Try These Crowd-Pleasing Holiday Venison Recipes
Every family has their own set of favorite meals and recipes when it comes time for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Naturally, there are the usual ones – turkey, ham, potatoes, casseroles, stuffing, etc. But have you ever considered giving the turkey and ham a rest? Think back to early holiday celebrations many years ago – the menu was a little different. It likely included lots of different wild game animals because that’s what was readily available at their “grocery store” in the great outdoors. So if you’re okay with trying some new traditions this year, here are several great holiday venison recipes you can make this season. Even though we love cleaning wild turkeys and eating them too, venison might be a whole new twist for you.
Luckily, venison pairs well with many other traditional holiday side dishes, but it’s especially good alongside pureed sweet potatoes/squash or served with cranberry sauce drizzled on top. Also, here’s a simple deer steak marinade that you can use for appetizers, steaks, or to baste large cuts with.
- Start with some kind of oil to bind everything – olive or vegetable oil work well.
- An acid (e.g., lemon juice) or vinegar (e.g., red wine, balsamic, etc.) to break it down.
- Sweetener (e.g., honey, brown sugar, etc.) to caramelize a little.
- All your favorite seasonings, including salt (or soy sauce), pepper, herbs, spices, etc.
- Add a little bit of minced garlic for a nice flavor boost.
Wild Game Appetizers
Most of us go right to big hearty meals when we think about holiday venison recipes. But honestly, you can make some amazingly delicious venison appetizer recipes too. Appetizers are nice because there’s a lot of anticipation and waiting for the big feast to start, and you can get pretty hungry during the wait. Guaranteed, these venison finger food recipes will disappear fast with any hungry crowd around.
Bacon Wrapped Venison Bites
Bacon wrapped venison appetizers are always a hit. For a simple venison appetizer, grab some smaller chunks of meat (either stew meat or smaller bits leftover from trimming steaks) and prepare a marinade. Choose whatever flavors you like – but sweeter flavors work better with this combination. Marinate the cubes of meat for at least a few hours, and wrap each one in a half slice of bacon – secure it with a toothpick and arrange it in a grilling basket. For a little more kick, you can also try bacon wrapped jalapeno venison bites by adding a small wedge of jalapeno and a smear of cream cheese onto the toothpick. Some people call these jalapeno venison poppers too, and they’re super addicting.
Ground Holiday Venison Recipes
A lot of people use their deer trimmings for sausage making, but you should always make sure you save some to grind for burger too. Ground venison tastes somewhat similar to good ground beef – it’s just much leaner. You can mix it with beef if you want or use it as is. Grinding the meat is a good option for really old bucks that you got while hunting the post rut because the meat won’t be as tender for steaks anyway.
Venison Sausage Appetizers
We’re kind of continuing with the wild game appetizer recipes from above, but this is a slightly different approach. Don’t forget how delicious and addicting simple venison sausage can be. Cut some venison summer sausage up on a meat and cheese tray for everybody to snack on while they wait. Or toss some venison Italian sausage into the Can Cooker® with some onions, peppers, and beer to make a great sausage appetizer.
Ground Venison Stuffed Jalapenos
This is the same basic idea as venison stuffed zucchini, but on a more bite-sized and spicy scale. Sauté some diced onions, garlic, and ground venison together. Halve some jalapenos and remove most of the seeds. Smear a little cream cheese down the middle and spoon some of the venison mixture on top. You can also add a bacon slice around this if you want or sprinkle some cheese on it. Bake it at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes or until the jalapenos soften.
Of course, many of the best venison recipes are from the larger, prime cuts of a deer – we’re talking tenderloins, backstraps, and parts of the hind quarters. You can either cut these parts into small steaks, butterfly them into larger steaks, cut them thin and roll them out with stuffing inside, or leave them in large chunks for the grill or smoker. These holiday venison recipes will be the star of the show.
Seared Venison Tenderloins
This is one of those holiday venison recipes that really tells your guests how much you like them, because if you’re willing to serve them the tenderloins (aka, inside loins), they know they’re doing something right. Simply sauté some venison tenderloins in some butter in a cast iron pan, liberally sprinkling some salt and pepper over it. This cut is best served a little rare. You can drizzle a balsamic vinegar and red wine reduction over it if you want to get fancy, or just smear some cranberry sauce on it. Either way, it’s delicious.
Simple Grilled Steaks
Using the marinade mentioned earlier, you can simply marinate venison steaks and grill them for a surefire crowd-pleaser that doesn’t take much time at all to prepare or cook. When butterflied, some of the steaks can actually approach the size of a decent beef steak and are very filling.
Smoked Venison Backstrap or Roasts
Instead of cutting up all your backstrap into steaks, leave a few sections intact (about 6 to 9 inches long) for the smoker or use a venison roast for this recipe. At least a day before you plan on smoking it, put the meat into a simple brine. You can really do whatever you want, but the simplest brine is water, salt, and sugar. Remove it from the brine and allow it to dry uncovered in the fridge for a few hours. Rub whatever spice and herb mixture you desire (Cracker Boy® seasonings are great choices) onto the outside of the meat and place it in the smoker. Apple, hickory, and oak wood all work well for venison. When the internal temperature hits 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, take it off and let it rest as long as you can bear (which won’t be long).
Stuffed Venison Backstrap
Another great recipe using the backstrap is a stuffed version. Of all the holiday venison recipes on here, this should get anyone to forget about the traditional meal fast! Prepare a simple stuffing using cream cheese, sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers, crumbled bacon pieces, salt, and pepper. Cut a slit along the side of the meat, going approximately 2/3 of the way through. Lay it open and spread the stuffing mixture along it. Close it and lay it on top of several full pieces of bacon, and gently roll the backstrap until the bacon fully wraps around it. Grill it for several minutes until the bacon is fully cooked and the venison is cooked to your liking.
Hopefully you found a few of these easy venison recipes to be worth trying. They are delicious and sure to please any wild game loving family any time of the year, but they take on a new and special twist for the holiday season.