Make your next backyard grill-out extra delicious and put these ultra juicy venison burgers on the dinner menu! These tender venison patties are seasoned with a simple yet flavorful spice mixture and piled on a buttery brioche bun with your favorite toppings. Best of all, you can put these delicious deer burgers on the table in under 30 minutes to make for easy entertaining.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Delicious twist on a classic burger: Ground beef burgers are always a welcome summer meal, but you’ll love how that tasty venison brings an added richness and earthy touch.
No dry burgers here: Venison is a lean meat, but thanks to some added butter to our ground meat mixture, every bite is plenty juicy.
Indoor and outdoor cooking options: That’s right — you can cook these ground venison burgers on the stove or outdoor grill. It’s your choice.
Related: If you love wild game meat, make sure you also try my favorite venison chili recipe.
Ground venison: Ask your local butcher to add 10-20% pork fat to your venison when processing. Pork fat renders nicely and adds tasty richness while keeping the burger juicy.
Butter: As mentioned above, this goes into our ground venison mixture to keep the meat moist after cooking. I use salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter if that’s what you have on hand.
Egg: Because it’s so lean, venison can be more delicate to handle than beef. To help keep the venison patties together, the egg acts as a binder, and it also adds moisture.
Worcestershire sauce: This touch of acidity keeps the venison from tasting overly gamey.
Spice mixture: We use a simple mixture of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika.
How to Form the Venison Patties
Step 1: We start by forming the venison patties. To take care of this step, we add the ground venison, whole egg, grated cold butter and Worcestershire sauce to a large bowl and gently combine the ingredients to make one cohesive deer meat mixture (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we divide the venison mixture to make four even-size balls, shape them into burger patties and then press our thumb in the middle of the meat like so (photo 2). This helps the meat hold its shape while cooking. Keep in mind, the burgers will shrink as they cook, so form the meat to make the patties slightly larger than your buns.
Now we place the burger patties in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Since venison burgers are a bit more delicate, this helps create a more sturdy patty.
Step 3: After chilling, we stir together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika in a small bowl and sprinkle the spices all over the four venison patties (photo 3). Salt immediately begins pulling moisture from meat, so we want to take care of this step right before cooking. From here, we proceed to our preferred cooking method.
How to Grill
Step 1: We place the venison burgers on greased grill grates over medium-high heat and cook one one side with the lid closed (photo 4).
Step 2: Once the first side has a nice sear, we carefully flip the burger and grill the meat on the other side (photo 5). For my fellow cheese lovers, we add it in the last 30 seconds to ensure it’s perfectly melted and gooey. I used cheddar cheese here, but you can use your favorite melting variety.
Step 3: Now we remove the deer burgers from the grill, cover them with aluminum foil and let them rest for five to 10 minutes (photo 6).
How to Cook on the Stove
Step 1: For indoor cooking, we heat olive oil in our skillet and then add the patties (photo 7). If the pan is too crowded, you won’t get a good sear, so I recommend cooking two burgers at a time.
Step 2: After cooking on one side, we flip the patties, add cheese if desired and continue cooking until they reach our targeted internal temperature (photo 8).
Step 3: Like grilling, we want to cover the patties with foil and all the burgers to rest. While these burgers rest, you can make the second batch.
All that’s left is to pile our juicy burgers with our favorite toppings and devour every meaty bite. Good, huh?
Final Internal Temperature and Cooking Time Guide
How long you cook your venison burgers depends on how you like them cooked, so keep this chart handy. Please note that this cooking time is for the total time spent on the grill or skillet. You’ll flip the burgers in the middle of the listed total cooking time.
Since ground deer meat is so lean, I don’t recommend cooking the burgers past medium, but this is ultimately up to your personal preference. To ensure your venison patties are at the proper temperature, use the cooking time as a guide but double check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
|Doneness||Temperature||Approximate Total Cooking Time|
|Rare||125 degrees F||4 minutes|
|Medium rare||135 degrees F||5 minutes|
|Medium||145 degrees F||7 minutes|
|Medium well||155 degrees||9 minutes|
|Well done||160 degrees||10 minutes|
How to Store and Freeze Patties
If you’d like to make the deer burgers ahead of serving time, you can shape them as directed, cover them in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to eat, season the meat and then cook as directed.
You can also freeze the burgers for even longer storage. For freezing, I recommend covering them in plastic wrap and then storing the patties in a freezer bag for up to three months.
To thaw, you can place them in the refrigerator overnight. If you need them sooner, leave the patties in the plastic wrap and sealed freezer bag and place them in cold water in the refrigerator until thawed.
I prefer grilling for that touch of smoky flavor, but the skillet still makes a tasty burger. If you’d like to capture some of those smoky notes on the skillet, you can try adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon liquid smoke to the ground venison meat when forming the patties.
As discussed, venison is lean. For the juiciest burger, get a ground venison with added fat, don’t skip the grated butter in the mixture, keep the internal temperature to no higher than medium and rest the meat. With these few easy tricks, you don’t have to worry about a dry burger.
If grilling, place the buns on the grates for anywhere from about 10-30 seconds. Light, fluffy brioche buns only need about 10 seconds or so while sturdier buns may need closer to 30 seconds. Just keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t get too toasty.
To toast the hamburger buns indoors, place them in a 350-degree oven for two to three minutes.
You can’t go wrong with your favorite BBQ side dishes. My absolute favorite is my smoked macaroni and cheese — it’s a guaranteed hit. You’ll also love some baked beans, potato salad and macaroni-bacon salad on the side.
