What Does Arby’s New Venison and Elk Burger Taste Like?

The Big Game Burger is only available for a limited time.

September 14, 2023

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Photo by: Photo courtesy of Arby's

Photo courtesy of Arby's

Arby’s only introduced its emphatic “We Have the Meats” slogan back in 2014, but it’s safe to say this relatively recent catchphrase became nearly instantly iconic. And while you can expect the usual roast beef, chicken and fish at your local Arby’s restaurant, this week the chain is expanding its meat offerings to include venison and elk.

Meet the Big Game Burger, which hit participating Arby’s locations nationwide on Tuesday, September 12. Arby’s describes the burger patty as a blend of venison, elk and ground beef, which is “topped with crispy onions, tangy pickles, and melty Swiss cheese.” For a finishing touch, it also features a “dark cherry steak sauce” which the brand states is “a popular flavor pairing with venison, that elevates the entire burger and packs delicious flavor into every bite.”

To promote the Tuesday release, Arby’s opened a pop-up (emphasis on the “up”) over 10,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for one day only. Adventurous eaters could follow the 4.1-mile Big Game Burger Trail leading to the “most remote Arby’s in the world” where they’d be treated to a free burger from the Hike-Thru window. (Even if you didn’t make the actual hike, you can still buy the swag on the website.)

So, what does this purportedly gamey burger taste like? Arby’s sent me a Big Game Burger to try, and it certainly delivers on not tasting like your average beef burger. On its own, the patty definitely has that earthier, funkier flavor of elk and venison, and texturally it’s akin to biting into a bison burger. While I’m not the biggest fan of game meat, I did enjoy the burger as a whole. The cherry sauce was not overpowering like a barbeque sauce might be, but helps break up that gaminess along with the sour pickles. That gamey flavor, along with the crunchy onion and melty cheese textures, adds up to a meaty burger you don’t get to eat everyday.

Arby’s has previously put a venison steak sandwich on the menu in 2016 and 2017, as well as one made of elk (also in 2017) and another offbeat sandwich featuring duck breast the following year. Arby’s has also tried out a pork belly sandwich and gyros made with lamb, the latter of which has remained on the menu permanently.

Sure, Arby’s may not have all of the meats all of the time, but with nontraditional fast-food fare like the Big Game Burger, they do offer a wider selection of “the meats” than the competition.

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