Deer Meat and Turkey Chili

For a bit healthier version of chili, make deer meat and turkey chili.  Refried beans add good flavor, thickness, and fiber of course (and it really stretches this dish).  It’s a long list of ingredients, but it’s easy and most are spices.

Of course, now I’m thinking Macaroni and Cheese would be great with this, on game day.  Kind of blows the whole healthier version of chili!

For other game day recipes try the slider (little sandwich / burger) recipes, Ham and Salami Sliders or Beef Sliders.  Then there’s always Potato Skin Antipasto – I’m making this one for sure.  For more ideas go to Appetizers in the recipe section.

Deer Meat and Turkey Chili

Deer Meat and Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 8-10 comfortably


  • 3 TBSP olive oil (and I mixed coconut oil with it)
  • 1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (optional)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb ground deer meat
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef (optional)
  • 1 (10 oz) can tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chili powder*
  • 3 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP granulated garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP granulated onion powder
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cocoa (pure cocoa is bitter and you need this for depth of flavor)
  • 1 (1 lb 15 oz) can refried beans (a lot of refried beans)
  • 2-3 cups beef broth and/or beer
  • Salt and pepper (I also used Adobo seasoning)


  1. In a large pan, heat oil on medium.
  2. Add onion and cook until almost done, then stir in garlic.
  3. Let cook a minute or two, then add the meat. Stir and break it up. Continue cooking until meat starts to brown.
  4. Now stir in the rest of the ingredients, combine well, and simmer for 45-60 minutes to mellow the flavor. Stir occasionally. Sometimes I use picante, instead of other tomato products.
  5. *The amount of spices will be determined by the type of chili powder you use, and your taste.
  6. Use chopped scallions for garnish, and then there's always sour cream and grated cheddar (or just have mac and cheese!). And If you have extra calories to spend, serve it on mashed potatoes. I know it's kind of a northern thing, but it's really good comfort food.


  1. Glenda Dwyer says:

    My elk chili recipe has gradually evolved & is VERY similar to yours. I accidentally got on to the refried beans trick when scanning the refrigerator for “suff” to put in my chili. I also use a can of tomato sauce for smoothness & thickening, an additional can of green chilies, a T. of red wine viengar & a T. of brown sugar. I do not like cumin or coriander & the oregano does not sound appealing in chili. I had not thought of the cocoa, but that would be a natural – will add next time.

    Keep up the good work, Glenda

  2. Glenda Dwyer says:

    P. S. I just opened todays America’s Test Kitchen & they are also featuring chili. Two additional items they used – 3 t. of corn meal, mixed w/ chilli powder, for thickening & a bottle of beer. I have tried the beer before, but do not remember what I thought of it. Glenda

    1. Lanie Fioretti says:

      I used to use the cornmeal, but I got better thickness with the refrieds. I’m sure the beer is good, but makes me nervous, in case I end up feeding it to someone with a gluten intolerance. I’ll have to try the vinegar because I love that flavor, and you can’t go wrong with extra chilies!!

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