Buffalo Chili

Buffalo Chili with Cornbread
Buffalo Chili with sour cream, shredded cheeses, and cilantro is accompanied by cornbread (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Buffalo Chili. There’s just something about a nice bowl of chili. It’s rich and comforting. My Buffalo Chili has a secret ingredient that makes it stand out from other chilis. Read on and you’ll find out what it is….

Buffalo Chili with Cornbread
Buffalo Chili with sour cream, shredded cheeses, and cilantro is accompanied by cornbread (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chili is short for Chili Con Carne. Chili has its origins with the Aztecs according to history. The Aztecs loved to add spicy peppers to their stews. One of my favorite spicy drinks is Aztec hot chocolate which adds peppery spice to the traditional hot chocolate drink. The Aztecs loved their spices.

Texas is known for its chili competitions or cook-offs. In Texas, chilis consist of meat stews with spices and no beans. I like to use beans in my chili recipes. You may remember that my Award-Winning Black Bean Chili won a chili cook-off amongst quite a number of chilis including Texas chilis!

Award Winning Black Bean Chili
The Food Lover’s Award-Winning Black Bean Chili (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My recipe for my rich Buffalo Chili starts out with buffalo ribeye steaks that I bought at my local grocer. Most chilis have ground meat yet I really like the texture of braised meat chunks.

buffalo ribeye steaks
Big score at my local grocery store with buffalo ribeye steaks, truffle butter, and hickory smoked bacon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s a “secret ingredient” in this chili recipe. It’s rendered duck fat. Why duck fat? It all happened by accident one day when I was making chili and wanted to add some rendered bacon grease for extra richness while I was cooking the meat. I pulled out an unmarked plastic container from the freezer with what I thought was about 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon grease. I scooped the frozen substance into the pan. It smelled heavenly as it melted. Oops! That’s rendered duck fat — not bacon grease. Normally, I label and date the items in the freezer but for some reason I must have forgotten. Sometimes, accidents just make the dish taste so much better. And taste better it sure did!

DArtagnan duck fat container
D’Artagnan sells rendered duck fat (Photo Credit: dartagnan.com)

The spices that I use in this recipe are pretty basic Tex Mex. As you’d expect, the usual Chili Powder and cumin powder. Some ancho chile powder for a kick. And Mexican oregano. You can use the regular Italian oregano — yet the Mexican oregano tastes better in my opinion. You can find Mexican oregano at your grocery store or online. Also, I use salt and pepper.

Spices for buffalo chili: Mexican oregano, cumin, chili powder, ancho chile powder
Spices for the buffalo chili include Mexican oregano, cumin, chili powder and ancho chile powder (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start out by removing any excess fat and tendons from the buffalo ribeye steaks. I don’t remove all of the fat but I do remove larger pieces from the edges. Then cut the buffalo meat into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes.

Cubed buffalo ribeye steak
Buffalo Ribeye Steak cubed with fat removed (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Now, peel and chop a medium-sized onion.

Chopped onion
Peel and chop a medium sized onion (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I like garlicky chili so I use 3 garlic cloves in this recipe. You can use more or less. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Peel and finely chop garlic
Peel and finely chop a few garlic cloves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

In a chef’s pan or stock pot, heat some vegetable oil over medium heat. Add some butter. You will want to sear the buffalo cubes rather than cooking them through. Brown the buffalo cubes in batches in the oil/butter mixture.

Brown buffalo cubes
Brown the buffalo cubes in the pan in batches (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Turn and brown all sides, searing quickly, and not cooking through. Remove each batch to a plate to keep warm while the rest of the buffalo cubes are browning.

Brown all sides of buffalo cubes
Brown all sides of the buffalo cubes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When all of the cubes are browned on each side, return the removed portion of browned buffalo cubes to the pan along with any juices on the plate.

Return all seared buffalo cubes to skillet
Return the rest of the seared buffalo steak cubes to the pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the chopped onion to the buffalo cubes.

Add onion to buffalo cubes
Add the diced onions to the buffalo cubes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir the onion into the meat and cook until the onion has softened. Stir frequently.

Saute onions with buffalo cubes
Saute the onions and buffalo cubes until the onions have softened (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the onion is softened, add the finely chopped garlic to the mixture. Cook for a few minutes. This is also the point where you can add duck fat or bacon grease and let everything cook for a few minutes.

Add the garlic to the buffalo cubes
Add the finely chopped garlic to the buffalo cubes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sprinkle some Mexican oregano, cumin, chili powder, and ancho chile powder over the mixture. Stir and let the pan heat open up the spices’ flavors.

