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This venison dry rub is a wonderful spice blend to use on your favorite cuts of fresh deer meat! It’s excellent on deer steaks like grilled backstrap or pan seared tenderloin. You can even stir it into your venison burger mix for a time saving seasoning shortcut!
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Made with pantry staple spices and herbs this rub is a kitchen must-have in our venison recipe obsessed household! We always have some in the cupboard because it goes great on virtually all cuts of fresh venison. Mix up a jar this hunting season and you’ll certainly agree!
What Spices for Fresh Venison?
- Kosher Salt – It’s imperative to use Kosher salt when seasoning meat, more on that below!
- Coarsely Ground Pepper – Bonus points if you grind your own.
- Garlic Powder – Garlic makes everything better and is an essential aromatic, providing a great depth of flavor.
- Onion Powder – Another essential aromatic that both flavors and compliments the deer.
- Dried Rosemary – the earthy, slightly floral flavor of rosemary holds up beautifully to a strongly flavored meat like venison and doesn’t get lost in the cooking process.
- Dried Thyme – The slight citrus aroma of dried thyme provides a light, clean finish to whatever venison you’re cooking.
- Smoked Paprika – Adds depth and a bit of heat, without being overwhelmingly spicy.
The process of making this homemade rub is so easy it’s almost embarrassing. If you can use measuring spoons and a whisk – you can make this! Let’s break it down real quick.
Homemade Venison Dry Rub
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. This will prevent any clumps and ensure even distribution of the spices.
- Store in an airtight container. For up to six months! Make sure you label the jar with the contents and the date it was made.
Using Fresh Rosemary and Thyme
Oftentimes when I’m cooking my preference is for fresh herbs as they tend to be more flavorful than their dried counterparts. For this rub to be shelf stable, we must use dried herbs.
However, if you’re willing to refrigerate the rub and only keep it for two months, you can use fresh rosemary and thyme in place of the dried.
Kosher Salt vs Table Salt in Cooking
In all my recipes I call for Kosher salt. Not to get all elitist or “I’ve worked in restaurants,” but it really is the superior salt for several reasons.
- The coarser, larger grains of Kosher salt stick beautifully to the surface of meat. Evenly salted meat will be more tender and juicy and that’s what we want with venison.
- Because the salt is larger, it’s harder to over-season your food. There’s so much more control when you sprinkle Kosher salt over food.
- Kosher salt is less refined and doesn’t contain any additives or anti-clumping agents so you get a purer seasoning.
If you’ve never tried Kosher salt, give it a go and I promise, you’ll never look back.
If you absolutely must use table salt, it’s important to know that you’ll only want to use half of the stated amount, or you risk over-salting your food. Again, this has to do with the grain size of Kosher salt vs regular table salt.
So for this recipe you would use 6 tablespoons of table salt.
A Note on Smoked Paprika
Because I often use this rub when I’m going to enjoy smoked venison using smoked paprika adds another delicious layer of smokey flavor. You’re welcome to substitute sweet paprika for a milder flavor or hot paprika if you want more spice.
Watch the recipe video!
Venison Dry Rub
- Mixing Bowl
- Storage Jar with Lid
- ¾ cup kosher salt (see post for substitutions)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a mixing bowl, combine ¾ cup Kosher salt, 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Whisk well to combine.
- See post for notes on Kosher salt vs table salt.
- See post for notes on using fresh herbs.
- See post for notes on paprika substitutions.
- If you're not going to freshly grind your black pepper, only use 1 tablespoon.