Venison Too Tough? Here’s How to Cook Venison

Venison Tips: How to Cook Venison Correctly

How to Cook Venison

Tough and gamey venison hasn’t been prepared properly. Here’s how to cook venison so it isn’t tough and gamey. Hint: It starts with aging.

I often hear people say that venison is “tough and has a gamey taste.” I have to admit that the first half of my life, I thought the same way. I had only eaten venison once at a wild game supper and it was pretty horrible to say the least.

Then I met Scott. My life and dining habits from then on would be drastically different. He always kept our freezer full of wild game and as my sons came along, we have had to buy more freezers to keep up with the amount of venison harvested each year.

I have loved living off of the harvested venison and enjoy the exceptional depth of flavor that it offers, not to mention not having to buy meat at the supermarket.

How to Cook Venison: Why is Venison Tough and Gamey?

How to cook venison book

Learn more about how to cook venison in the author’s excellent book, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living.

There are a few reasons for the tough texture and gamey taste of venison. Deer, unlike domesticated cattle, have to rely on the vegetation in the wild for survival and on average are older when harvested. They are lean from their diet and exercise, therefore do not have the marbling of fat that beef contains.

Although this makes the deer healthier, it also can cause the meat to be tough if it is not prepared by someone who knows how to cook venison correctly.

The deer’s diet, along with improper aging, will cause venison to taste gamey. Venison does have a distinct flavor, just as grass-fed beef has a distinct flavor, and this must not be confused with gaminess. Most domestic raised animals are bred to be tasteless and fatty.

Venison has much more depth of flavor than beef. If venison preparation is done by someone who knows how to cook venison, it will be incredibly and delectably tender.

How to Cook Venison: It Starts with Aging

If a walk-in cooler is not available, it is best to quickly process your venison, then allow the meat to age in the refrigerator on a rack, not allowing it to sit in its blood,
for five to seven days.

Once it has been aged, package the cuts of meat in a double wrap of butcher paper or vacuum sealed bags, then label and date the packages.

If you have a walk-in freezer, hang it and leave it for seven to ten days. Following these simple steps should rid the venison of any undesirable gamey flavors.

How to Cook Venison: Preparing the Cuts

I prepare the various cuts of venison using different methods. Just as our ancestors before us, I braise the shoulder and neck and use them in stews and soups, brown the loin in a super hot skillet and serve it rare, and prepare the hindquarter roast in a diversity of ways.

How to Cook Venison: Add Good Fats

Since venison does not have much fat, I add healthy fats such as olive oil when I brown the meat. This adds necessary fat to produce a more tender and juicy result.

Venison Tips: The Best Part Isn’t the Taste

How to cook venison - a great cooler

Super-insulated Icey-Tek Coolers are the hunter’s best friend. Order one for yourself and see why.

I find that venison preparation and cooking has contributed to the closeness of our family.

As our family plans the hunt, prepare the fields, and plant nutritious vegetation for the animals in the wild, much fun, conversation, and ideas abound. Each person contributes.

After the meal is prepared, the stories come to life of the hunt, and all the preparation and hard work together is rewarded with a delicious, succulent meal.

Enjoy your family as you begin or continue the family traditions of planning, working, hunting, and enjoying the outdoors and the incredible food that you harvest together.

2 thoughts on “Venison Too Tough? Here’s How to Cook Venison

  1. lmchambers60

    We have plenty of freezers (4) but not enough frig space of a hanging cooler so this is how we age our meat and have been doing it this way for over 25 years. We have a pair of extra large coolers and once we field dress and quarter out the deer we cover it with ice and set in a shady spot at camp or once home in our screened carport. Every day we drain off the bloody water and cover back over with ice. It only takes 2-3 days for the water to start draining clear and after a week it is ready to cut down into smaller portions to wrap, vac seal and freeze. Some we eat right away like the back strap and some of the tougher sections we cut marinade and make jerky in the dehydrator.

  2. griz312000

    My family all love venison. Last fall during deer season I ended up in the hospital and lost part of a lung to a horrible infection, so for the first year since 1965 I didn’t harvest at least one deer. The last time my grand kids came to visit I made a hot dish that they all like….after a few bites I noticed some strange looks on their faces. When I asked what was wrong my oldest grand daughter who is 12 said “Grampa, this tastes funny”. I realized it was made with beef hamburger, not the ground venison they were used to. I can’t wait until September when archery season opens and I can hopefully start filling the freezer.
    I agree that the quality of venison is directly affected by the care taken right from the time the animal hits the ground. A quick field dressing followed by skinning and hanging at 38 to 40 degrees for at least a week to 10 days will make even the toughest out “swamp buck” taste like a yearling.