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Venison steaks with red sauce

Updated: Fri, 30 July, 2021

Pan fried venison steaks with red wine and redcurrant sauce: rich, gutsy and quick to prepare. Arguably better flavour than beef, undoubtedly more ethical and sustainable.

venison haunch steaks pan fried served with red wine sauce

A little rant to start with

Isn’t it bad when people who happily put away pigs, chickens and cows will balk at eating deer or rabbit (Bambi and fluffy bunny)?

They don’t, however, necessarily recoil at eating battery chickens or pigs farmed in inhumane conditions. Humane concerns only seem to surface when their object is cuddly.

Game is happier meat

Surely, it’s more ethical to eat an animal that had a happy life in the wild? If eat meat we must, game is the most environmentally fair.

Humans are omnivores, gatherers but also hunters. And as much as I’m not an advocate of hunting as a sport, being shot in an instant beats the horrors of transport to the abattoir.

A friend of mine used to say she’d only eat the animal she’d killed herself. That’s taking it a bit far in my view, as first of all I’d not rely on myself in delivering quick and painless butchery, but there’s a point.

no better pairing than venison steaks and red wine sauce

Eat nose to tail

The fluffy Bambi attitude is as bad as happily noshing bacon but shuddering at kidneys or liver. Since you’ve killed the beast, now eat it all up, don’t waste it.

It’s about respect which Native Americans knew a thing or two about it, praying in thanks to the spirit of the animal for giving up its life to feed the people.

Venison steaks - tender or tough?

But venison steaks are a bit of a lottery. Depending on various factors like which end of the haunch your butcher cut them; whether they had aged properly; how lean the meat is - they might be tender or tough as old boots.

There’s no way of knowing unless you interrogate the gamekeeper, the hunter and the butcher and even that is not a sure proof method.

There is venison loin of course, the eye of the haunch part of cut which is probably as reliably tender as beef fillet steak. But it’s staggeringly expensive.

pan seared venison steaks with pan sauce

How to make venison steaks tender?

My way of dealing with the tough old boots odds is twofold: I keep the steaks in the fridge for a few days before eating them and I season them with salt a day before the feast.

Aging meat tenderises it. Let’s be honest: aging is nothing other than rotting the meat a little, and rotting softens it, which we know well from various police and forensic procedurals. Apologies to the squeamish!

And the salting method I owe to Samin Nosrat and it has proved times and again to be effective. Salt your meat as early as the night before cooking it and it will repay you in flavour and tenderness. Sprinkle with the salt liberally and keep the meat in the fridge, unwrapped, on a plate.

venison steaks with red wine sauce

Marinate or not?

You can try various marinades on venison steaks but my belief is that they will impart flavour but not make any difference in tenderising the meat. That’s done supremely well by the aging and salting mentioned above.

It’s far better to make a pan sauce instead, and dunk the cooked meat in it for the gutsy flavour.

the best sauce for venison steaks

What sauce for venison?

The simpler, the better: red wine and a little sweetness will do the deer justice.

There will be already lots of flavour in the pan after frying the steaks so all that needs to be done is to deglaze it with wine and balsamic vinegar. The sweetness is redcurrant jelly, gorgeous in any meat gravy, and some dried cranberries if you have any.

If you then whisk in cold butter, it will turn into velvety, very cheffy sauce fit for the venison.

And for the occasion of roasting a whole haunch of venison check out the magic chocolate sauce that can be served with the roast!

Venison steaks with red sauce

Servings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus aging
Rating: (13 reviews)


  • 2-4 (depending on the size) venison steaks cut thickly across the grain from the haunch
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. oil for frying
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp. redcurrant jelly
  • 1 tsp. dried cranberries (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter


1. If possible, keep the steaks in the fridge unwrapped on a plate for a few days (up to a week) to age and tenderise the meat. It will darken deeply as a result of oxidisation. If you’re doing that, salt the meat generously at the end of the aging process, about 24 hours before cooking. Bring the meat to room temperature before you fry it.

how to tenderise venison

2. Heat up a frying pan to almost smoking, drizzle in a little oil. Season the steaks with black pepper and cook them for 2 minutes on each side. This makes for medium rare, but the cookedness can be further adjusted when you return them to the pan with the sauce, so shorter initial frying is better.

how to cook venison steaks

3. Lift the steaks out and place them on a warm plate, loosely covered with foil. Keep warm.

4. Keeping the pan on medium heat add in the garlic, pour in the balsamic vinegar and the wine and turn the heat up. It should bubble ferociously. Add the redcurrant jelly, cranberries if using and stir in. Keep it simmering energetically for about 5-7 minutes; when the sauce has reduced by half or at least significantly thickened, whisk in the butter.

how to make red wine sauce for venison

5. Turn the heat down, return the steaks to the pan and turn them in the sauce. Serve immediately, but if you want them more done, let them sit in the sauce on small heat a minute or two, turning over once.

