Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (2024)

Venison Stew is rich, comforting, warming and utterly satisfying. In short, it’s just what’s needed at this time of year, with Autumn turning to Winter.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (1)

Even better, cook some traditional, fluffy Suet Dumplings on top of the stew and let them soak up all that tasty, meaty flavour.

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Autumn and Winter is the traditional season for game. That’s because the animals have finished breeding and rearing their young and so the ‘closed season’, when most shooting is not allowed, comes to an end.

Happily, that coincides with exactly the time when I crave warming comfort food like Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (2)


According to the excellent Eat the Seasons, meat from deer has been important since prehistoric times. I was interested to learn that the word ‘venison’, now meaning deer meat, originally referred to meat from any wild animal, coming from the Latin venari – to hunt.

If you’ve no objection to shooting, then venison is a good, ethical choice. Most of it in the UK is ‘free range’ and not intensively farmed. But if in doubt, ask your supplier.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (3)

Personally, I’m not overly fond of a very strong gamey flavour. If you feel the same way, then you should give venison a try as it’s relatively mild. The flavour is very like good beef, and you can cook it in similar ways too.


Venison Stew is a classic and very easy to make.

You can cook it in a low oven or on top of the stove for 2-3 hours, in a slow cooker, or in a pressure cooker. I make the stew in my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker where the venison takes around 40 minutes to get meltingly tender. In the recipe at the end of this post I’ve given instructions for cooking the Venison Stew in the oven and in an Instant Pot.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (4)

As venison is a lean meat, I think the stew benefits from some added fat.

For me, this is in the form of chunky, smoked bacon pieces or lardons. Besides adding richness to the gravy, I love the light smokiness it imparts.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (5)

The other main ingredients you’ll need are: onion, celery, carrot, garlic and beef stock. Try to use a low salt stock if you can as the bacon may be quite salty. This also means that, if you need to reduce the sauce at the end, the stew won’t be overloaded with salt.

For my Venison Stew I’ve included the traditional flavourings of bay leaves and juniper berries. These add a subtle perfume, but you can leave them out if you prefer.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (6)


You can serve the finished stew just as it is, or maybe with mashed or baked potatoes, bread, rice or other grain. But I like to cook some herby dumplings on top of the Venison Stew. This recipe makes a fabulous tasting gravy, and the outside of the dumplings will take up all that meaty flavour. Inside, they’ll be soft and fluffy with a hint of herbs. Chives, in this case.

If you’ve never made dumplings before, don’t worry. They’re dead simple and take just a matter of minutes to put together.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (7)

Traditionally, dumplings are made with beef suet which is the fat around the outside of kidneys.

As a child, I remember Mum occasionally getting big, white, fresh lumps of it from the butcher. She’d grate it into seasoned, self-raising flour and add a little water before forming the mix into dumplings. But, more often, she’d get the suet from a bold red, yellow and blue box of Atora.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (8)

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (9)

I use Atora in my dumplings too. It’s very easy as it comes in little pellets, dusted in flour to stop it sticking together. It has a long shelf life, so it’s worth keeping some in the cupboard.

As well as dumplings, suet makes a delicious, rich pastry for meat pies. I use it in my Homemade Christmas Mincemeat too. Actually, I’ve even been known to throw a handful around a joint of beef if it’s not produced quite enough fat for making roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings AND gravy.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (10)

If you don’t want to use beef suet, substitute grated butter or lard. I personally wouldn’t use vegetable suet. Apart from the lack of flavour, it will almost certainly contain environmentally disastrous palm oil.


Once the Venison Stew is cooked, all you do is pop the dumplings on top of the gently simmering stew. Put a lid on and leave for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and you’ll find fluffy clouds bobbing about temptingly. However, I can’t help periodically taking a few peeps under the lid to see how things are going. Naughty.

I’m sure you can cook dumplings in a pressure cooker without them exploding, but I haven’t been brave enough to try yet. So, after making the stew in my Instant Pot, I transfer it to a casserole on top of the stove to get the dumplings bubbling away.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (11)


To make a balanced meal, you can include in the stew chunks of vegetable such as carrot, parsnip, swede, mushrooms etc. However, apart from the finely chopped vegetables which are really there to flavour the gravy, I prefer to sauté or steam any accompanying vegetables separately. Dark leaves like kale or cavolo nero are particularly good, also broccoli.

The stew freezes well, so it’s worth making a bigger batch if you can. For me, that’s another reason not to add vegetable chunks. I find, after freezing, cooked veg is just too soggy for my taste.

