There’s nothing quite like a juicy venison burger to satisfy a junk food urge yet be relatively healthy.
Venison burgers have a unique taste and a better one than beef, in my opinion.
However, the venison patty only makes up part of the burger; the buns, condiments, and topping make up the rest.
To get the most from the venison, it needs to be paired with the right toppings.
8 Best Venison Burger Toppings
Venison has a unique taste. It’s full of flavor and is the star of any grill. This is why we must take the flavor profile of venison into consideration when building a burger.
Everyone has their own opinion on what to put with a burger, but the list below will explain the role of each ingredient in the burger, that way, you can mix and match them to your liking.
The number one ingredient for a venison burger is cheese. Now some people may not be into cheeseburgers, but for version, cheese plays a vital role.
Venison is typically dry meat due to the makeup of the muscle and the lack of fat. Even though venison patties are usually cut with pork fat, they still come out a little on the dry side.
If you follow my venison burger recipe, you will use around 30% fat, and I still recommend cheese with this burger.
The cheese helps with the dryness of the venison. Don’t get me wrong, my recipe for venison burgers creates juicy patties, but still, the venison is dry in your mouth; it’s just how venison is.
The cheese turns this into a creamy texture so that you will end up with a creamy juicy burger.
While many kinds of cheese go well with venison, some of the best are cheddar, brie, and old Amsterdam. If you want to know more about choosing cheese for your venison burger, check out the article on the best cheese for venison burgers.
Onions on burgers are almost as famous as cheese. However, there are a few things to know before adding onion to your venison burger.
Onions are a more versatile food than most people know, and they can be prepared in numerous ways.
On top of that, there are many types of onions, such as yellow onions, white onions, sweet onions, red onions, and so on.
For venison burgers, I like to stick to red and white onions and occasionally shallots.
With these three types of onions, you can cover quite a large range of flavors.
The methods of preparing onions for venison burgers are almost as important as the types of onions.
Raw onions are common in salads, dressings, and on burgers. When using onions raw, it’s best to choose a sweet onion, like red onions, or mild onions, like shallots.
Other onions may be too sharp and taint the taste of the burger.
Sweet or mild onions, on the other hand, will compliment the flavor of the venison. Mild onions add just enough flavor without overwhelming the venison, while sweet onions blend with the sweetness of the venison.
This is why caramelized onions work so well with venison.
Caramelized onions are one of the greatest toppings for venison burgers, or any burgers for that matter.
There is something about the creamy sweet flavor of caramelized onions that makes them blend so well with a wide array of foods.
Although caramelized onions take a bit of time to make, I encourage you to try them on venison burgers; you will soon realize that the time is worth it.
As I mentioned above, the sweetness of the onion blends with the sweetness of the venison.
Venison has a naturally sweet taste to it, as do onions. When onions are caramelized, they release this sweetness, and foods with similar flavor profiles work well together.
To truly enjoy caramelized onions with your venison burger, prepare them the right way; this means waiting for the onions to release their natural sweetness and not adding sugar.
You can use most onions for caramelizing; I use red and yellow.
Red onions will be a little sweeter than yellow onions when caramelized. On the other hand, yellow onions will have a little more oniony flavor than red.
Charred onions are another way of preparing onions for venison burgers. I typically do this when grilling venison burgers as it’s fast and easy to char the onions for a topping.
I find this method works best with yellow or white onions and is not as good with red onions.
This method is similar in taste to caramelized onions but with the extra char flavor, which works so well with venison burgers.
Another great option for venison burgers is pickled onions. I typically do this in a sweet vinegar pickle. You can see the recipe for this on my venison shank taco recipe.
Many people are used to dill pickles on their burgers, and even Mcdonald’s became famous for it.
But I argue that for a venison burger, pickled red onions are better.
Tomatoes are a staple of the beef burger, and they work just as well in venison burger. However, if adding tomatoes to your version burger, I recommend choosing the other toppings carefully.
