Ground bison feels more exotic than it should. It’s just another type of bovine after all, which is the same family cattle are from. And despite my incorrect assumption growing up that bison were extinct, ground bison is becoming a popular alternative to ground beef and regaining its place as a staple in American cuisine.
And rightly so, this stuff is great.
What is ground bison?
Ground bison is just ground bison meat. More specifically, bison is from the bovine family, which is the scientific family that includes water buffalo, cattle, antelopes, etc.
Fun fact: Americans call bison buffalo, but they technically aren’t buffalo. Sort of like how sweet potatoes aren’t actually potatoes. Who knew? But in practice, if you see a “buffalo” burger in the States, they’re talking about bison.
You’ll also recognize bison from history class, but chances are you didn’t taste them in school, which is a shame because bison is dang delicious. Ground bison is leaner than traditional ground beef and packs a bit more protein in than their cattle cousins.
You won’t find too much of that gamey taste either, which is why it is a perfect sub for just about anything ground beef-related.
The best dishes to cook with ground bison
Subbing ground bison in for ground beef is as easy as it gets. It cooks faster since it’s leaner, but just keep an eye on it, drop the cooking times a bit, and use lower heat and you’ll be fine. You can also sub it in for any ground chicken, pork, or turkey recipes.
Try mixing in bison with other ground meats as well, in whatever ratio you’d like. You’ll diminish some of its signature taste that way, but hey, it could be fun to pair with a fattier ground beef or bacon to get the best of both worlds.
Just like ground beef, you can use ground bison in:
- Fried rice bowls
- Chili and other soups
- Sloppy Joes
- Meat Pies
- Shepherd’s Pie
You get the idea. The list could go on forever.
15 incredible ground bison recipes
Alright. Here are our absolute favorite ground bison recipes. You cannot go wrong with any of these.
Happy cooking, and remember — the best recipes start with the best ingredients, so pick up 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground bison for the absolute healthiest and best results.
Paleo, extra meaty, and just the right amount of (optional!) spice, Jennafer Ashley of Paleo Hacks knocked this bison bone broth chili recipe out of the modern world.
You start with a rich bone broth, which she describes as liquid gold for the immune system, and then you make a simple one-pot chili with it. It’s the perfect ratio of effort to yield.
I grew up eating Shepherd’s Pie — my mom made it all the time growing up. And while I am partial to the nostalgic taste of ground beef and cream of mushroom soup, I’d be lying if I tried to act like this bison shepherd’s pie recipe from Honey Ghee and Me wasn’t better.
And don’t be intimidated by the word “pie”. You’re just making a meat and veggies mix, some mashed potatoes, spreading the potatoes on top, and then baking it. It’s closer to casserole, really!
For a bison breakfast, try this bison hash from FeedFeed. Like any hash, this recipe is as customizable as it gets. So if you don’t have sweet potatoes, use whatever you have. If you don’t have pepitas, you can skip or sub with pine nuts. We definitely recommend these amazing flavors if you have time to grab them, though!
You could also add cheese and bacon if you’re more in a Saturday brunch than a healthy morning mood.
Sometimes the picture does all the talking, like this bison burger from Chris Gonzalez. How can you look at that and not want it to be a part of your life?
Inspired by street stands in the Dominican Republic, this recipe takes a homemade chimi sauce (mayo, ketchup, worcestershire, and OJ) and puts it on top of a burger made with a beautiful blend of spices and fresh toppings to create something altogether delicious.
For leaner and healthier meatballs, try bison these meatballs from Good Food Baddie. They are really easy to put together, and once you have them, you can do all sorts of things — throw them on pasta, eat them as a no-carb snack, throw them into a lettuce wrap with fresh tomatoes for a low-carb lunch, put them out as an appetizer — the world is your meatball, so to speak.
The trick here, like any of these recipes, is to buy good bison meat. Meat that’s raised how meat should be — without all the antibiotics, preservatives, and other junk.
6. Bison Tacos
Throwing a party? Spice it up with adding bison ground beef to your taco line. You can make a custom taco seasoning as suggested in this recipe from High Plains Bison, but you can also add your favorite pre-mixed seasoning. There’s no shame if you want to make something quick!
Also, a word of advice from a taco lover: as good as your fillings and toppings are, a good tortilla will make or break your tacos, so grab something a bit better than your low-end hard corn tortillas to really enjoy these.
