The Best Elk Burger Recipe: Grilled, Moist & Perfectly Seasoned

An above view of an elk burger with onions, lettuce, and tomatoes

The Best Elk Burger Recipe: Grilled, Moist & Perfectly Seasoned

 

You’ve got the ground elk meat, now you just need a recipe to make an elk burger. Perhaps you’re looking to try something new, and if that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place.

Elk burgers bring that moist, melt-in-the-mouth flavor you crave when it’s burger time. And to satisfy your craving, I think you’ve come across the best recipe.

Now, if you are no stranger to making elk burgers, then you know one major issue is the meat just doesn’t hold together very well in patty form. That being said, I’m going to teach you how to keep your burger from falling apart on the plate before it reaches your mouth.

What Do Elk Burgers Taste Like?

I love a cheeseburger as much as the next guy. That sloppy, greasy, cheesy, and ultimately poor dietary option I grew up on kept my belly full. The good news is that elk burgers taste a lot like traditional hamburgers — without all the grease. 

If you want to know what elk tastes like specifically, check out this post I wrote called “What Does Elk Meat Tastes Like?” To avoid a click and get straight to the point, let’s just say it tastes like a regular burger with a little bit of flair. 

If elk burgers taste so much like a regular burger why not just eat a regular burger, you might ask. That’s a great question. There are many benefits to eating elk, but for me elk, burgers are much healthier than regular beef-based hamburgers. Also, as you will see in the recipe, it is not void of fat but even with the added bacon fat, this burger is still leaner than anything you can get off of the beef shelf.  

I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, so my version here has a little kick to it. I’ve added cayenne and jalapeño, but those with a tame tongue can forego these ingredients for a milder elk burger.

My Go-To Elk Burger Recipe Ingredients (makes approximately eight ⅓ lb burgers)

  • 2  pounds ground elk meat
  • ½ pound bacon ends-and-pieces ground or chopped into small pieces (unseasoned pork sausage works well here too if you don’t have a grinder, but I prefer bacon, don’t you?)
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon A1 Steak Sauce 
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper (black pepper will do as a substitute)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (skip this if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of salt, I prefer coarse sea salt
  • 2 finely chopped jalapeños (skip this if you don’t want it spicy)
  • Japanese mayo (regular mayo will do if you can’t find or make this)
  • Tomato slices
  • Onion slices
  • Baby spinach
  • Blue cheese, pepper jack, or American cheese slices x 8
  • Burger buns (your favorite kind will do just fine) x 8
  • ½ stick grated butter 
  • Beer of choice

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Makes: 8 medium-sized elk burgers

The Secret to Keeping Elk Burgers from Falling Apart

If you have cooked ground elk burgers in the past then you may know how hard it is to keep the patty from crumbling. Elk meat doesn’t bind together as well as beef because it is less fatty. 

By adding bacon fat, butter, egg, and breadcrumbs, you are helping the patty stay together. In conjunction with the breadcrumbs, bacon provides a crunchy texture I love. An egg also helps pull everything together. 

Important: Make sure the grill is hot prior to putting the patty on. A solid sear helps the burger stay together, without it you could end up fishing meat out of the burners.

Step One: Prepping the Ground Elk Meat

The first thing you want to do is source some quality elk meat. Click here for my trusted sources. 

You can purchase store-bought ground elk or buy it online. If you are starting with already ground elk, then move on to step two. 

Personally, I like to grind my own meat for each batch. This way, I can add in the bacon fat with the elk at the same time. I like to use a hand grinder for small ground elk projects such as this. I highly recommend the Cheffano electric grinder, as it’s efficient, reliable, and affordable.

To get ready to grind, I highly recommend cutting your elk into 1 ½ inch cubes. You then want to take those cubes, along with your bacon ends and pieces, and put them in the freezer. Leave them in there for about two hours.  

PROTIP: Frozen/near-frozen meat is easier to cut and grind. When using room-temp meat, you’ll end up with a mushy mess. 

Step Two: Grinding/Mixing Elk and Bacon

If you don’t have a grinder and are starting with pre-ground elk, here is what to do if you want bacon (or unseasoned ground pork) in the burger patty. 

Freeze your bacon until almost frozen, and then use a sharp knife to cut the large chunks into tiny pieces of bacon and fat. ¼-inch cubes are ideal here. 

If you have your own grinder, this is where you will take your elk and bacon meat from the freezer and you will put them through your meat grinder at the same time. Add in a little bacon as you grind the elk. 

In both scenarios, make sure you mix up the mixture really well at the end. The bacon fat needs to be evenly distributed throughout the meat, — we’ll get into why later. This elk burger recipe, even though you are adding fat, is actually much less fatty than a store-bought beef patty. 

Step Three: Making the Patties

Add the A-1 steak sauce, pepper, salt, breadcrumbs, jalapeños, and half of the butter (¼ cup). Mix it up. 

Add in one egg.

After mixing, make 8 equal-sized balls of meat. 

Slightly press down on the balls of meat and form the burger patties. 

Place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to throw ’em on the grill.

Step Four: Grilling the Best Elk Burgers

You want to get your grill good and hot before you put these burgers on so you can sear the meat well. A proper sear helps form a crust which keeps the burger from falling apart when you go to flip it later. 

Now, crack open a beer and take a drink — you’ve earned it.

Really though, here is why you need the beer.

Elk burgers lose moisture throughout the cooking process at a much faster rate than beef. I like to put a little beer, lemon juice, and herbs into a spray bottle and mist the patties a couple of times throughout the cooking process.

This process helps lock in the moist and tender flavor of the elk while creating a nice caramelization and finish to the burger. Ideally, I’ll spray the elk burger as it goes on the grill, then I’ll spray it after I flip them once, and maybe a final time right before they are done. 

I like my burgers medium-rare. Always make sure you cook elk to a safe temperature just like you would any other meat. I recommend cooking to no more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you start approaching 150 degrees, the burger will dry out significantly.   

Cooking elk burgers takes about 7 minutes per side on a hot grill. 4 minutes if cooking on a stove. Add a minute or two if you like your burgers medium or medium-well. 

I throw the cheese on right after the last beer spritz and let it melt down just a little. I like to put blue cheese crumbles on top of my burger but pepper jack, American, or whatever cheese you like does well with this recipe.

Step Five: Suns out, Buns out

I like to take the rest of the butter we saved and by now it should be nice and soft if you left it out. 

Throw the buttered buns on the grill after you flip each elk burger, about 2-3 minutes. Cook another 1-2 minutes and remove buns. 

Step Six: Stack, Sauce, Eat

I like to use Japanese mayo; it has a flavor that goes really well with red meat. You can make your own by adding a little rice vinegar to your mayo. 

Then I put some baby spinach, a tomato slice, and a couple of onion slices.

Now that you’ve built your elk burger, it’s time to eat.

Where to Buy the Best Ground Elk Meat

Want the world’s best elk meat shipped straight to your doorstep? Click the button below to search through the freshest elk meat on the market – sorted by supplier, cuts, and source.

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