Colorado Buffalo Chili

Now that the sun sets at 4:35 p.m. and we’re seeing daytime temps in the twenties, I’m thinking about chili. Specifically, I’m thinking about buffalo chili. And I’m thinking about how lucky my kids are to live in Colorado, and to have food choices that didn’t exist for me when I was young. When I was a kid, seeing a buffalo wasn’t even a thought. Forget about eating buffalo meat. When we shopped at Winn-Dixie, it was rare that my Mom bought fresh beef for us kids in spite of the fact that Winn-Dixie’s tagline was “The Beef People.” Beef was a treat for grownups. We tended to stock Vienna sausages and cans of corned beef hash in our pantry for the kids.

When I was a sophomore in college, I took my first trip west of the Mississippi River. Before that, the West was more legend than real in my mind. But Dances with Wolves and the infamous tatonka scene had me thinking about migrating West. It’s twenty plus years since that first trip, and, after stints in Oregon and California, I have been in Colorado more than fourteen years.

I can take my kids to visit buffalo anytime we want because the City of Denver maintains a buffalo herd just outside of town. Visiting the herd gives me an opportunity to talk to my kids about where the food they eat comes from, and a whole host of other important things that I won’t go into here. Buffalo meat is lean, flavorful, and perfect for chili. The recipe below is one of my favorites and makes me think about cozying in for the evening with a bowl of chili and a movie. I hope you have a chance to try the recipe and love it as much as I do!



  • 2 lbs. Ground Buffalo
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil (I use avocado or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. dry powdered mustard
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. parsley (fresh or dry)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (or you can use 1 tbsp. fresh pressed)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I use Pacific Organic Chicken Bone Broth)
  • 1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans
  • 1 16 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1 16 oz. can white beans
  • 1 large zucchini cut into 1-inch cubes (optional but I like to sneak in veggies wherever I can)


  1. In a large dutch oven, heat cooking oil on medium.
  2. Add ground buffalo and spices and occasionally stir until meat is cooked (about 8 minutes).
  3. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, beans and zucchini.
  4. Let chili come to a boil, turn down heat to low, cover, and simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I keep these guys in my pantry so I can make chili anytime
I keep these guys in my pantry so I can make chili anytime

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