Let’s stick on the Mexican for a bit. Not feeling tacos? Try these delicious enchiladas from The Pig and Quill.
This is an ideal weeknight recipe. Homey. Easy. Serves a lot. Think Christmas Eve or when you and the family are hanging out and want homemade food but aren’t feeling like putting in too much effort.
In other words, this is a bang for your buck bison recipe that guarantees happy stomachs.
Think of this recipe like a healthier shepherd’s pie. This version is paleo and Whole30-friendly, but you can easily add regular rice, potatoes, or whatever other vegetables you would like to this mixture.
This is a great base recipe to play with, and it’s also high protein with the ratio of bison to vegetables!
It’s true. You can make homemade hamburger helper at home. And yes, this recipe from Muy Bueno is better. You can also think of this dish like a fancy mac and cheese with toppings — either way, it’s easy, delicious, and a wonderful way to highlight the flavor of bison in your dish.
Feel free to sub any cheese and toppings in as you’d like, and sub gluten-free pasta if you have sensitivities.
10. Bison Meatloaf
Yup. Meat loaf means any meat, including bison. This recipe from Fox Valley Foodie is a nice way to elevate a typical weeknight dish into something slightly more exotic.
You can also add in some bacon for extra fat and punch, and try using higher-end ketchup to avoid a cheaper flavor — unless you’re one of those people who think that any ketchup besides Heinz isn’t actually ketchup!
11. Bison Chili
If you want to wow your family on your next camping trip or meal prep an amazing batch of chili for the week, you should try this bison chili recipe from The Woks of Life.
Feel free to sub in beef or vegetable stock if you don’t have chicken stock on hand, and do not skip the canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce! They add a dark depth that is critical. And like any chili, mix and match whatever toppings you like. There is no right or wrong.
12. Bison Burgers
I can’t guarantee your burger will look that good, but I bet it will taste pretty close to Feasting at Home’s amazing burger! For the best results, go for a grill, but you can obviously use a skillet or oven if you don’t feel like firing it up.
Do not skip her homemade bison sauce either. Mayo, mustard, and smoked paprika? Might as well make a giant batch because you will want that on everything.
13. Bison Bacon BLT
I mean, buns are great, but you can also have a delicious meal that skips the carbs! This recipe is as simple as it sounds, which is why buying the best bison meat is critical. Also, you can make all of this and throw it on bread or a bun too if you’re feeling it! Recipes are made for adjusting!
This recipe from the Open Cookbook is technically AIP/Paleo and low-FODMAP, but even without dietary considerations, it is a delicious meal to make on a cold night.
I love that this recipe uses butternut squash alongside potatoes. If you’re making this in winter they should be in season, and using in-season vegetables in soups is the only way to play!
Feel free to add bacon and sour cream if you want to play up the fat content, but any way you cook it, this will be delicious.
For a departure from your usual burger antics, try this hoisin bison burger from Cookin Canuck. The fresh ginger, spicy slaw, and hoisin sauce really take you somewhere different, but still altogether rich and delicious. Grill both the patty and the bun for the best results!
Groun Bison FAQ
How do you keep bison moist?
Easy! Keep all the juices you can and make sure to rest the meat for 5 minutes before digging in! You can also mix in bacon or other high-fat cuts to up the fat ratio.
What should I season ground bison with?
Anything you’d like! Salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin are classic choices, though!
Can you eat ground bison medium rare?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s even better that way! Bison is lean, so anything medium and above can get tough.
How do you keep bison burgers from falling apart?
Try mixing the burger meat with bread crumbs and egg to act as a binder. If that doesn’t work, you could also chop/blend your patties slightly to create a finer consistency.
How should bison burgers be cooked?
We prefer grilled, but you can also bake or throw it on a cast iron. Just remember that because of bison’s lower fat content, it will cook faster than you’re used to.
Is ground bison the same as ground buffalo?
It depends on who you ask. Americans call bison buffalo, but they are not technically buffalo. But if you hear someone serving buffalo in the states, they are talking about bison, and what we think of when we think of buffalo (big hairy beats of old), we’re actually thinking of bison.
The best bison recipes start with the best ground bison
Don’t settle for average when it comes to your taste buds or your body. 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground bison is tastier, healthier, and gives you all the good without any of the nasty preservatives and antibiotics large producers add to artificially fatten up their bison.
See what bison raised the right way tastes like.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.