Skip to main content

You Need To Try This Simplistic Maple-Glazed Smoked Deer Heart Recipe

There are several ways to prepare heart, though a simple smoke and maple-syrup glaze is one of my favorite methods.

You Need To Try This Simplistic Maple-Glazed Smoked Deer Heart Recipe
Print Recipe

Deer heart. The organ we all reach for first and retrieve from the gut pile—perhaps to confirm shot placement or to tuck into a bag to save for the grill later. For many, eating the heart the day of the kill has become a ritual. There are several ways to prepare heart, though a simple smoke and maple-syrup glaze is one of my favorite methods.

Deer heart is just another muscle and tastes like venison. To be more specific, for me, all wild-game hearts taste like the essence of the animal. To understand what that means, you likely just need to eat heart.

//MapleDeerHeart-Trim-1200x800.jpg

Some initial insights on pulling and prepping deer heart: If you shot your deer with a lead-core bullet and the heart received some damage, yes, you can trim away blown bits but please be caution of lead fragments. Said differently: a shot using lead-core bullets that directly or indirectly impacted the heart could leave behind lead that you can’t see. In the past when I have hunted with lead-core bullets and had damage to the heart, I did save what I could but did not serve to my wife or kids. Ultimately the choice is yours in terms of serving meat with any chance of lead content.

The heart is one major reason I hunt with Barnes all-copper bullets now. I like to save and cook many deer organs. I don’t’ want to have to worry about lead. Obviously, if you arrowed your deer, you have nothing to worry about.


Preparing a heart to cook is incredibly easy. The end goal is ruby-red meat, so that means trimming away any artery stems, fat, or connective tissues. Basically, anything not ruby-red should go, is my take, though some people do leave the fat attached to the heart when cooking. Like any fat on a deer, fat on a heart and its flavor is dependent on a deer’s diet. If you know that deer was corn- or soybean-fed (or similar), fat may be worth keeping. If their diet relied on something else or they have been scavenging later in the season, pulling whatever they can find off twigs, that fat may not be so flavorful.


//MapleDeerHeart-Smoke-1200x800.jpg

I personally prefer to cut my deer hearts in half to snip away heart strings, but this isn’t absolutely essential. If, for presentation sakes, you want to smoke your heart whole and serve, you can cut away those heart strings while carving. Leaving them inside the heart should not affect flavor. Just make sure you do remove any bits of artery or fascia from top chambers before prepping to cook. And of course thoroughly rinse out the heart under cold water.

Whatever would you choose to smoke with is entirely up to you. I usually prefer mesquite or a blend of mesquite and pecan, perhaps cherry or apple. I always like that classic smoke flavor combined with some variation of a fruity wood. I do use a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill, though any form of smoker, pellet grill, or log burned will work for this. If you have a meat probe, you may wish to probe the thickest part of the heart while smoking to make sure you’re pulling the heart at 130.

Because we are smoking the heart low and slow, there is no carryover—meaning, unlike after a hot sear on the grill, a smoke at 170 will not result in the meat continuing to cook once pulled.

Lastly, if you’re not a fan of heart because of its “texture,” this one isn’t’ going to win you over. A smoke won’t form a hearty crust on the outside, but this recipe doesn’t result in a lot of flavor. I served to coworkers who initially declined and they were very happy they changed their minds.




//MapleDeerHeart-Finish-1200x800.jpg

Total time: 70 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Deer Heart (approximately 15 oz.)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • Maple Syrup

Directions:

Recommended


  1. Cut heart in half and trim away any fat, connective tissue, or any leftover arteries. Snip out heart strings with scissors. Rinse off any residual blood under cold water.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper all sides and leave in the fridge for a few hours.
  3. Heat smoker to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke heart for 20 minutes then glaze top side with maple syrup. After 10 minutes, flip and glaze other side with maple syrup.
  4. After another 20 minutes, glaze again with maple syrup and turn smoker up to 225. Smoke for another 20 minutes or until internal temp reads 130. (Total smoke time: 50 minutes at 170, 20 minutes at 225.)
  5. Remove heart and allow to rest uncovered for 5 minutes prior to slicing. Enjoy!

Enjoy! Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments.

Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.
Hunting

Cedar Break Bucks

David Draper is with Dory Schoby talking about the benefits of using red dots for hunting and taking a look at the Aimpoint Micro H2.
Gear

Aimpoint Red Dots for Hunting

David Draper is with Nathan Robinson of Winchester talking about the 6.8 Western Cartridge. It offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range shooting and hunting.
Gear

Winchester 6.8 Western

Joe Ferronato is joined by Luke Thorkildsen from Weather by to check out the Backcountry 2.0, which builds on the classic steel Mark V action — with some key updates.
Gear

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

Nosler has some exciting new products. Mason Payer of Nosler shows our own Joe Ferronato new suppressors, 21 Chassis Rifle and Trophy Grade Ammunition.
Gear

New from Nosler!

Shawn Skipper of Leupold explains their Custom Dial System to Petersen's Hunting's Joe Ferronato.
Gear

Leupold CDS

Kevin Steele gets a chance to test this impressive rifle at Roundtable 2022.
Gear

CZ 600 Range

Petersen's Hunting's Dale Evans is with CJ Johnson of Bushnell checking out their new Elite 4X.
Gear

Bushnell Elite 4500 4X Scope

Tim Herald shares tips on how to best use a ground blind.
Learn

Trijicon Tip: Ground Blinds

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now