Corned Venison

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Corned venison on a cutting board.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Corning venison began as one of those, “why not?” experiments that turned out far better than I had expected. I don’t know why I was so worried — I like corned beef, and how different is venison, anyway?

Corning venison at home is so good in fact that any deer hunter out there really ought to learn this technique — you will get far more enjoyment out of the leg roasts from your venison.

I typically use whole-muscle roasts from the hind leg to do this. Big sirloin roasts, rump roasts, the “football roast,” and such. But any big hunk of venison will work. The advantage of the whole-muscle roasts is less sinew and connective tissue, which takes hours to break down. I suppose you could use the backstrap, but why would you?

Lovers of hash might want to corn shoulder or neck roasts, then simmer them so long they begin to fall apart. The extra connective tissue in these cuts makes for a moister hash.

corned venison in broth
Photo by Hank Shaw

The technique is simple: Brine your meat, then simmer it into tenderness. It takes several days, but it isn’t labor-intensive at all. Once made, corned venison is great hot or cold, with root vegetables, cabbage, cold in sandwiches (how I eat most of my corned venison), or chopped into hash.

A word on nitrites. I use them, for color, for flavor and for safety. Can you do this without pink salt? Yes, but your meat will be gray, you will lose some flavor, and there is an ever-so slight chance you might pick up botulism — not a large chance, but as botulism is one of the most toxic substances known to man, I’d say use the nitrite. You can buy it online here at The Sausage Maker.

Once made, you can keep corned venison in the fridge for a couple weeks, or freeze it for a year.

corned venison recipe
4.97 from 130 votes

Corned Venison

So obviously this recipe works with all cervids, antelope, deer, moose, elk, etc. It will also work with beef and lamb, of course, but also bear and even pork -- where the effect is essentially a boiled ham.
Course: Cured Meat, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ounce Instacure No. 1 (sodium nitrite)
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds
  • 6 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • A 3 to 5 pound venison roast

Instructions 

  • Add everything but the roast to a pot and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover, then let it cool to room temperature while covered. This will take a few hours. Meanwhile, trim any silverskin you find off the roast. Leave the fat. Once the brine is cool, find a container just about large enough to hold the roast, place the meat inside and cover with the brine. You might have extra, which you can discard.
  • Make sure the roast is completely submerged in the brine; I use a clean stone to weigh the meat down. You can also just flip the meat every day. Cover and put in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, depending on the roast's size. A 2-pound roast might only need 4 days. The longer you soak, the saltier it will get -- but you want the salt and nitrate to work its way to the center of the roast, and that takes time. Err on extra days, not fewer days.
  • After the alloted time has passed, you have corned venison. To cook and eat, rinse off the meat, then put the roast in a pot just large enough to hold it and cover with fresh water. You don't want too large a pot or the fresh water will leach out too much flavor from the meat -- it's an osmosis thing. partially cover the pot and simmer gently -- don't boil -- for at least 3 hours and up to 5 hours. The meat itself will be cooked in an hour or less, but you want the sinews and connective tissue in the roast to soften and that takes time.
  • Eat hot or cold. It is absolutely fantastic with good mustard and some sauerkraut on a sandwich.

Notes

One final tip: When you are done with the corned venison, leave it in the cooking broth. Store that in the fridge. Why? The broth keeps the venison moist. Without fat, if you leave it out of the brine it can get very dry and even crumbly.

Nutrition

Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4725mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 22IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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339 Comments

  1. Hank, I doubled this recipe anticipating using double the meat. However, when I actually weighed the meat it’s actually only about 5lbs or roasts (I eye balled it and obviously was way off). My concern is the meat will come out too salty since I doubled all ingredients. Can I do a shorter brine time to try and prevent this? Any advice?

    Thanks

    1. Joe: You should be ok because the brine is just a brine — no matter how much you make, it should still be at the same ratio, so you should just have more than you need. Brining time out to be the same. Remember it all depends on how thick the meat is, so a 5 pound thin piece of venison will brine faster than a round 5-pound piece.

      1. Got it. Thanks so much for the help. So you’re actually making your brine recipe quantities based more on the amount of liquid (I used 1 gallon instead of half) than how much meat you’re brining? Would that be correct?

        Thanks again.

        Joe

  2. My wife used this recipe on a whitetail hindquarter muscle. It was outstanding!! Great option for hindquarter and shoulder roasts.

  3. After braised portugues style venison shanks,Chipotle jerky recipes, had to try your corned venison recipe.It didn’t disappoint.Thanks so much for sharing your expertise.

  4. Hank, I see the recipe calls for 1/2 oz of instacure no. 1. However, the instacure package says 3oz per gallon of brine? (Or in this case 1.5oz for 1/2 gallon). Why is that? I’m new to this process and just trying to understand why we can use less than called for.

    Thanks!

    1. Joe: In this particular case, the instacure really is only there for flavor. If you use the recommended amount on the package, you will get a vivid, magenta corned venison. I prefer a softer, pinker one. In many cases, though, yes, it’s best to follow the package directions.

  5. would it help with flavor to add some pork fat to it when putting venison in pot to cook. venison normally don’t have much fat content

    1. Richard: I have never done that, and I like the end result. If you cook the venison gently, it will stay juicy without fat.

  6. Hi Hank!

    We’ve tried several of you recipes and have enjoyed them. We are going to corn a roast we have in the freezer, I’m sure fresh is better, but we haven’t harvested any yet. My question to you is can I put the meat in a zip bag and squeeze out the air?

    Thanks.

  7. If you’re reading this, don’t think about it, just do it! This is the ONLY way to eat a venison roast in my opinion. I have been making this for a year now and it is a family favorite. When my teenager asks ‘what’s for dinner?’ and I tell him Corned Venison, his response is ‘Bet!’ Which I am told means good! 🙂 We are definitely fans. I don’t sub anything and error on the side of extra days. It’s always delicious. Thank you so much!

  8. Im making corned venison in advance of an upcoming elk hunt. When you say I can be frozen and stored once made, is it best to freeze after I remove it from the brine (uncooked), or freeze after it’s been simmered?

      1. I would like to make this recipe and use the crockpot to simmer. Any idea the heat setting and length of time for a crockpot? Thanks!

      2. Kristen: Hard to say about time, but I have used a crockpot on high setting for about 5 to 6 hours before with good results. Your time will vary depending on the size of the roast and how old the deer was.

  9. It’s been five days since I had my venison roast in the fridge. I put it in a plastic bag for easier handling. Today when I turned the roast over, I noticed some slight white foam on the liquid Brine. I also noticed some bubbles like it’s working sort of effervescent. Is this a good sign or bad? my roast is only a pound and a quarter that’s all I had left to use.

    1. Barb: That’s odd. I’d take it out of the brine and smell it. If it smells OK, I’d go ahead and cook it. If not, something weird happened. I’ve never had one go fizzy.