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5 Easy Tips for How to Cook the Best Venison Steak

Updated: Mar 21

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Here are 5 Easy Tips for How to Cook the Best Venison Steaks. Cooking juicy venison steaks, even if it's your first time, is relatively easy to do as long as you don't break a few golden rules. I listed five tips below that will help you step up your venison steak cookery game a few notches and give you the best results. None of these tips require any fancy kitchen gadgets or quirky gimmicks, just good technique. These are straightforward forward, tried and true methods that have been used by many chefs from all over the world. I hope that these easy steps and tips will serve you well and help elevate your wild game cooking repertoire. 


How to cook a venison steak


1| What Cuts of Venison Make the Best Steaks?

The first step: The cut of meat that you use and the way you slice your steaks matter, a lot. For the best eating experience, I recommend eating deer steaks cut from the loins (backstrap), tenderloins and hind legs. Many folks are surprised that you can have great steaks that are cut from the hind legs. The bottom round, top round and eye of round are all excellent. When trimmed properly, they contain no connective tissue which contributes to a tender chew.


The direction in which you cut your steaks after they are cooked plays a huge role in how tender they will be. You want to find the direction that the grain of the meat runs and slice in the opposite directions. Being that wild venison is very lean, I'd recommend not cutting the steaks more than a 1/2 inch thick. This will make each bite a lot easier to break down while chewing for you and your guests.


How to Cook the Best Venison Steak
Bacon Wrapped Venison Loin


2| Venison Steak Cooking Times and Internal Temperatures

There are a few things to consider when trying to figure out how long to cook a venison steak. Temperature plays a major role in a few different ways when it comes to having a juicy steak with a nice crust on your plate. The temperature of your grill or pan shouldn't be too hot or too cold. And when it comes to cooking thick steaks, cooking over a high temperature will leave you with a burnt exterior and a raw "black and blue" interior. This isn't a problem with steaks that are 1 inch or less in thickness. High heat isn't a problem when cooking thin steaks because you want to cook hot and fast.


A good rule of thumb is to use high heat when cooking venison steaks that are 1 inch or less and around medium-high to medium heat for thicker steaks. It isn't a bad idea to have a "cool zone" on your grill when cooking thick steaks. This means having a section of your grill set at about medium heat. This will give you the ability to switch heat zones if you need more or less color on your steaks. If you're cooking on your stovetop, you have the option of quickly moving your pan to a new burner or lowering the burner's heat source.


The final internal temperature and cook time are totally up to the person eating and the thickness of the steaks. Venison is a very lean meat and highly benefits from being cooked to rare internal temperatures. I personally like steaks that have been cooked to around a 128-degree F internal temperature. The best way to ensure that you hit the temperature that you want is to use a digital meat thermometer.


With all that being said, if you're looking to make quick venison steak recipe, a thinner steak cooked at a higher temperature is what you're after. But be aware that you'll need to take extra care in not overcooking the steak unless you pound it very thin for something like carne asada.



3| Seasoning and Marinating Venison Steaks

Seasoning venison with simple ingredients equal a great-tasting steak whether cooking on a grill or in a frying pan. Seasoning your venison steaks before cooking them with anything other than salt and pepper greatly increases the risk of a scorched piece of meat. If your heat is too high, black pepper can burn as well. Most pre-made seasonings have sugar or dried herbs in them which are very easy to burn before you achieve a proper crust. I highly recommend adding your seasoning blends after you are finished cooking. Or even better, top your steaks with some flaked kosher salt, simple pan sauce or compound butter that's blended with fresh herbs for a high-end steakhouse experience. 


Venison steak marinades aren't off the hook either. Marinating them in a concoction with a high sugar content will likely leave you with a scorched piece of meat as well. If you like sugar in your marinades, I'd opt for cooking the steaks on the grill versus something like a cast iron pan. Cooking in a cast-iron skillet (which is a great heat conductor) over a direct heat source will almost guarantee you having a burnt steak.



4| Resting the Meat Before and After Cooking

Resting your meat at room temperature before and after cooking is just as important as the cooking process itself. Allowing the steaks to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour will help ensure that your meat cooks evenly. Room temperature steaks will also help with achieving a crust, being that you aren't throwing a cold 40-degree F steak onto your grill or pan, rapidly cooling the cooking surface down.


Allowing your meat to rest at room temperature on your cutting board after cooking will help ensure that you reach the desired internal temperature of the steaks.  A steak's internal temperature continues to rise after it has been pulled from the cooking surface, which is known as carryover cooking. This doesn't mean that you should cut into the steaks right away to prevent overcooking. Slicing into your hard-earned venison steaks too early will cause the natural juices to rapidly run out, leaving you with a dry shameful piece of meat. So what should you do? Pull the steaks from the cooking surface a few degrees below your desired internal temperature, then let them rest uncovered and "carryover cook" to perfection. And this doesn't just apply to steaks, resting the meat before and after applies to a venison roast as well.



How to cook a Venison Steak



5| Dry the Steaks Before Cooking

After resting your meat at room temperature before cooking, it is good practice to dry the steaks of any moisture that may be on the surface. My favorite way is to use a disposable paper towel to blot the meat dry. Having dry meat will help prevent the steaks from sticking to your cooking surface. Dry meat also sears better and doesn't cause a violent reaction when coming into contact with hot cooking oil. 



Bonus| Cooler Care for Venison

There are a lot of different opinions on how to care for deer meat when the hide has been removed from the meat. Probably the most committed ''crime' of them all is placing the meat directly under the ice inside your cooler. This is bad practice as the drain cap is usually left closed, which leaves your prized organic meat floating in the pooled-up water that's left behind from the melted ice.


The best way is to place the venison on top of the ice while leaving the drain cap cracked to let the water drain out. A great way to create a barrier between the meat and ice is to lay a contractor bag on top of the ice, so that the meat doesn't come in direct contact with the ice. This is an easy way to help protect your meat if it will be in the cooler for a day or two. If you have a large cooler, I like placing a couple of sheet pan wire rack inserts on top of the ice and then place the meat on top. This keeps the meat from getting wet and allows airflow around the meat.


So why go through the trouble? Meat that has soaked in water will lose its vibrant red color and natural texture. You'll also end up with a wet steak when it's time to cook, unless you go through the extra steps to dry them out. Getting a nice sear on a wet piece of meat is virtually impossible and you also stand the chance of burning your cooking oil due to the moisture content.



How long to cook venison steaks

 

Looking for more dishes to cook? These are a few of my favorite venison steak recipes:


Lastly, if you enjoyed these 5 Easy Tips on How to Cook the Best Venison Steaks, be sure to leave a comment or tag me on Instagram! I thoroughly enjoy hearing feedback and checking out the photos of recipes that you've made.



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Thanks for helping me step up my venison steak game! Made some steak last weekend using these. Also tried out the breakfast sausage. Good stuff my man!

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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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