wild-game burgers,
Go ahead—have a cheeseburger for breakfast. Tess Rousey

This might generate a call from the House Un-American Activities Committee, but I’m going to say it anyway: Burgers are boring. Sure, straight-up bacon cheeseburgers taste pretty good, but you can eat only so many before they get stale. It’s time to break free from the monotony. Here are six recipes that’ll really put the wild back in your wild-game burgers.

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 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 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 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 with Maple Mayo

The true breakfast of champions.

I’ve checked the 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.

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 burger 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

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 burger, 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 burger 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.

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