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Ask The Readers: Tips For Cooking Venison

Today’s question comes from a reader and it is all about venison.

Tina asks:

Have you cooked much venison? My father gave me several steaks, tenderloins, and burger from the deer he shot this year. Any ideas how to season or flavor it? Venison is a very very lean meat and I’m simply at a loss.

Several people have emailed me over the last few months asking how to cook venison, so this is a great question Tina and one I hope my readers and I can help with.

My dad hunts, so I actually grew up eating a lot of deer and elk meat. I also have a husband and son who love to hunt.

So, I have eaten quite a bit of venison over the years. And to be honest I have had some really good venison and some really bad venison.

The taste of venison can vary a lot. The way you cook it can make a huge difference. The taste of the  meat can also vary by the age and sex of the deer. Proper cleaning and processing of the meat makes a huge difference in the taste. What the deer eats can also affect the meat and how it tastes.

Many people say they do not like venison, but the reality is that they may not have had good venison or venison that is cooked properly.

My favorite way to eat venison is ground. I know many people will disagree with me on this one, but of all the ways I have had it, ground is my favorite.

My family really enjoys ground venison in chili and soups. I love using part ground venison and part ground beef in meatloaf and hamburgers. A hamburger with half ground beef and half venison is one of the best hamburgers I have had.

I also use ground venison is casseroles, mexican food, and many other dishes.

We also enjoy jerky made from venison, although I am still trying to find a recipe that we really like.

As far as venison steaks, tenderloins, and roasts, I am far from an expert on cooking them. I still have a lot to learn on cooking a good venison steak. So, I hope my readers can help on that one.

I did recently hear from a friend about brining venison and elk meat. I have heard of brining other meats, but I had never thought to brine wild game. When I mentioned this method to my mom, she said she has known several people that brined their venison and it worked well. So, I can’t wait to try it with some of the venison I have in my freezer.

I am hoping that you all will have some more tips for cooking venison for Tina.

What are some of your favorite ways to cook and eat venison?

And if anyone has a good jerky recipe you would  be willing to share, I would love to have it? I have some meat in the freezer just waiting to be made into jerky.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. We put up deer meat every year. My favorite is also ground. You can use it interchangeably in any recipe calling for hamburger meat. It tastes wonderful and has a lot less fat. For steaks we “chicken fry” them. I have soaked in a milk bath a couple of hours before cooking steaks, but a lot of the time I don’t do that anymore. When we cut the steaks we tenderize them and season them before freezing.

  2. Kimberly in NC says

    I love having ground deer in the freezer, too. We just had chili beans made with it this week. Last week, I made my grandma’s vegetable beef soup, but I used small pieces of deer tenderloin instead – I slowly brown it on a low heat in a pot on the stove before I add anything else. It doesn’t usually have any juice at the end of browning to pour off, so I just add the rest of my ingredients then. This usually makes tender meat for my soup. I also like to slice the tenderloins, dredge in flour and plenty of pepper and salt, and fry it in some oil on the stove and then make a good peppered gravy to go over it. Just be careful not to over brown/fry the meat so it won’t be tough.

  3. We like all kinds of venison and eat various cuts all year long. To cut the gamey flavor, seasoning salt, garlic salt, and/or worchestershire sauce are helpful.

    Tonight we’ll have vension roast seasoned with sliced onions, worchestershire sauce and a bit of soy sauce. I throw it in a covered dish and let it roast in the oven or cook it in the slow cooker.

  4. We love venison and I basically cook it in almost any way I’d cook beef. I make burgers, tacos, chili, meatballs, meatloaf from the ground venison. From the roasts, I either cook it as I would a regular beef roast, or I chunk it up for stew or “venison tips” in gravy just like beef tips. That’s probably my favorite way to make it. How about breaded and deep fried steak fingers? Another favorite is venison fajitas. Also, try cutting small medallions from either the backstrap or the “catfish” tenderloin and wrapping them in bacon, then grilling them.

    We find that the real secret to meat that is not gamy is to intentional shoot a younger buck or doe. They are smaller, yes, but the meat is milder. Also, we process our own deer meat and my husband is very particular about it. The more of the white membrane and connective tissues that you trim away, the more mild the meat will be.

  5. My husband and my father-in-law are both avid hunters, so deer meat always seems to be stocked in our freezer. The trick with venison is to treat it like grass fed beef, and not like your every day (corn fed) beef. It does not have a lot of fat content, and can easily get tough. Our family favorite is to take the tenderloin medalians in your favorite frying pan, quick sear on both sides (not more than a minute each) and drop the temperature to low to finish cooking slowly to your desired temperature. The added bonus is to combine with slices of bacon.

