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How to Make a Juicy Venison Burger

Venison has a rich flavor on its own. To some, it’s “gamey”. Adding an acid to your burger, such as Worcestershire sauce, enhances the flavor profile of the meat helping to take away what people find gamey. The result is a juicy and flavorful venison burger without loading the recipe up with unnecessary fillers.

Venison is also a very lean meat, which means it has a low-fat content. To obtain a juicy burger, we’re going to add some fat. In this recipe, I add ground pork to my burger, as it’s easily accessible at virtually any grocery store. You can add other fat sources such as bacon, lard, or pork fat. The key is getting the perfect 80/20 ratio of venison to your fat source. If you get your venison processed at a butcher shop, you may already have a fat source added to your meat. Check with your butcher prior to adding anything additional.

Even after adding fat to the otherwise lean venison, some say their burgers cook up dry. Chances are the venison is probably getting overcooked. I personally like my burgers cooked medium, which ends up being a total cook time of around 7 minutes. I don’t recommend cooking the burgers past this point, as they will start to dry out. You also shouldn’t squeeze or press your spatula into the burger when grilling. We want to retain all those juices!

Lastly, we’re going to discuss the texture of our venison burgers. Burgers in general have a slight crumbly texture to them, making it easy for them to fall apart. When forming the burgers, it’s very important to not overmix them. To help the burgers from shrinking and puffing up in the middle while cooking, we’re going to make a shallow indentation in the center of the burgers. Be gentle with the burgers when flipping or removing them from the grill, as they can fall apart.

With all of these tips and tricks in place, the result is a juicy and flavorful venison burger. I’ve also added a recipe for smash burgers, which if you’ve never had one- you’re missing out. They are my favorite way to make a burger and remind me of my favorite fast-food burgers growing up (without all the unhealthy ingredients, of course).

Ingredients

1 pound ground venison (20% pork ratio: 0.8-pound venison, 0.2-pound ground pork or other fat)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

4-6 burger buns

4-6 slices cheese

Other Toppings: Lettuce, Onion, Ketchup, Mayo, Mustard, Pickles, etc)

Additional Ingredients for Smash Burgers

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

Classic Grilled Venison Burger

  1. Preheat your grill to medium high heat, about 400-425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine meat, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Gently mix until everything is just combined, and seasonings are evenly distributed. It is important to not over mix!
  3. Form into four ¼-pound or two ½-pound patties. Form the patties with only as much force as absolutely needed. The texture will be slightly crumbly, but that’s okay. Make your burger patties about ½- to 1-inch thick. Use your thumb to press an indentation into the center of each patty. This prevents the burgers from turning spherical when you cook them. Once formed, set the burgers aside.
  4. Once your grill is preheated, I like to spray the grill grates with cooking oil. This step is optional.
  5. Place patties on the preheated grill, thumb indention side down, and cook them undisturbed for 3-5 minutes depending on how well you like your burgers. Flip the patties over and cook for another 3-5 minutes, topping with cheese during the last minute of cooking.
  6. Assemble your burger with a burger bun and your favorite burger toppings.

Smash Burgers

  1. Thinly slice the onion using a mandolin on the thinnest setting, or a knife.
  2. Use the same ingredients as above but, roll the venison into 1/4-pound balls. Form the venison into a log shape and cut in half down the middle. Then, half each half again.
  3. Preheat flat top grill to high and set aside a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Add butter to griddle. Once it’s hot, add a handful of the thinly sliced onions in four different sections for each hamburger patty.  Brown the onions on one side for a few minutes, then flip and then add burger balls on top.
  5. Add parchment paper on top of burgers and smash the burgers down with a press or large spatula. Smash as thin as possible.
  6. After the burgers are smashed, cook for 1-2 minutes. Then flip and finish cooking for about 2-5 minutes until desired done ness. Add cheese during the last minute of cooking. If you have a dome lid – that helps to melt the cheese. Serve on a toasted bun with your favorite burger topping. I love to serve with two patties for double the meat!

 

The CDC and USDA recommend cooking your meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees when using pork.

 

 

 

 

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