Teriyaki Meatballs with Venison

5 from 22 votes
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Like most normal humans, I have a thing for meatballs. And as a hunter, I love teriyaki meatballs — because, well, teriyaki seems to be one of the primary flavors American hunters turn to for cooking wild game.

Obviously, I also love Italian meatballs, Greek meatballs, Laotian meatballs, German meatballs, etc, etc. Pretty much every culture that eats meat, which is almost all of them, has some sort of a meatball.

Japanese teriyaki meatballs on a plate with chopsticks
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This style of meatball, called niku dango, is damn good. It’s basically teriyaki meatballs, normally made with pork, and if you are not a hunter, use pork or beef or even ground chicken or turkey.

I used venison to make these meatballs instead, because that’s what I had at hand. It’s a pretty simple meatball, made “Japanese” with the addition of ginger, green onion, coarse panko breadcrumbs and soy sauce in the mix. All by itself, it’s a nice meatball.

The star of this show is the sauce, which is a homemade teriyaki. Could you use store-bought teriyaki sauce? I suppose, but I always prefer cooking from scratch.

Teriyaki, if you’ve been living in a cave near the Arctic Circle your whole life, is a salty, sweet, slightly acidic sauce that goes well on everything. In Japan it’s a sort of BBQ sauce. Here it’s become a universal seasoning; I’ve even seen teriyaki potato chips.

That’s really all there is to this recipe: Easy teriyaki meatballs glazed with a homemade sauce, dusted with sesame seeds. Stick a toothpick in each meatball and you have a great party appetizer. Toss a few on top of some steamed rice and you have an easy weeknight meal.

But a fair warning: Make more than you think you’ll need. People seem to be unable to control themselves while eating these…

For another take on Japanese meatballs, here’s one I like from Saveur.

Want more teriyaki? Try my teriyaki duck legs, teriyaki grilled doves, or teriyaki mushrooms.

Japanese teriyaki meatballs on a plate with chopsticks
5 from 22 votes

Teriyaki Meatballs with Venison

Honestly, although I made these with venison, pork is more traditional. And you can basically use any ground meat here. But, the ground meat needs to be fatty, at least 15 percent fat (20 percent is better), and it should be ground relatively fine. A coarser ground meatball will still taste great, but it won't be as refined. Your choice.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes



  • 2 pounds finely ground venison, pork or wild boar
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs


  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons potato or corn starch
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


  • Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a bowl. Mix all the sauce ingredients in another bowl.
  • Form meatballs anywhere from the size of a walnut to the size of golf ball. For best results, set the meatballs on a baking sheet and put it into the fridge for an hour to firm up. But you can cook the meatballs straight away if you'd like.
  • Cook the meatballs. You can deep fry them at 360°F for about 5 minutes, or you can poach them in simmering water for about the same amount of time (they're ready when they float); or you can bake the meatballs at 400°F for about 20 minutes.
  • Glaze the meatballs. Whisk the sauce together so the starch doesn't stick to the bottom of the bowl, and pour it into a large saute pan. Bring it to a boil and add the cooked meatballs. Roll them around in the hot sauce to glaze for 30 seconds or so. Move the meatballs to a serving plate and sprinkle sesame seeds over them. Serve hot as an appetizer or with rice.


I don't like a super sweet sauce, so I only use 1 tablespoon of sugar; mirin is also sweet, so that's enough for me. Feel free to increase the amount of sugar if you like.


Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 2162mg | Potassium: 610mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 5.8mg

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.

5 from 22 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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  1. My favorite venison recipe!
    We make them bigger for meals at home, and we make smaller ones for parties. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love them!!!

  2. We made these last night. Delicious. They are definitely being added to the regular rotation.
    I noticed that the meatball mixture on the website here has 1 tsp salt, and no black pepper; and in Buck, Buck, Moose the mixture has no salt, but a 1/2 tsp black pepper. I followed the book recipe. Is there one version that you prefer?

  3. I made these yesterday for the Super Bowl and they were a hit! I thought I would have plenty leftover for lunch today, but they were way too popular to last that long. They came together so quickly I would even do them on a weeknight. I have been making your recipes for years, Hank, and they have never failed me. Thank you from the bottom of my stomach!

  4. I make these meatballs every year for our annual friendsgiving camp out in November, and every year they are devoured in mere minutes. I love a lot of your recipes, but this one is by far my favorite and probably one of the easiest ones I’ve tackled! Absolutely delicious!

  5. Has anyone tried making these in a crockpot? I am looking to make them for a party and am wondering if they would work the same way in a crockpot?

    1. Priscilla: Nope, you can’t make them in a crockpot. BUT, you can make them as the recipe says and then serve them in the crockpot. It’d be a good way to keep them all warm for the party.

  6. Just made these for a dinner party, using ground venison with bacon ends and finely minced yellow onion in place of the spring onion. I simmered the meatballs in my home made duck broth. They were a huge hit. I was a fool to think I’d have next day lunch leftovers. Next time I’ll double the recipe. Thanks for another great one.

  7. I just made these for my Husband today, using 2lbs of venison cut with some ground pork to provide a little extra fat in the meat. I made a few changes due to not having all the ingredients needed– substituting fresh chopped cilantro for the green onions, adding in half a chopped white onion, and also adding a teaspoon of garlic powder to season the mix up a bit more. I didn’t have any breadcrumbs handy and was running short on time, so I used a half-and-half mixture of crushed saltine crackers & oatmeal as the binder.

    These came out AMAZING. I mean, these were truly incredible meatballs. I haven’t seen my Husband eat meatballs that enthusiastically before, so I think I just beat out his mother’s home recipe! 😉 Thank you so much for this, I’m going to have to check out some of your other recipes now.

  8. Made these last night and they were phenomenal!! Only thing I did different was I added a 1/2 lb ground pork. We will making these many more times!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  9. My son and I ramped up our bow hunting and have harvested three deer already this season, so I am needing some new recipes. This one is excellent. I thought the ginger might be overpowering but it was a nice touch. My wife and daughter also approved so we are adding this one to the “keeper” list. Based on your chili, jerky, and this recipe, I can’t wait to receive your upcoming cookbook.

    1. Macky: Any supermarket should have it. Mirin is a Japanese sweet wine. Look for it in the Asian section next to the rice vinegar.

  10. Whoops, I see that in the introduction now. Javelina was a fantastic success with this recipe. Some people (illegally) leave them and take only the head because of the smell; I thought the meat was milder than venison.

  11. Hank, do you have to add any fat when grinding the venison, or do the eggs hold things together? I’m going to try this with javelina, and it’s very lean.

    1. Thomas: I always add fat to my ground venison, normally pork fat or bacon trimmings, anywhere from 10 to 15 percent for “burger” to 35 percent for sausage. This recipe uses burger.

  12. Thanks for yet another winner here Hank. Made these last night with venison shoulder (no added fat and they were a major hit with the entire family!

  13. Did you mean a teaspoon of salt instead of a tablespoon? We made these the other day and I only used half of the salt called for in the recipe and they were still too salty. Especially the sauce, next time I’ll use low sodium soy sauce and see if it’s better. They were pretty good though, even though they were very salty. I will definitely make them again.

  14. Can’t wait to try these. When staring into the freezer, I can never think of anything ~Asian to make with the ground venison. I always end up at something South American or ‘Murican.

  15. I’m wondering why I didn’t think of this already. These meatballs are definitely on my menu for the next few days… and I may take them to my wild foods luncheon next month. Thanks for a great recipe idea!