How to Cook Tender Deer Meat

Freshly served venison with cranberries and rosemary
Venison with cranberry sauce. (Image: Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images)

Deer meat -- also referred to as venison -- is tender, moist and flavorful when prepared by knowledgeable hands. When it hasn’t been, the result is a dry, tough and unappetizing dining experience. Ensure a tender piece of deer meat is served to your family and guests by following a few basic steps in its preparation.

Step 1

Age the meat in the refrigerator for one to two days. Proper aging allows natural enzymes to breakdown and tenderize the meat. Place the meat in a plastic container and keep the temperature above freezing and below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Tenderize the meat with a meat tenderizer tool. This is a handheld tool with various blades that break down the muscle fibers. Push the blades downward into the deer meat about 10 to 15 times per side.

Step 3

Mix the marinade ingredients -- olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper -- in a mixing bowl and submerge the deer meat before placing it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, with up to a maximum of 24 hours. The mild vegetable acid tenderizes the meat while the other ingredients add moisture and flavor.

Step 4

Cook deer steaks with a hot fire on the grill. This ensures the deer meat is cooked quickly.

Step 5

Turn the steaks one time and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. This ensures the steaks are cooked no more than to medium-rare, leaving them tender with a juicy, pink center.

Step 6

Cook deer roasts with low heat for longer time periods. Slow cooking allows you to add moisture so the meat is tender. Cooking time for slow cooking requires about 20 to 25 minutes per pound.

Step 7

Check the internal temperature of the deer meat with a meat thermometer. Cook the deer meat to 130 degrees and remove immediately. Overcooking deer leads to dry, tough meat.

Step 8

Let the deer meat rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Allowing the meat to rest brings the natural juices back to the center of the meat.

Step 9

Cut the deer meat across the grain. If you cut with the grain, the meat will be tough.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container

  • Meat tenderizer tool

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil

  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar

  • Juice of one lemon

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

  • 2 tsp. sea salt

  • 2 tsp. black pepper

  • Mixing bowl

  • Grill

  • Tongs

  • Meat thermometer

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