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Venison Meatball Rolls with Horseradish Mayonnaise

I’ve made a ton of sandwiches in my life, but nothing as extravagant as these Venison Meatball Rolls with Horseradish Mayonnaise and Goat Cheese! Tangy, gamey, creamy, crunchy—so much fun packed between two buns!

A picture of Venison Meatball Rolls with Horseradish mayonnaise being prepared on a wooden slab, with pickles. Recipe by Stacy Lyn Harris

Meatballs seem to exist in just about every country and culture. They may not be called a meatball, but assuredly that is what they are. Of course there are variations of ingredients depending from where you live, but the ingredients pretty much remain consistent: meat, herbs and spice, maybe a few breadcrumbs, and usually a source or sauce or soup to accompany them.

Just like Teddy Roosevelt, a meatball just isn’t a meatball in my opinion, without venison or some wild game. For creating depth of flavor, there is nothing that compares to venison, wild boar, or duck. In this recipe, I use the venison backstrap. It has just enough connective tissue to give it that earthy flavor, but will be tender because it is ground and juicy because of the addition of pancetta.

The tanginess of the goat cheese is perfectly paired with the sweetness of the onions and peppers. Adding that note of horseradish in the mayo completes and perfects the roll. Hope you have a very lucrative season! Happy Cooking!

Venison Meatball Rolls with Horseradish Mayonnaise


Main Course, sandwich


American, Wild Game


breakfast sandwich, horseradish mayo, meatball, sub, venison


4 people


for the meatballs

  • 2 medium Vidalia onions or yellow onions diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for sautéing
  • 3 teaspoons ginger minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 pounds venison cubed
  • 3/4 pound pancetta finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves about 4 sprigs
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs as necessary

for the sautéed bell pepper and onion

  • olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 vidalia or sweet onion

for the horseradish mayonnaise

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise (homemade or Duke's)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

for the sandwich

  • 8 uncut brioche hot dog buns
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 red or green jalapeño pepper seeds removed and minced


  1. Mince 1 onion and add to a hot skillet. Drizzle olive oil into the skillet and lower heat to medium. Add ginger and garlic to skillet and cook on low to medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized and the liquid has evaporated. Place mixture in a bowl and then in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until completely cool.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine venison, pancetta, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, rosemary, mustard, red pepper flakes, cumin, and parsley. Chill for an hour.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add olive oil and increase heat to medium-high. Peel and slice remaining onion. Half and remove seeds and stem from peppers and cut into strips. Add onion and peppers to the skillet and cook until caramelized, about 8–10 minutes. Set aside.

  4. Remove onion mixture and venison from the refrigerator and combine together. Feed ingredients through a meat grinder with the medium dye attachment. If the meat looks a little too wet and isn't coming together nicely when forming meatballs, add the breadcrumbs. Once you have the texture you like, form 2-ounce balls from the meat mixture, handling the meat as little as possible. If the meat gets too warm, chill meatballs on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes before frying.

  5. In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Brown meatballs in batches. Cook until done all the way through and browned on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove cooked meatballs to a plate.

  6. In a medium bowl, add all horseradish mayo ingredients and whisk until smooth and well-combined. Set aside.

  7. Slice the hot dog buns 3/4 of the way through lengthwise. Spread 1 ounce of goat cheese on both sides of the bun as this will keep the bun from getting soggy. Spoon pepper and onion mixture onto one side of the bun. Place 3 meatballs on top of the goat cheese and pepper mixture. Repeat with remaining rolls.

  8. Drizzle horseradish mayo over the meatballs, then sprinkle jalapeño peppers over the mayo. Serve iwth homemade fries or good potato chips.

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