Using Venison

Affiliate Disclosure

I received the following from one of my readers:

Hi, Malia! I saw on your cooking day that you used ground venison in your
taco filling. Would you mind sharing any other creative (good) venison
recipes that you have? My husband brings us home deer all of the time and
so far, he is the only one who really enjoys it. Also, do you process it
yourselves or have it done? What do you add, if anything, to the ground
venison? I would love to be able to use what we have more often, instead of
everybody else feeling like they have to choke it down!! LOL! Any help you
could offer would be greatly appreciated! –

That is a great question. When we were first given Venison, I was not sure what to do with it, so we started out making Venison Jerky in the dehydrator, using ground venison, mashed flat, cut into strips. These were a HUGE hit. We added a small amount of the venison jerky to our “goodies gift baskets” at Christmas and folks loved it.

Since then we have received it and I was often sceptical or worried about trying it because I heard it was hard to prepare, dry, gamey, or whatever. So, here is the answer I shared with Kelly:

Here is the deal with venison. It is very lean, so when you prepare it, you need to add liquid or fat. I usually just mix it half and half with beef. If you do this, you can use it in any beef recipe where the meat is just mixed in, like tacos, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes (use it with a can of manwich), hamburger helper or casserole types of dishes. I do not know how it would hold together for meatloaf or burgers. I have not tried it.

If you use Venison steaks, you MUST marinade them, or they will be hard or stringy. You can marinade them for 48 hours in the fridge. If you need some meat marinades, let me know and I can type some up for you. I use the beef marinade from the 30 Day Gourmet cookbook, but you really want to let them marinade for 48 hours.

If you use venison roasts, this will be super easy. Get a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Put the roast in your crock pot. If is it a small one, you can even put it in there frozen. Cover it in your favorite barbecue sauce. Let it cook on low all day. At dinnertime, shred it apart with a fork, or cut it in small chunks to make a yummy barbecue. If you see any of the “Silver” in your meat, you may want to slice that off. It can be a little unpleasant.

Those are the only way I have prepared Venison. A friend of mine has a terrific stroganoff recipe that she absolutely loves, but it calls for some sherry or dry wine or some ingredient like that which I do not usually have here, so I never got around to trying it. I can send that recipe to you if you would like.

To use it up quickly, make a huge batch of Chili and use half beef, half venison and freeze it for future meals. Be sure you freeze it in family sized portions. You can also just brown a whole big batch of ground venison, cool it, then put it in a freezer bag. Every time you use beef, add a scoop of the ground venison to it. That will stretch your beef further and you will not waste all that good healthy meat!

One more thing I should have added is this: If your husband is hunter, he is doing exactly what God designed our husbands to do. He is providing real, valuable meat for your family’s table. Make sure your children (and you) honor and respect him for it. Teach them to be truly appreciative of Dad’s efforts in this area. Healthy, grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free, processing free meat costs TONS these days at the grocery, and learning to use this cut of meat creatively will truly bless your family. GO ahead and use sauces and things if necessary to make it useful and palatable to your family, and work on every one’s hearts in the meantime to be sure you are showing your husband the utmost respect for his contributions to your freezer.

Do you use Venison or other exotic meats (Elk, etc) in your cooking? What are your favorite recipes?


  1. Kelly W

    There is a good marinate called “Game Tame”. You can find it by the steak sauces at Ingles, Kroger, etc. I marinate my steaks and then grill them. It is WONDERFUL!!

    I put the marinate in a ziploc bag along with the steaks and marinate it for 24 hours. If you like japelenos, put a few in there along with some juice from the jar.

  2. cyndy a

    My husband also hunts and I never cared for venison much. I have found that if I cut up the roasts and use it in the same way as beef stew meat it tastes wonderful! Now I use it for beef stew, beef stroganoff, beet tips in gravy, etc. It’s much cheaper than buying stew meat and it makes my husband feel good to see his provision being enjoyed.

  3. Jennifer

    Hi Malia! My husband is a huge hunter and we always have a freezer full of venison all year long. We have ours processed, and have also done it ourselves, into ground venison (a little fat is added to it to help it hold for burgers and meat loaf), cubed steaks, sausage (patty & smoked), stew meat, and roasts. I rarely use beef, unless of course I run out of venison. I have found that it can be used in any recipe calling for beef. We are truly blessed to have a hunter in our family. The meat is much better for you than the beef that you buy in the stores.

