All that yummy chili flavor in a poppable with none of the mess.

Usually, great ideas and innovation come from someone that merely surrounds themselves with awesome people and influences. I am definitely no genius. This is why I personally like to surround myself with people that are really really good at things that I suck at. For example, I married an engineer, meaning I almost never have to do math.

venison chili recipes

Moving along, I was texting my bestie about turning chili into meatballs. He is generally awesome, and artsy and super creative (though most of the time I think he doesn’t realize it). I really wanted to post something “chili-esque” for the fall but does the internet really need another venison chili recipe? Absolutely not.  Snooooze. I wanted to rethink, rehash, and redesign this classic fall staple. Then my bestie hits me back with this:

“You should put crunched up Fritos in there instead of breadcrumbs.”

Genius! Everybody needs a good sound board. But you can’t have mine, he’s taken.

venison chili recipes

Just look at all those Fritos embedded in the meat!


This an awesome recipe for football season, because it’s kind of like chili that’s also finger food. No forks necessary, and no drippies! Also, both chili and meatballs freeze well so you can make up a big batch of these and just heat them up when you’re watching sports on Saturday or Sunday or whatever day it is that you watch sports.

If you want a particularly tomatoey meatball, add another good couple squirts of tomato paste in there, a whole tiny can. While the cheese is “optional,” I think it kind of really made the meatballs, especially since I used smoked gouda. You don’t, however, want to melt cheese on meatballs you plan on freezing. I mean I guess you could freeze them with cheese on top, but it’s just as easy to add the cheese when you’re reheating them and it will taste a little fresher, IMHO. I also suggest reheating them in an oven or toaster oven to help keep those corn chips crisp.

venison chili recipes

Leave the meatballs you plan on freezing cheese-free!


Chili Meatballs


  • 2lb ground venison
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (seeds removed if desired, plus about 1 T of the sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small bag of fritos (loosely crunched up, about 1 heaping cup)


  • 1 cup grated cheese (for garnish)
  • snipped fresh chives or green onions (for garnish)


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the ingredients except the fritos and mix until all the spices are well incorporated. Then gently mix the fritos in. Form the meat into balls and put on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with pan spray. Bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. If using cheese, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the meatballs and return to the oven a minute or two, until melted. Serve warm.

Non game subsitution: Any ground meat will work here! If you’re using something really fatty you can leave out the egg.


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2 Comments on "Ground Venison Recipes: Chili Meatballs"

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Me again. Made these last night and really enjoyed them. Served over a cheesy polenta as a meal. On to the next recipe!