What Are the Best Tips for Grilling Venison?

Marty Paule

Venison tends to be a lean meat and can benefit from being marinated before grilling to enhance its tenderness and flavor. When it comes to grilling venison, the procedures and techniques are similar to those used to grill beef. The grill should be prepared correctly before putting the venison on it. By following the right sequence, grilling tender and tasty venison is a relatively simple matter of timing and keeping watch over the venison steaks as they cook.

Grills that use gas or propane may not generate the same amount of heat or flavor as do their wood and charcoal-fueled counterparts.
Grills that use gas or propane may not generate the same amount of heat or flavor as do their wood and charcoal-fueled counterparts.

There are many beef and venison marinade recipes to be found online. The marinade should be made well in advance of grilling, giving the deer meat plenty of time to take up its ingredients. If a marinade is not used, or the marinade does not contain oil, and depending on the leanness of the venison, the venison steaks will need to have oil applied to them to prevent sticking to the grill. Many grilling experts recommend that all meats be sprinkled with salt just before grilling to seal in juices — this is particularly important with venison, which can easily dry out and get tough on the grill. When grilling ground venison hamburger patties, oil or fat may need to be added to the ground meat depending on its leanness.

Hot charcoal in a grill.
Hot charcoal in a grill.

Many people find that a charcoal or wood-fired grill produces the best results when it comes to grilling venison. Some grills that use liquid propane (LP) gas might not generate quite enough heat and will not impart the flavors of charcoal or wood. In preparing the grill, be sure heat is balanced over the entire area to be cooked on and apply oil to the rack using a brush to prevent sticking. Before grilling venison, bring the grill up to a medium-high temperature.

For the right level of done-ness and to keep the venison juicy, a close eye should be kept on the cooking process. Keep in mind that fat content and the thickness of the venison steaks will influence the cooking time. Begin by placing the well-separated steaks on the grill and cooking each side for two to four minutes. Then reduce the heat and cook each side with reduced heat until done to the degree preferred. If the grill has a lid, it should be closed to help keep the meat juicy.

Once the meat has finished cooking, remove it promptly from the grill. After grilling venison, it can be wrapped in aluminum foil to retain moisture until the meal is ready to be served. Serve the venison with accompaniments that have pronounced flavors and that will complement the rich flavors and dense textures of the grilled venison.

Deer meat should be marinated long before grilling.
Deer meat should be marinated long before grilling.

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