How to Cook a Venison Shoulder Roast

by Beverly Bird

A shoulder cut of venison requires cooking with moist heat.

Stephanie Frey/iStock/Getty Images

Deer, or venison, use their shoulders to move about, and this makes the shoulder meat less tender than other cuts. The more the deer uses a muscle, the more connective tissue it contains. But these cuts are usually tastier, as well. To break down the connective tissue so the cut will become tender, the trick is to cook shoulder roasts for a longer time at lower temperatures, with liquid. Don't actually “roast” the roast.

Prepare your shoulder roast for cooking by seasoning it to your taste.

Heat vegetable oil in a stock pot. Chef John Besh recommends using bacon drippings instead. Heat the oil or drippings on high heat. When “ribbons” begin to form in the oil, or the drippings begin spitting, brown your shoulder roast on all sides and set aside.

Add vegetables to the hot oil, if you prefer. Besh recommends carrots, celery and onion. If you use vegetables, cook them in the drippings or oil until they start to brown, then add a quarter cup of flour to begin forming a roux. You can add the flour directly to the fat or oil if you don’t want to use vegetables. If you like, add to the roux any extra ingredients you would like to use to flavor your roast, such as garlic, diced tomatoes and mushrooms.

Warm your roux mixture at high heat, then add in more moisture, such as wine, broth or apple juice. Bring the mixture to a second boil and add seasonings of your choice.

Return your shoulder roast to the liquid mixture, and seal the pot tightly with a well-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer your shoulder roast for two hours for a 1-pound roast. When your roast is finished, it should easily pull away from the bone with a fork.

Remove the roast from the pot for carving. If you won’t be serving it immediately, pull the meat from the bone and return it to the pot with the liquid so it doesn’t begin drying out.


  • You can also grill a shoulder roast, making adjustments for its high content of connective tissue. Use indirect heat and a grill temperature of no more than 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and baste it frequently. No matter how you cook your shoulder, using low temperatures over an extended period of time breaks down the connective tissue. A roast that would otherwise be tough becomes tender, maintaining all the flavor that more tender cuts tend to lack.

Photo Credits

  • Stephanie Frey/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Beverly Bird is a professional writer who is also a practicing paralegal in the areas of divorce and family law. She has offered community workshops for single parents, helping them with the financial and lifestyle issues they often face.