Cozy up to a bowl of Venison Stew, made with lean protein, red wine, and lots of winter vegetables. If you’re lucky enough to have venison on hand, it’s definitely not to be missed.
When it’s cold outside, warm up at the dinner table. Other hearty, stick-to-your-ribs winter recipes include Cheese Tortellini in Garlic Butter Sauce, and ground beef favorites like the Best Sloppy Joes or Maid-Rite’s famous Loose Meat Sandwiches.
Fall and Winter in the Midwest mean hunting season, and that means deep-freezers are bursting at the seams with delicious cuts of venison.
If you’ve never tried it, now might be the time to make friends with some hunters. Venison is consistently recognized as one of the leanest, most nutritious of all red meats. It’s low in saturated fat, but rich in iron, linoleic acid, and B vitamins, which is great for the heart support and the nervous system.
After all, deer is the original grass fed animal. Three ounces of venison has just 134 calories, 2.7 grams of total fat, with 1.1 grams of saturated fat.
This recipe is simple to make in an afternoon or evening, and can be made in a few hours on the stove, a little quicker in an Instant Pot, or a little slower in the crock pot. All three mouth-watering techniques are outlined below. So you officially have no excuse not to try this wonderful stew.
Once it’s ready, grab the closest loaf of crusty bread and finish off the bottle of red with your nearest and dearest.
Feeding a group of hungry hunters? You might need a bigger batch. Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What does venison taste like?
Besides being healthy and delicious? Venison is described as rich or earthy, often with hints of the acorns, savory plants, and herbs that the deer enjoyed during its life.
It's also considered to be not as juicy as beef, but smoother and firmer.
Here’s a tip to mellow out the flavor, if you’re leery of the gamey taste of venison: Soak it in milk in your refrigerator for 2 days to reduce the gaminess; the milk tenderizes the meat, too!
How to make Venison stew:
Cooking this stew on the stove is fast and easy. Adding the ingredients in steps keeps the meat tender and the vegetables perfectly cooked.
- First, pat the venison dry with a paper towel. Season each piece with salt and pepper.
- Then heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the meat in a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook until browned on one side. Resist the temptation to move the meat; it will brown better if it’s not jostled.
- Flip each piece of venison and continue to brown the other side. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl, and brown the rest of the venison in batches, using more oil with each batch.
- Then heat some more olive oil in the pot and sauté the onions and celery until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Next, stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned—about two minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine, broth, bay leaves, thyme, and venison. Scrape up any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for an hour.
- After the first hour, add the carrots and potatoes. Bring the heat back to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for one more hour, until the meat is tender.
- Remove the bay leaves and the thyme springs. Add the peas and cover for 5 minutes.
- Adjust the seasoning if desired and serve in big bowls, with that crusty bread if you have it.
Instant Pot Venison Stew:
You still have to brown the venison so that it gets that delectable crust. It takes a little bit of patience but will be a little faster than on the stove.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the SAUTE setting. Then, pat the venison dry with a paper towel. Season each piece with salt and pepper.
- Add a bit of olive oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add half of the venison. The cubes should be in a single layer and not too crowded so that they brown nicely.
- Let the cubes of venison cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes (resist the urge to move the meat), until the bottom of the cubes develop a dark-brown crust and come away from the pan easily. Flip each piece of venison and continue to brown the other side.
- Transfer the browned meat to a bowl, and brown the rest of the venison in batches, using more oil with each batch.
- Remove the final batch of browned venison to the bowl with the first batch. Add the remaining olive oil and the onions to the Instant Pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the Instant Pot and stir for a minute until fragrant.
- Next, stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned—about two minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine, broth, bay leaves, thyme, and venison, along with any juices from the meat in the bowl.
- Add the chicken broth and use a spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Make sure you remove every last bit of stuck-on food so that you don’t get a “burn” warning from the pressure cooker.
- Stir in the carrots and potatoes. Do not stir the stew again.
- Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure, then carefully open the lid. Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Add the peas and stir to warm through. Serve hot.
Venison Stew in a slow cooker:
- Dredging the meat in flour, salt, and pepper before browning makes sure this slow cooker venison stew is thick and delicious.
- Add bay leaves, thyme, tomato paste, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the crock pot.
- Combine flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the cubes of venison in flour mixture and set aside.
- Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add venison. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then turn the meat over and continue to brown the sides, working in batches. Transfer browned venison to a bowl as you work.
- When all the meat is browned, add the venison to slow cooker. Pour the wine and broth over the meat. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Add peas and cook for another 10 minutes until hot. Serve immediately.
Venison Stew Recipe
- 1 (3 pound) venison roast cut into 1½ -inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 onions diced
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine see notes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes scrubbed and quartered
- 4 carrots peeled and sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Pat venison pieces dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half the meat in a single layer and cook, without moving, until browned on one side, about 5 minutes.
- Flip each piece of venison and continue cooking until browned on the other side. Transfer to a bowl. Heat another tablespoon of oil and repeat with remaining venison until browned. Transfer to bowl.
- Heat last tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in flour and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, wine, and chicken broth, thyme, bay leaves, and browned venison with accumulated juices, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour.
- Stir in potatoes and carrots. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook 1 hour longer, until venison is tender.
- Remove bay leaves and any thyme stems. Off the heat, stir in peas and cover for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Beef stew meat may be substituted for the venison.
- For the red wine, I like Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir.
- One additional cup of chicken broth may be substituted for the wine.