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Bison Stew

This robust bison stew with sweet carrots and spinach is a satisfying dinner for chilly weeknights. It’s got an herby, spicy kick that won’t let you put it down all winter!

Spoonful of bison stew with carrots and spinach.

Easy Bison Stew with Chickpeas and Spinach

This garlicky bison stew is an easy weeknight recipe that always hits the spot. It’s got hints of tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and sweet fennel. This combination packs a ton of flavor without needing to spend more than 30 minutes in the kitchen. Don’t forget the parmesan rind for extra savoriness. Paired with tender onions, carrots, and spinach, this hearty bison stew will be your new favorite fall and winter meal in no time.

Why This Bison Stew Recipe Works

Bison stew will be your new favorite comfort food once fall and winter come around.

  • Naturally thickened. This stew uses processed chickpeas as a natural thickener for the perfect consistency.
  • Hearty. There’s bison, carrots, onions, and spinach in every bite.
  • Great for chilly nights. Warm bowls of stew and chilly winter nights go hand in hand, like with my Irish Beef Stew.
  • Quick. You don’t have to simmer it for hours to get this amount of flavor. You only need 30 minutes.

Does Bison Taste Like Beef?

It does! Unlike other kinds of red meat that aren’t beef, bison doesn’t have an overwhelming or gamey taste. In fact, it’s quite mild and lean. In terms of texture, bison tends to be super tender regardless of the cooking method, and its flavor is slightly sweet, similar to filet mignon.

Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, and fennel seeds on a plate.

Recipe Ingredients

Italian seasoning and parmesan rind add a perfectly herby and savory base for this bison stew. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.

  • Canned chickpeas – These are also called garbanzo beans. Feel free to use homemade chickpeas.
  • Olive oil – Coconut and avocado oil work too.
  • Ground bison – Fresh or frozen (thawed) is great.
  • Italian seasoning – Use your favorite.
  • Fennel seeds – They need to be crushed.
  • Red pepper flakes – You can use cayenne pepper instead.
  • Yellow onion – White onion is a great swap.
  • Carrots – Feel free to use leftover baby carrots.
  • Garlic – Go for fresh garlic or garlic paste.
  • Tomato paste – Don’t add tomato purée or sauce because it won’t add the same flavor.
  • Chicken base – This is also called “chicken bouillon”. A veggie bouillon works too.
  • Water – Veggie broth is a great swap.
  • Salt and pepper – I prefer kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
  • Parmesan rind – Utilize this opportunity to use up any leftover parmesan in your fridge.
  • Baby spinach – Regular chopped spinach works too.
  • Parmesan – Make sure it’s freshly-grated and not bottled.

How to Make Bison Stew

The secret to this stew’s natural thickness is the chickpea mixture. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.

  • Process the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the food processor. Pulse until you get a crumbly mixture. Set it aside.
  • Cook the bison. Add oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bison and use a wooden spatula to break up the meat.
  • Season it. Stir in the Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the veggies. Mix in the onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
  • Make the base. Pour the tomato paste and chicken base into the bison mixture. Stir well for 30 seconds. Pour in the water, chickpea mixture, salt, pepper, and parmesan rind.
  • Simmer it. Cover the pot and bring it to a gentle simmer. Let everything cook for 8 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the spinach. Let it cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • Serve. Ladle the stew into bowls and top with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Bowl of bison stew.

Tips & Variations

You’ll want to thicken all your stews with chickpeas or lentils from now on.

  • Add more veggies. Stir 1-2 cups chopped mushrooms, peas, or diced bell peppers into the veggies to make this stew heartier.
  • Make it spicy. Add more red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili oil to taste for a kick of heat.
  • Add wine. Swap 1-2 cups water for dry red wine like Sauvignon Blanc for a deeper, more complex flavor.
  • Swap the thickening agent. Use cooked (and drained) lentils or a cornstarch slurry made with 1 tablespoon water dissolved in 3 tablespoons water. Use either one of these options instead of chickpeas.
  • Add pasta. Boil 1 cup of your favorite short pasta like fusilli or penne according to package instructions. Stir it into the stew right before serving for an easy variation.
  • Make it creamy. Whisk in 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or heavy cream during the last 10 minutes of cooking to add lots of rich creaminess.
Spoonful of stew with carrots, onions, and spinach.

Serving Suggestions

This warm bison stew is a hearty dinner option that can be enjoyed on its own. However, simple veggie sides can help you complete the meal too. Go for my Asparagus with Buttered Breadcrumbs or Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. If you’re more into salads, try my Baked Potato Salad and Squash Kale Salad. For a cornbread side, my Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits are a must.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Make sure any bison stew leftovers are fully cooled before storing to avoid spoilage.

  • Fridge: Place it in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer: Pour it into freezer-friendly bags or containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge or reheat it straight from frozen.
  • To reheat it: Microwave it for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pot over medium heat (covered) for 9-12 minutes. If it’s frozen, thaw and reheat it over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

More Bison Recipes To Try

Spoonful of bison stew with carrots and spinach.

Bison Stew

This herby bison stew recipe with garlic, parmesan, and fresh veggies is a comforting 30-minute weeknight dinner.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • Stockpot
  • Cutting Board


  • 2 boxes or cans of organic garbanzo beans or chickpeas rinsed, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground grass fed bison
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds crushed
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion


  • 2 medium carrots, diced (3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chicken base
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 small parmesan rind Optional
  • 3-4 cups fresh baby spinach Optional
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese Optional


  • Place one box of drained and rinsed chickpeas in a food processor. Process until a crumbly mixture.

In a large stock pot heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add bison, break up with a wooden spoon until crumbly mixture.
  • Immediately add Italian seasoning, crushed fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper, stirring to mix seasoning into bison.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add onion, carrots, and garlic, stirring to blend evenly. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally,until softened and fragrant.
  • Add tomato paste and chicken base. Stir into bison mixture to coat. Continue stirring for about 30 seconds.
  • Add water, all of the chickpeas, salt, pepper and parmesan rind if using.
  • Cover and bring to a low simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove lid, add spinach and cook on low until spinach wilts, 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Ladle into bowls, top with shredded parmesan if using. You can add additional red pepper flakes for more heat.
  • Enjoy!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Stew
Cuisine: American


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