7 Ways to Cook Your Forgotten Freezer Venison


There are two kinds of people in the world: the people who find a long forgotten package of venison in their freezer and groan about how impossible it is to cook, and the people who gleefully announce that they’re having stew tonight.

Old, deep-frozen venison can be difficult to use. When stored correctly, though, venison can last for two to three years in the freezer. Thawed venison should be cooked immediately, or at least preserved in one of the methods listed below. Ideally, meat should be preserved when fresh, but frozen meat could also do in a pinch.┬áPersonally, we prefer slow cooking old venison in a stew or ground in chili. There’s nothing better than a bowl of something warm and hearty on a cold day, especially if it gets you in the mood for this year’s deer season.

All of the recipes below come from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

1. Venison stew

File image from Jason Lam on the Flickr Creative Commons.
File image from Jason Lam on the Flickr Creative Commons.

Even strong or tough venison can make a tasty meal. Try it in this savory stew.


  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 pounds venison stew meat, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 teaspoons beef bouillon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced morel or button mushrooms


Dredge meat cubes in flour and brown in a large saucepan in hot oil. Drain oil. Add the bouillon, water, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, wine, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until meat is tender (1-2 hours). Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are done. Remove bay leaf. Serves 6.

2. Canned venison

Image screenshot from CarbonTV on YouTube.
Image screenshot from CarbonTV on YouTube.

Set aside part of your harvest to enjoy later using this canned venison recipe.


  • Vension, cut into cubes
  • Salt
  • Beef soup bone
  • Water


  • Quart jars
  • Lids and seals


Brown deer chunks in water in a soup pot. Add a beef soup bone to give the broth some fat. Fill quart jars with meat chunks within 1 inch of lid. Add 1 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon for pint jars). Fill jar with enough broth to just cover meat. Pressure-cook according to your cooker manufacturer’s recommendations or for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

You can watch a video tutorial of venison canning from CarbonTV below:


3. Venison chili

File image from FAEP on the Wikimedia Commons.
File image from FAEP on the Wikimedia Commons.

Warm up with a steaming pot of delicious venison chili.


  • 1-2 pounds ground venison (or cuts in 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Place venison, onion, pepper, and garlic in a large saucepan and brown in about 2 tablespoons oil. Add the remainder of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour until meat is tender. Serves 4-6.

4. Basic deer sausage

File image from jeffreyw on the Wikimedia Commons.
File image from jeffreyw on the Wikimedia Commons.


  • 5 lbs. venison
  • 1 lb. fresh pork fat
  • 2-4 tablespoons salt


Grind the meat and fat thoroughly, mix in salt and add one of the seasoning recipes. Knead one of the seasoning mixes listed below into meat. Keep mixture cold.

Salami Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fine-ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste)

Sausage Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground celery seed
  • 3/4 cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste)

Pepperoni Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons leaf oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fine-ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon whole anise
  • 3/4 cup dry milk (mix to a thin paste)

To stuff and cook the sausage, you can use casings available from a local meat processor or aluminum foil wrapping.

If using casings, follow instructions for the type (run water through animal casings). To fill, use stuffing attachments for your meat grinder and pack tightly into casings.

For foil wrapping, place 1-2 pounds of mixture on a rectangle of foil and pull up opposite sides. Press to pack meat tightly, then fold the foil tightly against the meat. Turn and roll ends until tight.

Bake sausage in the oven by placing the stuffed casings or foil on a rack in a baking pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 300F. Remove and cool rapidly.

5. Buck’s jerky

File image is public domain.

  • 2 pounds venison strips, cut 1/4-1/8″ thick
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few drops of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

To cut thin, even slices, use meat that is partially frozen. Cut the strips lengthwise with the grain and about 1 to 2 inches wide. Mix the seasonings and place the meat and seasonings in a resealable plastic bag. Work the seasonings into the meat with your hands. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To dry, place on dehydrator trays and follow the directions of the appliance. Jerky can also be dried in an oven by hanging the strips with toothpicks from the racks. Cook for 10-12 hours at 150F. with the door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Place a tray under jerky to catch drips.

6. Venison eggplant casserole

7. Venison Swedish meatballs

File image from Sertion on the Wikimedia Commons.
File image from Sertion on the Wikimedia Commons.

Ground venison creates endless culinary opportunities. Try using it in this Swedish meatball recipe.


  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs (2 slices)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup snipped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups of morel or button mushrooms, sliced, (or 1 can cream of mushroom soup)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • Hot cooked noodles, rice or potatoes

In a mixing bowl, combine egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, parsley, pepper, and salt. Add meats and mix well. Shape into 30 meatballs. Cook meatballs in a large skillet in hot butter, turning to brown evenly. Remove from skillet when done and drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet and add the flour, bouillon and a dash of pepper to the drippings and mix. Stir in the milk and mushrooms or soup. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute and add meatballs to skillet. Heat through.

Read More