At our house we’ll put our smoker to good use at any opportunity we get, from making brisket or turkey to veggies. But since we have an avid hunter or two in our family, we’ve really come to love making smoked venison.
Venison is an extremely lean meat so preparing it well can sometimes require some skill. However, smoking it is probably the easiest way to get the best results — especially for a crowd.
There are lots of tips and tricks people may share (we have a few ourselves, below) for making the best venison, but when you’re smoking it, one of the top things to remember is to use the best wood. Fortunately, when you’re smoking deer meat you have a few options — oak, walnut, and hickory wood are all great but you can also impart some sweetness with apple or cherry wood.
If this is your first time preparing venison, this is an easy recipe that will have you excited to start preparing wild game regularly. Meanwhile, if you’ve cooked wild game before but haven’t smoked it, you’re in for a treat.
Common Questions about Smoked Venison
How long should I smoke venison?
Whether you’re making a roast, venison sausages, or venison steaks, the meat should generally be smoked, overall, for about 2 hours or more but the length does depend on the weight of the meat. The best way to judge if venison is finished is using a meat thermometer to ensure the meat does not cook beyond a 140 degree Fahrenheit internal temperature.
Is venison good when it’s smoked?
You can prepare venison in a variety of ways from roasting to making deer jerky. However, smoking is a great way of preparing it. Just like any meat, the low and slow cooking brings out its flavors while the smoker imparts all of that delicious smokiness.
Can venison be overcooked?
Venison can absolutely be easily overcooked and it’s important to avoid that since it will become rubbery. Keeping a careful eye on the temperature of the meat, ensuring the internal temperature does not exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit, is crucial.
Making Smoked Venison Ahead of Time
You can prepare the roast for smoking up to 24 hours ahead of time by applying the oil and seasonings and then refrigerating.
Storing smoked venison is as easy as any other meat whether you choose the fridge or freezer.
Refrigerator: Keep smoked venison stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can either slice it and package it in individual ziploc bags or in an airtight container.
Freezing: Freeze venison for up to 3 months. You can wrap the entire roast in plastic wrap or store slices in a freezer-safe container.
Tips For The Best Smoked Venison
While this recipe is guaranteed to get you fantastic results, there are a few things to keep in mind when smoking venison.
- If you have a built-in water pan in your smoker, or a way to introduce one, it can help to keep meat moist while smoking.
- While it may be tempting to dig right into a piece of meat when it comes off the smoker, it’s important to let it rest before slicing. Tent the roast with aluminum foil and allow at least 15 minutes to let the juices settle — this results in the most tender slices of venison.
- Removing the fat and silver skin from venison meat will help retain the natural taste of the venison. Leaving it on can result in a gamey flavor and even risk a flare-up in your smoker.
One of the best things about smoked venison is how few simple ingredients are necessary to make a delicious roast.
- Venison roast of your choice (we used tri-tip)
- Brown sugar
- Sea salt (fine)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
- Smoker (example: Traeger grills or any pellet grill)
- Small bowl
- Knife (for trimming fat)
- Whisk or fork
- Grilling Tools
- Meat Thermometer
How to Make Smoked Venison
Making smoked venison requires only a few brief steps to prepare before smoking.
- Before doing any other prep work, the first thing you’ll want to do is use a sharp knife to remove the excess fat and silver skin from the venison roast.
- Then, pour the brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, salt, onion powder, and pepper into a small bowl.
- Using a fork or a small whisk, mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly until completely combined.
- Use your hands to cover all sides of the roast with a light coating of olive oil.
- Then, press the dry rub into the olive oil-coated roast, ensuring that all sides are covered.
- Allow the meat to absorb the oil and seasonings in the refrigerator.
- Using tongs, place the roast directly on the grill grates of the preheated smoker.
- Allow the roast to cook until it reaches the desired initial internal temperature.
- Adjust the smoker temperature from the high heat to a low temperature and continue to smoke.
- Once it reaches the final upper threshold of medium-rare doneness, remove the venison roast from the smoker.
- Place the roast on a cutting board to come closer to room temperature.
- Once you’ve let the meat rest, cut into thin slices and serve.
What to Serve With Smoked Venison
Smoked venison is a treat as the main dish, but you’ll likely want to add some sides that go well with all of that smoky flavor. Here are a few ideas of what to serve with your venison recipes.
- Vegetables – Earthy veggies like mushrooms or root vegetables combine well with the flavor of smoked venison.
- Potatoes – Mashed potatoes and baked potatoes are fantastic pairings with venison as is any preparation of sweet potatoes.
- Deli-style salads – If you’re having a cookout or a casual dinner, try coleslaw, macaroni salad, or potato salad on the side. A creamy broccoli salad is a hit as a side dish as well.
- Beans – Baked beans (which can also be smoked) are a solid side with smoked venison.
- Cheesy veggies – Try making a cauliflower or broccoli gratin — the creaminess marries well with the leanness of venison.
- Pasta – Macaroni and cheese always goes well with smoked meats. Any style of pasta salad is delicious, too.
- Greens – Collard greens cooked low and slow with bacon are delicious next to a pile of smoked venison.
- Bright vegetables – Pair this dish with some bright veggies cooked with olive oil and lemon juice. Asparagus and spinach are both winners.
- Salad – A simple green salad will work well as does a Caprese salad when tomatoes are in season.
Variations and Add-ins
While this is a simple recipe you can dress it up however you like!
- Umami – Add some earthy flavor by using soy sauce or Worcestershire to the rub before smoking.
- Heat – Try crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, or your favorite hot sauce to bring some heat to the roast.
- Spices – Experiment with other spices that work well with meat like cumin or curry powder.
- Herbs – Incorporate rosemary, thyme, or sage into the rub for an aromatic flavor.
- Vinegar – Add balsamic vinegar to the rub — the vinegar will help to tenderize the meat but using balsamic means adding a little sweetness too.
- Bacon – Everything tastes better with bacon! Use bacon fat to coat the roast for added moisture and flavor.
- Buttermilk – Soaking the venison in buttermilk for 24 hours can help to make it moist and eliminate elements of gaminess.
- Citrus marinade – Try spreading lemon or other citrus fruit juice on the surface of the meat, along with accompanying flavors, to help tenderize the meat and bring a brightness of flavor.
- Wine – Mix the seasonings with the red wine and pour over the roast for a marinade that will tenderize and add rich flavor.
If you love this easy smoked venison recipe, you’re going to love these other smoker recipes too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Smoked Dishes
Applewood Smoked Ham
Smoked Boneless Leg of Lamb
Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey
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