How to Smoke a Leg of Venison


Smoking a leg of venison follows the same guidelines as smoking other meats: brining and cooking at a low temperature for a long time. Although standard brines consist of 1 cup of kosher salt to every gallon of water, the addition of aromatic elements, such as star anise, cloves and thyme, contributes flavors that augment the taste of the venison while masking any trace of gaminess. The herbs and spices used in the brine are primarily a matter of personal taste; however, aromatic, but not pungent, spices complement the bold taste of venison.

Things You'll Need

  • Brine:
  • 1 seven- to ten-pound venison leg, boned
  • 2 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cup kosher salt
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • 10 tarragon sprigs
  • 10 rosemary sprigs
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • Spice Rub:
  • 3 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt


  • Mix together 2 gallon water, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 2 cup kosher salt, 6 whole cloves, 2 star anise. 10 thyme sprigs, 10 tarragon sprigs, 10 rosemary sprigs and 15 black peppercorns in a nonreactive container. Place the brine in a stock pot and bring to a boil.

  • Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the brine until aromatic and the sugar has dissolved, approximately five minutes. Allow the brine to reach room temperature and put it in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.

  • Rinse the venison leg and pat it dry with paper towels. Pierce the surface by inserting a fork 1/4-inch deep into the leg. Place the venison in a large food-storage container and pour the chilled brine over it. Place a plate on the leg, if needed, to submerge it. Cover and place on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

  • Brine the venison for at least 36 hours, but not more than 48 hours. Mix together 3 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary, 1/4 cup fresh chopped thyme, 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint, 1/4 cup smoked paprika, 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns and 2 tbsp. kosher salt to form a thick paste.

  • Remove the venison, rinse away the brine with cool-running water and pat dry with paper towels.


  • Prepare the smoker by adding water to the fill line in the water pan and adding hard firewood chips to the chip tray. Light the charcoal or adjust the heat to high, close the cover and allow the smoker to reach 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Coat the venison leg with the olive oil-spice mixture. Place the venison in the smoker and cover.

  • Smoke the venison for four hours or until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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