Getting the right cook on a venison burger is just as enjoyable as harvesting the animal.
There are many ways to cook venison burgers, with each method having its benefits.
Making the Burger
The first thing to consider is the venison burger patty. This is a crucial step to developing a perfect burger.
It’s not difficult to create a venison patty, and this recipe will take you through it step by step.
One of the most essential steps in making a venison patty is getting the right fat content.
Typically venison patties are 20-30 percent fat. I like to use pork fat, pork belly in particular, but you can also use beef fat.
Once you have your fat and venison weighed out, the next step is the grind.
For the best texture, you should vary the grind; this means half at a large grind and half at a small grind.
You can play a little with the percentages to find what you like best.
Lastly is the seasoning. I like to keep it as simple as possible. Sometimes I use no seasoning, but mostly, I like to use a minimal amount of onion powder and garlic powder.
I find a small amount of these seasonings compliments the burger without being too overwhelming.
You may be tempted to add salt to your ground venison, but I urge you against this. The salt will extract the moisture from the venison, leaving it dry. You should only add salt immediately before cooking.
Methods for Cooking Venison Burger
Once you have the patties made, it’s time to cook them. This is where the magic happens.
There are as many ways to cook venison burgers as there are to make them.
However, I find the best method to cook venison burgers is grilling them.
The grill is often considered the best method to cook venison burgers, and I agree with this.
One of the big advantages of the grill is the high heat and char that you can create.
While you can get the high heat on a cast iron pan, you cannot get a char like you can with a grill.
On top of the high heat and char, the grill also allows for fat and moisture dropping.
In the pan, these would stay until they dry up in the pan, whereas in the grill, they evaporate or cause flareups which add to the char.
I could go on about the many benefits of the grill, but it’s a whole article by itself.
How to Cook Venison Burgers on the Grill:
- Start your grill and bring it to a high temperature. I recommend 400-450F. If you are cooking the burger to well, aim for the lower end. For medium or medium rare, you can cook at the higher end.
- Once you reach the desired temperature, remove the patty from the fridge, generously salt it and set it down on the grill. Allow the burger to cook undisturbed until you are ready to flip it.
- You should only flip the burger once in the whole cooking process. This article will take you through the proper cooking times.
- However, the general time is 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
- After the time has passed, flip the burger and begin the cook on the other side.
- If you are adding cheese, I recommend you do, then place a slice on top of the patty about 90 seconds before the burger is cooked.
- Remove the patty and rest it for 4-5 minutes before building the burger.
The pan-fried method is almost Identical to the grill method. If you are not cooking your venison burger on the grill, I recommend pan-fried as the next best method.
However, not every pan can cook a venison burger properly. You will need high heat and will try to get the best sear possible from a pan.
The pans I recommend:
Cast Iron: Cast iron is the number one material for cooking venison burgers. It can reach incredibly high temperatures, which is needed for venison burgers. It also holds flavor exceptionally well and is a very rustic way of cooking.
Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is another excellent material for cooking venison burgers. This is because of the great sear it can get. Often works are made of carbon steel to get the char on the meat and vegetables. The same principle applies to venison burgers.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel pans are not recommended for beginners, but once you learn how to use them, they can be an excellent tool for cooking venison burgers.
If you are inexperienced, you may find that your burger will stick, but after some trial and error, you will find the stainless steel pan is the best all-around pan.
The last method I recommend for cooking venison burgers is in the oven. This is a method that I commonly use, but on occasion, I like to oven-bake venison burgers.
What I like about oven-baked venison burgers is how juicy they come out. It’s very hard to create the same juiciness from a pan.
The big difference here is the cooking temperature. For the pan and grill method, high heat is used, but for the oven, low heat is used.
How to cook oven-baked venison burgers:
- You can opt to sear the burgers if you like or if you prefer, you can skip this step. If you do opt to sear the burgers, there are two methods, a sear, and a reverse sear.
- To sear the burger, heat some high temp oil over high heat in one of the pans I mentioned above. The heat needs to be extremely high so use something like avocado oil.
- Place the burger down for a couple of seconds until you get a nice color on the outside, flip the burger, and do the same on the other side.
- Then immediately place the burger in a preheated oven on a lined baking pan. The temperature should be between 350-375F.
- Cook the burger uncovered until you reach your desired doneness. You can add cheese anywhere from 1-2 minutes before removing the burgers.
- When your burger is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.
- There is no need to flip the burgers when oven baking.
One of the big things when cooking venison burgers is getting the right doneness.
Doneness is the degree to which the burger is cooked. So rare, medium rare, medium, and well done are commonly used terms.
This can be measured by cooking times or internal temperature. When oven cooking, I prefer going by internal temperature, but for the grill or pan frying, I am so familiar with it that I go by the cooking time.
- Rare -4 minutes-125F
- Medium-Rare-5 minutes-135F
- Medium-6 minutes-145F
- Well Done-8 minutes-160F
Building the Burger
Building the burger is a very personal choice, but there are a few good guidelines to follow.
While a burger can be eaten open, very few people do, and I recommend using a high-quality bun.
I like to toast my burger buns to add a little extra flavor and, more importantly, extra texture.
On the buns, I like to apply the sauce. This could be one sauce or two or more. I generally use no more than two types of sauces and, more often, only one.
I apply the sauce to the bottom bun; if I use two, then the bottom and top bun.
For venison, this is ideal, so you immediately get the moisture.
The toppings are endless for venison burgers, and I have a whole article on the best toppings for venison burgers.
I like to choose something sweet to compliment the venison, like tomato or pepper.
Of course, cheese is also a great choice; it contains a neutral flavor and contributes significantly to the texture.
I like something subtle like iceberg lettuce, again, great for texture and also helps protect the bun.
While there are no hard and fast rules when cooking venison burgers, hopefully, these guidelines will help.
I recommend a hot grill and a medium or medium rare cook for venison. Getting the right cook and the resting period are the most important things for a successful venison burger.