Elk Burger with Roasted Poblano and Garlic Aioli

Serves: 2-3
Prep time: 10 mins + 2 hours resting time
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 mins
Method: Cast-iron Skillet or Flat-top,

If there is a more customizable, versatile food than the burger, we don’t know what it would be. From the type of meat you choose to the way you cook it to the toppings you select, there are infinite ways to prepare a burger. In fact, it’s probably the one food that could confrom to almost any dieatry preference with a little creative thinking. So without further delay, here is an amazing recipe for Elk Burger with Poblano and Garlic Aioli to inspire you. Created for us by the incredible @WildGameJack, this recipe will elevate your burger to next-level taste status. Be sure to read the intro by Jack below for some great tips on how to form your burgers and make sure they don’t fall apart during the cooking process. Of course, we also sell pre-formed Elk Burger Patties, if you prefer to skip that part, but we encourage you to give hand-forming your own burgers a try!

Recipe & Photography by @WildGameJack

Tips for making the best Elk Burgers:

I’ve cooked many wild-game burgers over the past decade and can confidently declare elk is going to be in the top two of any burger you will ever eat. (Caribou remains my favorite.) It’s far tastier (and healthier) than beef, hands down. For this recipe, I actually worked with the ground elk bend, which contains 2 ounces each of heart and liver. Our family absolutely loved it. The addition of heart and liver add a deeper elk flavor profile. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Because elk is so lean, you don’t want to cook your burger much (if any degree) past medium-rare. In the steps below I share how to make sure you serve up a perfectly cooked burger. I do recommend some sort of laser thermometer so you can detect the surface temp of your cooking surface. You want it as close to 550 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. I also recommend cooking these burgers outside, as a 550-surface will smoke up pretty good when cooking burgers. Also, you do want your formed patties to sit out at room temp prior to cooking. A cold patty, especially a half-pounder, won’t heat evenly when cooked.

I hand-form all my patties, but I’ve been doing that for several years and have done hundreds. It takes practice, or you can use a patty press. When hand-forming a patty, it’s important to almost karate-chop the edges to form what I call a “rampart of meat.” Doing so will eliminate cracks along the edges, which will potentially burst open when cooking. This is very important to avoid when cooking wild game, as it’s far leaner than domestic beef. With less fat to bind meat together, it’s crucial the meat patty stay 100% solid when headed to the grill.

To hand-form, measure out your elk meat balls (either two or three from a 1-pound package). You can place these balls on either pre-cut wax patty papers or cut aluminum foil squares to approximate 6” by 6” squares. Next, smash down with your non-dominant hand. You can Turn the burger as you do this. Form a circle around the patty with your dominant hand and lightly press the edges toward the middle while your non-dominant hand flattens the meat and pushes it toward the edge. The opposing forces of pushing meat to the edge and while pushing back toward center will form that rampart of meat.

The aioli here is incredibly delicious and easy to make. This is a gourmet burger, guaranteed to wow any dinner guests.

Recipe: Elk Burger with Roasted Poblano and Garlic Aioli

Ingredients: Burger

  • 1 pound Ground Elk or Ground Elk Blend
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 medium yellow onions, sliced and caramelized
  • 16 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms, sautéed
  • Aged white cheddar slices
  • California Sun-Dried Tomato Halves
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • Cooking spray
  • 2-3 quality hamburger buns or crisp lettuce leaves for a wrap

Ingredients: Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 full-size poblano peppers, roasted, skin peeled, and pureed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, roasted and pureed
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


  1. Full thaw ground elk and (from1 pound package) form into either two or three hamburger patties. Lightly dust both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and leave patties out at room temp for 2 hours prior to cooking.
  2. To make the aioli, spray washed poblano peppers with cooking spray and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove and place in bowl. Cover bowl and allow peppers to sweat in fridge so skin loosens. Let sweat for 15-30 minutes. Peel skin and stems along with seeds from inside and place peppers in blender or food processor. To roast garlic, heat a saucepan of olive oil to 350 and add 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic (whatever will produce 1-1/2 teaspoons when pureed). Remove garlic once browned and add to blender or food processor alongside poblano peppers. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper. Blend thoroughly. In a medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup mayonnaise, contents from blender or food processor, along with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Hand-mix thoroughly (do not add to blender or food processor). Set aside in fridge until ready to serve.
  3. To caramelize onions, heat a large cast-iron skillet on medium and add a thin layer of olive oil. Add sliced onions and lightly salt and pepper. Once onions sear or turn brown, turn heat down to medium-low. Cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are dark brown. Add 2 tablespoons salted butter and stir in. Cook 5 minutes more. Remove and set onions aside.
  4. In same skillet used for onions, add thin layer of olive oil followed by washed mushrooms slices. Lightly salt and pepper. Cook on medium until brown and soft, likely 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Move aside so mushrooms take up half the skillet. Add onions back to skillet. Cover and set on low to keep both mushrooms and onions warm.
  5. To cook burgers, heat a separate, clean cast-iron skillet (or flat top or thick grill grate) to 550. Spray each side of burger with cooking oil. If you formed three patties from 1 pound (1/30pound burgers), cook each side exactly 2 minutes at 500. If you formed two patties from1 pound (half-pound burgers), cook each side exactly 2-1/2 minutes each side. Once you flip burger, add 1 to 2 slices of aged cheddar (your choice on cheesiness). Allow 1/3-pound burgers to rest 5 minutes prior to placing on bun. Allow half-pound burgers to rest 7-8 minutes before placing on bun. Best way to rest burgers: On some sort of grate so juices can drip and won’t pool, covered by a bowl or loosely tented with aluminum foil.
  6. To assemble your burgers, first toast buns on a skillet, flat top, grill, or under a broiler. Lacquer both sides with aioli. Add ingredients to bottom bun in the following order: green leaf lettuce, sun-dried tomato halves, burger with cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, top bun (which has aioli on it).
  7. Enjoy with your favorite side and icy cold beverage.

About Wild Game Jack: Wild Game Jack is a hunter, photographer, and connoisseur of wild game preparation. His flavorful recipes and mouth-watering photography have been featured in publications such as Peterson’s Hunting, Outdoor Life, the Chicago-Sun Times, and more.

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