bison is and is it the same as a buffalo. American bison is found in North America and parts of Europe. Most species of buffalo are native to South Asia and Africa. American bison are also called American buffalo or just buffalo, which can add to the confusion more.
American bison nearly became extinct due to hunting in the 19th century, but have had a resurgence due to recovery efforts and a majority of them are restricted to a few national parks and reserves. You can read more about them here.
Today we are talking about the American buffalo, aka bison. We love having bison as a great alternative to ground beef. It still has the rich flavor of beef, but is a little bit leaner and has a little more protein, making it a great healthy substitute in recipes.
Bison Chili (Paleo/Whole30)
This buffalo chili recipe is easy to make, healthy, and the perfect warm and comforting recipe on a chilly night. It requires just 11 ingredients and 45 minutes to make, with most of that time spent simmering on the stove.
Here is what you need:
- diced onions
- ground bison (buffalo)
- cubed butternut squash
- bell peppers
- chili powder
- tomato sauce
- salt and pepper
- lime juice
- all the toppings – my favorite part!
First start off by mixing together the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add oil and let it get hot. Add onions and salt and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the bison, garlic, 1/2 of the spice mixture, and salt and pepper and saute for 3-5 minutes until browned.
Next add broth, tomato sauce, and butternut squash, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until squash is fork tender. Finally, add peppers and the rest of the spice mixture and mix well to combine. Let simmer for 5 or so more minutes until peppers are softened and cooked to your preference.
Remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons lime juice. I love topping it with some hot sauce, cilantro, guacamole, and sour cream or greek yogurt. Cheese and tortilla chips are also delicious with chili recipes!
As you can see, this recipe makes a lot so feel free to halve the recipe or freeze some of it for future use. If you freeze chili, simply defrost in the fridge or on the counter top and heat up in a sauce pan when ready to eat.
Instant Pot Chili
To make this bison chili in the instant pot. Follow the directions as they read, but have your Instant Pot on saute mode. First sauté the onion and beef. Next add the rest of your ingredients and mix well. Then close the lid, make sure the vent is set to sealed, and set on manual for 17 minutes and release pressure once done.
I have not tried this way, but one of y’all have and told me it turned out great.
Substitutions for Bison Chili
One of the best things about chili is that you can customize it to your liking. Feel free to make the recipe your own with whatever you have in stock in your kitchen. Here are some good substitutions or add-ins you can add to this bison chili recipe:
- ground meat – feel free to use any kind of ground meat you like. Beef, turkey, or chicken would be delicious as well!
- potatoes – try sweet potatoes or white potatoes instead of butternut squash.
- beans – this paleo chili recipe does not have any beans, but they would make a great addition if you like them in chili. Add them when you add the peppers and remaining spices.
- greens – feel free to throw some chopped spinach or kale when you add the peppers to up the veggie factor and add some greens.
More Healthy Soup Recipes
Sausage, Pepper, & Rice Soup (paleo and Whole30)
Bison Chili (Paleo/Whole30)
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 cups diced onions (240 grams)
- 2 pounds ground bison
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 heaping cups cubed butternut squash (1/2 medium squash/750 grams)
- 2 medium bell peppers, chopped (3 cups/360 grams)
- 2 cups broth
- 16 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- for serving: cilantro, jalapeno, diced red onion, sour cream, greek yogurt, cheese, hot sauce...
- Mix together the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a large dutch oven up or stock pot over medium-low heat. Add oil and let it get hot, about 30 seconds. Add onions and salt and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add bison, garlic, 1/2 of the spice mixture, and salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes until browned.
- Add broth, tomato sauce, and butternut squash, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until squash is fork tender. Add peppers and the rest of the spices and mix well to combine. Let simmer for 5 or so more minutes until peppers are softened and cooked to your preference. Remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons lime juice. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
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