Bison or Elk Cooking Tips

Bison or Elk meat is similar to beef and is cooked in much the same way. The taste is often indistinguishable from beef, although bison tends to have a fuller, richer (sweeter) flavor. It is not “gamey” or wild tasting. Bison and Elk are very low in fat, and cholesterol, and is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Fresh cut Bison and Elk meat tends to be darker red and richer in color than many of the other red meats.

The lack of fat ensures that Bison and Elk meat will cook faster. Fat acts as an insulator – heat must first penetrate this insulation before the cooking process begins. Marbling (fat within the muscle) aids in slowing down the cooking process. Since Bison and Elk meat lacks marbling, the meat has a tendency to cook more rapidly. Caution must be taken to ensure that you DO NOT OVERCOOK Bison or Elk.

Bison and Elk may be used with any of your favorite beef recipes if you remember a few basic tips:

  • When oven broiling, move your broiler rack away from the heat about a notch lower from where you normally broil your beef steaks. Expect your Buffalo or Elk steaks to cook 1/3 faster than normal. Bison or Elk steaks are best when cooked rare to medium rare. It is not recommended to cook Bison or Elk meat past medium.
  • If you normally cook your roast beef at 325 F, turn your temperature down to around 275 F for Bison or Elk. Plan on the roast being done in about the same amount of time as with a comparable size beef roast. To ensure the temperature you prefer, we recommend using a meat thermometer indicating the internal temperature. Again, rare to medium rare is recommended.
  • Ground Bison or Elk is also leaner (ranging from 90-95% lean). It will also cook faster so precautions must be taken to not dry out the meat by overcooking it. There is very little shrinkage with Bison or Elk burger – what you put in the pan raw will be very close to the same amount after you cook it. Pre-formed patties tend to dry out just a little faster when grilling. (Hint: the thicker the patty, the juicier the burger). Medium-rare to medium is best. Although ground Bison and Elk is leaner, there is no need to add fat to keep it from sticking to the pan or falling apart.

All Bison and Elk meat, no matter the leanness, has enough available fat in it to allow it to cook properly. The great thing about ground Bison and Elk is that you don’t need to drain off any grease from the pan, the burgers don’t shrink, it’s healthy and tastes great!


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