  4. Marilyn

    My families favorite recipe for venison or elk is to make small (card deck) sized pieces of meat. Flour them, sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper & brown them in a large skillet using vegetable oil or shortening. As soon as the pieces are browned, cover the pieces of meat with 1 can of cream of mushroom soup & 1 cup of beef bouillon (per pound of meat) and simmer until the gravy gets fairly thick (30 – 45 min.) turning the meat over every 10 -15 min.. Serve the meat & gravy with mashed potatoes. The meat comes out fork tender. This also works with beef, but we especially like it with venison or elk because the meat does not have a “gamey” taste cooked this way.

  5. Chris

    My husband has purchased venison for the processing fee alone, as he has hunter friends. Using it half and half with ground beef was the easiest adjustment for me, and many times if I didn’t know that I had used deer, I couldn’t tell from the flavor. Roasts with potatoes, carrots and lotsa gravy was next, and then pure ground deer in recipes. We have done some using it as “beef” n broccoli, and sliced into gravy, etc. I tend to use it with/in a sauce to cut the occasional heavy flavor. It truly depends on each deer (maybe age, or way it is processed) how the flavor and dryness is, but ours are all mixed in the freezer according to cut, not according to which deer it is. We can make it work and be thankful!!

  6. Jennifer

    We love venison! One thing I do that helps cut the gamey flavor is to soak it in milk.

  7. Rhonda

    Hi Malia. We were blessed to be given various cuts of venison a few months ago. We had steaks, chops, cubed steaks, and ground. When thawing the pieces of meat, I did so in salted water. When doing this, the meat will give off a lot of blood which holds most of the gamey taste. Change the water a couple of times during the thawing process. I also trim away all of the silver skin (very important as it also holds gamey taste). As you said, it’s very important to marinate venison.
    With the ground meat, I brown well, making sure it’s cooked through. Then I place the cooked meat in a colander and rinse well with very hot water. Remember, the gamey taste is in the liquid and blood of the meat so you want to get rid of it.

  8. Tracy Dixon

    My family loves venison.I have my husband who hunts and now I have an 11 yr old that beat Dad in the “big game” by killing his first 10 pt buck. Our processor prepares us the most wonderful minute steaks. I just roll them in some seasonings and flour and whola…….. fried minute steaks. They are wonderful and do not last long on the table. Another good roast is to take a backstrap even frozen and put it in the crock pot or casserole dish for the oven, add some Dales seasonings, Grill Mates Seasoning, and brown sugar. Let this cook on low all day. Wonderful. The trick to cooking venison is not to cook it so long. It does dry out quickly.

  9. O.M.

    I see this article was posted a while back but I couldn’t help but share…
    my uncle does a lot of hunting and last week he gave my mom a leg/hind quarter (not sure what’s the proper name). After soaking in salt water to remove the blood and trimming it, she slow roasted it in the oven overnight on about 200-250 degrees in an oven bag. She put in all the seasonings, onions, celery, etc. and it came out perfect. To finish it off, she poured brown beef gravy all over it. This was her first time making it and it was delicious! Tasted just like roast beef–great with mashed potatoes.

  10. Connie Bryan

    My husband and I hunt every year and have a freezer full of venison. I used to have difficulty finding the right way to fix the meat until I came across this book: “Outdoor Life’s Complete Fish & Game Cookbook” by A.D. Livingston.
    Not only does it have several wonderful venison recipes but it is full of recipes for just about anything you can hunt. I have used the Alaskan Barbecued Venison recipe in my crockpot and it is wonderful over rice. I put my frozen meat (2lb roast) into the crockpot and layer it with 1/2 pound of bacon, 1 med sliced onion and the following mixed together and poured over top..2 cloves minced garlic, 1 cup catsup, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt and pepper. Turn crockpot on high and start first thing in the morning, around 10am turn it down to low and pull meat apart as much as you can, then let it cook until you’re ready to eat it. I put it over brown rice and serve it with peas or corn on the cob. This is just one of the recipes I use out of the book. I have yet to make a recipe we haven’t liked a lot.

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