The absolute BEST tender and flavorful venison meatballs! They're easy to make and baked in the oven, meaning less mess. Made with ground venison, a little ground pork, and simple seasoning. What truly sets them apart is the use of bread instead of breadcrumbs, creating the most perfect meatballs!
YOU GUYS, these are truly the most amazing venison meatballs! Even better, they're so simple to make. I asked Nate to rate these meatballs, and he gave them a 10/10!! That's pretty impressive, right? I really hope you love them as much as we do!
These meatballs are perfectly seasoned, adding just enough flavor to complement the venison without completely overpowering its naturally delicious flavor. I'm confident that even those who aren't necessarily fans of the strong "gamey" venison flavor will still really enjoy these meatballs!
Why you'll love my venison meatball recipe
Most tender meatballs.
These are truly the most perfectly tender and moist deer meatballs! Using a couple of slices of white sandwich bread soaked in milk versus using dry breadcrumbs creates a moist binder that makes these the best venison meatballs.
I like to use simple ingredients such as onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning to add just enough flavor to complement the venison without completely overpowering the naturally delicious flavor of venison. Adding a little soy sauce to the meat mixture also adds a salty, unami flavor to the meatballs taking them to another level of deliciousness.
Baked in the oven.
To keep things quick, simple, and as mess-free as possible, I like to bake meatballs in the oven. They stay tender and develop a golden brown crust without the addition of extra oil. If you want an even crispier crust, you can broil the meatballs during the last couple minutes of cook time.
- White sandwich bread
- Milk (I like to use whole or 2%)
- Ground venison
- Ground pork
- White or yellow onion
- Garlic cloves
- Parmesan cheese
- Soy sauce
- Black pepper
- Italian seasoning
- White sandwich bread: Using just simple white bread creates the most tender meatball while holding in moisture so you don't end up with a dry meatball. In a pinch, you can use ¾ cup of plain or Italian bread crumbs - also works great!
- Egg: The egg binds the meat together so the meatballs don't fall apart while cooking. Don't skip it! You can't even tell it's in there.
- Ground pork: Since venison is very lean, I highly recommend adding ground pork to bring in some fat so your meatballs aren't dry.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce adds a salty, Unami flavor that really amps up the flavor!
Adding pork to venison meatballs
I like to mix the ground venison with a little ground pork to add both fat and extra flavor. Venison is naturally very lean, and meatballs really benefit from a little extra fat to prevent them from drying out during cooking.
Can I make these meatballs without pork?
The pork certainly doesn't overwhelm or change the flavor of the venison, but if you prefer you can leave it out. Keep in mind that without the pork, the meatballs will be a little drier.
How to make tender and flavorful venison meatballs
These tender and flavorful meatballs are incredibly easy to make with minimal mess thanks to my favorite oven-baking method. Here's an overview.
- Combine bread and milk. In a large bowl, combine diced white sandwich bread with milk to create a moist binder for the meatballs. This will sit for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients, then mash together until it resembles a paste.
- Mix the remaining ingredients. Next, you'll add venison, pork, onion, garlic, parmesan, and some simple seasoning. Mix with your hands to really incorporate all the ingredients
- Chill the meat mixture (optional). At this point, I like to chill the meat mixture for about 30 minutes in the freezer or fridge to allow the flavors to come together and the meat to relax and chill a bit.
- Roll into meatballs. Using your hands, roll into golf ball-sized meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each. I usually don't have any problems with this meat mixture sticking to my hands, but if you do, you can coat your hands in olive oil. As a note, use gentle hands when rolling the meatballs. Overpacking meatballs can cause them to be tough.
- Bake the meatballs. For easier cleanup and less hands-on time, I like to bake the meatballs in the oven. Baking keeps the meatballs tender and moist without making the meatballs greasy from frying in oil. If you want a really crispy crust, you can broil the meatballs during the last couple minutes of cook time.
- Serve. I love to serve the meatballs with my simple and delicious tomato sauce and spaghetti noodles!
Frequently asked questions
How do you make meatballs without breaking?
Eggs act as a binder, so adding one large egg to one or two pounds of meat will hold the meatballs together so they don't fall apart. Adding slices of white sandwich bread soaked in milk will also help bind the meat mixture together while creating a tender and moist meatball.
What to season venison with?
For these venison meatballs, I like to keep the seasoning simple with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
What is the secret to meatballs?
Adding a couple of slices of white sandwich bread soaked in milk is the secret to the most tender and moist meatballs! Cut the bread into small cubes then soak in just enough milk that the bread is able to absorb all the milk within 5-10 minutes. This creates a moist binder, creating extremely tender meatballs versus using dry breadcrumbs.
What makes meatballs tough?
When rolling the meatballs, avoid packing them too tightly. Tightly packed meatballs can have a rubbery, tough texture. Be gentle and roll them just enough to hold the meatballs together. If the meat mixture is sticking to your hands, rub your hands with a little olive oil.
Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?
Baked meatballs tend to be a little more tender and flavorful without making the meatballs greasy by frying them in oil. If you want a nice crust on the meatballs, you can broil them during the last couple minutes of cook time.
Why put eggs in meatballs?
Eggs act as binder, holding the meatball mixture together. All you need is one large egg for 1-2 pounds of meat.
Why put milk in meatballs?
Soaking white sandwich bread in a little milk creates a moist binder for the meatballs while adding a little extra fat to the mixture.
What to serve with venison meatballs?
My favorite way to enjoy venison meatballs is tossed with marinara and served over a bed of spaghetti noodles. Finish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
The meat mixture can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready, roll the meatballs and bake according to the recipe below.
Storage and reheating
Storing in the fridge.
Cooked meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days.
Uncooked meatballs can be stored in the fridge up to 24 hours.
Storing in the freezer.
Cooked meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If the meatballs are frozen, I recommend thawing in the fridge overnight. If reheating from frozen, add a little extra reheating time.
- Reheating on the stove with sauce. Combine the meatballs with tomato sauce in a skillet. Simmer over low heat until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. You can add a little water or beef broth if you need to thin out the sauce.
- Reheating in the oven without sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with tinfoil to prevent the meatballs from drying out. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through.
- Reheating in the microwave. My least favorite method, but works in a pinch! Place the meatballs in a microwave-safe dish with or without sauce (you may want to cover them if reheating with sauce). Heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through, until heated through.
Venison Meatballs Tomato Sauce
I love to serve these delicious venison meatballs with marinara sauce and spaghetti noodles.
Feel free to use your favorite store-bought pasta sauce or make your own at home! You can find my favorite homemade tomato sauce recipe here.
More venison recipes you'll love!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below! I'd love to hear from you! If you’re on Instagram, share a picture of the food you created and tag me at Modern Farmhouse Eats! I enjoy seeing all the pictures! 😊
Tender Venison Meatballs
- 2 slices white sandwich bread
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 pound ground venison
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 large egg, whisked
- ½ yellow or white onion, grated (using large holes on cheese grater)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and milk, then set aside for 5-10 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.
- Mash the bread, then add the remaining ingredients. Using your hands, mix until well combined. If time allows, chill the meat mixture in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop and the mixture to firm up a little bit.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the meat mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each, and place onto the prepared baking sheet. If the meat mixture is sticking to your hands, you can coat your hands with a little olive oil. Makes 25-30 meatballs.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned on the top and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and spaghetti.