Venison Burgers

These venison burgers, which mix egg yolks and bacon into the meat to ensure juiciness, turn out remarkably tender and flavorful burgers that work magnificently with all the usual burger toppings. Here’s how to make them.

A vension burger with cheese, pickles, and arugula on a wooden board.

You may think you know what to expect from venison burgers. But you haven’t yet experienced these venison burgers, which cleverly mix bacon and egg yolks with the ground venison to keep the resulting burgers juicy as well as a little less intense in flavor than most venison burgers. Sorta brilliant. Just as brilliant is the author’s quip that “More bacon on top is not a bad idea.” It never is.–David Leite

Venison Burgers FAQs

How do you keep venison burgers from being dry?

Since venison is a lean game meat, it can end up tough and dry if not handled properly. The key to keeping your venison burgers moist is the addition of fat, in the form of bacon or pancetta for these burgers.

It’s also important not to overcook your burgers. Once they reach 160°F on an instant read thermometer, pull them from the grill or skillet and let them rest for a few minutes.

Do venison burgers taste gamey?

Ground deer meat doesn’t taste the same as beef, and it can have a flavor that some people find too gamey. Our testers found these burgers to be quite mild and the addition of Worcestershire sauce to the patties helps to balance the venison flavor. Some of our testers enjoyed them more than traditional ground beef burgers.

How do I stop my burger from puffing up in the center when I cook it?

Just before cooking press your thumb into the center of the patty to create an indentation. This will allow the burgers to cook evenly and the finished burger will be flat on top.

Venison Burgers

A vension burger with cheese, pickles, and arugula on a wooden board.
These venison or deer burgers, which mix egg yolks and bacon into the meat to ensure juiciness, turn out remarkably tender and flavorful burgers. They're easy to make and can be cooked on the grill or in a skillet.

Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
Mains
American
4 to 6 servings
714 kcal
5 / 9 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground venison
  • 6 ounces uncooked bacon or pancetta ground or very finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 to 6 slices Emmentaler cheese (optional)
  • 4 to 6 good-quality burger buns toasted or grilled
  • Coarsely ground mustard (optional)
  • Mayonnaise (optional)
  • Sliced dill pickles (optional)
  • A handful arugula (optional)

Directions
 

  • Build a really hot fire in a grill or preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.
  • In a bowl, combine the venison, bacon, salt, pepper, egg yolks, and Worcestershire sauce with your hands. The mixture will be sorta wet and sticky. Divvy the mixture into 4 to 6 balls and gently shape each blob into a 1 1/2-inch-thick patty.
  • Carefully brush the grill rack or skillet with a little oil.
  • Grill or sear the patties until well browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip and, if desired, place a slice of cheese on top of each patty, and then cook for about 3 minutes more for medium-rare to medium, or longer according to your desired doneness.
  • Serve the burgers on buns with your desired combination of mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and/or arugula.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1burgerCalories: 714kcal (36%)Carbohydrates: 24g (8%)Protein: 54g (108%)Fat: 43g (66%)Saturated Fat: 17g (106%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 364mg (121%)Sodium: 665mg (29%)Potassium: 732mg (21%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 402IU (8%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 252mg (25%)Iron: 7mg (39%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I use venison a lot in cooking and have made a lot of venison burgers, but this was one of the best.

We made the burgers a little smaller when we ended up with 2 more people to feed at the last minute but they were still amazing. Even with our variety of picky eaters, the burgers got a thumbs-up plain, with just ketchup, with cheese and mustard, and with everything but arugula. One of our last-minute dinner guests had never tried venison and thought it was better than any beef burger he had had before.

A wonderful recipe that I’ll use again.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The tester, Lori, sent us this note a year or so after first making these venison burgers.] Knowing my boys were having their wisdom teeth out and would be eating soft foods for a few days, I made sure to ask what they would like for dinner the night before surgery. As it was deer season, they both agreed it should be this venison burger. We always make the burger patties according to the recipe but always change the cheese and toppings to fit each individual’s personal taste. We just finished dinner and, as usual, the burgers were perfect!

What a delicious preparation for venison burgers! Since my husband has been a hunter for years, I’ve had my share of big game and game birds to prepare. The ground bacon and egg yolks added an unbelievable level of moistness to the venison meat. And we loved the smokiness of the bacon in the burgers.

