Adding cheese to burgers was popularized in 1920. Although there are many claims about who invented the cheeseburger, the trend took off like a steam train.
The most popular cheese for venison burgers is American cheese. However, I’d argue that there are better options.
How I Tested
I’m not going to tell you that I tried every single cheese on venison burgers because that would be impossible. Even though I love cheese, I’m not about to try 1800 plus types of cheese.
However, I did try 20 plus different types of cheese on venison burgers to find the best. I chose these types of cheese based on my culinary experience and what I thought would pair well with venison burgers.
Each cheese was first tried by itself to see if the flavor profile would work with the venison. Next, the cheese was paired with the venison to see its meltability, and its flavor with the venison.
Due to the large number of types of cheese and burgers involved in the testing, I had to do this over several days, so, although I tried to cook most burgers on the grill, some were prepared on a cast iron skillet.
The recipe for the venison burger is my own and includes a little garlic and onion powder which I considered when choosing the cheese.
Best Cheese For Venison Burgers
Choosing the best cheese is not an easy task, and it’s not a one size fits all kind of scenario.
However, although everyone has their favorites, I reckon this list here is very comprehensive and will have something to fit most people’s palates.
If I were to pick only one, I would choose cheddar as the best cheese for venison burgers.
I know it may be cliche, but cheddar cheese and burgers were made for each other. I find this is even more so with venison burgers.
Cheddar typically has a sharp taste with subtle earthy flavors. However, there are two ways to go with this.
Like most cheeses, cheddar changes with age. Young cheddar is mild and creamy, whereas mature cheddar is a more intense crumbly cheese.
I find that somewhere in the middle is the best for venison burgers.
Too young, and the venison will be overpowering; you won’t taste much of the cheese.
Too old and the flavor may overpower the venison, and the meltability will not be as good.
Adding brie to your venison burger takes it to a whole other dimension, and it really was tough to choose between this and the cheddar for my favorite.
The main reason I didn’t choose the brie is that I had a truffle brie. As you can see in the picture above, there is a nice big line of truffles right through the middle of the cheese.
You might be wondering what’s the matter with that, and you would be right for wondering that.
There is nothing wrong with it, and in fact, it was indeed better than the cheddar for the venison burger.
However, I wanted to focus only on the cheese for this article because there are countless things added to cheese, and it would take a few lifetimes to try every variation of cheese with additives.
Brie by itself is considerably milder than brie with truffle. The truffle works so well with venison, as you might expect.
However, although brie is somewhat mild, it has a lush, creamy, velvety texture that works so well with the venison burger. The flavor may be subtle, but you know it’s there, just enough to elevate the burger.
Yet another mild cheese, mozzarella, is found everywhere, from pizza to pasta.
Like the brie and young cheddar, meltability is a significant factor in choosing this cheese for your burger.
Good cheese should almost envelop your burger. Nobody wants a dry, crumbly cheese on their burger.
Venison is also slightly drier than beef. Even if you follow my recipe, I use enough pork belly to counter that; you still want a nice flow of cheese to make a really great burger.
Mozzarella is another cheese that changes with age, and I have tried many different versions. Similar to cheddar, mozzarella gets more intense and crumbly with age.
However, it remains slightly more meltable than cheddar. When choosing mozzarella for your burger, choose a slightly older version in slices or a block. Fresh mozzarella is great for pizza, but it lacks the flavor to pair with venison burger.
Blue chees is one of those things that you love or hate. Blue cheese can get very intense, and the flavor can take over a whole dish.
However, the mold that gives blue cheese such an intense flavor is what makes it so great in a venison burger.
The salty and sharp flavor is caused by the blue veins of mold running through the cheese.
These spores are injected into the cheese or added when the curds are mixed.
The former is better for venison burgers because it typically has less mold.
If you have ever tried or even smelled blue cheese with a lot of mold, you will understand how it might be too much for a venison burger.
Having just the right amount of mold really compliments the burger. It adds just enough flavor, is slightly salty, and melts exceptionally well.
