5 Gourmet Venison Burger Recipes to Try for Labor Day
Labor Day ushers in the first signs of autumn, and September marks the beginning of many a deer hunting season (though some have already begun). If you’re fortunate enough to still have leftover venison from last season, Labor Day is the perfect time to enjoy these gourmet venison burger recipes. But don’t let the fancy ingredients scare you away—these are hearty, down-to-earth burgers that are a worthy use of your harvest. Grill them up over the long weekend or save them for later in the season.
Preparing the Meat
Naturally, you’ll get the best results if you grind your own venison so that you can ensure the right fat content balance. For your fat source, most of the hunters I’ve spoken to prefer to add 10–20 percent pork belly or shoulder. Others prefer to add 25 percent ground chuck to the mixture. If you skip this step, your flavor may not be as good, and your meat might dry out or fall apart when you fry or grill the patties. Granted, opinions on the perfect fat-to-venison ratio and the ideal type of fat vary wildly, so experiment to determine the best additions and ratios for your preferences. For grinding, you can use either a clamp-on meat grinder or a large food processor. Cut your venison into one-inch cubes, chill them for an hour, and grind them in small batches; pulse in short bursts if you’re using a food processor.
As far as toppings and additional ingredients are concerned, you can use whatever you enjoy most, but if you’re looking to take a step off the beaten path, consider one of these unusual adaptations of typical venison burger recipes.
Herbed Venison Burgers on the Grill
These burgers are a great option if you’re looking to spice up the patties themselves while adding some interesting toppings. Start with your prepared venison/fat blend and work from there. For an Italian flair, assemble on a ciabatta roll with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, onion and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or stick to classics and top with provolone, tomatoes and pickles.
1 1/2 lbs ground venison (prepared with additional fat source of your choice)
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
3 tsp spicy mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine all of the ingredients—but don’t over-mix—and shape into patties. Grill on high heat to desired doneness, usually 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
(Adapted from Quality Venison Cookbook by Steve and Gale Loder)
Venison Burgers with Chateaubriand Butter
Chateaubriand has been favored for drizzling over sturdy steaks since the 1800s. This recipe brings that rich flavor to your venison burger. These patties are delicious on a crusty roll or bun and topped with grilled zucchini slices, onions and peppers, or sautéed mushrooms.
1 cup white wine
3 shallots chopped very, very fine
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp chervil (French parsley)
1 tsp tarragon
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 lbs ground venison prepared with pork fat
In a small saucepan, combine wine, shallots, parsley, chervil and tarragon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. The reduction may take a while, but let it continue slowly. Add the stock, and continue letting it reduce until you have about 1/2 a cup of liquid. Set the liquid aside until it cools to room temperature. While the liquid is cooling, whip the butter until it’s soft. Add the wine and stock mixture to the whipped butter and stir to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and scrape the butter mixture onto it, shaping it into a log and wrapping it up. Freeze the log for one hour minimum or overnight until solid. Form the meat mixture into patties and grill to your desired doneness. Slice several pats of butter mixture and top each patty with two or three of them.
(Adapted from a recipe in The New Gray’s Wild Game Cookbook: A Menu Cookbook by Rebecca Gray)
Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese Venison Burgers
These toppings make a fine crown for any burger, but the often-gamey taste of venison plays well with the notes in the mushrooms and goat cheese. These stately burgers are rich—worth savoring every bite.
3 tbsp olive oil
6 oz portobello mushrooms (about two large mushrooms), stemmed and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs ground venison prepared with 25 percent ground chuck
4 rustic white bread rolls, sliced
In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and do not stir, letting them cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir thoroughly. Add the thyme. Cook about 30 seconds or until most of the balsamic has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Shape the meat into 3/4-inch thick patties, and press a dimple into the center of each one. Season lightly with salt on both sides.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the burgers and cook about 5 minutes. Flip the patties and place a round of goat cheese in the center of each patty. For medium rare, cook 4 minutes more. Serve on the rolls, topping with reserved portobello slices.
For charcoal or gas grills, grill over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
(Adapted from a recipe in Great Burgers: 50 Mouthwatering Recipes by Bob Sloan)
Cheddar Bacon Jalapeño Venison Burgers on Texas Toast
This one is a bit closer to a classic, but it’s sure to impress anyone you’re serving, and it requires you too cook the bacon (i.e., the pork fat addition) before adding the venison.
6 slices bacon, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 lbs ground venison (no fat additives)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
12 slices of Texas toast
2 medium-sized jalapeños, sliced thinly, one de-seeded
6 slices cheddar cheese
additional burger toppings as desired
Heat a cast iron skilled to medium-high. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. In a heat-proof bowl, add the bacon and the grease and set aside to cool. Return skillet to heat and add olive oil until hot. Add garlic and shallots, stirring about 3 minutes until softened. Add garlic, shallots and any remaining oil to the bowl of bacon and grease. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture is cool, add the venison, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until evenly combined. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Shape into 6 patties.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Add patties and grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side, adding cheddar slices to one side after flipping. Serve on Texas toast, topped with jalapeños and additional burger toppings such as grilled onions, lettuce and tomato.
(Adapted from this recipe.)
Handmade Venison Burger Patties with 3 Flavor Combinations
This video includes a great step-by-step process for making venison burger patties with a unique kick.