What’s the best way to cook elk burgers? It's my recipe for ground elk patties! (Of course. Haha) Learn my top tip for the juiciest, most moist ground elk burgers around. Hunters and other connoisseurs of wild game will definitely want to know your secret for cooking elk burgers. You’ll also get ideas for elk burger seasonings, toppings, side dishes, and more!
Are you looking to up your game regarding cooking wild game? You are not going to want to miss today’s piece on the best way to cook ground elk.
Never tried elk? Well, why not try something new this BBQ and grilling season with this elk hamburger meat recipe?
If the taste of venison has put you off of wild game, I hope you’ll give elk a chance. It’s game without that strong “gamey” taste. Nevertheless, like venison, it’s a very lean healthy meat.
Elk is so lean, in fact, that many butchers and cooks add beef fat, butter, or ghee to ground elk. The added fat helps keep the meat from drying out while cooking. Unfortunately, it negates the benefit of elk being low in saturated fat.
Luckily, there’s a way to make juicy elk burgers while also keeping the saturated fat low. In this recipe (the best elk burger recipe 😉), we’re going to add a little avocado oil to the ground elk.
Our ground elk burgers will have a bit more fat to stay moist, but it will mostly be heart-healthy unsaturated fat. You get a healthy, delicious burger without having to sacrifice nutrition or flavor. Sounds like a good deal to me!
- 📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Elk Burgers
- ️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🍔 Can you eat elk burgers rare?
- 🌡️ Leftovers
- 🧂 Elk Burger Seasoning
- 🧀 Elk Burger Toppings
- 🥗 Side Dishes
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Burger Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
One elk hamburger patty has 344 calories, 0.1 grams net carbs, and 32.9 grams protein. This nutrition information does not include the burger bun or any toppings you choose to add.
Why make elk burgers? I covered a few of these points above, but here’s a summary of the benefits trying these wild game burgers:
- High protein: Elk is a great source of lean, high-quality protein. If you’re trying to prioritize protein on your plate but bored with the usual suspects (chicken breast, eggs, etc.), try elk!
- Essential vitamins and minerals: Elk meat is rich in a wide assortment of B-complex vitamins (e.g., thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12). It is also a source of many key minerals, including iron, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Paleo, keto, gluten-free: If you are on a special diet, these elk burger patties will likely fit. They are very low carb, soy free, Paleo, dairy free, and gluten free. (Just modify the toppings as needed to fit your needs and preferences!)
- Game without a “gamey” taste: Don’t give up on eating wild game meat if you dislike the strong taste of venison! Elk has a very mild flavor, similar to beef burgers. Everyone in my household enjoys elk (and none of us are too keen on venison).
- Easy to customize: You can easily customize your elk hamburger patties to make your tastebuds happy. The toppings I’m using here are based on my favorite burger at Red Robin. It’s a delicious way to introduce your family to elk if they are apprehensive about trying it. However, these are your burgers, so don’t be afraid to top them differently!
- Makes a juicy, tasty elk cheeseburger: Hey, I get it. Most people choose foods because they taste good, not for specific nutrients. I really think these hamburgers deliver when it comes to great flavor.
What do you need to make elk burgers? Here’s what you need for the elk patties:
- Ground elk meat
- Avocado oil (olive oil can also be used, but will alter the flavor)
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking oil spray
If you want to go all out and make an amazing elk burger with the works, you’ll also need these:
- Hamburger buns (a brioche bun is A+ here)
- Sliced provolone cheese
- BBQ sauce (I used sugar-free barbecue sauce)
- Caramelized onions
- Crispy onions (Is there such a thing as too many onions? No. Lol)
- Sliced tomato
- Green leaf lettuce
If you load up your burgers like I did, these are pretty much guaranteed to knock your socks off. You might want to take up hunting (or make friends with a hunter) so you can have these on the regular. So good!
To make elk hamburgers, you’ll need a cast iron skillet, spatula, and (maybe) a meat thermometer. If you are a grill master, you could also try grilling elk burgers. Bring them to your next cookout!
Today though, we’re going to make elk burgers on the stove top. That way, you can enjoy a juicy elk burger any time of the year!
🔪 How to Make Elk Burgers
Let’s learn how to make elk burgers! My mouth is watering already.
With clean hands, mix the avocado oil, salt, and black pepper into the ground elk. Shape the mixture into 3 large patties. Make each one about 3½ inches in diameter and ½-¾ inch thick.
Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking oil spray. Heat the skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Carefully place the elk burger patties in the heated pan.
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to cook elk burgers? Cook for a total of 4-5 minutes per side over medium heat.
If you’re making elk cheeseburgers, top the burgers with cheese during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. This should give the cheese enough time to melt.
It’s important not to overcook ground elk, because it will become unpleasantly dry. I always leave a little pink inside my elk burgers. That brings me to a common question...
🍔 Can you eat elk burgers rare?
