How to Clean, Cut, and Cook Deer Heart

By Jeremiah DoughtyOctober 14, 2020

After the arrow is released from the string and the deer is down, many hunters ask the question of, “Now what?” This question can be geared towards gutting, skinning, butchering and even cooking. If you’re like me and want to do as much of the butchering as you can yourself, this is always the question I ask. Over the past 11 years I have devoted myself to making wild game meats taste incredible. I have been trying to think outside the bacon and bring wild game meats into the everyday meal range. 

Deer heart - eat it or pitch it?

By thinking outside the box, I have gotten into eating many of the “yuck” parts, as many people refer to them.

Offal: The entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food.

Here in the west, when we think of the offal like livers, hearts, kidneys and such, we think of primitive eating, and don’t want to explore the yuck. I am here to tell you that the yuck is all in your mind. Many of the recipes I’ve created for offal have turned many folk’s yucks into yums.

Let’s get into one of the best pieces of offal – the heart. 

This is my favorite heart recipe. I’ve been told it tastes just like a $50 steak.

 Here’s a look at how to make it happen…

Smoked Deer Hunt


1-2 whole deer hearts 

12 cloves garlic – peeled 

1.5 cups low sodium soy sauce 

.5 cup Worcestershire sauce 

1 tbsp cracked pepper 

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 tsp onion powder 

1 tsp paprika 

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 can favorite beer 

Prepping deer heart for the table is not as tough as you might think.

The Cleaning

How do you clean a deer heart?

This is one of those questions I’m asked most often, and it’s really a lot easier than you would think. If you look at the top of the heart, you will see a lot of tube-like openings. These are the aorta, pulmonary artery and the ventricles. You’re going to trim these off right up to the top of the heart. Once the stems have been removed, we need to clean the blood from the ventricles and atrium. 

Under cold water, shove your fingers into each vent and push out any blood clots. Continue until the water runs clear. I then take a baby bottle brush and go down each vent. This will help remove any more debris, blood and anymore undesirables. 

I do not like to break down my hearts like most folks. I love cooking them whole. I feel the heart cooks better and resembles steak more in flavor and texture. 

The Marinade

In a ziplock or shallow glass bowl add the following:

4 cloves garlic, smashed 

Soy sauce 

Worcestershire sauce

All the spices 

1/2 can of beer

Take the heart and the remaining garlic and stuff each vent with garlic. This is going to help the heart maintain an even cook and well as stay moist. By plugging the hole, you’ll be creating a garlic steam pocket within the heart. And yes, it’s as good as it sounds. 

Marinate the heart for 4-6 hours in the fridge. If in a shallow bowl, make sure you flip the heart so it evenly marinates. 

Marinate the heart 4-6 hours before placing on the grill.

The Cook

Fire up your smoker or grill to 225º. I like to use my Traeger and hickory for my wood. 

Lay the hearts on the grate and cook until internal temp reaches 130-135. This will usually take 1.5 – 2 hours. Once your heart reaches that 130-135 mark, pull it and allow it to rest 5 – 10 minutes. Once the heart has rested, slice it like you would a steak, up to the fat cap. 

Enjoy one of my favorite dishes with my favorite cuts.

Will you give smoked deer heart a try this season?

Quit throwing the heart out with the gut pile and give this one a try this season.

It’ll be a dish that’ll surprise you and all the guests at your table. 

What about you? Have you ever tried it? Would you? Comment below and let us know your  thoughts on eating deer heart. 

Jeremiah Doughty
Jeremiah Doughty is a wild game chef with a goal of teaching people that wild game meat can look great and taste great. His passion is showing the simple steps for a great meal, from Field to Plate! Check out his website
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