Venison Prep: Soak It Overnight or Not? Another Good Chili Recipe, Too

While doing a little venison prep the other night on a deer I killed last week, I started thinking about the post-trim routines I’ve heard of over the years.

“Soak your venison in …” and then it’ll often be followed by water, milk, buttermilk or maybe something else. Not a marinade. These “soaks” are specifically designed for one thing — removal of the blood and perceived “gamey” taste.

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

I’ve soaked cuts of fresh venison in water overnight in the refrigerator, sometimes plain and sometimes in salt water. Drain, rinse well, then marinate and cook, or prep it for the freezer. I’ve never soaked anything in milk or buttermilk; the former is part of my batter routine for fried fish fillets, and the latter is for cornbread.

The Outdoor Edge Razor Blade has replaceable, sharp blades and is super for trimming venison or skinning and cutting at the meat pole.

The Outdoor Edge Razor Blade has replaceable, sharp blades and is super for trimming venison or skinning and cutting at the meat pole.

A quick note: I was trimming some backstraps and a hindquarter with my Outdoor Edge Razor Blaze, which has tough, sharp and replaceable blades. The 8-inch knife fit nicely in my hand and the rubberized Kraton handles didn’t slip, which was nice. They had just enough texture to give me a nice grip but didn’t gum up with bits of fat or silver skin. The blade sliced deftly, trimmed away the silver skin and cleaned up pretty easily. Just be sure to follow the directions for cleaning and drying. Plus, it’s a folding blade so it fits neatly in a pack or drawer in the kitchen. It’s a good tool to have with any other prep tools in your kit.

So while I’m trimming and putting chunks of beautiful venison in bowls, I started wondering about whether other hunters soak their meat overnight or longer. I’ve heard of some even leaving them in coolers for days in ice water with salt to remove the blood and “gamey” taste. As for the taste, I don’t want bland meat so I’ve never soaked for long periods, usually just overnight. I’ve never soaked a beef roast or loins to remove blood, so I haven’t figured out why some hunters do this for their venison.

Any ideas? Would love to hear some feedback about your venison prep.

More Venison Chili!

David Rainer is an old pal, former newspaper outdoors editor in Mobile, and now works for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. We’ve chased a few fish and deer over the years and he’s pretty good in the kitchen, too.

ChiliHere’s one of his favorite recipes for Venison Chili and, just like him, it’s straightforward and doesn’t come with a lot of fluffy pretense. Good stuff. Give it a try.


¼ cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 large onions, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped (optional)
4 pounds ground venison
3-4 cans diced tomatoes
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
4 16-ounce cans of kidney beans
1/4-1/3 cup chili powder
1-3 dashes of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon liquid crab boil (my secret ingredient)
1 tablespoon salt
1-3 dashes of garlic salt
2-3 bay leaves

Heat olive oil in large stock pot with heavy bottom and sauté garlic, onions and pepper until tender. Add venison and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, chili powder, cayenne pepper, crab boil and salt and garlic salt. Mix together and then add bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours. Serves 10-12.


3 thoughts on “Venison Prep: Soak It Overnight or Not? Another Good Chili Recipe, Too

  1. cheryl

    I rinse my venison (not only to rinse off blood but there’s often hair stuck to it as well) but never soak. I occasionally marinate but I’m a purist & want to taste the meat. BTW, I typically rinse beef, pork, fish & poultry too. No real reason. Just a quirk.

  2. deer chef

    Yes you are correct to soak the meat in ice water and change often as you can.. It does help remove that stinky blood out of the venison and makes for a better taste.. I even soak the hamburg prior to making chili, hamburgs , pastaleo’s…ect. I have never had anyone say that my venison tatsed gamey. My cutlets have fooled hundreds of guest over the years thinking they were eating veal.. So soak that meat, get that tenden off and enjoy that fresh organic meat.. PS I’m Italian! so cooking great meals is in my Blood..

  3. dehavenphoto

    I just tried soaking my venison in salt water in a cooler overnight. Never did it before but my buddy does it to all his deer meat. We made cube steaks from it as he also has a tenderizer. While I don’t like strong or gamey flavors, my wife and I found this to change the flavor of the meat and make it less appetizing. We could barely eat the steaks as it was so bland and ended up throwing some of the food out. My wife didn’t know that we had soaked the meat overnight in a cooler so she wasn’t prejudiced. She just didn’t like the meat and I didn’t either. We plan to grind all of this batch into burger to use for summer sausage and ground jerky so we can add some flavorings to make it edible.

    To be fair, we did this at my buddy’s house and he cleaned the cooler and rinsed the meat off with water from his garden hose. It is possible that there could have been some standing water in the hose that might have changed the flavor. Either way, we will never do soak our meat again! Marinate yes. Soak no!

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