This is my catch-all category for ground venison recipes, that “deer burger” you processor gives you in plastic tubes, or which, hopefully, you ground yourself.
Ground venison, or deer meat, depending on where you live, is the bedrock of a hunter’s household because, well, ground venison recipes are basically the same thing as ground beef recipes. It’s that simple. And when I say “venison,” I mean all kinds of it: deer, elk, moose, antelope, caribou, etc.
If you are not a hunter, ground grass-fed beef or bison will work for all ground venison recipes.
You cook most ground venison exactly the way you cook ground beef. There’s really no difference. With one exception.
And that is when you have ground venison with no added fat. I almost never do this, but no-fat ground venison can be useful, and below I do have a selection of no-fat ground venison recipes.
The majority of you reading this will get your ground venison from the processor, in those aforementioned one-pound tubes. As a hunter, you can ask the process to mix in beef fat or pork fat, or none at all; often people will get some with added fat and some without.
Beef fat works well with ground venison, and makes the flavor closer to ground beef. Pork fat is lower in saturated fat, has less flavor and will allow the venison flavor to shine.
Grinding Your Own
Basic thing you need to know is if you are grinding your own, you will be adding the fat to the ground venison — and just like the processors, some people add beef fat, some pork, and a few add lamb fat. I prefer pork fat, ideally backfat.
Bacon ends, which are the odd pieces of bacon left over from making pretty slices, works very well if you are making ground venison recipes that don’t mind a little hint of smoke and salt. You can buy them in any supermarket, usually in three-pound blocks.
Every once in a while, you will get a deer or moose or elk with enough natural fat to make ground meat without added fat — test the fat by frying some up in a pan, and if it smells and tastes good (dip some bread into the hot fat to see), go for it. If you don’t like the flavor, trim the fat off and use domestic. Here is my article on dealing with deer fat, if you’re interested in reading more.
Ground Venison Recipes
What’s organized below are types of ground venison recipes. Beyond deer burgers, you’ll find recipes for venison meatballs, ground venison casseroles, venison chili, that sort of thing. A few of these recipes are in my cookbook Buck, Buck, Moose, which has a whole section of ground venison recipes.
Keep in mind you can use ground venison in canning, especially if you want to pressure can your own venison spaghetti sauce. I have a whole article on canning venison here.
Other Ground Venison Recipes
No-Fat Ground Venison Recipes
Many of the above recipes will work with 100 percent ground venison, but the places where it really shines are here:
- Venison chili. No real need to have fat in the grind here, although it certainly doesn’t hurt.
- Venison ragu. Same deal as the chili.
- Ground venison jerky is actually superior where there is no fat, because it will keep longer. There are lots of recipes, but mine is inspired by Native American pemmican.
- Finally, real-deal “taco meat,” picadillo, works well with no-fat ground venison. My picadillo recipe is from Sonora.