What is venison?

The term venison was originally used to describe the meat of any furred game, but in Britain it has come to mean the meat from deer (though in America it means the meat from antelope, caribou, elk, moose and reindeer, as well as deer). The meat is dark, lean and generally tender, though wild venison might be a little tougher than farmed, as the deer will have had more exercise.

Age has an influence on the level of tenderness – the younger the animal, the more tender the meat – as well as other factors, such as diet and the way the animal has been handled since it was killed.

How to prepare venison

Cuts are sold ready for cooking. Less tender cuts, such as shoulder, benefit from being marinated for up to two days before cooking.

How to cook venison

Brown it in hot oil, then roast (about 10 mins per 500g). Grill, barbecue or fry (brown quickly, then cook for one min on each side).

For recipe inspiration, see our venison collection.

How to store venison

In the fridge, wrapped, for up to two days. If you're marinating your venison, keep the meat with its mix on the bottom shelf of the fridge for up to two days, in a covered container. Take out of the fridge around one hour before cooking, to allow it to return to room temperature.

When is venison in season?

Farmed is available all year round. Wild roe deer can be found all year round. Wild red and fallow deer is in season from 21 October to 15 February.

Choose the best venison

The meat should have a deep colour, with a dense texture. There shouldn't be too much fat, but what there is should look white and firm – avoid any that is yellow and greasy.

Choose your cut according to what you want to do with it.

For roasting, choose whole fillet; saddle (bone in); loin (boneless saddle); haunch (back leg, either on the bone or boned and rolled); or shoulder (boned and rolled).

For grilling, barbecuing, or frying, choose loin steaks (either medallions or filet mignon); shoulder steaks; or haunch steaks (topside and silverside).

For braising and pot-roasting, choose haunch (on the bone or boned and rolled); shoulder (on the bone or boned and rolled); or shank (foreleg).

For stews and casseroles, choose shin or boneless shoulder. Venison liver is also good to eat, with a sweet flavour and a tender texture. Try it gently fried, or in pâtés or terrines. Venison mince is good to use for burgers and sausages.

Alternatives to venison

Try rabbit.