Recipe: Juicy Bambi Burgers with Fries & Garlic Mayo

This hunter-friendly Juicy burger rendition swaps Lucy for Bambi.

by Caleb Condit | Pilsen Photo Co-Op

MORE FROM Caleb Condit |

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St. Paul and Minneapolis both lay claim to inventing the Juicy Lucy, with Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club sporting lines out the door regardless of sub-zero temperatures. But you can impress your cold-weather hunting buddies with this twist on a classic and call it the Juicy Bambi. PC? Depends who you ask. But we think this venison burger recipe is Pretty Cool.


2 lbs. ground venison: deer, antelope, or elk

1-2 tbsp. harissa or bbq seasoning (salt free)

1/2 tbsp. ground black pepper

1 tbsp. salt

1 cup mayo

1-3 cloves garlic

Fresh basil

1- 2 lbs. russet potatoes

1 cup shredded lettuce

Pickle slices

Fresh sliced tomato

3-6 slices American cheese

3-4 buns (depending on burger size)

Read: Kitchen Knife Sharpeners for Wild Game Cooks
juicy lucy recipe

Basic seasonings go a long way in adding flavor while preserving the wild taste of your burgers.



1. Rinse potatoes and slice fries as even as possible.

2. Rinse again, and soak in a mix of water and salt. It should taste salty but not disgustingly salty, around 2 tbsp. per 1/2 gallon of water. Soak at least 20 minutes (overnight is great, but not necessary).

3. Par boil potatoes in fresh salty water until they just start to soften but not fully cooked. This will take way less time than you think—1-3 minutes depending on quantity of potatoes. They will continue to cook after pulling them out of the water and you don’t want mushy potatoes for fries.

4. Strain and set aside to cool. 

work sharp benchstone knife sharpener

The Benchstone knife sharpener from Work Sharp is great for hunting camp or on the countertop at home.

5. Heat 24-36 ounces of peanut oil in a deep frying pan to 300F. It will smoke at 350-450F depending on refinement and you should avoid smoke. If you don’t have a thermometer, use a potato. Once the oil immediately bubbles with a potato slice tossed in, you’re there. 

6. Fry your parboiled potatoes in the oil. Resist the urge to stir them too much. Let a crust form on the outside first so you don’t get lots of little bits floating around, as they’ll burn.

7. Once the fries are just starting to turn golden, remove them and let the oil run off in a colander. 

8. You’ll refry these right before serving for extra crisp, so don’t worry if they cool to room temp.

juicy lucy burger patties

The key to any juicy lucy is the cheesy core.

wild game burgers

Use wax paper to cover the burgers before smashing them down to even thickness. Use something rigid and flat, like a cutting board, to smash.


1. Evenly season and salt the ground meat, and make 6-8 balls.

2. Put 2 at a time on wax paper with a layer to cover the tops as well.

3. Smash down with a cutting board, trying to get even 1/4-inch patties.

4. Put 1-2 slices of American cheese on the bottom patty, put the other on top and seal. Repeat and make all your patties. 

5. Place raw burgers in the freezer for 10 minutes (they’ll just chill) to keep them firm and easy to grill. Start your coals on the grill. Did you know cold meat absorbs the most smoke flavor?

6. While the coals are burning down to embers, smash garlic and basil in a mortar and pestle and add mayo. If you have a blender, use it. If you don’t have a blender, smash the garlic with your knife and chop; do the same with the basil and mix it into the mayo by hand. Lick the spoon so your brain is ready for one of the world’s finest condiments.

grilled burger buns

Grill the burger buns for extra crunch and charred deliciousness.

garlic mayo

Fresh garlic mayo brings this burger to the next level.

7. Shred lettuce and get other toppings ready for action.

8. Spread coals in grill. Quickly toast buns and set aside.

9. Reheat peanut oil. Refry the fries quickly to crunch up. 

10. Grill burger patties for 2 minutes per side, or until crunchy on the edge. Allow time for the cheese to melt.

11. Spread a layer of mayo on bottom bun. Add patty. Top with tomato and pickle.

12. Serve with fries and extra garlic mayo for dipping. Be cautious of molten cheese dripping out of the patties. 

juicy lucy and fries

The Juicy Bambi will make you want to grind more meat this season.


Recipe: Louisiana Single Pot Meal

Got a campfire and a pot? Add some venison, game bird livers and some seriously Cajun ingredients, and you've got the makings of a killer meal.



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