Deer Heart Tacos

After having the opportunity to try venison heart on my first white-tailed deer hunting trip, I was quite surprised by how much I liked it. If I rated the cuts on a deer by my personal preference, I would say it is in the prime cut category, with backstrap and tenderloins. It’s not quite as tender, and it has a distinct flavor, but it’s delicious and a sizable amount of meat. 

The heart for this particular dish came from a friend of mine. He and his dad invited me to hunt their land in north-central Minnesota for muzzleloader season. While I wasn’t fortunate enough get a deer within shooting distance, my friend shot a sizable doe and generously gifted me the deer’s heart.

I really wanted this dish to bring out the amazing flavor and the great texture of properly cooked heart. I contemplated for a while the kinds of extravagant dishes I could come up with. and decided I would treat it the same way as a great piece of prime cut beef: marinate it, cook it to medium over high heat and slice it. Taco Tuesday, here we come.

I like my tacos simple: protein, salsa, cotija, done.

For this, of course, I would need some kind of tortilla. I really like those tiny street-taco corn tortillas. I love making them and like that I can eat more tacos. And I believe corn tortillas just have a much better flavor.

Besides a good tortilla, a taco needs a solid salsa. I really like to make fire roasted salsa.

January in Minnesota is not the ideal time to get your hands on super flavorful fresh tomatoes, but I found some and roasted them together with onions, garlic, lime and jalapeños over the open flames of my big Green Egg till they were nice and charred.

Deer Heart Tacos



Fire Roasted Salsa

  • 4-6 large tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2-4 jalapeños (depending on your heat level)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 limes
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn Tortillas
  • 1 cup of masa flour
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp lard or duck fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 venison heart
  • 2 oranges juiced
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil or lard for frying
  • Cotija cheese as topping

Cooking Instructions:

Fire Roasted Salsa

  1. Cut onions and lime into half. Place limes, onions, tomatoes, whole head of garlic and jalapeños over open flame on grill or place on baking sheet under broiler. Turn over frequently.
  2. Char till outside gets either brown or black. Don’t worry about the tomatoes and jalapeños getting too black since you can easily peel the skin off later.
  3. Halve the jalapeños and take out seeds. Take garlic cloves out of shell and place everything besides the lime into a food processor. Squeeze lime over it, add 1 tsp salt and the cumin and pulse till the desired consistency is achieved. Salsa stays fresh in fridge for several days.

 Corn Tortillas

  1. In a medium bowl, mix masa and salt. Add water and warmed lard to form dough. If too dry add more water in small amounts.
  2. Use a kitchen scale to create 8 equal balls out of the dough that are about 35-40g each.
  3. Place each dough ball onto tortilla press lined with wax paper and press.
  4. Cook them in a hot, dry cast iron skillet about 30 seconds on each side.

*Store in covered dish to prevent tortillas from drying out.


  1. Trim the heart and cut it into filet size pieces. If you want to know how to do it, check out this great video from Danielle Prewett over at Meateater.
  2. Rub the meat in olive oil, and salt and pepper liberally.
  3. Combine all other ingredients in shallow dish, stir well and submerge meat. Cover everything with orange slices and set in fridge for 5-6 hours, or overnight.
  4. Take the meat out of the fridge about an hour before cooking.
  5. Heat oil or lard in frying pan or skillet over medium to high heat and cook meat on each side for 3-5 minutes or till cooked to medium.
  6. Slice in small pieces.
  7. Build your taco adding meat, salsa, cotija, and finish with some lime juice and cilantro.
  8. Enjoy!


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