I served them with Emmentaler cheese melted on top and an additional slice of cooked bacon on top. We had an arugula salad on the side with a Dijon vinaigrette. We left the bun off—the meat was awesome by itself! With so much ground venison, elk, and antelope around here, I wish I had found this recipe years ago. I’ve got it now and will use it often.

If you’re eating venison because it’s low-fat, this isn’t the recipe for you. But if you’ve some venison and want to make something tasty with it, this burger is the way to go. Venison would normally make for a very lean burger, but this recipe solves that problem by adding a generous amount of bacon and egg yolk.

As written, this venison burger recipe will make some really large burgers. I used only 1 pound of meat and scaled the recipe accordingly. I still got 4 pretty big burgers out of it. The bacon, in addition to adding fat, adds a nice smoky flavor that really complements the intense meatiness of the venison. The resulting burger is quite delicious. I have to say, I much preferred it to a beef burger.

I used the suggested condiments, and they worked very well as a package, but feel free to dress the burger according to your whim.

I was unsure about this recipe as I’m not used to cooking with game, but since I had access to some, I thought I’d try. I found I liked venison burgers very much.

I had to grind the 2 loins I was given in the food processor so I did the bacon at the same time. This made assembling the burgers very easy. The resulting mix was very wet. I seared them in a cast-iron skillet for 5 minutes and then turned them to cook for another 4 minutes for a medium burger.

They were mild tasting and very delicious. There was no gamey taste at all and they were tender to the point of almost falling apart. One taster said his burger did fall apart while he was eating it, but mine just had a few bits come away from the edge; however, I didn’t load up with condiments to the point where I’d have to squeeze it all together to eat.

I’d definitely make this again, perhaps adding a little more seasoning for extra flavor and maybe leaving out 1 egg yolk to make a drier mix.

This recipe makes 4 large deer burgers. Ground bacon and 4 egg yolks are mixed with the venison to add moisture. I grilled the burgers over charcoal and found the recipe’s timing to be accurate. The result was delicious.

I used crunchy dill pickles and that was an added wow factor, as the flavors worked really, really well together, plus the combination of textures was perfect. Because these burgers were so rich, I might suggest making them a little smaller, either by reducing the amounts or by making perhaps 5 instead of 4, and adjusting the cooking time accordingly.

Originally published November 7, 2012

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really lovely! I’ve made these this evening to recipe only excepting I used half beef and half venison because that was what I had on hand. The balance of flavor is really nice and we will definitely be making these again.

  2. Wow, this sounds great! I haven’t had access to any venison in a while, but I plan to try grinding bacon and adding it to ground duck for burgers. I think it would taste great! I raise ducks and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare the meat.

  3. 5 stars
    Best deer burgers I’ve ever made! My 2 sons and hubby couldn’t stop raving about them! I didn’t have ground bacon, so I chopped it and it turned out great!!! I had a little extra Worcestershire sauce to the patties while they were cooking! Served with lettuce, tomato, sweet pickle.

  4. 5 stars
    Wow! Best deer burgers I’ve ever made. Had to add a few breadcrumbs to dry it up a bit. I also threw in some garlic powder. Awesome recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    yoops, we ate em all up. sorry I didn’t see your suggestion before dinner, but I followed the recipe exactly and they were wonderful. Mild, tender, meaty not harsh, held together on the grill, cooked simply and gave off all the normal signs (juices pooling in the indent on top before turning over…). I will definitely make this recipe again. My coworker went hunting today so I am hopeful there will be more ground venison waiting for me from her at work Monday!

    To reiterate, I am so glad I searched well for a venison burger recipe….I admit LC was not on my radar for such a thing, and shame on me. You came through David. You got it all going on in the kitchen.

    1. Hi Carol, I had to jump in and respond to you. I have a lot of hunting friends and hence a lot of venison. I’ve tried every which way to cook it and have always lamented the lack of fat and moistness. This recipe addresses all that and more so I am so glad that you can add it to your repertoire!

      1. Well Beth, I admit I read a dozen ‘other’ recipes before committing to the LC one. Each one to a man stated that a 20/80 fat to meat ratio was critical, yet they disagreed about the fat source. Not knowing what was ground in my gift of very fresh venison “burger,” I chose wisely and added the chopped bacon. I also went very lightly on salt (since there was bacon) and barely any cracked pepper. Different from how I prepare beef burgers. Or lamb, veal, or turkey. And we are glad.

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