Pinchin' Pennie$ in the Kitchen: Tips and Recipes for Preparing Elk/Venison

(FN1733, Reviewed March 2024)

Game meats, such as elk and venison, add variety to your diet. They often are lower in fat than other meats. Consider these tips as you expand your cooking to include game meats.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
Other Authors

Rebecca West, M.A., Program Assistant (former)

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Tip 1. Elk, venison, bison and beef can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Tip 2. Game meat usually has less fat, which means it tends to be dry. To compensate, use in soups and stews, bake in oven bags, or marinate before cooking as a steak or stir-fry.

Tip 3. To keep as many juices as possible inside the meat, use tongs instead of a fork when cooking. Let the meat rest on a covered plate for five minutes before slicing against the grain to keep meat tender.

Tip 4. Handle wild game safely.

  • Store raw wild game in the refrigerator below 40 F for up to two days or freeze for longer storage. Properly wrapped game meats can be stored in the freezer for up to six months for best quality.
  • Be sure to keep meat outside the danger zone temperatures of 40 F to 140 F to prevent harmful bacteria growth.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep ready-to-eat foods and raw meat stored in separate locations in the refrigerator.
  • Wash your hands and food preparation equipment.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of cooking and use within three days.

Tip 5. Thaw and freeze wild game safely.

  • Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator in its original wrapping on the lowest shelf.
  • For faster thawing, place meat in waterproof wrapping in cold water and change the water as needed to keep the temperature cold.
  • Freeze meat in meal-size pieces and packages. Place a double layer of freezer wrap between individual pieces.
  • Remove all air from packaging before freezing to maintain quality.
  • For more freezing tips, see the “Food Freezing Guide” (available at www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/extension/

Tip 6. Try this basic marinade for wild elk or venison. It is adapted from Linda Stephenson’s “Wild Game Dutch Oven Cooking.” Combine in a bowl: ¾ cup apple juice, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, a cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage and 1 teaspoon salt. Marinate in refrigerator two to six hours.


Key to abbreviations

c. = cup(s) tsp. = teaspoon(s)

lb. = pound(s) g = gram(s)

Tbsp. = tablespoon(s) oz. = ounce(s)

pkg. = package(s) mg = milligram(s)

Elk/Venison Stroganoff

2 lb. elk roast, trimmed

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

4 oz. butter

1 c. onion, sliced

1 (14½-oz.) can low-sodium beef broth

4 Tbsp. flour

2 (4-oz.) cans sliced mushrooms

4 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1¼ c. sour cream

Remove any fat or gristle from elk roast and cut into bite-size pieces; season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook elk with butter until browned; remove from pan. Add onions and cook for three to five minutes; remove from pan. Add beef broth and flour to pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and put elk and onions back in pan; cover and simmer for one hour. Add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce and sour cream. Cook five more minutes before serving. Delicious over buttered ribbon noodles (optional).

Makes 12 servings (½ cup each). Each serving has 220 calories, 14 g fat, 17 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 260 mg sodium.

Elk/Venison Chili

¾ c. onion, chopped

1 lb. venison or beef (ground or cut into small chunks)

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes

2-3 Tbsp. chili powder (or to taste)

1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Salt, pepper (to taste)

In saucepan, cook onion and meat in oil. Add tomatoes and chili powder and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add beans and heat through.

Makes five servings (1 cup each). Each serving has 290 calories, 8 g fat, 26 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber and 300 mg sodium.

Elk/Vension Stew

2 lb. elk stew pieces, trimmed

½ c. flour

2 Tbsp. canola oil

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

6 c. low-sodium beef broth

1 bay leaf

6 medium carrots, chopped

5 potatoes, chopped

2 onions, diced

Coat the elk in the flour and place in a large skillet or pot. Stir in oil, salt, and pepper, and cook elk until browned. Add beef broth and bay leaf; simmer for one hour. Cut up carrots, potatoes and onions, add to pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving. Great with fresh-baked whole-grain bread (optional).

Makes 10 servings (1 cup each). Each serving has 290 calories, 6 g fat, 33 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 470 mg sodium.


For more information, see NDSU Extension publication “Wild Side of the Menu No. 1: Care and Cookery” at

Check out the recipe database and other cooking/nutrition tips at