  6. I have not had venison since I was a teenager, but one recipe my aunt used to make stands out clearly in my mind. She would make a roast that was better than any beef roast I have ever had. She would soak it all night in milk to take the gamey flavor out, then she roasted it like beef. It was amazing.

  7. I find the trick is to use lots of minced garlic and onion. We love venison, and yes, sometimes you get a deer that has a more gamey flavor. I, too, prefer ground because you can really get it seasoned well. This is my favorite recipe for using venison:

    Venison and Potato Au Gratin

    1 lb ground venison
    1 diced onion
    4 cloves minced garlic
    4-5 potatoes, diced (I leave the skin on and dice them pretty thin so it cooks quickly)
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup parmesan cheese
    2 cups shredded cheddar
    salt and pepper to taste

    Brown venison along with onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are translucent. (I usually put a bit of steak seasoning in with the meat while it’s browning, too.)
    Combine the cooked meat mixture with the potatoes, sour cream, milk, parmesan, salt, and pepper and stir until combined. Pour into a 9×13 pyrex, top with shredded cheddar, and cook it covered with foil for 1 hour at 400 degrees or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil and cook another 10 minutes or so until golden brown on top. YUMMO!

    • @Melissa, I made this last night (01/26/2011) and everyone loved it. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

      • @Ashley, Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! It’s a family favorite for us… and it’s an easy, inexpensive meal to boot. I’ve been meaning to try steak biscuits with the backstrip as you recommended, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Sounds delicious!

  8. I haven’t had a good piece of venison in years. We always soak our venison in milk overnight then rinse and pat dry before cooking. I like to salt and pepper tenderloin medallions then dredge in flour and pan fry in a bit of bacon fat. Use the pan drippings to make the world’s best country gravy. Another way is to salt and pepper odd ends and pieces and dredge them in flour, the same as medallions, and cook as you would smothered beef tips. Served over rice or mashed potatoes, this is pure heaven on a plate.

  9. We process our own deer meat. My husband usually comes home with at least 2 deer every season. We make a lot of sausage with ours. We always mix it with ground pork. You can get flavor packets at butcher shops that are good. We found a reallly good polish sausage seasoning.
    As for brining a roast it works great! My husband has brined and smoked a roast and it is very mild. You don’t get that really gamey taste. Steaks are good marinated and grilled to! there are a lot of recipies from Taste of Home that involve venison, if anyone needs insipration.

  10. Great tips, I so agree lots of times it depends on how old the deer is. We get deer meat every year, and my dad always says you have to soak the freshly killed meat in ice water for over a week, changing the water daily. This helps get the blood and gamey-ness out of the meat. I also love using 50/50 (deer/beef)ground meat, I use it in anything and everything that calls for ground beef.

    But my #1 favorite way is to chicken fry it. Here is the way I love to cook it.

  11. Our favorite way to eat deer steak is on the grill. I cut the steaks in 1″ pieces and marinate in bottled Italian dressing overnight. Then the meat pieces are each wrapped in one half slice of bacon and places on kabob sticks. Grill as usual. Delicious! Great as party appetizers, too!

  12. I started eating venison ground–in tacos and tomato sauce. Since, I have moved on. Our favorite way to prepare steaks is to mix up red wine vinegar with a bit of olive oil and Kroger Grill Time Steak seasoning. If you don’t have the seasoning, season with salt, ground pepper, garlic. Let it marinate for a few hours. It is great.

    I have also taken roasts and put them in the crock pot with Country Bob’s All Purpose sauce and let it cook all day, then shred it and add more Country Bob’s or BBQ sauce for BBQ beef sandwiches/pulled venison.

    I also use it in this recipe my sister gave me and no one knows they are eating venison. Of course, eating the venison makes it healthier.

    Firehouse Meat Loaf

    Prep: 20 min. Bake: 55 min

    1 egg, beaten 1 lb ground beef or venison
    1 cup soft bread crumbs 2 oz provolone or moz.
    1/2 cup bottled pasta sauce with cheese, cubed
    vegetables and/or herbs 2 Tbsp. bottled pasta sauce
    1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp. shredded provolone or
    1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed moz. cheese
    8 ox. Italian sausage or pork sausage links Fresh rosemary sprigs, optional
    or ground beef

    Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine egg, bread crumbs, the 1/2 cup pasta sauce, garlic and rosemary. Remove casings from sausage, if using. Add ground beef and sausage; mix well. Press two-thirds of the mixture evenly in the bottom of an 8x4x2 inch loaf pan.

    Make a 1/2 inch indentation down the center of the meat mixture. Place the cheese cubes in indentation. Pat remaining meat mixture evenly over top. Bake, uncovered, for 55 to 60 minutes until no pink remains or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the loaf registers 170. Let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle top with the 2 tablespoons pasta sauce. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons shredded cheese. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

    To make ahead: If desired, meat loaf may be assembled ahead, covered and chilled up to 24 hours. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour until no pink remains or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat loaf registers 170.