Originally published: Sun, 23 November, 2014

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Marilyn - any dry red wine will be good. I don't buy wine specifically to cook with but use whatever I have in the house: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or similar.
3 months ago
what is the best red wine to used?
3 months ago
Mike H
Thanks for replying, I will give it a go at some point
6 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Mike - it should do, as it's apparently used widely in food industry for producing foods with lower salt content. However, I have never tested it myself so can't guarantee the result. Put it on my To Do list!
6 months ago
Mike H
Hi, due to blood pressure issues salt is a problem, I normally use a little Lo-Salt Potassium Chloride, do you know if it will tenderise the meat in the same way, you should perhaps look into this as high blood pressure is an issue for millions in the UK
6 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Mike - that's a very good point. Thank you!
8 months ago
Too many people will ruin this by putting in cheap, and therefore poor quality, red wine. Quality ingredients means quality product. One low in tannin is best for the gamey flavoured meat, such as a pinot noir.
8 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Haha, thank you Graham!
10 months ago
perfect recipe. my wife says i can stay if i continue to cook like this thanks very much
10 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Peter - I'm pleased you enjoyed them!
2 years ago
Peter Perry
Superb! Many Thanks.
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Kathy - yes, but in that case skip the dried cranberries.
2 years ago
So I don’t have any redcurrant jellly but I do hace cranberry sauce, would that work?
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Trish - thank you! Brilliant idea with the chocolate!
3 years ago
Just made this dish, and wow it fully delivers on flavour. I did add a smidging of dark chocolate a t the end of cooking the sauce. Very decadent and tasty dish
3 years ago
Thank you!
3 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Andrea - I'd say either roasted vegetables, a mix of carrots, parsnips, sprouts etc. or a green salad. And some creamy mashed potatoes to go with that sauce!
3 years ago
Hi Anna, planning to cook this on Saturday. What sides do you recommend for this recipe? Thank you
3 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Rachel - thank you!
3 years ago
rachel frampton
If I were to serve Venison steak, I would make sure to check out some wild recipes online. Anyhow, I also appreciate the fact that you shared here the importance of turning the heat down before returning the meat to the pan together with the sauce. Thank you for suggesting here as well that a drizzle of oil must be added.
3 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Alan - pleased to hear that!
3 years ago
Alan Portlock
I eat venison frequently and this recipe is great, It will be my go to method in future.
3 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Helen - hope you enjoy it!
4 years ago
Helen shepherd
This will be my first time for cooking venison- it sounds fabulous and so straight forward.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Deborah - yes, just skip the butter. You can also check out the version I make in the Venison Casserole recipe (
4 years ago
Deborah Britton
Could this sauce be made to use for a venison casserole? I've got diced venison and looking to try that something different?
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Ana Lucia - I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. Happy birthday to your son!
4 years ago
Ana Lucia Schofield
Made this lovely red wine sauce for venison steak and came out lovely. Had defrosted steaks and put salt at room temperature as soon as I read it. Used Merlot wine for richness. Fab! very tender and juicy. Treat for my son's 25th and he loved it. My first time cooking venison. Thanks for recipe.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Richard - sounds like you knew what you were doing even without the recipe!
4 years ago
I used boneless venison steaks, salted, bourbon, brown sugar seasoning, in olive oil overnight in refrigerator. I Sautéed garlic and portabello mushrooms and then added them to the sauce after whisking in butter. Delicious! Thank you.
4 years ago
Grace Rennie
@Grateful Grace
Oh my goodness - tried this tonight and it was to die for! Followed recipe from salting venison 24 hours before cooking and I was so proud of myself - my husband was very impressed too! Thanks for step by step instructions! Venison was so tasty, tender and succulent !
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Simon - that's a good way to welcome Better New Year.
4 years ago
Simon Kirkbright
I needed a good sauce for a piece of roast loin we are having for New years eve. (Good riddance 2020!) Hello to a lovely sauce. Thank you.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Marian - I agree the garlic might be sauteed first, it's up to personal taste. Thank you for your comment!
4 years ago
Marian Best
really liked the sauce with the venison but would sautee the garlic a bit before adding the balamic etc. Cooked my 2 vension steaks for different times . Thinner one for overall 6 mins (1 - 1- 2 -2 ) thicker one for 8 ( adding 1 then 1). Medium outcome after resting. Overall very easy recipe using readily available ingredients. Recommended.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Liz - hope you enjoy them.
4 years ago
Liz de Rooy
Very interesting and informative. Going to try cooking my steaks in this way.thanks
4 years ago
This recipe is an absolute winner. I did it with very small bits of venison and cooked them for about 45 secs each side in a very hot pan. The sauce has great flavour!
4 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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