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Updated: May 29

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There's nothing like eating a smoked venison roast during the peak of deer season, or any time of year for that matter. 

Smoked Venison Roast
Photo By Larry White

I wanted to create a smoked deer roast recipe that would still be moist and delicious after sitting on the table during a long family gathering. So rather than cooking a whole muscle from the hind leg to a rare internal temperature, I opted for bone-in deer shoulder. And in order for a venison shoulder to become fork tender, it must be slow-cooked or braised before smoking (or second depending on who you ask).

Deer Roast Smoked
Pulled Venison BBQ Sandwich


In my opinion, the best way and one of the easiest ways to properly smoke venison cuts that contain connective tissue or silver skin is to first, slow cook them. This means using a moist cooking method such as braising in the oven or crockpot. One of the great things about this method is there's no need to use a fancy meat thermometer to determine the final temperature, deploy the Texas crutch by wrapping the meat in aluminum foil or florescent pink butcher paper

You want to slow-cook the meat until it's just fork-tender before placing it into a low-temperature (between 180 and 225 degrees) smoker. And for best results, I then will base the meat during the smoking process to keep it moist and to enhance the flavors. Basting the meat also helps prevent unwanted moisture loss. But trust me, you don't want to skip these steps when smoking a cut of meat like this, your final product will be as tough as shoe leather.

You could do this the other way around by smoking the meat first and then braising it, but I strongly feel that you lose the clean smoky flavor by doing this. 

The type of smoker that you use isn't as important as maintaining the proper cooking temperature. With that being said using a wood-fired off-set smoker, pellet grill (Traeger smoker) or electric wood chip smoker are the easiest to use for this recipe.

Smoked Deer Roast


When it comes to smoking deer meat, I have a few different woods that I like to use. Hickory, oak, maple, and cherry wood are all good options, but my choice of wood is pecan


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

Lastly, if you make this smoked venison roast 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.



Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Brine Time: 1 to 4 days

Slow Cooking Time: 8 to 12 Hours

Smoke Times: 1 to 2 Hours

Author: Larry White


For the venison brine

  • 1 bone-in venison shoulder

  • 1 gallon of water

  • 1 cup of kosher salt

  • 1 cup of brown sugar

  • ½ cup of sorghum (honey also works)

  • 1 teaspoon pink salt (instacure No. 1) *Optional

  • 1 teaspoon whole black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

For slow cooking

  • ½ of an onion, chopped

  • 1 head of garlic

  • 1 large carrot, chopped

For the glaze


For the Smoked Venison Shoulder

  1. Make the venison brine. Heat one quart (4 cups) of water from the 1 gallon of water listed in the ingredients to a simmer. Pour the hot water into a large bowl or pot that is big enough to fit the venison shoulder. Add the remaining brine ingredients (not the venison), and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Pour in the remaining 3 quarts of water to the brine. Place in the refrigerator until it is thoroughly chilled.

  2. After the brine has chilled, add the venison shoulder, ensuring that it is fully covered. You may need to add a plate to weigh the meat down enough to stay submerged. Let the meat brine in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 days. The longer the brine, the richer the flavor.

  3. Crockpot Method: Remove the venison from the brine and place it into a slow cooker (crockpot). Add the head of garlic, onion and carrots. Cover the venison ¾ of the way with water. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the “low setting” until just tender. This can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. 

  4. Oven Method: Place the meat in a large roasting pan, add the garlic, onion and carrots. Cover the meat 3/4 of the way with water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 325-degree F oven until just fork tender. This can take between 5 and 6 1/2 hours.

  5. Turn off the heat and let the meat rest in the cooking liquid on the kitchen counter until it has cooled to room temperature.

  6. Cover and place in the crockpot insert or braising dish in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. 

  7. The next day, heat your smoker between 180 and 225 degrees F.

  8. Remove from the cooking liquid and place roast on a baking tray that will fit inside of the smoker. Reserve the cooking liquid for basting the meat.

  9. Smoke the venison for up to 1 ½ to 2 hours while basting with the cooking liquid every 30 minutes.

  10. Glaze the meat. Brush a generous amount of the glaze all over the outside of the roast (see glaze directions below). Smoke for an additional 30 minutes. You can smoke longer than 30 minutes, but I recommend basting with more glaze if doing so. 

  11. You can eat the smoked deer roast as is or char it a little under your oven's broiler or on the grill.

For the glaze

  1. Place all of the glaze ingredients into a microwave-safe small bowl. Heat for 30 seconds and then stir to combine the ingredients. If needed, microwave in 30-second increments until the mixture can be easily stirred and dissolved.



You have the option of seasoning the venison with your favorite barbecue dry rub before smoking. Just keep in mind that the meat has been brined, so I would go light on the salt. Here is one of my favorite dry rubs for venison.

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very good deer roast. One of the best I've ever eaten.


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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