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How to Make the Perfect Venison Pepperoni for the Holidays

Are you running out of new ideas to utilize all that venison? Try venison pepperoni! It is a versatile and delicious food slightly different from most venison recipes. Plus, it makes the ideal addition to any holiday snack tray. (See you later, salami.) This recipe takes a little time and work, but it is well worth the effort once you taste it. Just ask your friends and family once they come over, sip some wine and try some of it.


  • 4 pounds of trimmed venison
  • 1 pound pork fatback or 1.5 pounds pork trimmings*
  • One teaspoon pink curing salt
  • Three tablespoons Kosher salt
  • Two tablespoons sugar
  • One tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Two tablespoons paprika
  • One tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • One tablespoon red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
  • One teaspoon each of dried oregano dried thyme, and dried sage**
  • 1 cup non-fat dry milk powder
  • ¼ cup of your favorite dry red wine, icy (can substitute water)
  • Sausage casings of your choosing; can be edible or inedible and your desired size

*Use pork trimmings if you want a milder venison taste in your venison pepperoni.

**Don't feel committed to the spices mentioned above. Add in the flavors you like, and make your venison pepperoni custom designed for your tastes. Some other good ideas to consider are adobo seasoning for a Southwest flair or dried ground juniper berries to highlight the taste of the venison.

The first thing you need to do is prep the meat.

Chop the venison and dice up the pork fatback or trimmings. Once they are down to a manageable size, grind each meat separately. If you don't have a meat grinder, your local butcher should be able to help you out. Once you have all the meat and fat ground up, please place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

While you wait for the venison and pork to get cold, mix the red wine, dry milk powder, curing salt, and the spices of your choice. The goal is to make a paste to add to the meat during the mixing process.

Once the freezer 20 minutes is up, you are ready to mix. Place the ground venison and pork fat into your mixer and combine them with the spice paste you made earlier. If you do not have an electric mixer, this step can be done by hand with equally good results.

Next comes the stuffing process. You will need a sausage stuffing machine to accomplish this part of the venison pepperoni process. This step must be done while the meat mixture is still chilled, so stick the meat back into the freezer if you need to step away for a few minutes.

Once you have all your links stuffed, hang them up in the refrigerator to allow them to cure for 24 hours.

The next day, fire up the smoker and bring it to a temperature of 135 degrees. Smoke the pepperoni links at that temperature for two hours before cranking the heat up to 200 degrees and continuing to smoke the links until they reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees.

Once the pepperoni hits 150 degrees, immediately place them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once the cooking process is stopped, hang the pepperoni links until they reach room temperature. You now have a batch of venison pepperoni ready for tasting. (Don't forget to save some for later, though! No matter how good it tastes.)

The pepperoni can be stored in the fridge for a couple of months and frozen even longer. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Go Carnivore.

This article was originally published on December 10, 2015.