How long should venison be cooked?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

When it comes to cooking venison, it’s important to keep in mind that it is a lean meat and can easily dry out if overcooked. The cooking time will vary depending on the cut of venison and your desired level of doneness. Here’s a detailed guide on how long venison should be cooked:

1. Determine the cut and thickness of the venison: Venison can be in various cuts like tenderloin, loin, rib, or shoulder. The thickness of the meat will also affect the cooking time. Thicker cuts will require more time to cook than thinner cuts.

2. Prepare the venison: Before cooking, make sure to properly season the venison with your preferred spices and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps to ensure even cooking.

3. Preheat the grill or pan: Whether you choose to grill or pan-sear your venison, it’s essential to preheat the cooking surface. This helps to sear the meat and lock in the juices.

4. Cooking time for rare plus/medium-rare: For a tender and juicy venison steak, aim for a rare plus to medium-rare doneness. This means cooking the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 117-125°F (47-52°C). Use a meat thermometer to accurately gauge the temperature. Cooking time will typically be around 5-7 minutes per side, but this can vary depending on the thickness of the steak.

5. Keep an eye on the internal temperature: It’s crucial to monitor the internal temperature of the venison throughout the cooking process. Overcooking venison can result in a dry and tough texture. Remember that the internal temperature will continue to rise slightly after removing the meat from heat, so it’s best to pull the steaks when they are a few degrees below your desired doneness.

6. Resting the venison: After cooking, allow the venison to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. Resting helps the meat retain its juices and results in a more flavorful and tender steak.

7. Adjust cooking time for different doneness: If you prefer your venison cooked to a different level of doneness, you can adjust the cooking time accordingly. For medium doneness, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F (54-57°C). For medium-well, aim for 140-145°F (60-63°C). However, be cautious not to overcook the venison, as it can easily become dry and tough.

Remember, these cooking times are just guidelines and may vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the meat and the heat of your grill or pan. It’s always best to rely on a meat thermometer to ensure accurate doneness.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that venison cooked to medium-rare tenderness offers the best balance of flavor and juiciness. The meat retains its natural flavors and is tender enough to melt in your mouth. However, everyone’s preference may differ, so feel free to adjust the cooking time to suit your taste.

To summarize, cooking venison to a rare plus/medium-rare doneness is recommended to avoid overcooking and drying out the meat. Cook the steaks for around 5-7 minutes per side and aim for an internal temperature of 117-125°F (47-52°C). Remember to rest the cooked venison before slicing for maximum flavor and juiciness.