Add the spices
Add the spices to the buffalo mixture (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Now, add some canned diced tomatoes.

Add diced tomatoes
Add the diced tomatoes to the buffalo mixture (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And add some fresh chopped cilantro. You can also use dried cilantro or omit it if you hate cilantro. You won’t taste the cilantro in the chili in the end if you add it but do whatever you like.

Add cilantro
Add the chopped cilantro to the buffalo mixture (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Now, it’s time to add some undrained canned black beans. Just pour in two cans of black beans with their liquid.

Add black beans
Add the black beans to the buffalo mixture (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir in some tomato sauce and a bit of agave syrup and keep stirring until everything is mixed together.

Add tomato sauce
And finally, add the tomato sauce and stir (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Time to simmer the chili. I usually wait until the chili just comes to a boil, stirring regularly so the bottom doesn’t burn. Once the chili is almost boiling, I will then turn the stove down to simmer and cover the chili pot with a lid.

Simmer Buffalo Chili
Simmer the buffalo chili until it has reduced a bit (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cook the chili for up to two hours until it starts to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn.

Keep reducing chili until thick
Simmer the chili until it has reduced and is becoming thicker (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the chili has reduced and thickened, it’s ready to serve! For extra richness, let the chili sit for two days in the refrigerator.

Buffalo chili ready to serve
Buffalo Chili is ready to serve! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve the chili in bowls with shredded cheese and sour cream. I like to garnish the chili with a sprig of fresh cilantro. You could use fresh sliced jalapenos or even some parsley or a few tortilla chips instead. Serve with cornbread.

Buffalo Chili topped with shredded cheeses, sour cream, and cilantro
Top the buffalo chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My dog Atticus is just beside himself any time I’m cooking meat. He loves meat as most dogs do. As you can see, he is telling me in the photo that he’d love to have a bite of chili! Sorry Addy, no beans for you!

My dog Atticus wants buffalo chili
My dog Atticus would love to eat some Buffalo Chili (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Check out the rest of my chili recipes. My Award-Winning Black Bean Chili is a fan favorite. My Baked Bean Chili is a throwback to my childhood. My White Chicken Chili reminds me of trips to ski resorts in my 20s. My Red Chicken Chili with Guinness Beer takes me back to pot luck work lunches with my coworkers in the late 90s. Pull them all together as a Chili Bar for a fun party buffet.



From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Buffalo Chili


3 – 4 buffalo (bison) ribeye steaks, about 2 lbs total
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 T rendered duck fat (or rendered bacon grease)
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1/2 T ancho chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 t chopped fresh cilantro
2 (14 oz) cans black beans, undrained
2 (14 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 T agave syrup
salt and pepper, to taste

Shredded cheeses, sour cream, chopped scallions and sprigs of cilantro for topping


1. Get out a large pot to use for the chili. I use a 4 qt All Clad chef’s pan with a lid or a Vollrath 6.5 qt stock pot with a lid.
2. Trim any excess fat from the buffalo ribeye steaks and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes. Sprinkle salt over the meat cubes and toss them to coat on all sides. Discard the removed fat.
3. Heat the pot over medium heat. Pour the olive oil into the pot. Warm the olive oil.
4. Using tongs, add the buffalo meat cubes in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Sear the cubes on each side until well-browned but not cooked through. Searing seals in the meat’s juices for braising slowly in the chili. Remove the seared and browned meat to a plate and keep warm
5. When all of the meat cubes have browned nicely, put them and their juices that have gathered on the plate back into the pot.
6. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the onion. Cook until the onion browns slightly, stirring frequently.
7. Add the finely chopped garlic and the rendered duck fat and cook a few minutes while the duck fat melts.
8. Now add the chili powder, cumin, ancho chili powder and Mexican oregano. Stir and let the spices open up in the warm pot.
9. Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices. Add the cilantro, the undrained black beans, the tomato sauce, and the agave syrup. Stir everything together until combined.
10. Cover and let the chili simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. The mixture will thicken and reduce somewhat. Season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking.
11. When the chili is ready, ladle it into serving bowls. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro or chopped scallions.

Makes 8 – 10 cups of chili. Offer with cornbread and honey butter. Goes great with your favorite draft beer.

Variations: Use ground buffalo meat instead of buffalo ribeye steaks. Omit the black beans if you prefer. Add more spice if you like it spicier. Omit the bacon grease or duck fat but remember you only live once. For extra richness, let the chili sit in the fridge for a day or so before reheating and serving. Also this chili freezes well.

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