Venison bacon is an easy and delicious way to use your venison harvest. Unlike bacon in the traditional sense, deer bacon is traditionally made from a combination of ground venison and a fatty cut of pork versus a whole muscle meat like pork belly.
Because venison is extremely lean, the pork is added to create that mouthwatering fattiness you love in traditional bacon. A mixture of cure and smoke adds that crispy, smoky bacon flavor to deer bacon.
What you’re left with are flavorful venison bacon-like strips that can be fried up for BLTs and sandwiches, crumbled into salads, or served alongside your eggs in the morning.
Here's how to make venison bacon.
Tools of the Trade
- Meat Grinder with 3/8” and 3/16” plates
- Meat Lug or Large Food-Safe Container
- Disposable Aluminum Tray
- Smokehouse (we used the electric, sawdust-burning Pro Smoker PK 100)
- Deli Slicer (optional, but it makes the job faster)
Similar to making venison sausage, to get that traditional flavor and texture with leaner game meat, you’ll want a heavy ratio of fat to lean. For venison bacon, we recommend about 50% venison and 50% pork trim, for a total ratio of 80% lean to 20% fat. Pork trim, or the trimmings from the shoulder or butt, are typically available at your local butcher shop (make sure to call ahead!). Our venison block was a mixture of sirloin, steaks and a little backstrap that we had leftover in the freezer (most cuts will work).
Grinding & Mixing
To get the perfect texture for venison bacon, we recommend grinding twice: once through a 3/8' plate and then through a 3/16' plate. But don't worry too much about the grind size, the real magic is in the protein extraction.
Protein extraction pulls the protein out of the meat and binds it with the fat, resulting in that perfect sliceable texture we're looking for. You'll know your meat is ready once it's sticky, tacky and there isn't a lot of visible separation between protein and fat.
Seasoning & Cure
Once your meat is ground, add in your venison bacon seasoning mixture. We recommend using our Venison Bacon Cure which includes seasoning and cure for up to 25 lbs of meat. With added maple flavors and the perfect amount of salt, this bacon seasoning is truly all you need to get that rich, full-flavored bacon flavor. This blend also includes sodium erythorbate which acts as a cure accelerator as well as giving the meat a nice red or ‘cured’ look.
In this venison bacon recipe, we also added a topical coating of our Bacon Bomb Jalapeno Hickory seasoning which has a nice kick to it as well as bacon, hickory flavors. You can also use cracked black pepper for a peppered bacon, or a sweeter seasoning like Apple Pie for more of a salty-sweet combination.
For venison bacon, you'll want to get a good amount of protein extraction before smoking. The end results should be sticky and pasty, with the venison bacon seasoning well incorporated throughout. Once your meat has reached the tacky consistency, pack it into your aluminum pan while periodically pressing down to eliminate any air pockets.
While this is optional, we do recommend letting your meat rest overnight for proper flavor and color development. Be sure to tightly press a piece of plastic wrap over the meat before refrigerating.
Just as in any smoked sausage, when processing your venison bacon you want to cook at a gradual increase in heat so you don't render out the fat too quickly. We used the Pro Smoker PK 100 electric cabinet smoker that can maintain lower temperatures while providing a dense pit smoke.
We preheated our smokehouse to 135 degrees F and cooked the deer bacon for one hour with smoke on. After that, we increased the temperature by 10 degrees every hour until we hit 180 degrees F, then let it cook until it reached an internal temp of 155 degrees F.
Once your venison bacon reaches temp, we recommend letting it come to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator to cool. Once it's complete cool (40 degrees F), slice it up, fry it and enjoy!