This is the BEST recipe for venison stew. Full of tender venison and perfectly cooked vegetables that are all prepared in a flavorful stock, this is one of my favorite venison recipes.
This simple recipe for hearty venison stew is the ultimate comfort food! This classic slow cooking method is such a great way to use deer meat that is packed full of flavor, tender as can be, and not at all gamey.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Bacon fat & Grapeseed Oil – venison is incredibly lean so we need to brown it in some fat.
- Venison Stew Meat – we get ours from the shoulders and legs of the deer.
- Salt, Pepper, and Spices – lots of flavor here!
- Brown Ale – I love using beer in my meat courses. This one uses a malty and roasty brown ale, much like my Beer Braised Pot Roast.
- Onion and Garlic – these become beautifully caramelized in the oven.
- Worcestershire Sauce – a little bit of acid takes care of any gamey flavor the venison may have.
- Beef Stock – the perfect liquid to braise the stew in.
- Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, & Bay – a bundle of fresh herbs and a bay leaf are delightfully aromatic in this stew! These herbs go so well with venison.
- Vegetables – Baby carrots, red potatoes, and sweet peas are classic stew ingredients and I have the secret to cooking them perfectly!
- Cornstarch – Just a little bit to thicken up the cooking liquid into a delicious gravy
Simple Venison Stew Recipe
While this seems like a laundry list of ingredients, they’re all simple, pantry staple items that aren’t hard to gather at the grocery store. And the recipe is easy as can be with big, flavorful results!
The cooking method of this stew is two part: starting with a sear on the stovetop and finishing with a low and slow braise in the oven that leaves the venison fall-apart tender and hearty vegetables perfectly cooked!
Making Venison Stew
- Season and Sear the Venison. We’re creating the first layer of flavor with beautifully browned pieces of venison stew meat.
- Deglaze the pan. A splash of brown ale not only adds flavor, but it gets all those browned bits up off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic, Worcestershire, stock, and fresh herbs. This is the base of our stew and will really develop flavor in the oven.
- Braise the stew. Low and slow in the oven for 90 minutes.
- Add the carrots and potatoes. Then return everything to the oven for another hour.
- Stir in the cornstarch and peas. Adding the peas at the end prevents them from becoming mushy and cornstarch helps to thicken the gravy and make it so luxurious and smooth!
How to perfectly cook potatoes and carrots for stew
Venison stew meat isn’t super tender and needs plenty of time to slowly cook in order for the muscle fibers and connective tissue to break down and become melt-in-your-mouth tender! And while slow cooking is great for the venison, it can mean mushy potatoes and carrots if you’re not careful!
The key to perfectly cooked stew vegetables is adding them in the last hour of cooking. This gives them enough time to soak up some delicious cooking liquid - leaving them perfectly cooked and fork tender, but not soppy and mushy!
What cuts of venison for stew?
For a dish like this, you’re not going to use the tenderloin or backstrap of the deer, those are already beautifully tender cuts and don’t require slow cooking. (You should definitely check out my perfect pan seared venison tenderloin if you need a recipe idea, though!)
The best cuts of meat for venison stew are from the bottoms of the shoulder and legs of the deer. These aren’t prime cuts and can be tough due to ligaments, connective tissues, and other fibers. Slow cooking these pieces makes them so unbelievably tender!
Fat – if you don’t have bacon fat, you can use salted butter or lard for delicious flavor. Fat is needed in this recipe because venison is an incredibly lean red meat.
Beer – if you don’t like beer, you can omit it from this recipe. You can either replace is with 12 ounces of red wine (YUM!) or an equal amount of beef stock to make this dish alcohol-free.
Acid - Worcestershire sauce is used for a little cut of acid, much like when you’re making easy venison burgers. You can also use balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar, if that’s all you have on hand.
Herbs – if you don’t have the fresh herbs to tie into a bouquet garni, use 1 tsp. each of dried rosemary and thyme.
Peas – I used canned peas in this recipe because we had an abundance of them, but fresh or frozen sweet peas would also work.
Potatoes – I love using baby red potatoes in stews, but Yukon golds and even scrubbed and chopped russet potatoes would do!
The BEST Venison Stew
- Dutch Oven
- 2 tablespoon bacon fat
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 2 pounds venison stew meat
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 12 ounces brown ale
- 1 medium white onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 24 ounces beef stock
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 15 ounces sweet peas (fresh, canned, or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Place a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons bacon fat and 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil. While the oil heat, pat 2 pounds venison stew meat dry with a paper towel. Add to the preheated oil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. dried oregano, ½ tsp. smoked paprika, and ½ tsp. black pepper over the meat, stirring to coat.
- Cook the venison, stirring once or twice, until the pieces have browned, about 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 12 ounces of brown ale. Be sure to scrape the pot to get all the delicious, browned bits off the bottom. Add the sliced onion, garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 3 cups of beef stock. Stirring to combine.
- Tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs together with butcher’s twine before nestling into the cooking liquid, followed by the bay leaf.
- Cover pot and cook stew in preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven and stir in 1 pound baby carrots and 1 pound diced red potatoes.
- Return to oven and cook for one more hour. Remove stew from oven, taste, and adjust seasoning. Remove the bay leaf and herb bundle and discard. Whisk ½ cup of the cooking liquid with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and return to the pot. Stir in the peas.
- Once liquid has thickened slightly, stew is ready to serve!
- Leftover stew can be refrigerated for up to five days.
- For an even thicker gravy, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.