This juicy Elk Burger recipe is a lean but flavorful alternative to a traditional beef burger. Whether you purchase your elk meat from the store or you have it ground fresh, you can make them juicy and delicious with just a few simple steps!
Elk is one of the largest mammals in North America and can be found roaming wild in half of the states in the U.S. They are most commonly found in mountainous regions, traveling together in herds.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Elk is lean meat, with much lower fat than beef. It is also incredibly high in protein!
Elk is also a bit sweeter than ground beef. You may be expecting it to be gamey, but it is surprising not at all! It is really tasty! My kids prefer elk burgers to regular beef burgers. My youngest actually won't even eat a beef burger, but is always excited when elk burgers are on the menu!
Ground Elk: Because elk is so lean, it does need the help of some extra fat to bind it together. If you are purchasing elk from the store it will likely already have some beef or beef fat added in, so nothing additional is needed.
If you had your own elk meat processed, then add 2 tablespoons of butter or oil per pound. Chopped bacon is also a delicious way to add fat to the burgers.
Seasonings: The flavor of an elk burger is so delicious that you do not need much when seasoning the meat. A simple mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder works beautifully to make a tasty burger.
- Gently mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. Overmixing can make the meat tough, so just mix it until the seasoning is evenly distributed.
- Divide the meat into four equal portions, and shape each into a ½-inch-thick patty.
- Press an indention into the center of the patty. This gives the meat room to expand and helps them to keep their shape as they cook. It also helps the patties to cook more evenly.
- Grease your pan or grill grates so that the lean meat does not stick. I use butter when cooking on the stove, and rub the grates with oil when cooking on a grill.
- Whether cooking your burger patties in a pan or on a grill, use medium heat. Cook the patty for 4 minutes, then flip it over and cook an additional 4 minutes. Cheese can be added a couple of minutes after flipping the burger.
Your elk burger is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F. Using a thermometer is helpful for this, as cooking to this temperature will help you have a juicy burger.
How to Top Your Elk Burger
Top your burger with your favorite hamburger toppings. While some elk burger aficionados say that ketchup and mustard don't belong, it really is about designing a burger that you think is delicious.
My personal preference is to top the elk burger with caramelized onions and garlic aioli! It is also delicious with bacon and an over-easy egg.
Other common toppings include Cheddar cheese, blue cheese, iceberg lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, red onion, and even hatch green chiles! The customization options are limitless!
- Elk burgers pair with any side dishes that you would serve with regular hamburgers, including French fries, potato salad, and chips!
- We enjoyed these elk burgers with our Montana state dinner, along with Hasselback potatoes and huckleberry cheesecake.
The secret to keeping your elk burger from falling apart is to press it tightly into a patty, and then make an indention in the middle with your thumb. This will allow the burger to expand without falling apart.
Some add bread crumbs and eggs to their burgers, but this is not necessary. If the patty is formed properly and has a little fat added in, then it will stay together without the addition of binding agents.
Elk meat that is cooked to medium doneness (140-145 degrees) is juicy and delicious! Cooking to higher temperatures will make the meat dry.
Ground elk meat can be purchased at many grocery stores. You can also take elk to a professional butcher shop. But if you want to purchase it yourself you will need a meat grinder. Kitchen Aid has a grinder attachment, or you can purchase a stand-along grinder.
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Elk BurgersRecipe by:
- 1 pound ground elk meat
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 hamburger buns
- Your favorite hamburger toppings
- In a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle seasonings over the elk meat. Use a spoon or your hands to mix the seasonings into the meat until evenly distributed.
- Divide the meat into four balls. Form each ball into a patty that is ¾-inch thick.Press your thumb into the center of each patty to make an indention in the middle. This will help the patty hold its shape.Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Place a grill pan or skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil to the pan.(If cooking on an outdoor grill, oil the grates and turn onto medium heat.)
- Once the butter has melted, add the elk burger patties to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip the patties over.Cook an additional 2 minutes, then add cheese, if using.Cook for 2 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140-145 degrees.
- Remove patties. Add to a hamburger bun, along with desired toppings.