Venison Meatloaf

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5 from 22 votes
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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.

ground venison meatloaf over mashed potatoes.

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!

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe highlights
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make venison meatloaf
  4. Alternative cooking methods
  5. Recipe tips and variations
  6. How to store leftovers
  7. Frequently asked questions
  8. More meatloaf recipes
  9. Venison Meatloaf (Recipe Card)

Recipe highlights

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.
venison meatloaf.

Ingredients needed

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! 

How to make venison meatloaf

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1 – Combine the ingredients. Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl until combined. 

ground venison meatloaf mixture.

Step 2 – Bake. Transfer the meat mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan and bake until it’s firm and tender. 

meatloaf in loaf pan.

Step 3 – Make the glaze. While the meatloaf is baking, whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth. 

glaze for venison meatloaf.

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!

glazed meatloaf.

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 method. 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 method. 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 method. 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).

How to store leftovers

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.

homemade venison meatloaf.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make venison meatloaf ahead of time?

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.

How long does it take to cook venison meatloaf in the oven?

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.

What goes well with venison meatloaf?

Just like classic beef meatloaf, you can’t go wrong pairing this with classic sides like mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, balsamic brussels sprouts, air fryer green beans, or sautéed carrots

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.
venison meatloaf recipe.

Venison Meatloaf

5 from 22 votes
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.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 2 pounds ground venison
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Glaze

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line a 9 x 4-inch loaf with parchment paper. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all the meatloaf ingredients and mix well.
    ground venison meatloaf mixture.
  • Transfer to the lined pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tender on top.
    meatloaf in loaf pan.
  • While the meatloaf is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients. 
    glaze for venison meatloaf.
  • Spread over the top of the meatloaf and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160F. 
    glazed meatloaf.
  • Rest the meatloaf for 5 minutes before serving. 

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 18gFat: 7gSodium: 462mgPotassium: 342mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 182IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 3mgNET CARBS: 10g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

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Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Your recipe was very delicious.I followed your recipe as suggested how ever this time I added green onions when I made it . The third time I made it I again followed your recipe although this time I used a small white onion chopped and added bell pepper. I used 1/2 small onion and 1/4 bell pepper to 1 pound of venison. All 3 were very good.