Venison Crockpot Chili

Christi Holmes, sporting columnist and founder of Maine Women Hunters, has this classic chili ready and waiting after long winter days in the field.

Venison Crockpot Chili
Photographed by Derek Bissonnette

Christi Holmes filled her deer tag quickly last autumn. The Gray resident, a columnist for both the Maine Sportsman and the Bangor Daily News, likes to bring a little venison jerky when she goes ice fishing, and she doesn’t care much to cook after a long day on the hard water. “This chili is something you can just throw together for when you come home and you’re exhausted,” she says. For recipes for her other quarry — ducks, say, or beavers — she often turns to the 2,600-member Maine Women Hunters Facebook group, which she founded in 2017. “It’s a great place to ask, ‘What’s the best way to cook a deer heart?’” Holmes says.

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2  pounds venison burger (or ground beef, if you didn’t get your deeah)
3  28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 stalks celery
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
1⁄2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1⁄4 cup chili powder
1 15-ounce can corn, drained


  1. Let the meat come to room temperature and pat it dry with a paper towel. In a skillet, with a splash of oil, brown the meat over medium-high heat. (If you’re in a rush, you can also sauté the celery, peppers, and onion, which will save on crockpot time.)
  2. Starting with the meat, add everything except the corn to a crockpot and stir. Cook for at least 3–4 hours on high heat.
  3. Before serving, stir in the can of corn. May be served with shredded cheese, sour cream, cornbread, and any of your other favorite chili fixings.

See more Maine winter comfort-food recipes!