A traditional venison stroganoff recipe with a twist! Using plain coconut yogurt instead of sour cream allows for a dairy-free version of this popular decadent winter recipe.
With tender venison meat, mushrooms, onions and a creamy sauce, all the elements you crave from stroganoff are still intact in this easy comforting meal.
If you’re looking for an easy way to incorporate wild game meat into your diet, this stroganoff recipe using ground venison is the perfect fit.
When my brother graciously gifted me some venison two years ago (even the coveted backstrap cut!), I quickly fell in love with wild game.
My original memories of tasting game meat were from a New Year’s eve party with my parents as a kid where some sort of horribly overcooked venison was served as an appetizer. One bite and I swore off the meat for decades.
Using venison instead of the traditional beef in a stroganoff is a simple swap that makes a venison meal completely accessible and easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE VENISON STROGANOFF
- extra virgin olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)
- ground venison
- arrowroot powder (substitute cornstarch/tapioca starch or all-purpose flour)
- red wine
- beef broth
- unsweetened plain coconut yogurt
- egg noodles or other pasta/rice for serving
This is actually a diary-free take on stroganoff so instead of sour cream or heavy cream, you’ll see coconut yogurt used in its place.
I love the Culina brand for the simple quality ingredients in its yogurt and find it to be an excellent replacement for sour cream or regular Greek yogurt.
It works wonderfully in the stroganoff to mimic the trademark creamy, rich sauce without the dairy.
If you have no reason to avoid dairy, feel free to substitute real sour cream for the coconut yogurt.
HOW TO MAKE GROUND VENISON STROGANOFF
Start by melting the tablespoon of butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I prefer a cast iron skillet for this recipe but a nonstick skillet will also work.
Once hot, add the fresh mushrooms and cook until they’ve browned. Not stirring them while they cook enables a wonderful caramelization to form on the mushrooms as the liquid cooks out of them.
Transfer the browned mushrooms to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and place the onions in the pan. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic and stir around in the skillet for a minute until fragrant, careful not to let it burn.
Next, add the ground meat and break up using a wooden spoon or spatula as it cooks.
Once the venison is browned, sprinkle the arrowroot powder on top of the meat and stir until combined.
Pour the red wine into the pan to deglaze making sure to scrape up any accumulated browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
It’s worth noting that most stroganoff recipes use Worcestershire sauce instead of red wine but I prefer the flavor deglazing the pan with wine brings over the more traditional inclusion of Worcestershire sauce.
Add the broth and reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer the mixture until the liquid has reduced by half.
At this point, add the mushroom mixture back into the skillet along with the coconut yogurt and some freshly grated nutmeg. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve as desired.
Egg noodles are the traditional way beef stroganoff is typically served but any noodle of choice or cooked rice is equally appropriate. I used a gluten-free rotini this time around.
WHAT IS A GOOD CUT OF MEAT FOR STROGANOFF?
Stroganoff, which is a Russian dish (although created by French chefs), is traditionally prepared with cubed beef. It’s not very specific to a particular cut but oftentimes recipes use sirloin or another similar steak that’s been cut into cubes.
With the “Americanization” of this dish in the United States, however, using ground meat has become a popular option, mostly for its convenience.
I enjoy stroganoff both ways but when making venison stroganoff in particular, I find it easier to use ground venison rather than cubed venison steak simply for its accessibility.
Most of us don’t hunt our own food (unless you have a brother like mine who sends you home with vacuum sealed bags of woodcock on holidays) and unfortunately, finding venison steak in the grocery store just isn’t commonplace.
This is why using ground venison meat for this recipe just seems to make sense.
If you do, however, have a venison steak at your disposal, by all means use it in this recipe! Simply cut it into cubes (not venison strips!) and follow the recipe as written.
Venison shoulder steaks are a good option although I’ve even seen recipes where people use backstrap!
That’s insane to me and akin to using filet mignon in a beef stroganoff recipe. No thanks, I’d rather savor each bite of backstrap in all its tender glory in a simpler preparation like this grilled venison backstrap.
With the creamy, decadent sauce of a stroganoff, there’s just no need to use the most expensive or cherished cut of meat.
HOW TO SERVE THIS VENISON STROGANOFF RECIPE
Egg noodles are the longstanding favorite for serving any stroganoff recipe but there are some great alternatives as well.
Other wide flat noodles like pappardelle or tagliatelle are equally appropriate to spoon the saucy stroganoff over.
I’m also partial to the rotini shown in these pictures. The spirals of this particular pasta shape hold sauce very well.
If you want to stray away from pasta altogether, white rice or some mashed potatoes (or mashed rutabaga for a lower-carb option) are also great options.
And, for a German/Russian mix-up, try some spaetzle!
This may not be traditional but I also love a scoop of some homemade red cabbage sauerkraut on top of stroganoff to counterbalance the heavy creaminess with some tangy brightness.
A squeeze of lemon juice or some lemon zest is another way to achieve the same effect on the finished dish.
On the side, a simple green vegetable or light salad is the perfect accompaniment to this hearty meal.
GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE STROGANOFF
Surprisingly, for a creamy, decadent dish customarily served over pasta, stroganoff is actually easily adaptable to gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
Simply choose a gluten-free pasta (or opt for rice or mashed potatoes instead) for serving and use the coconut yogurt swap in the recipe in place of the traditional sour cream.
While some stroganoff recipes use heavy cream in addition to sour cream, soured cream is the traditional way it’s prepared.
I’ve seen some abominations (sorry, but it’s true) that use cream of mushroom soup as a short cut for creaminess and flavor but for all things holy, please don’t do that.
Real fresh mushrooms, onions and and sour cream (or dairy-free yogurt in this case) is the only way to go.
HOW TO STORE VENISON STROGANOFF
If you’d like to freeze the stroganoff after cooking, let it cool completely then store in a freezer safe airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Let it thaw under refrigeration when ready to use and serve with freshly made noodles.
Any cooked leftovers can also be kept in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and reheated as desired. A little splash of broth or extra yogurt/sour cream can help increase the creaminess if needed when reheating.
I personally love this meal as leftovers. Like a good chili or stew, the flavors get better as they sit!
Whether you use venison or another red meat, this recipe brings great flavor with a cozy, comforting vibe the whole family will love and now it can be enjoyed dairy-free without any sacrifice to the traditional flavor or texture!
MORE RECIPES LIKE THIS TO TRY:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee, divided
- 10 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound ground venison
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, *see notes
- 1/4 cup red wine, or replace with broth
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 5 ounces plain unsweetened coconut yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- salt & pepper to taste
- chopped fresh parsley
- cooked noodles or rice for serving
- Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the mushrooms and cooked until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside.
- Add remaining tablespoon of oil or ghee to the skillet then add the sliced onions. Cook for about 3 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Next, add ground venison breaking up with a spatula and cooking until browned.
- Sprinkle the arrowroot powder on top of the venison mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the wine to the skillet and deglaze the pan scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom.
- Pour the broth into the pan and simmer on a medium-low heat until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Add the yogurt, cooked mushrooms and freshly grated nutmeg into the skillet, stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve as desired over cooked noodles of choice or rice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.