Elk Chili Recipe

In November, I had the privilege of joining Hilah Johnson of Hilah Cooking and Diana DeLaFuente of PrincessDiana161 for the first annual Cabineering Cook-off at West Yellowstone’s Explorer Cabins. Each of us had to prepare a meal in the cabins using only the equipment and utensils available there. It had to be a hearty dish that would appeal to a family after a long day in the park, and I thought chili would be the perfect meal.

This elk chili recipe is great served as an easy recipe for dinner, or in a chili omelet or chili nachos the next day. You can even use it as inspiration for your next chili cookoff! This is the PERFECT dish for fall, and the elk makes it a pretty healthy chili recipe! This recipe serves 12, so cut the recipe in half if you have a smaller group. In this video, I had to use only the equipment available in the cabins. There was no stock pot, so I had to split the batch between two pans.

Elk Chili Recipe

Serving Size: 12

Elk Chili Recipe


  • Garlic Puree:
  • 1 shallot bulb
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Spicy Chili:
  • 6 slices Applewood Bacon, chopped frozen
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 fresno chiles, seeded and minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 bottle of Yellowstone Road Block Lager or your favorite pilsner, amber ale or IPA
  • 4 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 3 (14.5) ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 29 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained
  • 2 pounds ground elk
  • Homemade Chili Powder Recipe:
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 2-4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or more to your taste
  • 2 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt and more cayenne pepper to taste, at end of cooking
  • Topping:
  • 1 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions
  • Pepper flakes (for more heat)


  1. Make up garlic shallot puree by blending the shallots, garlic and olive oil in a mini chopper or blender.
  2. Heat a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Saute the bacon, onion, garlic and bell pepper. Add fresno peppers.
  3. Mix in elk, breaking up and browning it with the bacon and onion. Add New Mexico chili powder, cumin and mix well.
  4. Deglaze pans with the Yellowstone roadblock lager. Stir in the chipotle pepper. Add fire-roasted tomatoes, dried oregano, tomato sauce and the tomato paste. Stir well. Add drained kidney beans and pinto beans to chili. Mix well. Drop in a bay leaf and let simmer. Taste for seasoning, then add salt and cayenne pepper.
  5. Serve in deep bowls, topped with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, chopped green onion and garlic-jalapeño toast.

Recipe by Jason Hill / CookingSessions.com for the 1st annual Yellowstone Cabineering Cook-Off.