Guide to Cooking New Zealand Venison

Thai Style Venison Salad
Easy meals with farm raised venison

New Zealand farm-raised venison is easy to cook. Specially reared and selected to produce tender, succulent meat, farm-raised venison can be used to quickly and easily prepare stunning meals that all the family can enjoy if a few simple rules are followed.



Avoid over-cooking venison

It is important to cook venison to the correct degree of ‘doneness’.  Because venison is so high in iron, and so low in fat, it doesn’t have the same resistance to overcooking that fattier meats like marbled beef does.  Over-cooking venison will result in drying the meat and developing some ‘metallic’ flavours, that some might not like.  

Never cook venison past medium if using a dry cooking style like pan-grilling or bbqing.  If using moist cooking methods like pot-roasting or casseroling then venison should be cooked at low temperatures to avoid drying the meat out.  As meat heats up the muscle fibers contract, squeezing out the moisture.  Because venison has so little fat, if it is cooked at a high heat for too long it will become dry.


Guide to cooking farm-raised venison.

Venison cut

Suggested method

Approximate cooking time for rare.

Steaks and medallions

Pan-fry, bbq.

1 minute each side per cm thickness at high heat.



Hot pan or wok.

1 or 2 minutes over high heat.



Sear, then oven roast.

15 minutes per 500g @ 180C.


Diced venison

Sear, then gently casserole.

1 hour @ 100C.



As you would lean beef mince.

As you would any lean beef.


Frenched racks

Sear then finish in a 180C oven.

10 minutes per 500g @ 180C.

Osso Bucco Sear then slow moist cook. 1 hour + @ 100C.

How do I know it’s done?

If you don’t have one already, consider buying a meat thermometer.  They're not expensive and all the chefs use them!  Venison can be cooked to 57°C internal temperature and then allow it to rest.  This guarantees perfectly cooked medium-rare venison.





A very handy hand.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer then press the meat to assess its degree of ‘doneness’. A handy guide is to use is, your hand. Feel the heel of your thumb and this will approximate to the meat you’re cooking.

Relaxed hand = rare

Loose fist = medium

Tight fist  = well done


Let It Rest!

Meat carries on cooking for some time after it is taken out of the oven, and needs time to relax again after being subjected to heat. Resting the meat allows the muscle fibers to relax, so when the meat is carved the juices will remain in the meat and not be squeezed out.  This means the venison will be more tender and juicy to eat.

Cover with a clean dry cloth, put in a warm place and rest the meat for about ½ the time you cooked it for.  



Do not apply these cooking times or this advice to wild shot venison or homekilled venison.  Deer Industry New Zealand cannot provide advice on cooking venison which has not been produced in licensed abatoirs under veterinary supervision.

Like other meat, venison is a potential source of toxoplasmosis, which can be harmful to unborn babies and those with weakened immune systems. Like other meat, venison should therefore not be eaten raw or under-cooked during pregnancy or by people with weakened immune systems.