Yellowstone Elk Chili

Who’s ready for some hearty elk chili? Back in November 2013, I had the privilege of competing in 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 comforting dish that would appeal to a family after a long day in the park. I thought that elk chili would be the perfect meal, served with a side of jalapeño cheese toast.

Photo of elk chili

This recipe is great served as a winter meal, and the leftovers can be used in a chili omelet or as chili nachos the next day. If you don’t have elk, you can certainly use ground beef or ground turkey instead. Hope you enjoy it!

I prepared individual elk chili cups for the judges.
Photo of elk chili

Yellowstone Elk Chili Recipe with Smoked Applewood Bacon and Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Recipe by Jason Hill –
Chef Jason Hill shows you how to cook the best elk chili recipe while on location at West Yellowstone's Explorer Cabins during their annual Cabineering Cook-off. Jason's elk chili recipe is great served as an dinner, or in a elk chili omelet or elk 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! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12


Garlic Shallot Puree

  • 1 shallot bulb
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the 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 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

  • 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


  • 1 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions
  • Pepper flakes for more heat


  • Make up garlic shallot puree by blending the shallots, garlic and olive oil in a mini chopper or blender.
  • Heat a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Saute the bacon, onion, garlic and bell pepper. Add fresno peppers.
  • Mix in elk, breaking up and browning it with the bacon and onion. Add New Mexico chili powder, cumin and mix well.
  • 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.
  • Serve in deep bowls, topped with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, chopped green onion and garlic-jalapeño toast.
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Keyword chili, elk, kidney beans
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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