And, of course, it’s not a burger without your favorite toppings, so make sure you have plenty on hand. Besides lettuce, tomato and red onion, you can’t go wrong with cheese, avocado, green chiles, smoked salsa, BBQ sauce, bacon jam or crispy bacon slices, chili, sautéed mushrooms — feel free to get creative.
Yes, venison, or deer meat, is classified as a type of red meat. Venison and other red meats have a high level of myoglobin, which is a protein that gives the meat that signature red color.
Variations and Substitutions
- If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce on hand, you can use balsamic vinegar instead.
- Want to add a smoky depth of flavor? Swap the butter for bacon grease.
- This venison burger recipe makes ¼-pound patties. You’re welcome to double the ingredients to make ½-pound burgers.
- For another cooking method, follow this tutorial to make smoked burgers — so good!
- Feel free to experiment with different seasonings. Your favorite steak seasoning works well, or you can use a Creole seasoning for a touch of spice.
Be gentle with the meat: If you overwork the meat, it can leave you with tough burgers.
Use a cast-iron skillet for indoor cooking: A cast-iron pan is great for even heat conducting and creating the perfect sear on the outside. Who doesn't love a nice crust for some added texture?
Flip only once: Flipping only once helps keep the burgers together.
Don’t use a spatula to press down on the burger patty: This squeezes out those wonderful juices. The burgers will cook just fine without pressing them.
Freeze the butter before grating: A quick 10 minutes in the freezer makes the butter easier to grate.
Beer and burgers were made for each other, especially when you enjoy a nice doppelbock with venison. The nutty, caramel-like malt and touch of dark fruit notes works well with the earthy deer meat, and it’s big enough to stand up to all those topping layers. A brown ale is a delightful alternative as well.
If you’re feeling a little fancy and would prefer wine, a pinot noir is wonderful with venison. Like the deer meat, pinot noir is known for earthy, herbal flavors with hints of berries. Plus, it’s low in tannins to keep it from overpowering that lean meat.
For your next backyard cookout, everyone will love these very best venison burgers. After one bite, you’ll want to make these flavorful burgers every chance you get.
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Ultra Juicy Venison Burgers
- Grill or skillet
- 1 pound ground venison 10-20% pork fat added if given option at butcher shop
- 1 beaten large egg
- 2 tablespoons butter grated
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cheese slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for indoor skillet cooking
- 4 burger buns
- Desired toppings such as lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, avocado, condiments, etc.
- Add the ground venison, beaten egg, grated butter and Worcestershire sauce to a mixing bowl. With your hands, gently mix the ingredients just until they become one cohesive mixture — you don't want to overmix the meat to avoid tough burgers.
- Form the venison mixture into four equal-size balls and then shape into burger patties. They should be slightly larger than your burger buns to account for shrinking during cooking. Use your thumb to make an indention in the middle of each patty. Refrigerate the patties for 10 minutes.
- Mix together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Sprinkle over the four venison patties right before cooking. Salt starts to immediately draw moisture from the meat, so it's important to season right before they go on the grill or skillet.
- As the patties refrigerate, grease and heat the grill over medium-high. Place the patties on the hot grill and cook for two to three and a half minutes on one side with the lid closed, depending on your desired level of doneness (see notes for internal temperature and cooking time guide).
- Flip the venison burgers and cook for another two to three and a half minutes on the other side. The patties are done when they reach your desired internal temperature. If using cheese, add the cheese in the last 30 seconds or so of cooking.
- Remove the patties from the grill and cover them with foil. Allow the patties to sit for five to 10 minutes to allow the juice to redistribute throughout the meat. Place the patties on burger buns with your favorite toppings and serve. Enjoy!
- Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil and skillet are hot, add two venison patties to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook for two to three and a half minutes on one side, depending on your desired level of doneness (see notes for internal temperature and cooking time guide).
- Flip the venison burgers and cook for another two to three and a half minutes on the other side. If using cheese, add the cheese when you flip the burgers.
- Remove the patties from the skillet and cover them with foil. Repeat with the remaining two patties. Allow the patties to sit for five to 10 minutes to allow the juice to redistribute throughout the meat. Place the patties on burger buns with your favorite toppings and serve. Enjoy!
- Only flip the burgers once to help them stay together.
- If grilling, do not squeeze the patties with a spatula. This just presses out the juices we want to preserve.
- Freeze the butter before grating. A quick 10 minutes in the freezer makes the butter easier to grate.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Elizabeth S says
Really great recipe! I topped my burgers with caramelized onions and some bacon jam. SO GOOD. They are put on our weekly rotation.
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
That sounds like an awesome combo! Thanks, Elizabeth.
Giangi Townsend says
I love venison, and this recipe is just amazing. Super juicy, I prepared them medium rare, and the rich flavor of the burgers paired well with my wine. Thank you for suggesting it.
Making them again this weekend for our friends.
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
That's how I like my burgers too, Giangi! So happy you loved them.
Loved how juicy and delicious these venison burgers turned out! I'll be adding it to my weekly dinner rotation. Thanks xo
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
So happy to hear that, Rose! Thanks for sharing.
My family loves venison so we were a huge fan of these burgers! They are so moist, juicy and hearty!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
Thanks so much, Addison!
We had a burger night party last Sunday and venison burgers were one of the best! They were a crowd favorite! Perfectly seasoned patties and so tender!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
So happy to hear that, Sharina! Thanks for trying them.