Interested in cooking with ground elk? You’re in for a treat. This lean and delicious meat is an overlooked native delicacy that is extremely rewarding when cooked well.
We’ll briefly cover some of the basics about elk and then dive into our 11 favorite ground elk recipes.
What is ground elk?
Ground elk is ground elk meat, considered a type of venison, and made from the biggest member of the deer family. Elk are native to North America and are both hunted and farm-raised.
Elk is a lower-fat alternative to beef and is full of essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, and Zinc[*]. Vitamin B helps your body make new cells and tissues[*], and zinc helps your immune system fight bacteria[*].
What does ground elk taste like?
Elk is one of the most popular wild game meats out there, and for good reason! It’s delicious, tastes similar to beef, is lean due to its plant-based diet, and avoids that “gamey” flavor that can be a turn-off for some people.
If you’ve ever had deer, it’s like a less gamey version of that, and it can be used as a good substitute for any beef recipe you like.
What to cook and make with elk
You can use elk in just about any way you’d like. Some of the most popular ways include:
If you use a 100% blend of ground elk, just keep in mind that the meat will be lean and low in fat, so most people choose to add fat in to make it juicier. People add everything from beef tallow to lard, to grass-fed butter, and adding fat is particularly important when you’re using a cooking method that isn’t liquid-based, such as grilling or sautéing.
11 awesome ground elk recipes
If you’re looking for a homey weeknight meal, then ground elk stroganoff is a no-brainer. For the best results, use organic, white button mushrooms (the difference in texture is substantial), buy good pasta, don’t skip the fresh parsley, use real garlic cloves, and make your own stock or grass-fed beef broth. It’s not a necessity, but it’s worth it!
Chili is a great choice for elk because the slow cooking process breaks down the lean elk meat into delicious and rich bits. This recipe plays to the healthier side of things, but if you want to ramp it up a bit you could create your own cheese blend, use fresh tomatoes, and opt for full-fat sour cream instead.
Oh, and don’t skip the wine deglaze — the complexity you get from it is worth it.
If you’re in a burger mood, then elk burgers are an amazing way to treat your dinner guests to something a bit more interesting. This recipe has it all. By adding fat to your ground elk, you can get the best of both worlds: the taste, health benefits, and leanness of elk meat plus the juiciness of a traditional burger. The cloves in this recipe also add a nice bit of depth.
4. Elk Meatloaf
This simple elk meatloaf recipe is good for any cold night. Serve it alongside some homemade mashed potatoes and asparagus tossed in parmesan, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper for the full effect.
I personally like to make a richer meatloaf sauce instead of just canned tomato sauce, but like any recipe, it depends on how much work you want to put into it.
If you’re looking for a ground elk meatball recipe you can fly into whatever pasta or dish you like, then this one is perfect. The spices are pretty simple, so you have room to dress them up as you please.
You can stick to classic Italian seasonings like basil and oregano or get experimental and add in curry powder for an Indian twist — just depends on what you’re going to do with it.
I love Tex-Mex casseroles. You just take all of the usual culprits like black beans, green peppers (or even better, poblanos), corn, onion, and tomato, and cook them alongside your elk seasoned with chili powder. Then you toss it all in a dish, top it with cheese, bake for a few minutes, and ta-da! Easy and delicious dinner.
Don’t forget your favorite hot sauce!
A good reminder in this recipe is that game meat, because it’s so lean, can often dry out faster than you’re used to. So to avoid a dry burger, try not to cook it beyond medium.
How good do these look? If you’re trying to cut the carbs or serve up some outside-of-the-box appetizers, try these elk stuffed mushrooms from Tasty Kitchen out. You take some cooked ground elk (however you like it), mix it with some grilled onion and mozzarella, and fill up your sautéed mushrooms before topping them with fresh thyme.
If you want to make an entrée out of this, you could use portabella mushrooms and spoon the mixture over top.
For the spicy lovers out there, this is a good sweet and spicy chili recipe you can reference. It uses whole cinnamon, fire-roasted tomatoes, and cayenne to give it a complex and rich kick. If you want even more spice, you can easily add in some habanero or jalapenos.
10. Elk Family Tacos
Another way to use ground elk is to make tacos! Take some of the ground elk, add in some pork fat, saute it with salt, pepper, and whatever taco seasoning you like (usually a combination of paprika, chili powder, and cumin), put it in the hard or soft shell of your choice, assemble your taco line toppings like sour cream, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro, and then finish it off with a squeeze of lime. Easy and delicious!
Or if you’d rather skip or crush up the shells, then you can do something similar to the tacos within your Instant Pot. The only other ingredients you need will be your favorite broth and some pinto and black beans. Like most of these recipes, the better the ingredients you buy off the bat, the better the result will be, so try to shop for in-season produce and use fresh ingredients for the best results.
That’s it! And remember — the best elk recipes start with the best ground elk.
Get open-pasture ground elk delivered to your door
Our 90% lean ground elk is the perfect mild-flavored and lean alternative to beef. Our Utah elk graze in the wide-open mountain meadows and enjoy mother nature until the end! We only partner with the best farmers who see themselves as stewards of the land they use, and they have to demonstrate a passion for the taste and health of their meat.
See what that attention to detail and care tastes like.
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Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.