Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs

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My husband and I both grew up eating wild game. For the most part we had venison (deer) but some elk too. We are still fortunate to be able to enjoy venison and elk and, now that we live in Wyoming, antelope.

The thing with wild game is that it can taste a little ‘gamey’. I remember eating venison growing up that was difficult to eat because of the extremely wild taste to it. I do have to say that most of our Wyoming game isn’t nearly as gamey as I remember. In fact, it’s so mild we rarely made any allowances for using game in recipes.

These Sweet and Sour Meatballs are mild and delicious. I used ground venison but think it would taste equally good with ground elk, antelope or even beef. Delicious served over rice, cauli-rice, spaghetti squash, mashed potatoes, or something similar to absorb the delicious sauce.

Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs


1/4 cup milk
2 slices (sourdough) bread broke into very small pieces
1 pound ground venison (or other ground meat)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine milk and bread in a bowl. Allow to set 10-15 minutes for the bread to absorb the milk. Add meat and egg. Mix well. Add in spices. Form into small balls. Brown meatballs on all sides in skillet. Remove from pan and set aside. Note: game tends to be very lean. You will most likely need to add fat to the pan for browning.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/4 of an onion finely minced
1 Tablespoon butter or coconut oil
3 cups broth (I used beef)
20 oz can pineapple chunks– use 1/2 of the pineapple and all the juice
1 orange- peeled and sectioned
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground clove
1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in a little water

Cook onion in butter or oil over low heat until just soft about 5-7 minutes. Add broth and pineapple juice allow to cook down about 5 minutes or so until it begins to thicken. Add honey, vinegar, pineapple chunks, spices and orange sections. Allow to cook for a few minutes and then add cornstarch water. Stir well as it thickens. Put the meatballs in the sauce and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and allow to cook about 15 minutes until meatballs are cooked through and very tender.

This is a winner. The nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves add a wonderful flavor to the sauce and compliment the venison very nicely.

Have you cooked with wild game?

This would be delicious with homemade sourdough bread.  Only 15 minutes of hands on time! Get the free and simple recipe here from Traditional Cooking School.

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Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at MillieCopper.com.


  1. Aiming4Simple

    >Thanks for this addition to our repertoire! We are happy to have a freezer full of venison right now.

    Actually we like the taste of wild game. I make venison burgers and steaks and season them with just garlic salt. However, for a change of pace, venison chili and venison sloppy joes are nice.

  2. Charity

    >I love cooking venison, caribou, moose, bear, etc…..I grew up on whitetail and the first time I tasted beef I thought it tasted wierd! This recipe seems like it will work really well.

  3. Millie

    A freezer full of venison is wonderful! We do like the flavor too. My city-raised girls were slower to warm up to it and it still depends on the day as to how well received it is. The meatballs were a huge hit and no one even questioned what type of meat they were made from.

    I had Whitetail for the first time a couple of months ago. Delicious. Very different than Blacktail or Muley. I couldn't believe how mild it was. I've never had caribou or moose.

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