Tomatoes can be quite sweet and have a strong flavor profile which is why they are used as a base for so many dishes.
We want the tomato to work with the other toppings and not overpower them.
For this reason, it’s important to choose your tomatoes for your venison burgers carefully.
Beefsteak tomatoes are one of the best varieties for pairing with venison burgers. Their flavor is mild and well-balanced and won’t overpower the other ingredients.
Another reason why beefsteak tomatoes are great for burgers is their structure. Even when sliced thinly, these tomatoes hold their form well.
No burger is complete without condiments; some sort of sauce is needed to complete a burger.
There is a vast range of sauces to choose from for venison burgers, and honestly, it’s difficult to choose just one.
Some of my favorites are mustard, mayo ketchup mix, and BBQ. However, if I could only choose one, it would be chipotle sauce.
The smokiness of the sauce marries so well with the deep flavor of venison.
I mentioned earlier how foods with a similar makeup and flavor profile work well together; well, a prime example of this is chipotle and venison.
Venison off the grill has a nice smokey flavor, similar to chipotle. Venison has a naturally sweet flavor, and so does chipotle.
Couple this with an ever-so-subtle kick, and you have a recipe for success.
If you like a little more kick, as I do, you can add jalapenos to your burger.
I often swap out dill pickles for jalapenos and pickled onions. This way, I still get the onion and pickle flavors, but I also get a little kick, sweet and spicy, if you will.
You can mix this around a little bit by using pickled jalapenos and caramelized onions.
There are many versions of adding jalapenos; play around with it a little and find what works for you.
In nearly all of my burgers, I use some form of lettuce. Generally, I prefer lettuce with a little crunch, like iceberg lettuce, but occasionally I will use softer lettuce, depending on the other ingredients.
I like iceberg lettuce for two reasons. They are sweet, and as I have already mentioned, sweet burger toppings go well with venison burgers.
The second reason is that they don’t go soggy as fast as other lettuce. Nobody wants a soggy piece of lettuce in their burger, and this is typically what happens when you put heat, moisture, and lettuce together.
If you like a bit of bitterness, you can consider other greens like spinach or other types of lettuce.
Another excellent option for venison burgers is bibb lettuce; these are mildly flavored with a crispy texture and creamy flavor.
Yet again, another sweet topping for venison burgers. Grilled or roasted peppers have a delicious sweet and charred flavor with a creamy texture.
You can use most types of bell peppers for this, and each will have its nuance.
I like to use red peppers or pimentos. Red bell peppers are incredibly sweet and roast and grill well.
Pimentos are even better than bell pepper for roasting or grilling and have a creamier texture.
They are also incredibly sweet, which is even more pronounced after they have been roasted.
Going back to similar profiles again, bacon is a great option as a venison burger topping.
The reason for this is that most venison patty recipes call for some form of pork fat.
If you use my recipe, you will already be using pork belly; the same cut bacon comes from.
When adding bacon as a topping to your venison burger, it’s best to grill it and serve it crispy.
This will add a nice texture and a nice salty flavor to the burger.
How To Choose Vension Burger Toppings
There isn’t a science to choosing toppings for your venison burger, but there are a few best practices.
The first thing to consider is the flavor. If you are eating venison burgers, you are already aware of the flavor of venison.
We are looking to complement that flavor with the toppings we choose, and we certainly don’t want to clash with it or overpower it.
The texture is equally as important as flavor. Look for toppings that compliment and elevate the texture of venison.
Toppings like cheese and caramelized onions make for a nice creamy venison burger, while toppings like bacon, jalapenos, and iceberg lettuce ad a little crunch to keep things interesting.
A venison burger can be made any way you like. You can add many toppings to make a complex burger or only a few toppings to make a simple burger.
However you like to make it, there are a few fundamental toppings that should nearly always be added.
Cheese, onions, and a condiment would be the bare minimum for a venison burger, in my opinion.
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.