What makes the perfect venison burger? That depends on your palette—or what you’re craving. If you ask us, venison burgers are best left simple: cooked to medium-rare on a hot grill (or in a scorching skillet) and served on a potato bun with minimal fixings. If that sounds like your kind of burger, too, we’ve got you covered in this wildly comprehensive guide to the best venison burger recipes.

And in the interest of breaking free from the monotony (and possibly wanting to start some controversy), we’ve also include a half-dozen venison burger recipe ideas that’ll put the wild back in your wild-game burgers.

Table of Contents

  • Venison Smash Burgers
  • PB&J Venison Sliders
  • Beer-Cheese Pretzel Burger
  • Breakfast Venison Burger with Maple Mayo
  • Venison Chicago Burger
  • Hamburguesa de Elotes
  • Big Lucy’s Blues Burger
  • The Perfect Venison Patty Melt

Venison Smash Burger Recipe

Six venison burgers are cooking on a griddle.
If you have a large cast-iron skillet—or, better yet, a cast-iron griddle—get it scorching hot on the stove and channel your inner shorter-order cook. Colin Kearns

At our deer camp in the Adirondacks, we sure do eat well. Breakfast burritos and pancakes for breakfast. Peanut butter, bacon, and honey wraps for an in-the-woods lunch. And a rotating dinner menu of feasts that usually showcase game meat—mule deer spiedies, venison Bolognese, cassoulet, and, when it’s my night to cook, venison smash burgers.

I have the inimitable Guy Fieri to thank for this recipe. Years ago, for an episode of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” he paid a visit to White Manna Hamburgers, a Jersey institution, and the short-order cooks there gave a clinic in the art of the smash burger. As soon as I saw those perfect burgers come off the flat-top, I knew that’s how I’d cook my venison burgers from then on. Here’s how it’s done.


  • 2 pounds ground venison (80 percent venison, 20 beef fat), portioned into ¼-pound patties.
  • Vegetable oil
  • White onion, thinly sliced
  • American cheese
  • Potato buns
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Get the griddle ripping hot, then add some oil to the cooking surface.

  2. Place the patties on the griddle, season generously with salt and pepper, then smash them thin with a spatula. Add a small pile of the onions on top of each patty, then give them another smash so the onions stick to the patties. Cook for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes.

  3. Flip the burgers, so they continue to cook onion-side down. Top each patty with a slice of cheese, then add the buns. The bottom bun goes on top of the cheese, cut-side down, and the top bun rests on the on the bottom bun (see photo above), also cut-side down. This steams the buns while the burgers finish cooking. Let the burgers cook for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes.

  4. Lift each burger from the griddle with the spatula, then remove the top bun and place it, cut-side up, under the spatula, temporarily sandwiching the spatula and patty between both buns. Gently squeeze the top and bottom buns with one hand and slide the spatula out with the other. Pass the burger off to hunting buddy, and repeat with the rest. Each hunter gets two burgers.

PB&J Venison Sliders

PB&J Burger Sliders
The classic PB&J and a venison burger collide in the greasy masterpiece.

Serve these sliders at a cookout, and you’ll quickly identify who the adventurous eaters are. Those brave enough for a bite are in for a rich reward. Although the ingredients in this venison burger recipe shouldn’t work together, somehow they come together to create one of the best burgers to come off the grill in years. Feel free to upsize the burgers—but, in my experience, they are best served as sliders, since it’s easy to O.D. on all the rich, heavy flavors.


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Slider buns
  • Grape jelly
  • Peanut butter
  • 6–8 slices of bacon, cooked
  • Sliced cheddar cheese


  1. Divide the ground venison into six to eight equal-size patties, each slightly larger than the slider buns. Season liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill to medium over hot coals.

  2. To build the sliders, first slather the bottom bun with grape jelly. Add a grilled slider patty, then a spoonful of peanut butter. Next, break a slice of bacon in half and add it to the burger, followed by a slice of cheddar cheese. Complete with the top bun. Wait a few seconds for the peanut butter and cheese to melt before biting in.