The dumplings won’t keep, so you’ll have to scoff them all straight away. But that’s no problem in our house.

The stew itself will come to no harm in the fridge or freezer. In fact, like many stews, I think this Venison Stew is even better reheated the next day.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (12)

As I write this, appropriately enough during Great British Game Week, the weather has turned bitterly cold and there’s drizzle in the air. As Autumn turns icily into Winter, you really need to grab a spoon and dig in to this rich, comforting, warming and utterly satisfying Venison Stew with fluffy Suet Dumplings.

Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (13)


Rich, comforting, warming and utterly satisfying Venison Stew. Instructions given for slow cooking in the oven or for making in an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Best served with fluffy Suet Dumplings cooked on top where they'll have taken up some of the tasty, meaty gravy.

CourseMain Course


Keywordvenison stew, stew, game

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Servings 4 people

Author Moorlands Eater


  • 1-2tbspolive oil
  • 150gfatty smoked baconlardons/diced
  • 10gbutter
  • 1tbspplain flour
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1kgstewing venisonin large chunks
  • 1largeonionfinely chopped
  • 1largecarrotfinely chopped
  • 1stickceleryfinely chopped
  • 4clovesgarlicfinely chopped
  • 700mlbeef stock (low salt if possible)
  • 6driedjuniper berrieslightly bruised with the back of a spoon
  • 1-2bay leaves
  • 2tbspchopped parsley


  • 150gself raising flour
  • pinchsalt
  • 75gshredded beef suetor grated lard or butter
  • 1tbspherbs e.g. chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary (optional)finely chopped
  • cold water


  1. In a large frying pan (or using the Saute function on an Instant Pot [IP] electric pressure cooker), heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil.

  2. When the oil is hot, add the smoked bacon pieces and cook until well browned (approx 10 min).

  3. Remove the bacon from the pan or IP, leaving the fat behind.

    If cooking the stew in the oven

    transfer the bacon to a casserole dish and preheat the oven to 140 C/ 120 Fan / Gas 1

    If using an IP transfer the bacon to a plate.

  4. Add the butter to the frying pan or IP and heat it.

  5. In a large container, season the flour sparingly with salt & plenty of black pepper. Tip in the venison chunks and stir/shake until the meat is lightly coated in flour.

  6. In batches, brown the meat all over in the oil and butter. Transfer the browned venison to the casserole dish or plate to join the bacon. Add more olive oil as you go if needed.

  7. When all the meat has been browned and set aside, add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the fat. Season with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Saute, stirring regularly, until softening and starting to brown (10-15 min).

  8. If cooking the stew in the oven

    Transfer the softened vegetables to the casserole dish with the bacon and browned meat. De-glaze the frying pan with 200ml of the beef stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Tip it all into the casserole dish, along with the rest of the beef stock, the juniper berries and bay leaves. Stir well.

    Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove then put in the preheated oven with a tight fitting lid on. Cook until the venison is very tender (2-3 hours). Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

    If using an IP

    Pour all of the beef stock into the IP, over the vegetables. Stir well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the juniper berries, bay leaves, the browned bacon and venison.

    Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button, lock on the IP lid and make sure the lever is pointing to 'Sealing'. Press the Manual button then use the + / - buttons to set the time to 40 minutes.

    Leave until the time has elapsed and the indicator has counted down to zero. Switch off and leave until the pressure has naturally released. Switch the lever to 'venting' then carefully remove the lid. If the venison is not completely soft, cook for a further 5 minutes then check again. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

    NOTE stew can be cooled then refrigerated or frozen at this stage.


  1. When the stew is cooked, take a bowl and add the flour, a pinch of salt, the suet and herbs if using. Stir together with a round-bladed knife.

    Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cold water over the mixture, then bring it together into a soft dough, first using the knife then your hands. Add more water if needed.

    Roll into 8 dumplings.

  2. If cooking in the oven (or reheating on top of the stove)

    With the stew at a low simmer, drop in the dumplings, replace the lid, and leave to cook for 20 minutes either in the oven or on top of the stove.

    If using an IP I recommend transferring the stew to a casserole dish or saucepan and cook the dumplings in the oven or on top of the stove as above.

  3. When the dumplings are cooked, sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve the stew and dumplings in bowls, with extra vegetables if liked.


