Bison Butternut Chili

It’s officially freezing here in NYC and that means all the chili recipes! I love a good silky soup, but much prefer something with more chunks going on, so I tend to cook up a chili once or twice a month.

This week I’m sharing a chili concoction with an ingredient that may be new to a lot of you- bison! My mom used to make bison burgers growing up, albeit not all that often, but I have never cooked it myself, nor did I know much about what else to do with this type of meat. Danny brought this home last week thinking I was up for a challenge!


For a little nutritional wisdom before getting into the recipe, bison meat is very lean and is overall much lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to beef, pork, or chicken. This is mostly due to the fact that bison raised for meat consumption are fed a grass-based, vegetarian diet and there is very little if any use of antibiotics or hormones. To be honest, I don’t always have the finances to choose grass-fed beef, but when possible it’s really nice to select an animal protein source that’s not only good for the environment, but also better for your health too.

Now bison isn’t the only protein source going into this recipe. I’m tossing in red kidney beans too, which if you asked a sample of people you’d get a dozen different answers on whether or not beans in chili is “allowed” or not. Since I was dealing with a small amount of ground bison leftover from making bison burgers for dinner, I decided some extra plant protein wouldn’t hurt.

This chili is also bumped up with butternut squash and warming spices like ancho chili, corriander, and cumin. I’ve made enough for 3 days of lunches and even decided to mix up how it owuld be served; two days I’m tossing it with Banza pasta a la Cincinnati chili style, and the third day will be straight chili in a bowl with a more Southwestern flair by adding diced red onion and jalapeño, maybe with some brown rice to go with it.


Have you ever tried bison before? Let me know in the comments!

Bison Butternut Chili- serves 3


  • 1/2 pound ground bison- we bought Nature’s Rancher

  • 1 can low sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp corriander

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 3 cups cooked Banza spaghetti

  • Olive oil as needed


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

  2. In a large dutch oven pot, add a small drizzle of olive oil and ground bison. Use a wooden spoon to break apart meat and cook until crumbled and no pink remains. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. To the same pot, add onion and cook 3 minutes until begins to become translucent. Then add garlic and butternut squash. Cook for about 2 minutes, mixing everything together. Add 1 cup of water, then cover and let cook until squash is just able to be pierced with a fork. You don’t want to overcook the squash at this point because it still has plenty of time in the pot.

  4. Add in drained and rinsed beans, ground bison, tomato sauce, another half cup of water, salt, and spices. Bring to a simmer and cover to let cook for about 30-40 minutes. Taste half way through and adjust seasoning to your liking- more chili for spice, more corriander and cumin for warmth.

  5. The chili is finished cooking when the liquid has reduced and the consistency has become thicker. Serve in bowls over cooked pasta- you can even garnish with some shredded cheddar cheese and green onions. Or serve over brown rice and add diced red onion and jalapeño.