Lean Protein

Chinese 5 Spice Harvest Chili with Bison


homemade, healthy Chinese Five Spice Chili Recipe

Recently I was at a friends party. She is the ultimate party planner.  This gal has style and sass unlike any other. When it comes to party planning….she owns it. For dinner she had a medley of chili. There were turkey, beef and vegetarian options. The guests could choose from a plentiful array of  toppings to dress up their steamy bowl.  Chopped green onion, sour cream, hot & mild salsas and a variety of cheese were among the selections.  Inspired by this steamy night of chili, I came up with a clean, healthy, delish chili recipe with a flavor twist. Chinese 5 spice is a blend of sweet and savory flavors that works so well in chili.

all good

In this chili you get your veggies, lean protein and great flavor. This recipe is perfect for parties and holiday guests. Just bump up the quantity depending on your crowd. It also leaves you with loads of leftovers for grab and go meals. The flavors intensify and marry nicely after a few days in the fridge.

What is Chinese 5 Spice Blend?  It is a blend of five spices meant to represent all five flavors – sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty.   Generally it has Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. There are different varieties of the blend using various spices, but they all maintain the 5 flavor profile. You can find 5 spice blend in most markets. You can also make your own.


Chinese 5 Spice Harvest Chili {with Bison}

Makes about 12 servings


  • The measurements for the veggies and spices are approximate add or subtract what you like.


*Add an additional pinch of the above spices to season the meat, use the above measurements to add to the pot of chili


In a large pot add a splash of olive oil, garlic and leeks. Over medium heat cook for a few minutes and add the measured spices. Cook until softened, fragrant and lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Add veggies. Cook to soften veggies for about 10 minutes while the meat browns. Stir occasionally.

In a separate pan, add splash of olive oil, cook and brown ground meat. Add pinches of the above spices, stir to combine. Add cooked meat, chopped tomatoes tomato paste, broth and lemon juice to veggie pot. Stir to combine. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for about 1/2 hour or until veggies are cooked thorough. Add additional broth or water if necessary to thin out. Adjust seasonings to taste.



Protein Choice: Not in the mood for bison?  You can use ground turkey, chicken, lean lamb or even firm tofu in this chili. You can also use shredded turkey or chicken.

Healthy Fats: Top your bowl with avocado, light sour cream, yogurt, cheese or guacamole. Other than traditional cheddar or monterey jack cheese, you can use crumbled feta, goat cheese, blue cheese or gorgonzola.

Make it Spicy! Add some smokey Chipotle Pepper, Cayenne or diced Jalapeño while cooking or to individual bowls.

Chili Recipe Links


~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

7 thoughts on “Chinese 5 Spice Harvest Chili with Bison

  1. This looks so delicious.I will certainly try this one and will let you know how it comes out.Thanks for sharing your talent..

  2. I just fixed this dish tonight. I did substitute ground turkey and some of the veggies. It was a nice change from out regular chili recipe, which we eat quite often. Thanks for a tasty variation for us! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  3. My fiance and I made this for dinner last night, and it.was.so.good!!! Truth be told, it was the first time either of us had parsnips- love them! I agree that it was a nice change of pace from the usual chilis I have made, and actually prefer it. Beans bother my stomach these days, so it was nice to make a chili with out beans but that still had plenty of yummy vegetables.

    Thanks again, Marla- you and your recipes rock!
    xxx- Melissa

    1. Melissa: I am so glad you loved the chili. The Chinese 5 spice adds something a unique and special. A wondeful alternative to regular chili. Parsnips are great. Not the thing people usually reach for, but once they taste ’em they become a staple. You gotta try them roasted. When they caramelize the flavor is spectacular!