Beer-Cheese Pretzel Venison Burger

Beer-Cheese Pretzel Burger
Enjoy this one with a pint of your favorite lager.

With hot beer cheese atop a pile of grilled onions, dripping off a thick whitetail patty, this may as well be the unofficial state burger of Wisconsin. It even has a pretzel bun, for gosh sakes. If you’re tempted to fancy up this venison burger recipe with gruyere and a craft beer—don’t. Stick to the working-man spirit of the burger, with sharp cheddar and a cheap lager. Also, be sure to have plenty of extra suds on hand to wash down the melty goodness.


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4 pretzel buns
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Yellow mustard

For the beer cheese

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 can lager
  • 12 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce


  1. Divide the ground venison into four equal portions, and press into patties. Season liberally with kosher salt. Keep chilled.

  2. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a hot skillet, and add sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium, and cook until softened and browned. Add a dash of Worcestershire if desired.

  3. To make the beer cheese, melt two tablespoons of butter in a small pot. Add two tablespoons of flour, and stir constantly until the roux is a light brown. Whisk in half of the can of lager, stirring until thickened. Add grated cheese a half cup at a time, stirring as it melts. If necessary, thin with additional beer until you achieve the proper consistency. Season with hot sauce and freshly ground black pepper.

  4. Grill ground venison patties to desired doneness.

  5. To build the venison beer-cheese burger, spread the bottom of the pretzel bun with good yellow mustard. Top with the burger patty, grilled onions, and a heavy dollop of beer cheese.

Breakfast Venison Burger Recipe with Maple Mayo

Breakfast Burger with Maple Mayo
The true breakfast of champions.

I’ve checked the venison burger recipe rule book, and nowhere does it list not eating a burger for breakfast. Of course, there’s nothing that says you can’t have a breakfast burger for dinner, either. Fact is, whenever this burger comes off the grill is the perfect time to enjoy its savory flavors. Some salty slivered ham, a heavy handful of hash browns, sage and mace (classic pork-sausage ingredients), and the gooey drippings of an egg yolk fresh from the skillet make this burger worth getting out of bed for.


  • ¾ lb. ground venison
  • ¼ lb. ground pork
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. sage
  • ½ tsp. mace
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Slivered ham
  • Hash browns
  • 4 eggs

For the maple mayo

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tsp. maple syrup


  1. Mix the mayonnaise and maple syrup. Refrigerate.

  2. Place the ground venison and pork in a medium bowl with the salt, sage, mace, and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, mix until the seasonings are well incorporated. Press into four ¼-lb. patties and grill over a hot fire until the internal temperature reaches 152 degrees.

  3. In a hot skillet, heat a spoonful of bacon fat and a spoonful of butter. Fry hash browns until crispy. Heat slivered ham. Fry egg sunny-side up or over-easy, being careful not to overcook the yolk.

  4. To build the burger, spread a generous amount of maple mayo onto the bottom bun. Layer the slivered ham, hamburger patty, and pile of hash browns. Complete with a fried egg, then the top bun. Have plenty of napkins on standby.

Venison Chicago Burger

Chicago Burger
The Chicago dog meets venison in this flavor bomb.

Combine the Windy City’s favorite hot-dog toppings with the rich taste of a perfectly cooked wild-game burger, and you’ve got an instant classic. Like its tubular namesake, this venison burger recipe is a mouthful, with up to 10 layers of flavor competing for your taste buds.


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Poppy-seed bun
  • Yellow mustard
  • Sliced tomato
  • Pickle relish
  • Diced onion
  • Sliced hot pepper
  • Celery salt
  • Dill pickle


  1. Divide the ground venison into four equal portions and press into patties. Season liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill to medium over hot coals.

  2. To build the Chicago burger, spread the bottom of the bun with good yellow mustard. Layer a sliced tomato, pickle relish, the grilled burger patty, diced onions, and sliced hot peppers. Sprinkle with celery salt, then top with the burger bun. Finish with a dill pickle spear held in place with a bamboo skewer.

