The best chili recipe of all time? Brady Miller thinks so.

Brady Miller mule deer chili with coffee and beer

Photo credit: Cody Boor

Nothing makes those “offseason” months more enjoyable than a good chili recipe. 

And when it comes to chili, I've always loved tossing a bunch of stuff in a crock-pot just to see what it will turn in to. That desire to toss random things in a chili lead me to this delicious chili recipe back when I lived in Montana. I might be biased… but the chili I’m about to tell you about is downright tasty! I’m sure there are a million more complicated ways to make chili, but for me, cooking isn’t supposed to be complicated. So I like to keep it simple!

So with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, this will be hit when you’re watching the big game.

I was making this chili on Wednesday night and partway through it... I decided I should probably finally make this into an article. So while I didn't grab pictures of every step, you'll get the idea.

Why coffee in chili?

I’m sure it sounds like an odd thing to add to chili, but it adds a really great flavor to any classic chili recipe. Plus by now, I’m sure most of you know that I love coffee. All I’ll say is that you need to trust me here when it comes to the coffee… you just have to try it to fully understand how awesome it is in chili.

And without further ado… here is my mule deer chili concoction. If you don't have mule deer, feel free to substitute it with any other wild game meat.


  • 2.5 pounds of ground mule deer
    • When I ground the mule deer earlier this year, I mixed sage seasoning and also bacon ends and pieces
  • 1 additional pound of ground mule deer with any sort of hot seasoning mixed in
    • Again, when I ground the buck, I used a double dose of hot Italian seasoning for some extra kick
  • Plenty of bacon!
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 9 jalapenos chopped
  • 12 ounces of hot black coffee
  • 1 tablespoon of dry coffee grounds
  • 1 - 12 oz can of Busch Light
  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 - 12 oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of pinto beans
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans
  • 1.5 tablespoons of oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce

Note: I really like adding a can of sweet corn to this recipe. I didn’t have any on hand when making this, but that is also a great addition.

Step 1

Take a pan and fry the bacon. I’ll just take an entire strip of bacon and fry it at its normal length. Sometimes it is easier to just cut the bacon strips in half.

Cooked bacon for chili

Word of advice… when it comes to bacon, make more than you will use in the chili. Anytime I make bacon for chili, I always end up eating a bunch of bacon before it makes it to the chili. So... cook up some extra.

Step 2

While cooking the bacon, get a full pot of coffee going. I’m cheap and use Folgers as it’s what I always have on hand. But any black coffee will work here.

Once you’ve made enough bacon, place the plate to the side and keep the grease in the pan.

Step 3

With the bacon grease in your pan, brown the ground mule deer meat.

Browned mule deer meat for chili

Step 4

While browning the meat, use this time to cut up the vegetables.

Start with the onion and chop it up into small pieces. Then do the same to the garlic and finally, chop up the jalapenos.

Chopped jalapenos for chili

When it comes to jalapenos, some of them I’ll finely chop, and others I’ll keep a little larger in size.

Stewed and diced tomatoes for chili

Next, toss all the chopped onions, garlic, and jalapenos in the crock-pot. At this point, you can also add in the cans of stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and bacon. I take the bacon and crunch it up in my hand so it goes in as small pieces. 

Onions garlic tomatoes jalapenos in chili

Step 5

Add all of the remaining dry ingredients to the crock-pot (do not add the beans yet).

Brady Miller mule deer chili dry ingredients

Step 6

By now, the ground meat should be browned, so add all the meat to the crock-pot.

Step 7

Adding black coffee to mule deer chili

Time to drop in the main ingredients! Take the pot of hot black coffee and pour it into the crock-pot.

Adding Busch light to mule deer chili

Next crack open a can of beer (Busch Light is my beer of choice, so that is what I have on hand and use, but any beer can work).

Step 8

The key to this getting a full-flavored chili in my opinion is to slow cook it. So put your crock-pot to low heat and let it do its thing for roughly 4 hours. If you’re impatient, by all means, crank it up to high and you could eat it in 2 hours if you wish. After that, add the beans and let it simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Eat it up!

Brady Miller mule deer chili

I really like chili straight with nothing added to it, but this chili also goes really well with a scoop of plain yogurt. I prefer to use yogurt over sour cream just because in my mind it tastes better in chili. Toss in a side of cornbread, add some shredded cheese if you like and I guarantee you'll make this chili concoction a bunch! This is a super simple chili recipe. As I stated earlier, I don't like to complicate things and I'm not exactly sure how long everything took to get ready, but I will say it was roughly a 2.5 beer recipe based on the cans of beer I enjoyed while making this late at night. Enjoy!



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