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These are the best venison burgers you’ll ever make! The perfectly seasoned ground deer patties are simple to make, and hold their shape. Juicy and tender, these venison burger patties take just 15 minutes to prepare, and can be cooked on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet or quickly on the grill.
Growing up, we didn’t eat very much venison. I do remember one time my mom trying to pass off venison bacon as turkey bacon (which didn’t work at all), but other than that, I have no real memories of eating deer meat as a child.
Fast forward to today where we enjoy recipes with deer meat multiple times a week in multiple different forms. Whether it's using whole cuts of venison or enjoying a ground venison recipe, we love our deer meat in this house!
Stroganoff, venison meat sauce for spaghetti, tacos, you name it, we make it with ground deer! My favorite of these ground venison recipes though, has got to be this classic, easy venison cheeseburger recipe! It is so very tasty!
If you're looking for a delicious venison recipe using whole cuts of meat, might I suggest my very popular (and very delicious!) red wine venison roast recipe. It's unreal!
What is a Venison Burger?
A venison burger is just like a regular hamburger, except instead of cuts of beef it’s made with ground venison! I season, cook, and store my venison burgers very similar to regular hamburgers, so if you've made beef burgers you can make deer burgers!
Ground venison meat is an incredibly flavorful meat that is hearty and filling. Some people say it tastes gamey, but I believe with the right seasoning and technique, you’ll like this easy venison burger recipe better than beef!
Ingredients for this recipe
- Ground Venison
- Kosher Salt & Pepper
- Seasoned Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Lard or Bacon Fat
- Worcestershire Sauce (or another acid)
How to Cook a Venison Burger
- Season and mix. I am a firm believer that less is more when it comes to burger recipes. I season my burgers with a few choice spices, add fat and acid, and gently turn the meat to incorporate.
- Portion the venison. The less you handle venison meat, the better. It doesn’t have a high fat content and will get tough and chewy if mixed too much. I like to use a portion scoop to get even patty sizes.
- Form the burger patties. To form the best deer burger I gently press down with my top hand while turning the patty with my bottom hand. When I get a circle that’s about 3.5 – 4 inches in diameter, I press an indentation in the center to avoid a venison burger that’s bloated and puffy in the center.
- Get cookin’, good lookin’. This recipe can be made on the grill or in a fry pan, whatever you prefer!
What temperature to cook venison burgers to?
Deer are susceptible to a sickness known as Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD. This is a vicious disease that will cause the infected animal to go through a dramatic weight loss (literally it will waste away) and experience other very unpleasant symptoms that we won’t discuss on a food blog.
There is debate as to whether or not humans can contract CWD from deer, as it is caused by a prion and not bacteria. While there’s never been a recorded case of a person who has eaten venison contracting the disease, it is still something to know and consider.
If you are concerned about bacteria (again, not a the prion that causes CWD), it is recommended that you cook the venison to an internal temp of 145 degrees, or medium rare.
How to cook venison burgers on the grill: Preheat grill over medium-high heat, scraping grates with a wire brush to clean off any residue, if necessary.
Add burger patties, divot side down, to grill and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, rotating patties 90 degrees once to prevent sticking. Flip and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes (longer for well done). Remove from grill and immediately top with sliced cheese, if using.
Stovetop Cooking Instructions
How to cook venison burgers on the stove: Place a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of lard or bacon fat to the pan and allow to melt and coat the entire bottom of the pan. Place 2 – 3 burgers, divot side down, in preheated pan, spacing apart evenly.
Cook on the first side for 3 – 4 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 2 – 3 minutes (longer for more well done). Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of fat to the pan before cooking each batch of burgers.
Freezing Venison Burgers
To freeze venison burger patties, form the burgers as directed in the recipe. Cut wax paper into squares that are 1-inch larger than the burgers and layer between each patty, creating a neat little stack. Wrap the stack in tinfoil before placing in a freezer-safe bag.
To cook: remove from freezer and thaw in fridge overnight. Continue with the cooking process the next day.
