Learning how to make venison burgers is not only simple and easy, grinding your own meat is more cost-effective than paying a butcher!
It is hard to choose my favorite thing about hunting. Getting only a few hours of sleep so I can trudge a mile deep into a swamp in the dark and proceed to stare at the same tree for 4 hours in the bitter cold. What's not to like? Last year, our seven-year-old was stoked about getting the chance to come hunting with me, he was sure it was going to be non-stop excitement. I told him for practice, he should sit in the closet and stare at a picture of a tree for a few hours. All of a sudden, hunting seems slightly less glamorous to him.
The truth is, I have always been mesmerized by my excitement for the hunt. As a child, it allowed me to connect with my dad. As I grew a few years older I formed a deeper appreciation for the connection it gave me to nature. Now, as a foodie, it is hard for me to not love hunting in the same way I enjoy gardening, for the direct connection it gives me with my food.
For me, hunting isn't just about harvesting pure, unadulterated, meat in it's most natural form. It goes a step further than that. I've always taken a lot of pride processing my own meat. Like the hunt itself, it allows me to form a deeper appreciation for where my food comes from, as well as giving me a sense of pride in my own self-sufficiency. Heck, a bite into a perfectly roasted venison loin is the ultimate congratulations for a hunt well done.
Not to mention, there is just something immensely satisfying about the gentle hum of a LEM Big Bite® Grinder (affiliate link) effortlessly working through a big batch of venison. I swear, it is almost therapeutic. Click on the image below to check it out.
Over the years I have used a number of different meat grinders, and I can say in all honesty this LEM #8 SS Big Bite Grinder is by far my favorite. Grinders that attach to stand mixers only work for the smallest projects, and grinders I've owned with plastic gears quickly broke when the grinding got tough. This LEM is heavy duty, and the metal gears ensure it is built to last. Plus, the Big Bite design allows the auger to take an extra big bite of meat and then move it into the grinder head quicker than other grinders.
In the past, I've owned #5 grinders, but I've quickly fallen in love with the larger size of the LEM #8 SS Big Bite Grinder for most tasks. Initially, I worried that a #8 would be too large for small jobs, but it just makes any sized job easier.
How to Make Venison Burgers
There are a number of important consideration when grinding venison, the most important of which is what final product is going to be. Grinding wild game for chili, sausage, or burgers will all require a slightly different method to get the best results. Let's talk specifically about the grinding process for making the best venison burgers ever!
As many of you already know, I write about burgers frequently. I once owned a burger food truck and used the experience to write up all of my secrets to crafting the best homemade burgers. We will use many of those same techniques to create the best venison burgers too!
Unlike beef or pork, venison fat isn't recommended for cooking. Not only is the meat too lean to make a good burger, but venison fat simply does not taste good. Instead, butchers will blend pork or beef fat in with venison for many applications. Which fat is best to blend with venison? I like the rich taste of beef suet for making venison burgers. Beef fat also stores well in the freezer longer than pork and is safe to consume at a lower temperature. However, pork fat is a great choice if you want a mild-flavored fat that will allow the flavor of the wild game to shine through. I like using pork fat for my sausages.
Some people like to blend bacon trimmings, or even the meat from beef or pork, with their venison. This works well, and adds flavor, but I like the more pure process of simply adding fat so the flavor of venison remains the star.
To prepare everything to grind, you will want to place the meat, fat, and grinder attachments in the freezer prior to grinding. The meat and fat should not be completely frozen, just firm it up so it slides through the grinder with greater ease. Sticking the grinder attachments in the freezer helps the meat maintain it's chilled temperature.
For a good burger, you will want to grind everything twice on a medium grind plate (4.5mm). Not only will this create the classic burger texture when you bite into it, it will also ensure the fat is evenly distributed throughout the venison when it is time to form patties.
How much fat should be added to venison?
Many people love venison because it is so lean and healthy. Unfortunately, lean and healthy does not, a good burger, make!!! You need fat to craft a mouthwatering burger of any kind. Specifically, I recommend 20% fat for perfectly juicy burgers. If you want to make it a tad leaner, I'll give you permission to go down to 15%, but any less than that and you will be making dry, crumbly burgers.
How to form patties
When all the meat is ground, grab some wax paper and start forming patties. The secret is to work the meat as little as possible. The more the meat is squished and smeared, the tougher it becomes. As you can see in my photos, I like to still be able to see the individual strands of meat from the grind even after I press the patty. To replicate this, simply grab and a handful of freshly ground meat, gently form it into a ball just tight enough to hold together, and then press down between wax paper till flat. Using a flat-bottomed plate for pressing gives you even results.
Now the burgers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and freezer paper for storing, or fried up for dinner. Dust them with salt and pepper, cook them in a pan over medium-high heat, and top with your favorite toppings. I really like blue cheese, bacon, and red onion on my venison burger.
Check out the summary directions below!
How to Make Venison Burgers
- 8 lbs venison trimmings
- 2 lbs beef suet
- salt and pepper
Grinding Venison Burgers
- Ensure all cuts of venison are cubed small enough to fit into the grinder.
- Place venison, fat, and grinder attachments into the freezer and freeze until the meat reaches approximately 34 degrees and is semi-firm.
- Using the 4.5mm grinding plate, run the venison and beef suet through the meat grinder twice, intermingling when the fat is added to ensure even distribution.
- Gently pick up ⅓ pound of ground venison at a time and form into a ball, pressing only as hard as needed to get it to hold together.
- Place the balled meat on wax paper, and add an additional piece of wax paper on top and firmly press down with a flat object (such as plate bottom) until the patty has flattened.
- Dust burgers with salt and pepper and cook in skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook until the top of the burger begins to darken, and flip. Continue cooking until cooked to desired doneness.
- Place on hamburger buns and serve with desired toppings.
Don't forget to check out the rest of my mouthwatering venison recipes too!
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