No Consensus in Venison Chili Debate of Beans v. No Beans

Some consider them health food and some believe they’re good for the heart, but whatever you think just know there’s a raging debate about whether beans belong in venison chili.

Our Foodie Friday post on Facebook asked a simple question that churned up a potload of answers: Beans in your chili … Yes or No?

That’s not like asking about Bermuda or St. Augustine grass for your yard, or if 23 percent protein is better than 20 percent in your supplemental plots. Either of those are pretty simple. Beans or no beans? Wow. This question cuts across geographical regions, ages and genders, with no clear-cut answer in sight and some fired-up responses.

This history of chili has some great background but the final section about the 1967 Terlingua Cook-Off pitted proud Texas chili-makers against a writer for Holiday Magazine, H. Allen Smith. He boasted that “. . . no living man, I repeat, can put together a pot of chili as ambrosial, as delicately and zestfully flavorful, as the chili I make” and his recipe included beans.

As any Texan knows, and will be damned quick to inform you, there are NO beans in real by-God Texas chili. And no noodles, like in Cincinnati. But that versatility is what makes things great.

By the way, the Terlingua cook-off ended in a tie and, by vivid description of the tie-breaking judge’s reaction at the taste of a spoonful of chili, hacking convulsions leading to near-death at the taste of Smith’s concoction. There was no winner but I’d wager that Smith’s “ambrosial” didn’t go over well in the land of snakes, boots and getyourassouttahere with your beans.

Toro Llanas obviously includes spicy jalapeno peppers in his chili!

Toro Llanas obviously includes spicy jalapeno peppers in his chili!

Check out our loyal DDH Facebook fans’ reaction to whether beans should be in chili, and then get a new venison chili recipe at the bottom to try out this weekend:

Tim Sturges It’s not chili without beans.

Shirley Buckheit With, it’s not chilli without the beans.

Lance Jones You mean it can be made without beans!!????!!!

Michael Knight No beans. Period.

Roger Burdick's hunting camp venison chili looks a little beany!

Roger Burdick’s hunting camp venison chili looks a little beany!

Alan Price We made a huge pot of venison chili last Sunday. And we always put kidney beans in it. Plus we throw in some onion and some jalapeno peppers. It was the best ever … until the next pot is made.

Jason Healey Kidneys and Pintos.

JJ Reffuats Beans but not too many beans.

Cherish A Hernandez With beans. I use 3 different kinds.

Jeff Stocks Gotta have beans!

Jack Rettaler Beans a must.

Anthony Bower includes beans in his venison chili.

Anthony Bower includes beans in his venison chili.

Patsy Hayward With, and add French style green beans, too.

William Wingfield Heck, yes.

Adam Coleman What the hell is chili without beans?

Doug McKrell With them. Always.

Alex Pickman No beans, screw beans.

Ben Dittmer Texas chili dont have beans. As for me beans are needed for a good chili.

Jeff Mather Hell, no!

Max Mueller Green beans in stew or soup. Kidney beans in chilli.

Lou Cerasani With!

Sheila E Marx Cicero Yes.

Robert Savins' venison stew looks pretty doggone good if you don't have the fixings for venison chili. Yum.

Robert Savins’ venison stew looks pretty doggone good if you don’t have the fixings for venison chili. Yum.

Sharon Folden SPICY BEANS!!

Donald A. Scow Always, always put in at least 2 cans, juice and all, of dark red kidney beans, and plenty of chilli powder. McCormick is all that I use. It’s the best stuff.

Mike Saylor Lite kidney beans, yes.

EAR Inc. Customized Hearing With beans, for sure.

Mighty Deer Lick Company Beans and cheese.

Fredd Michaelson Of course, got to have good tasting fiber, lol.

Bill Braley Hotdog chili don’t have beans but chili you eat in a bowl as a meal, yes.

Pamela Spurlock Reddick Nasty.

Dave Winberg Sr. Beans!

Tom Norris Got to have beans.

Chris Young No beans.

Ralph E Heater Sr Beans and corn.

Lane Evan Graham Hell yes, any kind except green beans. It ain’t chili without beans!

Chuck Allen No beans in chili is like a cheeseburger with no cheese.

Venison Chili is great anytime of the year! (Photo:

Venison Chili is great anytime of the year! (Photo:

Venison Chili


3 lb. Venison Bottom Round (*you can also add a pound of ground wild game sausage, if desired)
3/4 pound Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (lardons)
1 large Onion, chopped
16 ounces Tomato Sauce
28 ounces, Canned Diced Tomatoes
7 cloves Garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups Beef Stock
1 cup Beer (I used Tecate Mexican Beer)

Spice Dump #1: Mix
2 tbs. Onion Powder
2 tbs. Dried Oregano
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1-1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1-1/2 tsp. Pasilla Chili Powder
1-1/2 tsp. California Chili Powder
1-1/2 tsp. Cayenne Chili Powder
Spice Dump #2: Mix
7 Tbs. Prepared Dona Maria brand Mole, from an 8 ounce jar (substitute 6 ounces 70% dark chocolate)
4 Tbs. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Ground Cumin

  1. Bring the Venison to room temperature, 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Cut the venison into 1 inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Cut bacon into 1 inch pieces (lardons) and sauté in a large pot until crispy.
  4. Remove the bacon to a plate and leave the drippings in the pot.
  5. Add the cubed venison, a few at a time, and brown over medium-high heat.
  6. Once all the venison is browned, remove it to a bowl.
  7. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pot and sauté over medium-heat for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the browned venison, bacon lardons, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef stock, beer and spice dump #1 to the pot and give it a stir.
  9. Turn the heat down to it’s lowest setting and simmer, covered with a lid, stirring occasionally for 2 hours.
  10. Check it after 2 hours for tenderness, it should begin breaking down a bit.
  11. Add spice dump #2 and stir.
  12. If it looks like there is too much liquid, leave the lid on half way to reduce.
  13. Continue simmering for another 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  14. You want the liquid to reduce to thicken the chili, but not to the point of being dried out.
  15. Refrigerate the chili for at least 24 hours, before serving to allow the flavors to really meld into the chili.



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