Venison Gumbo

5 from 11 votes
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This venison gumbo is dark, savory and rich, a classic Cajun gumbo with no tomato and a dark roux. It’s wonderful for cold nights.

A bowl of Cajun gumbo made with venison and sausage.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Note that there is no tomato in this gumbo. If you want a Cajun dish that does have tomato in it, try my recipe for Venison Sauce Piquante. Or if you want a gumbo where tomatoes play a larger role, try my Creole gumbo.

Typically I will use rando bits of venison for this gumbo, like stew meat, or a stray shank or bit of neck roast. You don’t want to use backstrap or tenderloin here.

But I will also make a “venison gumbo” with that plus whatever other old game meats lurking in the freezer. So long as they have been vacuum-sealed, there is no reason you cannot use meats that are more than a year old — they will not be as nice as younger meats, but hey, that’s what this gumbo is for.

A good Cajun gumbo relies on its roux, a cooked flour-and-fat combination that can range from ivory to black, but which is best from blonde to dark chocolate. It really is your call here. I really like the flavor of the dark chocolate roux, but cooking the flour that long will damage its ability to thicken the gumbo.

So in that case, I add okra when it’s in season, unless I have some dried okra in my pantry, or I will use file gumbo, the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree. I rarely use all three.

Another tip is to add your sausage late in the process. This prevents all the fat from cooking out. I almost always use homemade Cajun andouille sausage, but I’ve used Conecuh from Alabama, and that’s good, too. Any smoked sausage will work in a pinch.

The critical factor in making venison gumbo is time. Take your time making the roux, and take your time cooking the gumbo. It might take 4 hours for some tough cuts to submit. Just drink a few beers and relax; it’ll all come out well in the end.

If you are not a hunter, your cooking time will be less. I would suggest the following combination: venison shoulder, shank or neck, some turkey legs, a ham hock, and smoked andouille sausage.

A bowl of Cajun gumbo made with venison and sausage.
5 from 11 votes

Venison Gumbo

Any cut of venison will do, as will similar meats like beef, goat, bison and such. This is the gumbo to make when you have really random meats.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Cajun
Servings: 10 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 cup peanut oil, lard or bacon fat
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 large minced green peppers
  • 2 minced medium onions
  • 4 minced celery stalks
  • 6 minced cloves garlic
  • 3 to 4 pounds venison or other game meats
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 quarts game stock, chicken stock or water
  • 1 pound smoked andouille sausage, cut into rings
  • 2 tablespoons file powder
  • 2 green onions and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley per person


  • Bring the stock to a gentle simmer.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, add the cup of oil to the pot, and turn the heat to medium-high. Whisk in the flour, and stir this frequently until it turns the color of chocolate. You can go as dark as dark chocolate brown, but under no circumstances can you let this roux burn. Keep in mind that this takes time, maybe 15 to 25 minutes of frequent stirring.
  • When the roux is ready, add the peppers, onions, celery and garlic and stir to combine. Cook this, stirring often, for 6  to 8 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
  • Meanwhile, mix all the dry spices together except the filé powder.
  • When the veggies are soft, ladle in the stock with one hand while stirring with the other. Stir in each ladle of stock before adding another. Turn the heat to high to bring the gumbo to a strong simmer.
  • Add half the spices, stir to combine, and add the meats except the sausage, if using. Taste and add more salt or spices if you want. Drop the heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently for at least 90 minutes, but probably more like 2 to 3 hours. Check the status of the meats every half-hour after 90 minutes have elapsed. When the meats are about falling off the bone, fish them out and when they cool enough to handle them, pick the meat off the bones. Return the meats to the gumbo and add the andouille. Cook for another 15 minutes or so.
  • Add the filé powder, the green onions and parsley. Cook for 3 minutes more. Serve with rice or all by itself.


You will want to get some filé powder, which is powdered sassafrass. It is an important flavor component here, and the filé (FEE-lay) needs to be added at the end of the process. If you cannot find it, do without. But be sure to look at least before you omit.
If you have it, okra can substitute for the file powder. Use up to 1 pound, sliced into coins. 


Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 497mg | Potassium: 531mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 885IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 3mg

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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Recipe Rating


  1. Excellent! I’ve made this before, but made a triple batch yesterday to share with family. 12 lbs venison, including 2 whole shoulder blade roasts, 2 inside rounds and a large rear shank. My 20 qt pot was almost full. Stock was primarily previously made and pressure canned stock using Hank’s recipe. Everyone loved it.

  2. I’ve made this recipe as well as Hank’s chilindron. My husband is a hunter and I’m always looking for new ways to cook venison and game turkey. This gumbo recipe is fantastic. I use bacon fat and it’s an awesome way to use up the drippings I collect from cooking.

  3. Hi Hank,

    Thanks for all the great recipes.

    If I add the file powder to the whole pot of gumbo, does that ruin it for leftover the next few days? Or should I add it to each bowl or the servings needed for one meal?



    1. Ryan: Add the file powder at the very end on the first night, and it should be fine for the rest of the week because all you’ll be doing is reheating, not cooking for a long time.

  4. Do yalls think I can add Smoked Sausage and Chicken as well with thus?
    I use the Rabudeaux pork and venison sausage and I’ll use the deer I just processed.

  5. Hank, keep up the good work on your recipes! I have made this gumbo before, and it comes out great. The last time I made it I took some to my fishing club and shared the gumbo with my fishing and hunting buddies. All I seen was the top of their heads. No talking just eating. They all loved it. I’m going to make some more Venison Gumbo today. Yummy

  6. I tried it with my spring gobbler this year. I went with the file powder instead of okra. It was a massive hit! I definitely know what I’ll be using any future wild turkey legs and thighs for.