Hamburguesa de Elotes

Hamburguesa de Elotes
An iconic Mexican street-food is the main topping here.

One of Mexico’s most popular street foods, elotes are fresh ears of sweet corn, charred over a hot fire, and slathered in mayonnaise, lime juice, or crema. Lucky for those of us stateside, these flavors perfectly complement a grilled wild-game burger that can be made at home. Don’t wait until winter to try this venison burger recipe, though; it’s best when the sweet corn is fresh.


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame-seed bun
  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tajin
  • Queso fresco, crumbled


  1. Divide the ground venison into four equal portions, and press into patties. Season liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill to medium over hot coals.

  2. Pull the husks back from the corn and remove the silk. Fold the husks back into place and grill the corn over hot coals until the kernels are soft, and slightly charred in places. Slice the corn off the cob and toss with butter, lime juice, zest, and fresh cilantro.

  3. To assemble the burger, slather the bottom half of the sesame-seed bun with mayonnaise. Add the burger patty, corn, and queso fresco. Sprinkle Tajin seasoning over the top, then cover with the top bun.

Big Lucy’s Blues Burger

Big Lucy’s Blues Burger
The cheese is on the inside of this burger. Tess Rousey

Order a Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities and you’ll get a burger patty stuffed with molten American cheese. Consider Big Lucy’s Blues Burger an upscale version of the standard model, both in terms of size and the cheese. Not for the timid of tongue, this beast of a venison burger recipe combines the pungent bite of bleu cheese with peppery spice via the rocket arugula. To complement the flavors, find the best tomato jam available, one with cloves and cinnamon listed in the ingredients.


  • 1 lb. ground venison
  • 1 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • 3 large potato buns
  • Kosher salt
  • Tomato jam
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked
  • Arugula


  1. Divide the ground venison into three equal portions. Form each into a rough ball, pressing a deep well in the center with your thumbs. Fill the well with bleu cheese crumbles and fold the ground meat over to cover. Press into a thick patty. Sprinkle with kosher salt, and transfer to a hot grill. Grill patties over medium-high heat, carefully flipping once, until cooked through. Brush potato buns with butter, and toast over a hot grill.

  2. Build the burger by spreading the bottom bun with a heaping tablespoon of tomato jam. Top with the bleu cheese-stuffed patty, two slices of bacon, and a handful of arugula.

Venison Burger Recipe: The Perfect Patty Melt

Our final venison burger recipe is another diner classic. A great patty melt is the sum of its parts, even more so than a standard burger. And though those parts are few—just some quality ground venison, onion, Swiss cheese, and rye bread—the end result is almost enough to make a guy swear off burgers forever. I’m too humble to say this is the best patty melt ever, but it’s pretty damn good. This is due, probably, to the copious amounts of butter and the technique for caramelizing the onions, which I admittedly stole from Kenji over at Serious Eats. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that my version features homemade rye bread baked by my mom. If you don’t have that, a good store bought rye—light, not dark—will do.


  • Ingredients:
  • ¼ lb. ground venison
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Water
  • ½ medium onion, sliced thin
  • Two slices of Swiss cheese
  • Rye bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • Mayonnaise


1. Place the venison burger in a small bowl and season with a couple dashes of Worcestershire, along with the kosher salt, garlic and onion powders, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix lightly to incorporate and form into a patty roughly the same size and shape as your bread.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and place the burger patty in the skillet. Cook 2 minutes per side, or long enough to form a crispy crust without overcooking the interior. Remove the patty to a plate and keep warm.

3. Lower the heat to medium and melt one tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the onions and one or two tablespoons of water. Stir frequently, using your spatula to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking, adding water a tablespoon at a time, until the onions are cooked through and caramelized.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise onto the outside of each slice of rye bread. Assemble the patty melt by placing the patty on one slice of bread and topping with caramelized onions and two slices of Swiss cheese.

5. Melt a little more butter in the skillet, then place the assembled sandwich in the pan and cook until well browned. Flip and brown the second side, cooking until the cheese is melted.