Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner
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Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili

A bowl of ground buffalo chili, with an Instant Pot and sliced toppings in the background
Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili

Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili. Pressure cooker chili, with American bison meat and dried pinto beans.

It’s time for this year’s Big Game Chili, using…big game. It doesn’t come much bigger than buffalo.1 Buffalo is the original big game – to paraphrase CGP Grey, it’s a tank with hooves, that we only barely managed to domesticate with modern tools.

Buffalo is an ultra lean red meat. It tastes more like beef than beef does, if that makes any sense. It is allegedly healthier because of how lean it is, and how little of the fat is saturated fat. (Think of grass-fed beef, only more so – buffalo is the OG grass-fed meat, grazing its way across the American plains.) If you’re looking for ultra-lean red meat, buffalo is a good choice.

Another fun fact – the largest private herd of buffalo in the US is owned by Ted Turner, founder of CNN and TBS. He’s also the namesake of Ted’s Montana Grill, a buffalo steakhouse, which inspired this recipe. It’s my take on the restaurant’s chili, a mix of buffalo, spices, and pinto beans.

Of course, I’m cooking this in my Instant Pot. I like the extra flavor that beans cooked from dried gives me. I usually cook dried beans without soaking, but the ground buffalo would overcook in the time it takes to cook beans from dried, so I soak them here.

Looking for an American original? A taste of the West, where the buffalo roam? Try this chili!

Recipe: Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili

Inspired by: Karen’s “Flying D” Chili – Ted’s Montana Grill Recipe |

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A bowl of ground buffalo chili, with an Instant Pot and sliced toppings in the background

Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cups of chili 1x


Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili. Pressure cooker chili, with American bison meat and dried pinto beans.




Soaking Beans

  • 8 ounces dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed (and soaked)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds ground buffalo
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup beer (to deglaze pan)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 28 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Accompaniments (optional)

  • Thin-sliced red onion
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Sour Cream


  1. Sort and rinse the beans: Spread the beans out on a rimmed baking sheet and discard any stones, dirt, or broken beans. Rinse the beans, then do an overnight or a quick soak.
  2. Overnight soak: Cover the beans with the 4 cups of water and add the 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Leave the beans to soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid.
  3. OR: Pressure Quick Soak for 1 minute with a 30 minute rest: Put the beans, 4 cups of water, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Pressure cook at high pressure for 1 minute (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), then let the pressure come down naturally for a full 30 minutes. (Quick release any pressure remaining after 30 minutes, but let the beans rest for the full 30 minutes, even if the pressure releases itself earlier.) Drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid.
  4. Sauté the aromatics and spices: Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode adjusted to high (medium-high heat in a stovetop PC). Add the vegetable oil and heat until shimmering, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red onion and garlic, and sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Make a hole in the center of the onions and add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne. Toast for 1 minute, then stir the spices into the onions.
  5. Start the buffalo, then everything in the pot: Add the ground buffalo to the pot and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Cook, breaking up the buffalo and scraping the bottom of the pot with a flat edged wooden spoon if anything sticks, until the buffalo loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Pour in the beer and bring to a simmer. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pot one last time to loosen any browned buffalo, onions, or spices. Stir the drained beans, 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, and can of crushed tomatoes into the pot.
  6. Pressure Cook for 20 minutes with a Quick Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 20 minutes (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 18 minutes if using a stovetop pressure cooker. Quick release the pressure.
  7. Serve: Carefully remove the lid – tilt it away from you to avoid the hot steam. Stir in the fresh ground black pepper. Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with your favorite chili toppings (I top my chili with diced onions and shredded cheddar.) Enjoy!


Buffalo used to be hard to find. Now it is at most regular grocery stores. Check out the meat and freezer cases, or ask your butcher.

If you can’t find buffalo, substitute 93% lean ground beef.


6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)

Flat edged wooden spoon

  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Americn

Keywords: Instant Pot Ground Buffalo Chili, Pressure Cooker Ground Buffalo Chili

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Instant Pot Steak Chili
Pressure Cooker Ground Beef and Bean Chili
Instant Pot Ground Pork and Bean Chili
My other Instant Pot and Pressure Cooker Recipes

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  1. Yes, I know, technically it is not buffalo, it is American bison. ↩︎

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

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