Three Bean Bison Chili

This recipe developed over time from several chili recipes I have tried. The taste develops as the dish simmers, so don’t be tempted to start making adjustments right away. At first it is a little sharp and not terribly pleasing, but eventually the spices, broth, beer, coffee and cocoa work their magic. So, let it simmer for an hour or more before adjusting the seasoning.

Serve with your choice of accompaniments, such as a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, some chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, and/or avocado, and a warm wedge of corn bread.

Three Bean Bison Chili

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 2 hours
Yields: 8 Servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground bison
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalepeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 can cannellini beans (15 ounce)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • lime for squeezing


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the bison and lightly brown it. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the bay leaf, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cocoa, and oregano or marjoram, and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the brown sugar, broth, beer, coffee, and tomatoes, and simmer for an hour or so, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the beans and simmer until heated through. Adjust the seasoning and serve with a squeeze of lime juice.


This recipe makes a moderately spicy chili. Adjust the number of jalapeños and the amount of cayenne pepper to your own liking.

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