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Updated: May 28

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Ground venison jerky is probably the most popular snack among avid hunters. I remember asking for bags of this stuff for Christmas as a kid. This homemade venison jerky is a smoky, salty, tangy umami flavor bomb without using msg soy sauce or corn syrup solids. And if I could describe how this jerky tastes in three words it would be smoked summer sausage.

Ground Venison Jerky Recipe
Photo by Larry White

Now summer sausage is tasty in its own right, but I wanted something easier to shove in my pack for hunting trips with the same flavor profile. With this version, there's no slicing or peeling off finicky casings. Just reach your hand into a bag, pull out the jerky, and stuff your face. And in my experience, this stuff lasts longer on the trail than quick-cured venison sausages.

The fat content in most ground deer sausages (like this venison salami) is at least 25 percent. But this ground venison jerky recipe has only around a 10 percent fat content, which makes it easier to dehydrate and yield a product that will be a little more shelf stable. So if you're wanting the flavor of a delicious wild game sausage without all the fat and use up all that ground venison burger in the freezer, then this recipe is for you.

Besides being dried, it also gets a little help from pink curing salt No. 1, also known as Instacure No.1 or Prague powder No.1. While using curing salt is optional, you'll lose out on a bit of that tangy jerky flavor that we all love in its absence. 

Making Venison Jerky Without A Jerky Gun:

If you don't have a meat caulking gun, fear not, you can still produce perfect jerky. My favorite way is to pipe the meat mixture directly onto the trays using sturdy pastry bags fitted with a pastry tip. Fill the pastry bags with the ground mixture, twist the back open end tightly to create pressure, and then pipe out onto the jerky racks.

Another great way is to spread the ground deer meat mixture in an even layer on top of a long sheet of parchment paper. Then place another sheet of parchment paper or plastic food wrap on top of the meat. Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten the meat out in an even layer around a 1/4 inch thick. Now cut into consistent strips and place them onto your dehydrator trays. When using this method keep in mind the importance of meat thickness consistency. You want the strips to be roughly the same size so that they dry at the same rate.

Checking For Doneness:

When making jerky, you likely aren't checking the internal temperature as it's primarily a visual and texture-based method for checking doneness. You're looking for a final texture that is dry but chewy and doesn't break in half easily when bent.

When making ground meat jerky, I normally dehydrate it between 2 and 4 hours at a drying temperature between 150 and 160 degrees F. This drying process usually yields the finished product that I'm looking for. If you want something with more bite or chew, feel free to dry them for longer.

Equipment Needed 

Looking for other venison recipes? These are a few of my favorites:

Lastly, if you make this ground venison jerky recipe, 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.



Yield: Around 2.5 pounds

Prep Time: 45 minutes 

Dehydrating Time: 2+ Hours 

Author: Larry White


  • 36 ounces trimmed boneless venison, or ground venison

  • 4 ounces smoked raw bacon, diced 

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked salt

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dextrose or white sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) pink curing salt (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder 

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground juniper berries 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk powder

  • Water (enough to make a paste with buttermilk powder) 


  1. In a chilled large mixing bowl, add the venison, salt, pink salt, and spices. Stir until the meat is coated. Don't add the buttermilk powder or dextrose (or white sugar if using) yet.

  2. In a separate bowl add the buttermilk powder and dextrose. Add enough water to make a thin paste. This usually takes between 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of water. Stir ensuring there are no lumps. Set aside.

  3. Grind the venison mixture through a large grinder die into a large bowl set over ice. If you don't have ice, make sure the bowl is thoroughly chilled in the freezer before grinding the meat into it.

  4. If using a stand mixer, fit it with a paddle attachment. If mixing by hand, find yourself a large sturdy spoon. Mix the ground venison and buttermilk paste together thoroughly for about 2 minutes. Add the diced bacon and fold in until just combined.

  5. In a food-safe storage container or plastic food storage bags, add the ground venison mixture. Press the meat down ensuring that there are no air pockets. If using a storage container, add plastic wrap directly to the top of the meat, pressing down firmly. Then cover the entire top of the container with more plastic wrap. If using gallon freezer bags, remove all air and fold over any extra space in the bag.

  6. Refrigerate for 2 days.

  7. Grind the meat again, but this time using a small die. If you want to check the flavor, now is a good time to fry up a piece. Add more salt if you think it needs any. Just remember you will more than likely eat this at room temperature. Foods eaten cold need a little more salt.

  8. Load your jerky gun with the ground venison. 

  9. Pipe onto your dehydrator trays ensuring there is at least 1/4 inch space between the strips of meat.

  10. Dry the meat in your dehydrator set at 160 degrees F. I dry mine for around 2 hours or until they are thoroughly dried, but still pliable when bent. If needed dehydrate more as needed for taste, texture, and doneness. 

  11. Let the jerky strips cool completely before storing. For storage, I recommend storing in the refrigerator or in a freezer in air-tight containers. Being that this version contains bacon, I wouldn't store this at room temperature other than road trips or hiking trips.

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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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