What is venison?

Venison is the rich and flavourful meat obtained from deer. You can buy farmed venison and wild venison; the latter may have a stronger flavour. Wild venison often comes from local fallow, muntjac or Chinese water deer. Venison is available in a range of cuts including loin fillet, haunch and shoulder cuts for roasting, steaks, chops, mince, burgers and sausages making it suitable for a variety of dishes.


Check out our collection of venison recipes for inspiration.

Is venison sustainable?

Deer for wild venison in the UK tends to be culled for environmental reasons (deer populations are high and they have no natural predators) which makes it a low-carbon meat. It is not only highly sustainable but also free-range.

How to choose the best cut of venison

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).

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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.

How to fry venison

Frying venison, particularly steaks or loin cuts, is a quick and straightforward method to bring out the meat's natural flavours.

  1. Start by allowing the meat to reach room temperature before cooking. This makes sure the meat cooks evenly. Season the venison with salt, pepper, and any other spices you like – juniper is a classic pairing.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Rub the steak with a little oil.
  3. Once hot, place the venison in the pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the meat for a medium finish. Add a little butter to the pan for the last minute of cooking. Venison is leaner than beef so try not to overcook it, or it may dry out.
  4. Let the meat rest for five minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

How to roast venison

  1. Roasting is ideal for larger cuts of venison, such as a haunch or saddle, and is a showstopper centre piece for special occasions. Calculate around 200g per person.
  2. Heat the oven to 200°C/190°C fan/gas 6. Season the venison well with salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices you like (rosemary, thyme and juniper work well).
  3. Brown the venison in a hot frying pan in a little oil and butter to start the cooking process and add some fat to the exterior of the meat.
  4. Then, transfer to the oven to roast. A general guideline for cooking time is 20 minutes per kg for medium-rare, plus an additional 20 minutes.
  5. Let the venison rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 15 minutes before slicing to keep it juicy.
Roast venison sliced and sprinkled with salt

How to barbecue venison steaks, burgers and sausages

  1. Grilling over charcoal or wood imparts a smoky flavour to venison, making it perfect for summer barbecues.
  2. Heat your barbecue until the coals are glowing white.
  3. Oil the meat to stop it from sticking.
  4. Place the venison steaks, burgers or sausages on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side for steaks (depending on thickness) or until the burgers are cooked as you like them. Cook sausages through. Avoid overcooking, as the lean meat can become dry.

How to barbecue venison joints

  1. Barbecuing venison joints often involves slower cooking over indirect heat, which is great for larger cuts.
  2. Marinate your venison for several hours before cooking to tenderise and infuse it with flavour.
  3. When ready to barbecue, ensure your coals are hot and create an area of indirect heat by moving them to one side.
  4. Place the venison on the grill away from the direct heat. Cover and cook, turning occasionally. Cooking times will vary based on the cut and size of the meat, so use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  5. Rest the meat before serving to keep it juicy and flavourful.

Discover more ways to cook venison:

Venison madras

Venison madras topped with chopped chillies, in a bowl

Venison makes an excellent curry; the flavour stands up very well to spices.

Venison steaks with stroganoff sauce and shoestring fries

Venison steaks topped with stroganoff sauce and served with shoestring fries

If you’ve not eaten much venison before then this recipe for steak makes an excellent dish.

Venison cottage pie

Venison cottage pie in a deep dish

Use venison mince in this recipe for a cottage pie for a twist on a classic.

Venison and squash tagine

Venison, squash and couscous tagine

Slow cook venison for a rich, fragrant tagine.

Venison sausage and chestnut casserole

Venison sausage and chestnut casserole in a raised dish

Venison sausages can be used for all of your favourite family recipes like in this sausage casserole.

Roast venison loin with pumpkin and Sichuan salt

Roast venison loin on a bed of squash in a traybake

Make this venison dish as a centrepiece next time you host dinner, it's easy but bound to impress.


Read more of our cookery guides:

How to cook sausages
How to cook roast beef
How to roast butternut squash
How to cook pork chops
How to cook bacon in the microwave

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