I do not recommend cooking venison burgers straight from frozen. You lose a lot of flavor and end up with a dry, tasteless hunk of protein.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
- How to make deer taste less gamey? If your venison tastes gamey to you, adding acid helps fix that! I like to use Worcestershire sauce, as there's not only vinegar in it, but lots of other flavors.
- What can I use instead of Worcestershire sauce? Balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, and malt vinegar are all great options to add acid to your deer burger mix. DO NOT use distilled white vinegar or lemon juice, as those have much too harsh a flavor.
- Can I use another fat besides lard? Yes! We often use bacon fat, melted butter, or olive oil when making venison burgers. Use an exact 1:1 replacement of your preferred fat. The key is to add fat which not only adds flavor, but moisture!
- Do I add the fat if my venison is already mixed with pork? We don't add pork fat to our ground venison when we process it at home. A lot of people do this, getting an 80/20% split because the venison is so lean. If you do this, feel free to skip the addition of the lard.
- How can I add even more flavor? While this ground deer burger recipe is the most delicious, it is very basic. Feel free to jazz it up to your liking! Add fresh herbs, chopped onion, and/or minced garlic to the meat before mixing for even more flavor!
I sure hope you give this easy venison burger recipe a try! After all, it’s very near and deer to my heart.
Watch the recipe video!
Juicy Ground Venison Burgers (Deer Burgers)
- 4 ounce portion scoop
- Cast Iron Pan or Grill
For the burgers:
- 2 pounds ground venison, thawed
- 3 tablespoon lard or bacon fat, melted
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- ½ tsp. seasoned salt
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 8 Brioche Buns, sliced, butter, and toasted if desired
- 8 pieces Deli Deluxe American Cheese
- 8 Romaine Lettuce Leaves
- 8 tomato slices
- 8 onion slices
- In a medium bowl, gently mix together the venison meat, the melted lard or bacon fat, Worcestershire (or other acid) 2 tsp. of the salt, ½ tsp. of the black pepper, the seasoned salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Do not over mix.
- Use a 4oz. scoop to portion out the meat to create equally sized balls to form patties.
- To form the patties: hold the portioned venison in your right hand and press down firmly with your left hand. Begin rotating the patty with your bottom hand and continue pressing down with your left. When the patty is 3.5 – 4 inches in diameter press a divot into the center that is roughly the size of a quarter (this helps prevent the burger from puffing up while cooking).
- Place patties on a baking tray lined with wax or parchment paper and continue portioning and forming patties until all 8 are made. Sprinkle patties on both sides with remaining salt and pepper.
- From here patties can either be made right away, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to one day, or frozen. To freeze burgers: place each patty between small squares of wax paper, wrap in tinfoil, and place in a freezer-safe plastic bag. (If freezing burger patties be sure to remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator the evening before use.)
- To cook venison burgers in a cast iron pan: place pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of lard or bacon fat to the pan and allow to melt and coat the entire bottom. Place 2 – 3 burgers, divot side down, in preheated pan, spacing apart evenly. Cook on the first side for 3 – 4 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 2 – 3 minutes (longer for more well done). Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of bacon grease before cooking each batch of burgers. Remove from pan and immediately top with sliced cheese, if using.
- To grill venison burgers: Preheat grill over medium-high heat, scraping grates with a wire brush to clean off any residue, if necessary. Add burger patties, divot side down, to grill and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, rotating patties 90 degrees once during this duration to prevent sticking. Flip and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes (longer for well done). Remove from grill and immediately top with sliced cheese, if using.
- To assemble burgers: Place romaine leaf on bottom bun and top with burger patty. Add tomato and onion, if using. Spread mayo and mustard on the top bun and finish assembling the burger. Serving with a side of potato chips, fries, or a pickle!
- This recipe works great for beef burgers too!
- Refer to post for notes on adding fats and acids to the deer meat mixture.
- Refer to post for freezing and thawing instructions.