Herbs For Venison Dishes

Herbs to Season Venison Dishes

Venison and juniper berries
Cultura RM Exclusive/Diana Miller / Getty Images

Wild game is a delicious and healthy alternative to store bought meats. One problem that cooks may have is the stronger flavor of many types of wild game meats can be a little more difficult to season well. Herbs are the perfect solution! The herbs that pair well with venison are:

  • 01 of 06


    Bay leaves
    Condado Lagoon / Getty Images

     Bay is a gorgeous herb to grow if you are lucky enough to have a temperate place to baby it. If you are like most of us however, bay is a dried leaf that may not get much mileage in the kitchen. If you eat wild game, you may decide to move this herb to the front of the spice rack. 

    Using bay to season venison is a classic marriage of strong flavors. Bay seems to even out the flavor of the meat, giving it more of a robust richness, and taming the meaty flavor. 

    I use bay in all my long cooking...MORE meats. It seems to do best when it has a chance to cook. 

  • 02 of 06
    Juniper Berries
    Juniper Berries. © far closer

     Juniper berries are a classic addition to the wild game. It offers a slightly acidic, almost citrus flavor to the meat, and like other strongly flavored herbs, it also plays well with the meaty flavor and almost tames it. 

    I recommend adding a handful of juniper berries to any brine that you are using for meats as well. It's a winner.

  • 03 of 06
    Rosemary in Bloom
    Rosemary in bloom. © Flickr user geishaboy500

     Of course, rosemary makes the list. The naturally resinous flavor is a perfect addition to wild meat recipes. I even place my roasts on a bed of rosemary stems saved from all the times I use just the leaves. If you are using a roast recipe that calls for potatoes, then rosemary will accompany both ingredients beautifully. It stands up well to the strong meat flavor and cuts through any bit of heaviness that may come from some of the most rustic recipes. 

  • 04 of 06


    Wet Sage
    Wet Sage Leaves. © TheFarmingwife.com

     Sage; just as flavorful when dried as it is fresh. What makes it the perfect herb for venison or any wild game, is that sage seems to tame the flavor of the meat, bringing a robust but less gamy flavor to the recipe. 

    Do remember that sage is an herb which grows in flavor. Use a light hand when trying it in a recipe for the first time. I find that too much can taste bitter, so I add in the beginning of a cook time, then not again unless I find it needs it during the last half hour. I am even...MORE more careful when freezing meats containing sage. Sometimes the seasoned cut is then thawed for cooking can really be too strongly sage flavored. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Summer savory
    Hans / Pixabay / CC By 0

     Savory is said to be a lightly flavored herb, but I find that it is often the missing component that finishes a recipe well. 

    Add savory towards the end of a recipe cook time to keep the flavor from cooking off. I like to add mine in the last 30 minutes and then even again during the last 5 if it's a particularly strong cut of venison.

  • 06 of 06
    Sweet Marjoram
    annestahl / Getty Images

     Sweet marjoram is one of my hidden secret herbs. Its flavor is that of oregano without any hint of bitterness. I think is is much richer and more balanced than it's twin, so it holds up very well with a stronger wild game like venison. I love the flavor so much, I use it virtually every single time I cook with wild meats. 

    No matter what, it adds a depth of flavor that is unmatched.