Deer Heart Anticuchos

This classic Peruvian grill recipe is the perfect choice for cooking your deer hearts this season

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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Walk down just about any street in Peru, and you’ll see and smell clouds of smoke rising from charcoal grills. These grills belong to anticucheras, the women who traditionally cook and sell anticuchos, one of the most popular foods in Peru. These grilled skewers of highly seasoned beef heart are usually served with boiled potatoes and corn. The anticuchos tradition has been part of Peruvian history since the country’s colonial days. 

Anticuchos are traditionally served with some type of corn along with boiled potatoes.

We make them with venison hearts, one of the tastiest and most often wasted cuts from a deer. To prep the heart, simply trim away the fat deposits from the top and sides of the heart. Next, trim down one side so that you can fold the heart open. Trim away all the connective tissue from the inner portion of the heart. Cut the trimmed heart into roughly 2-by-2-inch squares. Don’t overmarinate — 30 minutes to an hour is plenty of time, and don’t overcook, or the heart will be tough and chewy.

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Deer hearts are delicious and versatile in the kitchen, so don’t leave them behind in the woods.


2 venison hearts, trimmed and cut into 2-inch squares

Bamboo skewers, soaked in water



4 dried chile peppers, soaked in warm water to soften (such as ancho or guajillo)

1 cup red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups olive oil, divided

Cooking Instructions

Soak the dried chiles in warm water to soften; about 15 minutes should do it. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers. Add the seeded chiles, red wine vinegar, cumin, salt, black pepper, garlic, parsley, and cilantro to a blender, along with 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Process to a smooth paste. Soak the bamboo skewers in water. 

Start the marinade and sauce by soaking 4 dried chile peppers in warm water.

Place the cleaned and trimmed heart squares in a glass bowl. Pour two-thirds of the marinade paste over it and stir well to blend. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. 

Trim the hearts of all fat and connective tissue, then cut into roughly 2-inch squares.

Blend the remaining third of the marinade paste into the remaining cup of olive oil. Whisk well to combine. Use this mixture to brush the anticuchos as they grill. 

Remove the heart pieces from the bowl and thread 3 to 5 pieces onto each of the soaked bamboo skewers. Grill over hot coals for 3 to 5 minutes, rotating midway through the cook. Brush the venison with the reserved marinade-oil mixture heavily on both sides as it cooks. 

Grill the anticuchos hot and fast over a bed of coals.

We like to serve the anticuchos with the traditional sides of ají panca (a sauce made from dried chiles; find it online if your market doesn’t carry it), corn, and boiled potatoes. 

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