While technically not bacon because it isn’t made from pork, deer bacon is a tasty, lean, low-calorie alternative. It can be made from whole or ground roasts, and it keeps up to four months in the freezer. Use a commercial cure, or, if you’re avoiding nitrates, make your own from salt, sugar and spices.
Whole Roast Venison Bacon Recipe
Follow these directions to make your own roast venison bacon.
- Combine 2 pounds of Insta-Cure, 1/2 pound of brown sugar and 2.5 gallons of water. Stir until the sugar and cure dissolve.
- Use a kitchen syringe to inject the brine into 10 to 12 pounds of venison roast. Make multiple injections on all sides of the meat. Put the roast or roasts in a heavy plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for several days. Remove the meat from the bags, rinse and pat dry.
- Set your smoker to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke the meat for two hours; then raise the temperature to 180 F. Smoke for an additional four hours or until the internal temperature registers 130 F.
Slice and store in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to four months.
Insta-Cure is available online, at sporting goods stores and some big box stores like Walmart.
Ground Venison Bacon
Use ground venison to make this bacon.
- Trim fat and connective tissue from cubed venison and grind with an equal amount of cubed pork roast. Using pork adds fat and moisture to the venison and keeps it from crumbling when it’s cooked.
- Combine the meat with a cure mix like Curley’s Sausage Kitchen or Legg’s Old Plantation. Follow the package instructions to know how much cure to use for the amount of ground meat. Pack the meat into loaf pans lined with plastic wrap; cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Set your smoker to 185 degrees. Turn the meat out of the loaf pans onto the grill racks. Smoke the meat until the internal temperature reaches 155 F. This may take up to six hours, depending on the size of the loaves.
Cool and slice thin or form into patties for venison bacon burgers.
Facts About Venison
Game meats get their strong flavor from what the animals eat in the field. You can reduce the gaminess by dry aging it at 40 F for two or three days.
If you’re freezing venison for future use as bacon, trim the fat. The fat starts to turn rancid first, which contributes to a gamy flavor. Freeze ground venison for up to three months, and freeze roasts and steaks for six to nine months. Use packaging meant to be used in the freezer like freezer paper, heavy-duty aluminum foil or heavy plastic bags. Squeeze all the air out of the package and label with the date.
Venison Bacon Nutrition: Venison is low in calories and fat, but higher in cholesterol than other meats like beef, chicken and pork. It’s high in amino acids, iron, niacin, zinc and riboflavin. Curing the venison adds sodium, and grinding it with pork adds calories and fat.
Tips for Cooking Other Cuts of Venison
- Since venison is so low in fat, it dries out when cooked. Add fat in the form of butter or fatback or baste it frequently as it cooks.
- Use a moist, low and slow cooking method like braising for the toughest cuts. Season and brown the meat, put it in a roasting pan with a little water, cover tightly, and cook for two or three hours.
- Marinate roasts overnight before cooking. Marinades should include an acidic component like vinegar or lemon juice. Bottled Italian dressing works well because it’s already flavored.
- Cut slits in the meat and insert pieces of bacon or fat. Wrap or cover roasts with bacon slices before cooking.
- Warm, not hot, venison can taste greasy. Serve it either very hot or very cold.
- Field & Stream: How to Make Venison Bacon
- Realtree: How to Make Bacon from Ground Venison
- epicurious: Venison Bacon
- Penn State Extension: Venison, Is It for You?
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Resources for Home Preserving Venison
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Safe Handling of Wild Game Meats
Native New Yorker Meg Jernigan stayed in Washington, D.C. after attending the George Washington University, and worked in the tourism industry with the National Park Service for many years. She’s a dedicated foodie with an extensive cookbook collection and years of experience in the kitchen. Jernigan’s recipes have been published online and in magazines like Southern Living.