Choose wisely; if you are unsure, start with cheese with minimal marbling, but don’t be dissuaded because of past experiences with strong blue cheese.
Finally, we get to American cheese. This cheese was made for burgers. Cheeseburgers around the world are topped with American cheese.
However, cheeseburgers around the world are also made with overprocessed beef.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a slice or two of American cheese on my venison burgers now and then, but when working with such pure ingredients as my venison burgers, I want the cheese to match, and that’s just not American cheese.
American cheese is typically made from cheddar or multiple kinds of cheese, along with other ingredients.
It is excellent for burgers because of how it melts perfectly, it even has a decent taste, but that’s for a quick fast food joint burger, not a gourmet burger that you spent hours crafting.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Italy and love the food as much as the next foodie. But one of the memories I will take away from there is the fantastic collections of cheeses and wine, of course.
Italian Provolone cheese is one of the most remarkable cheeses in the world, and it goes well on top of venison burgers.
I love provolone so much that you may see it incorporated into a few of my recipes, such as this jalapeno cheese sausage.
Provolone cheese will add a depth of salty and nutty flavor to your venison burger.
It also melts exceptionally well, creating a deliciously creamy burger. Provolone can come smoked or unsmoked, I think the smoked type goes much better with a venison burger, but either type is suitable.
How to Choose Cheese for Venison Burgers
There are many variations to building a burger; people use different condiments, toppings, toasted buns or not toasted, etc.
But one thing most people can agree on is cheese. Something so simple has such a significant influence on your burger, and getting it right is essential.
The thing is, most cheeses are suitable for burgers, but when you have a well-crafted venison burger with the right cheese, it’s in a whole different league than your random cheeseburger.
A gourmet burger should be built with high-quality fresh products. You put in the work to harvest the deer; why fall short at the cheese?
The first and one of the most important things to look for in cheese for your venison burger is its meltabilty. Does it melt well? Is it too runny?
These questions are particularly important for venison burgers. As I mentioned earlier, venison is drier than beef, no matter how much fat you cut it with.
For this reason, we choose a cheese that melts well but still has some substance.
For instance, a mature cheddar is too dry in my opinion; why put a dry cheese with a dry burger?
On the flip side, some cheeses are too runny. I know many people harp on about Monterey Jack cheese; I agree it’s excellent in quesadillas, but not on my venison burger.
It melts too much and is too mild.
While we are on the topic of mild, this is another thing to look out for in cheese for your venison burger.
Venison has flavor, most people are used to eating bland beef, so they can slap the mildest cheese on there and taste it.
However, if you put a mild cheese with a venison burger, likely, you’re not going to taste it.
It will add another layer of texture, but why not have both texture and flavor and choose a medium to strong cheese?
Another thing to consider is the recipe you use to make the burger. My venison burger recipe uses a small amount of garlic and onion powder.
Some venison burger recipes use many ingredients, and some use even less than I do.
All these ingredients will affect the final taste of the burger. Say, for example, if you like a lot of garlic in your burger, then choose a cheese that pairs well with garlic, like mozzarella.
How to Add Cheese to Venison Burgers
The last thing to make the perfect venison cheeseburger is applying the cheese.
This should be done during the cooking process to ensure the cheese melts and envelops the burger.
Don’t add the cheese after you take the burger off the grill, as it will likely not melt properly.
I like to put the cheese on roughly a minute before I pull the burger off the grill. I then let the burger sit for approximately 5 minutes before dressing.
This allows the cheese sufficient time to get a good melt. The time can vary depending on the type of cheese you use. Some cheeses may need a little longer while others a little less.
Most cheeses go well with venison burgers. Out of the many kinds of cheese I have tried with version burgers, the ones above are the best. Although there are many more I would like to add, I think we have enough here as a starting point.
Cheddar, brie, and provolone are some of my absolute favorites and are the ones I return to most, especially cheddar.
Rusty enjoys connecting food and nature and has done so since a child. He was fortunate enough to explore cuisine worldwide and work at great European restaurants. He now enjoys thinking up new recipes that he can find around him in nature in North America.