Cooking Venison: The Other Red Meat?

Cooking venison, most commonly known as deer meat, is common in many households. Most commonly, the meat is hunted in the wild, but deer farms are now producing the meat due to its popularity. Whether the meat is hunted or farmed, it is still termed venison. Venison is a healthy cut of meat, which can replace its more fatty counterpart: beef.

Types of Meat

Like other mammals, venison can be used for a variety of different cuts of meat. Just as you would expect to find steak, ground chuck, stew meat, etc. off of cow, the same is true for the meat of a deer. Various parts of the deer allow for various cuts of meat, all suited for differing uses. Cuts of meat include roast, loin, chops, flank steak, spare ribs, stew meat, chuck, shank, round steak and fillet. Upon processing, the meat can be turned into ground chuck, jerky, sausage, shredded meat or cubed steak.

Nutritional Information

When compared to other types of red meat, deer meat is known for its nutritional value. Venison is very lean with little fat. Venison boasts a high protein count, with low calories and little cholesterol. In addition, the meat is generally free of chemicals, hormones and other added substances that can be found if beef and pork.

Venison Preparation

Because venison has similar characteristics to beef, it can be prepared and used in the same manner. Due to the nutritional value of the meat, substituting venison instead of beef can make recipes healthier. When ground beef is used, substitute ground venison. If you are grilling or roasting beef, substitute venison steak or roast. To prevent drying of the meat and retaining a tender texture, venison is best when cooked rare. Venison meat loses its flavor and texture when cooked above medium rare, causing the meat to become tough and dry. Various methods of cooking include:

  • Pan Frying- Cut into 1 inch thick steak medallions, or butterfly and cook on high heat for 2 minutes per side.
  • Stir Fry- Slice into 1/4 inch wide strips and cook over high heat for approximately 35 seconds
  • Roast- For a one pound roast, sear meat over high heat to lock in juices. Cook at 450 degrees for 3 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness. Venison should be cooked for at least 15 minutes, for safety reasons.
  • Grilling- Cut into 3/4 inch thickness and grill over high heat for 2 minutes per side.

Flavor: Does it Taste Gamey?

Depending on the type of venison, the meat can have a gamey flavor. In fact, some people prefer the gamey flavor. The meat of the Axis Deer and South Texas Antelope are mild, with the least gamey flavor.

Possible Disease Threats

Although it is not known if the disease is transferred to humans by consuming deer meat, a disease known as chronic wasting disease has been found in some deer, both wild and farmed. The disease is similar to that of mad cow disease and can make you very sick.


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