Turkey or Bison Chili

by Jan 6, 2011

turkey chili
Easy home cooked dinner, here you go.  All you need is some ground turkey or bison (both are lower in fat than ground beef, but beef works great too!), an onion and a few canned items that you hopefully have on hand — a big can of  tomatoes, a couple cans of pinto beans  and small can of diced green chiles and some seasonings.  If you don’t have exactly what I have in the recipe, don’t worry, once you have the basics (tomatoes and beans), chili is great for improv.

Turkey or Bison Chili

Servings 6 people


  • 1 lb ground turkey or bison
  • 1 - 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil, divided I use avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup water just fill the green chile can with water a couple times)
  • 2 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed with water or use 4 cups home-cooked beans
  • 1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes San Marzano's are usually canned whole, which is fine, you can cut them up once they're in the pot
  • 1 tbsp chile powder (or cut with paprika if you're making a mild batch for the kids) I like using Montana Mex "red"
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 - 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or snapped into tiny pieces
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Serving accompaniments: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, cornbread or tortillas


  1. Start by cooking the turkey or bison in a 4 quart dutch oven or similar sized deep skillet or saucepan, something that will eventually hold your pot of chili.   (Heat pan, drizzle in half of the oil and add the meat.  Chop up into lumps and let cook until browned before turning and cooking the other surfaces.  When completely browned, remove from pan onto a plate.)

  2. Add remaining oil to pan and let it heat.  Add chopped onion and green pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add  tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to cook it a minute.  Add garlic, green chiles, water, pinto beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Add the meat you browned in step 1. Simmer gently for “awhile”...15 minutes or so if you’re trying to get the crowd fed, or longer (like 30 - 45 minutes) if you have some time on your hands. (While simmering you can cut at the tomatoes with kitchen shears to get them into smaller pieces.)  Serve with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream and some cornbread or tortillas.

 Amy’s Cooking Coach Tips
  • Chilis (and stews) get better with a little time on them.  If possible, make the chili in advance and reheat at serving time.
  • Slowcooker:  After browning the meat and cooking the veggies stovetop, set in slowcooker on Low for 4 hours.

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