5 Marinades for Barbecuing Game

by Annabel Warne July 08 2021

Cooking wild meat outdoors is one of life’s most simple – and greatest – pleasures. Wild venison, wild boar, game birds and spatchcocked squirrels all taste amazing barbecued or cooked on an open fire, especially when marinated in one of these 5 mouthwatering marinades.


Photo by Quaritsch Photography on Unsplash

Why should I marinate game meat for the barbecue?

Game meat is naturally lean so marinating before barbecuing is always a good idea to add moisture and prevent the meat drying out. Marinades can very be simple with just a few ingredients so long as these ingredients provide three essential components: fat, acid and salt (although salt can be added directly to the meat instead). Fat adds vital moisture, acids help to break down muscle fibres, and salt permeates the meat’s cells and helps it retain moisture. An example of a simple marinade could be equal quantities of olive or cold pressed rapeseed oil, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Or you might prefer something more complex tasting with fresh ingredients and many layers of flavours.

How to use a marinade

Whatever recipe you’re using, make sure you coat meat thoroughly and cover and refrigerate it while it marinates. Fillets usually need at least 30 minutes, while steaks benefit from at least 2 hours. If you’re marinating large joints, it’s best to leave them overnight.

Wipe off excess marinade before adding meat to the barbecue to stop the flames flaring up. What’s left in the marinating bowl will have to be discarded, having been used with raw meat.

1. Sticky BBQ marinade

Sticky BBQ marinade

In our recipe for barbecued venison steaks, wild venison loin steaks or venison haunch steaks are flattened with a rolling pin until they are about ½" thick then smothered in a lip-smacking mix of red wine, French wholegrain mustard, soft brown sugar, tomato purée, chilli powder, onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Get the recipe >

2. Garlic and herbs

Garlic and herb marinade

This oily, herby marinade is perfect for keeping wild venison haunch steaks juicy and succulent on the barbecue. We’ve seasoned the steaks themselves in this recipe then slathered them in a blend of chopped garlic, rosemary, parsley and olive oil. Once barbecued, the steaks are then served with tortillas and a chunky tomatillo salsa. Get the recipe >

3. Yoghurt and cucumber

Yoghurt and cucumber marinade

This Turkish-inspired recipe for venison kebabs with a yoghurt and cucumber marinade is perfect for balmy summer evenings. Fresh ginger, garlic, ground turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, chilli flakes, cloves and black peppercorns are whizzed in a blender before plain yoghurt and olive oil is added. Cubed venison is then marinated in the mixture and threaded onto skewers. Get the recipe >

4. Maple syrup, garlic and mustard

Maple syrup, garlic and mustard marinade

This marinade adds the sweetness, pep and juiciness to our spatchcock BBQ squirrel recipe, but it’s also delicious with wild boar tenderloins. No blenders required, this one is a super simple marinade made by stirring together maple syrup, crushed garlic, wholegrain mustard, fresh rosemary, olive oil and salt and pepper. Get the recipe >

5. Sherry and marjoram

Sherry and marjoram marinade

Once you’ve got into the swing of spatchcocking and marinating, you can get snipping and stirring for this spatchcocked pheasants recipe from Big Green Egg. The marinade combines finely chopped marjoram, garlic, olive oil, sherry, fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper. The spatchcocked birds are then covered in the marinade and left breast-side down before being grilled and served with a tasty salsa verde. Get the recipe >