Elk Chili – Chili Con Carne

If you’re here because you found yourself with some elk meat, you are in for a treat. This recipe will work for any wild game, really, or even a chuck roast or stew meat. We’re cooking on the Lazy T Ranch in Wyoming this week, and we have been fortunate to receive a couple of really good pieces of Elk tenderloin. You know I’m going to have everything in the chuck wagon to make a great bowl of Elk chili.

Trim the Elk Meat

Start by patting the meat dry all over. Trim off any silver skin you find around the meat. Season all over with Original Seasoning and cut into equal sized chunks.

Did you know? Traditionally, chili was made with meat chunks, not ground meat. 

Rehydrate the Chilies

You can use chili powder or my chili seasoning here, but if you’d like full-on authentic flavor, you want to start with dehydrated chilies. These chilies were kept on the chuck wagon because they were shelf stable and brought so much flavor to the meals that Cookie would prepare for the cowboys. Boil enough water to cover over the top of the chilies, onions, and garlic. You’re rehydrating these chilies and making a delicious broth that will bring more flavor to the final batch of chili than just using water.

Brown the Elk Meat

Get you some Crisco or oil and brown the elk meat all over. Some folks that subsist off hunted meat will use bear lard, and that’s going to add a unique flavor if you’ve got it. Browning the meat will seal in moisture and create a great flavor. While you’re browning the elk meat, go ahead and blister the tomatoes you’re going to use in the chili to add some of that fire-roasted flavor.

Prepare the Stew

Drain the broth from the rehydrated chilies. Save the broth! You can chop the chilies and onions or use a blender if you want a smoother consistency. Either way it will be delicious! Add the chili mixture to the browned elk meat. Dice up the tomatoes and add them to the pot. Now – if you like beans in your chili, add them here. I prefer kidney beans in chili. Add the chili broth and a little beef broth. For seasoning, use Chili Seasoning, oregano, and black pepper. Simmer for two hours or so, and serve.

Elk Chili (Chili Con Carne) - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 2 to 3 pound elk chuck roast or beef chuck roast cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Kent’s Original seasoning or your favorite all-purpose seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 dried ancho peppers seeded and stemmed
  • 4 dried Guajillo peppers seeded and stemmed
  • 1 large white onion sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce chopped from can
  • 2, 15 ounce cans kidney beans drained
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ½ tablespoon dried whole oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


  • Season the cubed meat well on all sides with the Original Seasoning or substitute.
  • Heat the olive oil to a Dutch oven or large stock pot, over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sides are browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  • Add the dried chilies, onion and garlic to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes, or until the chilies are tender.
  • Meanwhile, add 2 tomatoes to a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Roast until they are slightly charred and tender, rotating occasionally.
  • Strain the contents of the pot from the water (reserve the water) and place in a blender. Add the roasted tomatoes and blend until smooth. Alternately, for a chunkier consistency, you can finely chop the contents rather than blending.
  • Pour the contents of the blender to the Dutch oven with the meat. Stir in the chipotle peppers, kidney beans, 4 cups of the chili broth, beef broth, oregano and cumin. Chop the remaining 2 tomatoes and add to the Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with cornbread or biscuits.


You can alternately substitute any meat for the elk. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!