Venison Stew with Suet Dumplings | Moorlands Eater (2024)


Is suet the same as dumplings? ›

Dumplings, for our purposes, are basically a mixture of flour and some sort of fat, traditionally beef suet.

What cut of venison is best for stew? ›

Venison Rump

The rump offers a small piece of muscle, best for pot roast and stew meat.

Why are my suet dumplings not fluffy? ›

Suet dumplings are fairly stodgy at the best of times (in a good way!), but they lean towards too stodgy if you use plain flour. If you only have plain flour in the house, add some baking powder as well, to help them rise and become fluffy. This post suggests using 1 tsp of baking powder for every 100g of plain flour.

Can you substitute venison for beef in stew? ›

But if you're looking to make good use of that 10-point buck grandpa bagged this deer season, venison can be a perfect stand-in for that beef brisket or chuck roast you'd normally toss in the pot — with a caveat. Venison is much leaner than beef, so to get the richness found in beef stews, you must add fat.

What is the American version of suet? ›

If you can't find suet then we have found that grated vegetable shortening (such as Trex, Crisco or Copha) is a good substitute.

What is the US equivalent of suet? ›

If you can't find suet or you just don't want to use it, try shortening instead. One of the advantages of using vegetable shortening is that it is suitable for vegetarian dishes. Before using it, freeze the shortening until it is very firm. Once frozen, grate on a large holed grater so you get more chunky pieces.

Why is my venison stew tough? ›

Cooking Tips

Take great care not to overcook venison. As with all game, venison can become tough when overdone. Cook prime cuts like loin, haunch and saddle briefly on a high heat to medium-rare. Slow cook or casserole tougher parts like neck, shoulder and shank at a low temperature.

What do you soak deer meat in before cooking? ›

Soaking: The most common soaking liquids are buttermilk, saltwater, white milk, vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice. While some hunters swear by certain soaking methods to take the “gamey” flavor away or bleed the meat after processing, others don't find it all that helpful.

How do you thicken venison stew? ›

The flour helps to thicken a stew as it cooks. Whisk a teaspoon of flour in a little cold water to make a slurry, then stir into the stew as it's cooking. Don't add dry flour directly to the stew as it may clump. After adding the slurry, bring the stew to boil.

What is the secret to perfect dumplings? ›

Don't Overwork the Dumpling Dough

First, mix the dumpling ingredients just until the dough comes together. You'll whisk together the dry ingredients, then add melted butter and heavy cream. Stir everything together until the wet and dry ingredients are combined and you don't see any more dry flour.

Do you cook dumplings with the lid on or off? ›

It's best to have your lid ready: Immediately add about 3 tablespoons of water to the pan, just enough to cover the base of the dumplings, then cover and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Lift the lid and allow the dumpling to cook for another 30 seconds, to allow the bottoms to get extra crispy.

Why are my suet dumplings doughy? ›

Overworking the mixture, thus having heavy dumplings is a common mistake people make. Dumplings need very gentle handling, so mix only until the ingredients are just combined, and if your recipe involves rolling them out with extra flour, avoid using too much.

How do you cook venison so it doesn't taste gamey? ›

You can also marinate game to give it a savory flavor or to tenderize it. Always marinate it in the refrigerator (1 to 2 days for birds; 3 to 5 days for game animals). Boil used marinade before basting meat as it cooks or using as a sauce on the cooked meat.

How do you cook venison so it's not tough? ›

Here are a few tips and guidelines on how to cook deer meat:
  1. Marinate the meat: To tenderize the meat and add flavor, marinate it in a mixture of acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or citrus juice, and herbs and spices. ...
  2. Cook low and slow: Venison is lean meat, which means it can dry out easily i.
Sep 22, 2018

Is suet pastry the same as dumpling mix? ›

The proportions of flour and suet are the same for dumplings and for suet pastry so should be fine for that too. I would find a recipe for the right number of servings then add the flour and suet weights together and use that amount of the suet mix.

Is suet the same as lard? ›

The main difference between suet and lard is that suet is the hard white fat we obtain from cows and mutton while lard is the semi-solid we obtain from pigs. Suet has not undergone rendering while lard has undergone rendering.

What is another name for dumplings? ›

What is another word for dumplings?
potstickerswon tons

Is suet good or bad? ›

Beef suet and tallow are high in saturated fat, which can be unhealthy in excess. However, they also contain important vitamins and nutrients. For example, they are a good source of vitamins A, D, and K, which are all fat-soluble vitamins that play important roles in immune function, bone health, and blood clotting.


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