Best Venison Burger Recipe with Caramelized Onions

Best Venison Burger Recipe with Caramelized Onions
Adding the proper amount of fat to venison burgers, like in this recipe, will give them that juicy taste you love from beef burgers. Topping your patties off with caramelized onions – well, that's just an added bonus. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

While calling this the 'best' venison burger recipe is a matter of opinion, all delicious burgers begin the same: quality meat and an ideal fat-to-protein ratio

If you add just the right amount of fat to your venison burgers, you'll get that juicy, mouthwatering taste you know and love from beef burgers. If you're health conscience, you can forgo the fat in your burgers, but I do not recommend cooking pure venison burgers past medium rare. They dry out quickly and the patties will become unpleasantly dense. Twenty percent fat is a good number. Some people like to add beef fat or bacon, but I prefer fatty cuts from pork shoulder. Others will use just enough eggs and breadcrumbs to bind the meat together.

While this may sound silly and time consuming to some, the best burgers are the ones that were ground just before cooking. I'm not a big fan of grinding meat and freezing it in bulk beforehand, but I'll save that for a different discussion. For the best tasting venison, it's important that proper handling and storage are used.

As far as what part of the deer to use, don't waste the good cuts, such as the backstraps or tenderloins. I use venison scraps for all my burgers, mostly from the neck and the lower parts of the front and high quarters that are full of silver skin. Even though all this meat will end up in the grinder, I do take the time to remove as much silver skin as I can, especially the thicker layers, but I'm not worried about being perfect. You'll end up with better ground meat in the end without so many bits and pieces of tough silver skin throughout.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour


  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 4 ounces ground fatty pork, such as shoulder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra
  • Sliced Colby-Jack cheese
  • 2 onions, sliced into 1/8-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Fixings: buns, butter lettuce, sliced tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, etc.


  1. To make caramelized onion, heat a 12-inch pan to medium heat and add enough oil to be able to coat all the onion. Once oil begins to shimmer, add sliced onion with a pinch of salt. Allow onion to sweat and soften, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, turn down heat to medium-low to low and sprinkle sugar over the onion to help it along. Continue to cook on low until onion turns into a rich golden brown color, stirring occasionally – time to be patient! Onion should be slightly wet the entire time, so add a small splash of water when necessary. If the mixture gets too dry, it will burn instead of caramelize through.

    Caramelizing onions can be time consuming – you can't just throw onion into a pan and burn them over high heat. Caramelization takes a slow, low heat to coax out and brown the sugars inside onion, which results in an amazing jammy flavor that is delicious on just about anything. The caramelizing process will take about 45 minutes. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  2. Meanwhile, combine ground venison, ground pork, ¼ teaspoon salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into hamburger patties, cover to keep away pesky flies, and allow meat to sit at room temperature until the onions are done.

    For the best-tasting burgers ever, use freshly ground venison. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  3. When the onions are almost ready, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pat patties dry with paper towels if necessary, sprinkle coarse salt and pepper over patties and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. I like my burgers medium-rare, but you might like yours more done. However, do not cook burgers past medium to avoid dryness. Just before the burgers are ready, add sliced cheese on top of each patty and cover the pan to allow cheese to melt. This will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove burgers from heat.

    Add salt and pepper to venison burger patties before cooking 3-5 minutes on each side. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  4. Assemble cooked venison burgers with the caramelized onion and your favorite condiments and toppings.
Serve these juicy venison burgers with a side of French fries or venison jalapeño poppers. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

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