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Updated: May 3

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Crispy pan fried venison cutlets "escalope" is a delicious comfort food classic. This dish is traditionally made with lean meats such as veal, so using wild game meat like venison in its place is a good choice. These golden brown crispy cutlets are the perfect vehicle for a delicious gravy. And in this case, it happens to be a homemade mushroom gravy. However, a bright and robust tomato "gravy" with fresh herbs would work well here too. 

Pan Fried Venison Cutlets
Photo by Larry White

And if you're wondering what the difference is between venison cutlets and venison cubed steaks, it pretty much boils down to the tenderization process. Cubed steaks need to be pierced across the entire surface of the meat in order to make them tender. They can sometimes be pounded with a meat mallet beforehand to aid in tenderizing them. For cutlets, they are either butterflied or pounded thin with a meat mallet before breading, or a combination of the two (butterflying and pounding).

Sometimes it seems like everyone is looking for a new way to prepare a venison steak for the dinner table, but this tried and true cutlet method for frying loins\backstraps is hard to beat. 

Short Grain Rice Arancini
Short Grain Rice Arancini

Short grain rice arancini (pictured above) is classically made with risotto and works amazingly well with leftover risotto. Here I used short-grain rice in place of the risotto because it's a lot less work than making risotto and with short-grain rice's sticky nature, it's perfect for forming these rice balls. The rice is first stuffed with mozzarella cheese in the center, formed into a ball, coated with a flavorful breading then fried until golden brown. They are simple to make and super delicious. I included a recipe for these at the bottom of the page if you want to try them out. They're a great side dish to serve with venison.

Tenderizing the Venison Cutlets:

The secret to tenderness is to increase the surface area by butterflying and pounding the venison cutlets to 1/8' to 1/4' thickness. Place the meat on a cutting board, cover it with plastic wrap or a large freezer bag, and pound it with the bottom of a skillet or meat mallet.

Working Ahead:

The mushroom sauce can be made 2 days ahead. You can thin it out with a little cream if it's too thick once reheated. If making the arancini, they can be completely assembled, covered and placed in the fridge for up to 2 days in advance.

Using a different Cut of Venison:

Fried venison backstrap may just be one of the best comfort food dishes but, if you don't have any venison loins, you can use a round steak from the hind legs. The top round or bottom round would work out perfectly here. Just make sure that you butterfly them and pound thin.

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

Lastly, if you make this pan fried Venison Cutlets recipe, be sure to leave a review and comment or tag me on Instagram! I thoroughly enjoy hearing feedback and checking out the photos of recipes that you've made.


Pan Fried Venison Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy


Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cooking Time: 15 to 45 minutes

Author: Larry White


For the Venison Cutlets

For the Mushroom Sauce

  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (dried morel mushrooms or dried shiitakes work)

  • 1/2 unsalted venison, chicken stock or veal stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled finely & finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • chopped parsley for garnishing

For the Arancini

  • 2 cups cooked short grain/sushi rice (follow instructions on package)

  • 2 eggs (for making egg wash)

  • 1 egg (this one is going in the rice)

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2" pieces

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • cooking oil for frying


  1. Hydrate the dried mushrooms. Place the dried porcini mushrooms into a heat-proof vessel. Bring a 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the mushrooms. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.

  2. Set up a breading \ dredging station for the venison.  On your countertop, place 3 containers large enough to fit the venison. Place the flour in the first container, the beaten eggs & milk in the second container, and in the third container, the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. 

  3. Bread the Venison Cutlets. Season the deer meat with salt and black pepper on both sides. Dredge each piece of meat in the flour, and shake off the excess. Dip the meat into the egg wash and then into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture. Set aside at room temperature while you make the mushroom sauce.

  4. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Add the wine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook the wine until it has reduced in volume by half. Strain the water in which the porcini mushrooms were soaking directly into the pot. Chop the porcini mushrooms roughly and add them to the pot. Add the sliced cremini mushrooms, thyme, and heavy cream to the pot. Bring to a slow simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced down to a consistency in which it coats the back of a spoon. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Turn on low and keep warm.

  5. Cook the Cutlets. In a large cast iron skillet or other large heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Season immediately with salt and pepper after removing from the pan.


For Making the Arancini

  1. Set up the arancini station. You can either top off your rice breading station or make a new one. To set up a breading station, arrange 3 containers on your countertop in a straight line. Place the flour in the first container, the beaten eggs in the second container and the breadcrumbs in the third.   

  2. Form the arancini. Place the rice into a large bowl and add the lemon zest, herbs, Parmesan cheese and egg. Stir to combine. Scoop about a 1/4 cup of rice into your hand. Make a flat patty that's about 2" in diameter. Place a piece of mozzarella in the center and close up the rice forming a ball. Form the rest of the rice balls and place in the refrigerator while you make the breading station.

  3. Bread the arancini. Roll each rice ball into the flour, then beaten eggs and then breadcrumbs. Place the breaded balls in the refrigerator while you make the mushroom sauce.

  4. Fry the arancini. Pre-heat your oven to low to keep the arancini warmPour 3 inches of oil into a deep pot. Heat to a consistent temperature of around 330 degrees F. Carefully lower a few balls into the hot oil and cook until golden brown. Work in batches here so that you don't overcrowd the pot. overcrowding can lower the oil temperature and also is an overflow hazard. Season the arancini with salt and pepper.



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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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