  13. I make swiss steak with my venison steaks.
    I make jerky with ground venison and a “Jerky Shooter.” I usually use the seasonings that came with it. Makes good, tender jerky.
    My favorite way to use venison is by canning it. For every 1# of venison, you use 2#s of a beef roast….all cut up into cubes. Then I use the canned meat in casseroles, noodles and any other concoction I can come up with. The venison in it makes it very filling!

  14. I heard a friend talking about marinading venison steaks in kefir to get the gaminess out. I’m not a fan, personally, but it may be due to not having it prepared well. It always tastes like it has fur in it. 🙂

  15. I always cook my venison in my pressure cooker..It comes out tasting great

  16. Greek seasoning is great with vension! We sometimes soak ours in buttermilk before cooking.

  17. We are also hunters that – cut up/ ground all of our wild game. When we ground ours we buy hog jawl and ground it up with the deer meat. It fives excellent flavor and you can interchange with any recipe calling for hamburger. We also love tenderloin and Backstrip – mix a little flour and S & P (I also add in some other spices whatever I am in the mood for) fry it in a little EVOO or coconut oil and make homemade biscuits to have Steak & Biscuits. Yum! I just made deer chili and a batch of spaghetti sauce with ground up deer meat! I have enjoyed everyone’s comments tonight hope you enjoyed mine.

  18. We only eat wild game of different variety__to tenderize steaks and roasts I soak overnight in a carbonated drink plain burger does not grill well we have ours prepared as “bacon burger” this grills just like beef burger—JERKY RECIPE::
    1 1/2# of venison or similar meat partially frozen
    1/4 c Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 c soy sauce, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, few dashes of hot sauce

    slice into 1/4in pieces mix marindade and add meat–marinate for 16-24hours in refrig—place in dehydrator–unually takes 24hours depending on how crunchy you like
    store in airtight containers

    I could write a book on recipes from venison elk bear boar rabbit duck squrrill


    1 TSP HIENZ 57



  20. Karin Goodman says

    My husband, son and in-laws hunt every year, so we buy very little meat. Chicken, and pork mainly. I use venison the same as beef. Spagetti, taco’s, casserol’s etc. The best way to make a roast is to put in crock pot frozen, cover with water and 1 pkg lipton onion soup mix, cook on high 8 hours, turn off to cool and let juices soak into roast so roast is not dry. I serve with mashed potatoes and make gravy with juices and thicken with cornstarch. This is delicous left over as french dip sandwiches or pulled meat. The tenerloin is best in stir fry dishes. The steaks we coat in a flour mix and fry in oil with salt, pepper and garlic. Meatballs and meatloaf are best when mixed 1/2 with jimmy dean sausage. This makes for great flavor. My mother in-law puts chunks of venison in canning jars, no seasoning or water and presser cooks them. This is a great fast meal. Open a jar, heat and season. Serve over rice, noodles or potatoes. This is great with beef boulion added and thicked to make a gravy. My recipes are no different from others with beef, only there is no need to drain the fat off since there is none. I have never marinated it, but it sounds good.

    • @Karin Goodman, I am so glad that you left your tips! You are right about the canned meat. I remember my mom doing that and it was really good. I had not thought to use tenderloin in stir fry. I am going to try that with some of the tenderloin that I have. I am sure that would be really good.

  21. The only ground beef we’ve eaten over the past 13 years is mostly venison. When my husband “gets” his deer we process it by turning all of the venison into ground venison. Since venison is very dry, we mix 1/2 of the meat with regular ground beef. It turns it into a very lean meat (that I don’t even have to drain), however it is not too lean that it makes yummy hamburgers.

    I like the taste of this meat much better than regular ground beef because it is not so “beefy” tasting.

    Plus it is healthier!

  22. On cooking venison: soak in water with salt to draw out as much blood as possible along with vinegar in the water to draw out some of the “wild” taste. Let soak for several hours in fridge. Dry with paper towels, spray with cooking oil, season with salt & pepper. For steaks and tenderloins, let skillet get really hot, add a little oil, then meat and cook getting a nice brown on each side. Deglaze the skillet. I then put the meat in the slow cooker and cook on slow 5-6 hours or until it falls apart or is nice and tender. You can either shred the meat and use in tacos, nachos or other recipes or eat as is. Either way, it is very good.


  1. […] recently made it.  I received several pounds of venison recently from my dad.  A post I found on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures suggest mixing it with ground beef, which is exactly what I set out to do with this […]

  2. […] Tips for Cooking Venison :: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures […]

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