Mastering the Art of Cooking a Perfect Venison Steak

How to Cook a Venison Steak: A Comprehensive Guide

Venison steak is a delicacy known for its unique texture, flavor, and nutritional properties. While cooking a venison steak can be a bit tricky, following the proper techniques and methods can ensure a delicious and satisfying meal. In this comprehensive guide, we take you step-by-step through the process of cooking a venison steak to perfection.

The difference between venison and beef

Venison, traditionally referred to as meat from any game animal, has come to be used specifically for meat from elk or deer. The flavor of venison is often described as gamey, which can be polarizing for some people. The gamey flavor of venison is often attributed to its lean nature and the fact that it comes from larger animals such as deer.
In contrast, beef offers a neutral texture that is not too dense or overwhelming. Beef can be cooked in a variety of ways, offering versatility in culinary preparation. To enjoy venison, it is important to understand its unique characteristics and learn how to cook it properly.

Preparing venison for cooking

For the best results when cooking venison steak, proper preparation is key. Here are the steps to follow:

Sourcing the meat

When sourcing venison, visit a reliable local butcher who can provide you with the best cuts. For steaks, consider getting the striploin or leg round, as these provide juicy and well-balanced fillets. It is important to choose fresh meat and store it properly to preserve its flavor and quality.

Storing venison

To store venison, place it in a freezer-safe bag and place in the freezer. Venison can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, but it is recommended that venison be consumed within one week of purchase for optimal flavor. If refrigerating, place the meat in a zip-lock bag and store at 40°F. Use refrigerated venison within 48 hours for best results.

Cleaning the meat

Thawed venison may release blood, so it is important to clean the meat properly. Rinse the venison under clean tap water until it is completely clear. Pat the meat dry and consider setting aside for no more than two hours at room temperature.

Cooking techniques and tricks

To achieve a perfectly cooked venison steak, consider the following techniques and tricks:


When seasoning a venison steak, it is best to keep it simple. Use salt and pepper to enhance the natural flavor of the meat and reduce the gamey taste. Avoid using excessive seasonings that can overpower the unique characteristics of venison.


Searing is an essential step in cooking venison steak. Heat a heavy-bottom skillet with olive oil and sear the meat to maintain its texture and enhance its flavor. The searing process helps create an even char and caramelization on the surface of the venison. Because venison has a low fat content, it is important to sear quickly on all sides without overdrying the meat.


When the venison steak is almost done, add a block of butter to the skillet and let it melt. Turn down the heat and baste the steak with the hot butter for 3-4 minutes. This process imparts a rich and succulent flavor to the meat and helps reduce the gamey flavor of the venison. Basting is a critical step in taming the unique flavors of venison.

Oven Heating

After searing and basting the venison steak, transfer it to a piece of foil and fold the foil to cover all sides of the steak. This step will prevent the meat from drying out. Place the steak in the oven at high heat for about 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and tenderize the meat, resulting in a perfectly cooked and juicy venison steak with a pinkish hue.


To enhance the flavor of the venison steak, consider using a simple yet incredible sauce. A combination of pancetta, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, herbs, red wine, chicken stock and unsweetened chocolate can create a flavorful sauce that complements the venison. The chocolate adds richness to the dish, while the other ingredients bring out the flavors of the steak.

The best recipe for venison steak

Now that you are familiar with the techniques and tricks of cooking venison steak, here is a recipe that combines all the elements discussed to create a succulent and delicious meal:


– Fresh venison filet
– Salt and pepper (to taste)
– 350ml red wine
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 shallots, finely chopped
– 2 Tbsp unsweetened chocolate, grated
– 1 cup chicken stock
– 4-5 sprigs thyme
– 4-5 sprigs rosemary
– 4-5 peppercorns
– 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. Season venison fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
  4. Sear the venison fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, add the minced garlic and chopped shallots. Cook until fragrant and slightly caramelized.
  6. Add the red wine to the skillet and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
  7. Add the grated unsweetened chocolate, chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and peppercorns to the skillet. Stir well and simmer until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
  8. Remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine sieve to remove any solids.
  9. Place the seared venison fillets on a sheet of foil and pour the sauce over them. Add a few knobs of butter on top.
  10. Fold the foil to completely cover the venison fillets, creating a sealed pouch.
  11. Place bag in preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes for medium rare.
  12. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
  13. Carefully open the foil bag and transfer the venison fillets to a serving plate.
  14. Pour some of the sauce over the fillets and garnish with fresh herbs if desired.


Cooking a venison steak requires attention to detail and proper technique to achieve the best results. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can cook a venison steak that is tender, flavorful, and free of excessive gamey flavors. Remember to source fresh venison, properly store and clean the meat, and use simple seasonings to enhance the natural flavors. Searing, basting, and oven heating techniques will further enhance the texture and flavor of the steak. Finally, garnish the dish with a flavorful sauce to complement the unique characteristics of venison. With this comprehensive guide, you will be equipped to impress your guests and enjoy a world-class venison steak from the comfort of your own home.


How can I reduce the gamey taste of venison?

To reduce the gamey flavor of venison, you can marinate the meat in a mixture of acidic ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice, or wine. This will help tenderize the meat and neutralize some of the strong flavors.

Can I grill elk steak?

Yes, grilling is a great way to cook elk steak. Preheat the grill to high heat, season the steak, and grill for a few minutes on each side to your desired doneness. Remember to keep a close eye on the steak as it can cook quickly due to its lean nature.

How can I tell if my venison steak is cooked to the right temperature?

The best way to ensure the proper doneness of venison steak is to use a meat thermometer. For a medium-rare steak, the internal temperature should be 130-135°F (54-57°C). Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes after cooking, as it will continue to cook and reach the desired temperature.

Can I freeze leftover cooked venison steak?

Yes, you can freeze leftover cooked venison steak. Allow the steak to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Label and date the package and store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw the steak in the refrigerator before reheating.

What are some recommended side dishes to serve with venison steak?

Venison steak pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Consider serving it with roasted root vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, creamy mashed potatoes or a fresh green salad. These sides complement the rich flavor of the venison for a well-rounded meal.

Can I use the same cooking techniques for different cuts of venison?

While the cooking techniques mentioned in this article can generally be applied to different cuts of venison, cooking times may vary depending on the thickness and size of the steak. It is always recommended that you adjust the cooking time accordingly and use a meat thermometer to ensure the desired doneness.