This easy venison meatloaf recipe puts a delicious and nutritious twist on the classic. Made with ground venison and topped with a sweet, tangy glaze, it’s perfect for a cozy fuss-free family dinner.
We’re big fans of beef in our household but sometimes I like to shake things up with venison. From venison chili to venison stew and venison roast, ground venison recipes have so much to offer. This ground venison meatloaf, in particular, has become a new family favorite!
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Like my bison burgers, this venison meatloaf transforms underrated wild game meat into a mouthwatering meal. Here are a few more reasons why this recipe is a must-make:
- Lean and flavorful. Venison brings a unique, gamey flavor to classic meatloaf. Plus, it’s an excellent protein source and is lower in saturated fat than beef.
- A foolproof meal. This meatloaf recipe is as straightforward as they come! It doesn’t require fancy skills, making it a great choice for those new to cooking wild game.
- Great for any occasion. I can’t say no to venison meatloaf, whether it’s the centerpiece at special events or whipped together for everyday meals. It also freezes really well, which is great when I want dinner on the table in a pinch during busy weeknights.
This meatloaf calls for ground venison and basic ingredients you likely already have. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Ground venison. Venison technically refers to any game meat, but in this recipe, we’re using ground deer meat. I buy mine from my local butcher but I’ve noticed more and more grocery stores stock it (and it’s super affordable too!).
- Onion and garlic. Two non-negotiable savory aromatics.
- Panko breadcrumbs. I used panko to bind the ingredients together.
- Eggs. Another binder for meatloaf! They also prevent the meat from drying out during cooking.
- Milk. You can use regular milk or unsweetened dairy-free milk.
- Ketchup. Adds moisture and a sweet, tangy flavor. If I’m watching the my sugar content, I sometimes use sugar free ketchup.
- Parsley. For a touch of fresh, aromatic flavor.
- Italian seasoning. I used a store-bought spice mix for convenience, but if you’d prefer to make it yourself, use a blend of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
- Meatloaf glaze. You’ll need ketchup, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make venison meatloaf
Step 1 – Combine the ingredients. Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
Step 2 – Bake. Transfer the meat mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan and bake until it’s firm and tender.
Step 3 – Make the glaze. While the meatloaf is baking, whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth.
Step 4 – Glaze, then serve. Brush the glaze over the top of the meatloaf, then continue baking until it’s cooked through. Let it rest before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
Alternative cooking methods
Because I want to cover all the bases, I tested this recipe out not just in the oven, but also in the smoker, air fryer, and slow cooker. This way, you have NO excuses not to make it. Here is how:
Smoker. Similar to my smoked meatloaf, form the meatloaf into a log shape on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place it in the smoker and smoke it at 225°F for 2 to 3 hours.
Air fryer. Like my air fryer meatloaf, place the shaped meatloaf in the air fryer basket and cook at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Slow cooker. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf in the slow cooker, then cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Recipe tips and variations
- Avoid overmixing. Mix the ingredients until just combined, just as you would with meatballs. Overworking the meat mixture can result in a dense meatloaf.
- Always use a meat thermometer. I know I sound like a broken record, especially if you make any of my other recipes that call for some kind of baked or cooked meat. You’ll know it’s done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
- Let it rest. I highly recommend letting the meatloaf rest for at least 15 minutes after baking. This gives the juices time to seep back into the meat, giving it a firmer texture and more flavor.
- Combine with fattier meats. I found that mixing the lean venison meat with some ground beef, pork, or veal adds just enough moisture to prevent the meatloaf from tasting dry.
- Wrap it in bacon! Because what’s better than bacon-wrapped meatloaf? Simply wrap the meatloaf in thin strips of bacon before baking.
- BBQ-glazed meatloaf. Swap the ketchup in the meatloaf and glaze for BBQ sauce instead.
- Add apples and sage. Mixing both into the meat mixture will add just the right amount of sweetness, tartness, and a complimentary earthy flavor.
- Italian-inspired. My family loves it when I add parmesan cheese, fresh Italian herbs, and marinara sauce (instead of the glaze).
To store: Wrap the baked and cooled loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then store them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: You can also freeze venison meatloaf for up to 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Place the leftover meatloaf in a baking dish covered with foil and bake at 325°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can absolutely make this meatloaf ahead of time. Shape the meatloaf mixture into a loaf, wrap it in plastic, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.
The cooking time can vary based on the size of your meatloaf. Generally, it takes 45 to 50 minutes to cook a meatloaf at 375ºF in a standard loaf pan. Of course, check with a meat thermometer.
More meatloaf recipes
- Healthy Meatloaf – It’s better for you than traditional recipes yet just as delicious.
- Stuffed Meatloaf – Imagine everything you love about mom’s meatloaf with a gooey, cheesy surprise in the middle!
- Ground Turkey Meatloaf – A healthier alternative to beef with all of the satisfying flavors you love.
- Air Fryer Meatloaf – Perfectly juicy and moist meatloaf cooked in just 20 minutes.
Prevent your screen from going dark
Serving: 1servingCalories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 18gFat: 7gSodium: 462mgPotassium: 342mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 182IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 3mgNET CARBS: 10g
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