Three Black Bear Recipes to Try

September 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm

You may have heard a myth that black bear meat isn't as palatable as other game meat... But with proper care and the right recipe, it may just become your favorite game to eat with friends and family!

To make sure you will enjoy high-quality meat, make sure you have a plan on how to cool your bear ASAP and how to get it out of the woods. The insulation from a bear’s fat layers and thick hide can cause bear meat to spoil more quickly than other large game. To preserve the meat, you need to cool the carcass immediately using blocks of ice in coolers, refrigerated coolers, etc. and get it to the meat processor as quickly as possible. From there, freezing or canning the meat quickly will protect the flavor.

The quickest way to cool the meat is to field dress the bear right away. If you do not have access to a cooler, or if you are hunting in warm temperatures, consider removing the hide and quartering the bear.

Check out our bear hunting guide for tips on how to quarter a bear, get your harvest out of the woods, and more.

And when it is time to start cooking, here are a few recipes to try:

Easy BBQ Pulled Bear

From Acting Fisheries Resource Supervisor Liz Thorndike

A hind quarter cut of bear meat (a large steak, roast, or shoulder)
Your favorite game seasonings
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 – 1 ½ cups of BBQ sauce
2-3 onions
2-3 cloves of garlic
Optional: vinegar

Step one: Place a hind quarter cut of bear meat in a crockpot. I use a large steak, but a roast or shoulder will also do. Spice with your favorite game seasonings (mine is Bucks), and add ~ ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 – 1 ½  cups of your favorite BBQ sauce (mine is  - Dinosaur BBQ), 2-3 quartered onions, and 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic. Cook for 6-8 hours.

Step two: Pull meat out, drain, and dispose of cooking liquid. Shred or cut meat into small pieces, and then place pulled meat back into crockpot.  Mix meat to taste with more BBQ sauce, a dash of maple syrup, and if a little too sweet for your taste, some vinegar. Turn crockpot back on for 30 – 60 minutes to reheat thoroughly before eating.

Step three: Enjoy!

Bonus recipe: My son’s favorite recipe is bear tacos which I simply use ground bear meat as one would normally use beef or chicken, and then season with your favorite taco mix or one of your own homemade mixes.

Bear Ribs

From Wildlife Biologist Kendall Marden

Step one: Clean/trim up ribs and put in a covered baking dish or cover a deep pan with foil. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and enough water to make 1/2” in the bottom and cook at 325 degrees for a couple of hours until tender. 

Step two: Take ribs out and drain pan, cover all sides of ribs with bbq sauce and put back in over for about a half-hour or until sauce thickens a bit. 

Or, simply use your favorite recipe for ribs and the classic 3/2/1 method for smoking them but make it 3/3/1 instead so the ribs have a chance to be braised with the moisture a bit longer.

Corned Bear

From Wildlife Biologist Kendall Marden

1 gallon of water
8 ounces of salt
3 tsp sodium nitrate (also called cure #1, prague powder, or instacure)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
5 tbl pickling spices

Step one: Heat the water a bit with garlic and pickling spices and then add salt and sugar, stir and let cool.

Step two: 1 gallon of water does 6-8 lbs meat (3 or so pound roasts are perfect). Use a non-reactive container (glass or enamel pot or a two-gallon food-grade pail works great). Put plate and weight on top to keep meat submerged. Leave for about 10 days (less if smaller roasts) to cure then cook like you would a corned brisket or do a boiled dinner. Advanced tip:  use 5 ounces of salt and 1 ¼-1 ½ cups of brown sugar instead and then rub with spices and smoke the roast for a good pastrami.


Cooking bear meat: Like pork, the proper cooking time and temperature for bear meat is 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes per pound. Internal cooking temperature should reach 160 degrees for 3 minutes or more before consumption. Cook until there is no trace of pink meat or fluid, paying close attention to areas around the joints and close to the bone.