From a food safety standpoint, you’re really not supposed to be eating rare elk burgers. Ground beef and ground elk are both supposed to be cooked to a minimum safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This will get you a well-done (and likely dried out) burger.
You can check the patties with a meat thermometer if you want to ensure your burgers have reached this temp. I don’t like overcooked burgers, so I tend to cook them to medium. If you have a high risk of severe foodborne illness, you may want to cook your burgers longer than I do.
Leftover elk burger patties can be refrigerated for 3-4 days, or you can freeze them. Crumbled burger is great in elk burger chili, sloppy joes, elk meat tacos, or soup.
🧂 Elk Burger Seasoning
Wondering how to season elk burgers? I've got you! Here are some seasonings and sauces you can mix with elk burgers:
- Salt and pepper
- Steak seasoning
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Worcestershire sauce
- Red wine vinegar
- Tomato sauce
- Liquid smoke
- Taco seasoning
- Teriyaki sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Creole seasoning
- Cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes (for spicy burgers!)
🧀 Elk Burger Toppings
Want to know how to top an elk burger? I’m giving you one of my very favorite burger topping combos in the recipe card below. Here are some other toppings for elk burgers that you can mix and match:
- Pepper jack cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Cooked bacon
- BBQ sauce
- Bacon jam
- Pickled jalapenos
- Blue cheese
- Ranch dressing
- Pico de Gallo (or another salsa)
🥗 Side Dishes
What are some good sides for elk burgers? The last time I made elk cheeseburgers, I served them with side salads and homemade potato wedges. Here are some other side dishes for elk burgers:
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Frozen French Fries in Air Fryer
- Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Air Fryer Frozen Tater Tots
- Kale Apple Slaw
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). The nutrition information is for the elk burger (no bun, no toppings). You could easily make a low calorie, low carb, high calorie, etc. meal with these depending on what else you include.
I usually skip the bun with my burgers and make a burger bowl. Piled high with non-starchy veggies, it’s a filling, low cal meal.
I’ve photographed the elk burgers with buns for this article, because people like to see the buns. There’s just something more photogenic and clickable about a cheeseburger with a nice, fluffy bun, I guess. I must admit, it does make for a nice photo.
Aesthetics aside, if you have a weight loss goal, keep in mind that many of us overeat refined grains. In terms of general nutrition advice, it's probably a good idea for most to cut back on white flour foods. I’m not necessarily saying go low carb (though some do find that strategy most helpful).
But what if you’re serving up elk for the first time, and you’re not sure your family is having it? That’s why I’m giving you my completely irresistible and scrumptious suggestions for elk burger toppings. It’s hard not to gobble up a cheesy, crispy onion-ed, barbecued burger, whether it’s elk, beef, or turkey.
IMHO, elk burgers taste most similar to lean ground beef. I find elk to be a bit more flavorful than beef, but not in a strong and unpleasantly game-y type of way. You can substitute elk and lean ground beef for each other in recipes.
You can smoke elk burgers similar to these smoked burgers made with beef. I’d add avocado oil to the elk hamburger (same as in this recipe) to keep the burgers nice and juicy.
You can try this recipe for air fryer stuffed burgers using ground elk meat instead of lean ground beef. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to the burgers before shaping into patties to keep them from drying out.
If your elk burgers tend to fall apart, add a binder to the meat before shaping into patties. Eggs, flour, bread crumbs, and dry oatmeal will all help your elk burgers to stick together.
Elk is a lean, high-quality protein that is rich in a wide assortment of essential vitamins and minerals. I would consider elk burgers to be a healthy addition to the diet (in most cases, at least). Certain things we add to the burger (e.g., white flour buns, fried onions, sugary condiments) offer much less nutritionally.
If you don’t have hunters in the family, you can buy elk meat from US Wellness Meats. At the time of this writing, elk burger is $13.74 per pound (USD). Keep an eye out for seasonal sales!
👩🏻🍳 Other Burger Recipes
Looking for more easy recipes for burgers? Don’t miss out on these:
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Optional Burger Toppings:
- Use clean hands to mix the black pepper, salt, and avocado oil into the ground elk.
- Shape the elk patties into 3 large patties that are each about 3½ inches (8.9 cm) in diameter and ½-¾ inch (1.3-1.9 cm) thick.
- Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Carefully place the elk patties in a single layer in the heated pan.
- Cook the elk patties for 4-5 minutes per side over medium heat. If making cheeseburgers, top the burgers with cheese during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking.
- Note: Ground elk is supposed to be cooked to a minimum safe internal temperature of 160°F or 71°C (use a meat thermometer to check). IMVHO, this temp leads to overcooked burgers, but I'm giving you this information so you can make your own decisions.
Adding optional burger toppings:
- Put the hamburger buns on plates. Add the mayo, crispy onions, lettuce, burger patties, tomato, caramelized onion, and BBQ sauce (in that order).
- Savor that juicy, flavorful elk burger! YUM