How to Cook Venison Steak: a Comprehensive Guide

Venison steak is arguably one of the tastiest and healthiest red meats out there, but it can also be quite tricky to prepare. From marinating to seasoning, heating, and resting, there are many factors to consider if you want to end up with a tender and flavorful cut. So, how do you cook venison steak like a pro? Here are some tips and tricks to help you master this culinary feat.

Choosing the Right Cut

The first step in cooking venison steak is selecting the right cut. Venison comes from deer, elk, or other wild game, and each species has different types of cuts that are more suitable for certain cooking methods. Here are some popular venison steak cuts and how to use them:

  • Tenderloin: This is the most expensive and leanest cut, located in the back of the deer. It’s best suited for quick cooking methods like grilling, broiling, or searing.
  • Sirloin: This cut is located in the hindquarters of the deer and has a more pronounced flavor than the tenderloin. It’s best suited for roasting, pan-searing, or stir-frying.
  • Ribeye: This is a marbled and flavorful cut from the rib section of the deer. It’s best suited for grilling, broiling, or pan-searing.

Preparing the Steak

Once you have chosen your venison steak cut, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Thaw it properly: If you’re using frozen venison steak, make sure to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight or in cold water for a few hours. Never use a microwave or hot water to thaw your steak, as it can spoil the meat.
  2. Trim the fat: Venison is a lean meat and doesn’t have a lot of fat, but what it does have can be tough and gamy. Use a sharp knife to remove any visible fat or connective tissue from the steak.
  3. Marinate it (optional): Venison can benefit from a marinade to tenderize it and add flavor. You can use an acidic marinade with vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or a more savory one with soy sauce, garlic, and herbs. Let the steak marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
  4. Season it: Before cooking, season the steak with salt and pepper, or any other dry rub or spices you like. Avoid using too much salt, as venison is naturally salty.

Cooking the Steak

Now comes the fun part: cooking the venison steak. The cooking time and temperature depend on the thickness and doneness you prefer, as well as the cooking method. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Grill: Preheat your grill to high for at least 10 minutes. Pat the steak dry to remove excess marinade or seasoning. Grill the steak for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or 5-6 minutes per side for medium, flipping only once. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  2. Broil: Preheat your broiler to high and place the steak on a baking sheet. Broil the steak for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or 5-6 minutes per side for medium, depending on the thickness. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  3. Pan-sear: Heat a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking hot. Add a tablespoon of oil or butter and swirl it around. Place the steak in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or 4-5 minutes per side for medium, basting it with the hot fat. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  4. Roast: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the steak on a roasting rack and cook for 10-15 minutes for medium-rare, or 15-20 minutes for medium, depending on the thickness. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Sous-vide (advanced): If you have a sous-vide machine, you can cook your venison steak to perfection by vacuum-sealing it with herbs, spices, and butter, and cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature for 1-2 hours. Finish the steak on a hot skillet or grill for a crispy sear.

Serving the Steak

After cooking your venison steak, it’s important to serve it in the right way to enhance its flavor and texture. Here are some serving tips:

  • Rest it: As mentioned before, let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing it, to allow the juices to redistribute and the fibers to relax.
  • Slice it thin: To make the steak easier to eat and more tender, slice it against the grain, or perpendicular to the fibers.
  • Add a sauce: Venison pairs well with fruity, sweet, or tangy sauces like cranberry, blueberry, currant, cherry, or balsamic reduction. You can also add a dollop of butter or herb butter on top of the steak.
  • Pair it with sides: Venison steak goes well with roasted vegetables, potatoes, wild rice, or quinoa. You can also serve it with a salad or a creamy soup as a starter.

Mistakes to Avoid

To avoid ruining your venison steak, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Overcooking it: Venison is a lean and low-fat meat, so it can dry out easily if overcooked. Keep an eye on the doneness and remove the steak from the heat when it’s still slightly pink in the center.
  • Skipping the marinade: Venison can be tough and gamy if not marinated or seasoned properly. Take the time to prepare your steak in advance and infuse it with flavor and tenderness.
  • Using too much salt: Venison is naturally salty, so avoid adding too much salt to the steak, or it might become overpowering.
  • Not resting it: Resting the steak is crucial to allow it to reabsorb the juices and reach a perfect texture. Don’t cut into it right away.


Venison steak may seem like a daunting challenge, but with the right knowledge and techniques, anyone can prepare a mouthwatering and healthy meal for themselves or their loved ones. Remember to choose the right cut, prepare it properly, season it carefully, cook it to perfection, and serve it with style. Happy cooking!

Table of Contents:

  1. Choosing the Right Cut
  2. Preparing the Steak
  3. Cooking the Steak
  4. Serving the Steak
  5. Mistakes to Avoid


What is the best cooking method for venison steak?

It depends on the cut and thickness of the steak, but generally grilling, broiling, or pan-searing are the best methods to cook venison steak. You can also roast or sous-vide it for more texture and flavor.

How do you know if venison steak is cooked?

The best way to know if venison steak is cooked is to use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature. For medium-rare, it should be around 135°F (57°C), and for medium, it should be around 145°F (63°C). You can also check the doneness by pressing the steak gently with your finger. If it’s soft, it’s rare, if it’s slightly springy, it’s medium, and if it’s firm, it’s well done.

Can you eat venison steak rare?

Yes, you can eat venison steak rare, as long as it has been handled and cooked properly to avoid any foodborne illnesses. Venison is lower in fat and bacteria than beef, so it can be cooked to a lower temperature without any risks. However, if you’re not used to rare meat, you might find the texture and flavor too gamey or tough.