Venison Recipes

Smoked venison leg sliced on a cutting board
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

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About Venison

Venison, a/k/a deer meat, may or may not be the most popular game meat, but it is definitely the most abused. This page aims to give you tried and tested venison recipes to help you get more out of your deer, elk, moose or pronghorn.

I can’t tell you how many people I have served venison to who have had to overcome some prior bad experience with it. “Ew, it’s so tough. It tastes like liver.” Yes, if you overcook it and handle the meat poorly when you kill the animal it will be poor fare at the table.

Venison is lean, clean meat. Higher in protein and lower in fat than beef, it is as free range and healthy as you get. If you’ve never tasted venison, it is close in flavor to grass-fed beef or bison. Rich, lean, but easy to overcook. A general rule is to cook the tender cuts a bit less than you think, and to cook the tougher cuts a bit more than you think.

I have found that while the taste of elk or moose or whitetail deer or mule deer may differ slightly, the cooking methods and recipes are all interchangeable. And if you are worried about it being “gamey,” here is what you need to know about gamey meat.

Below are some of my favorite venison recipes, grouped by style of cooking or cut of meat.

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Venison Charcuterie

A primer on making deer meat sausages and curing whole cuts of venison

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Demystifying Deer Fat

Not all venison fat is bad. Here’s some of the science behind what’s in venison fat and why it behaves the way it does, so you can make your own decision about whether to trim or keep it.

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A variety of venison marinades on a tabletop

Venison Marinades

A primer on how to make the best use of marinades for your venison, along with some sample recipes.

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Blade roast removed from the shoulder.

How to Cut a Flat Iron Steak

Instructions on how to cut one of my favorite steaks from an elk, moose or large deer.

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Getting ready to prepare deer heart with a sharp boning knife.

How to Prepare Deer Heart for Cooking

It’s easy – all you need is a very sharp knife and a well-lit place to work.

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Bison ribeyes in a Dry Ager.

Dry Aging: How and Why

Detailed tutorial on dry aging, even if you don’t have a fancy dry ager.

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Venison Recipes by Cut of Meat

venison steaks with caramelized onions and mushrooms

Venison Medallions, Backstraps, Tenderloins

Recipes for the tenderest part of the deer.

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A green chile elk burger

Ground Venison Recipes

What to do with all that venison “burger” the butcher gave you.

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Slicing smoked venison on a cutting board.

Venison Roasts

These are usually from the back legs, and are good for long, slow cooking to make sure they’re tender.

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two bowls of kentucky burgoo

Venison Stews and Soups

Pretty self-explanatory, these are my wintertime dishes.

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Braised venison shank on a plate

Flanks and Shanks

This is the venison equivalent of beef shanks, flank steak and skirt steak.

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finished grilled deer heart with peppers

Venison Wobbly Bits – Heart, Liver, Kidneys, Tongue

Offal. Innards. Variety Meats. In some cases, these are the best parts of the animal. Here’s how to cook them properly.

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