The simplest ingredients come together to make this prized cut of meat shine like the star it is. This grilled venison backstrap recipe comes out perfect every time and is my favorite way to enjoy this tender cut of meat all year long. Give it a try today!
- Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- Ingredient Notes:
- Equipment Notes:
- What is Backstrap?
- Backstrap vs. Tenderloin:
- Delicious Ways to Cook Venison Backstrap:
- Step by Step Instructions:
- Creative Venison Steak Recipes to Try:
- What to Serve with Grilled Venison Backstrap:
- Recipe FAQ's:
- More Recipes You'll Love:
- Easy Grilled Venison Backstrap
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
Easy to Make: Cooking venison can be tricky, but this recipe's simple steps make it so easy to grill your venison backstrap to medium-rare perfection!
Simple Ingredients: Salt, black pepper, and olive oil are all you need to let the earthy flavor of venison shine through in this dish. You can add other seasonings or a dry rub if you'd like, but it's not necessary.
Versatile: You can serve a grilled venison steak with just about any side dish you want for a delicious and flavorful meal! The method used in this recipe will also work for various wild game steaks.
- Venison Backstrap: Depending on what section of backstrap you're using, the size of the animal, and the thickness of the meat, you may need to adjust the cooking time a bit. This recipe will work for various types of wild game steaks; you don't have to use backstrap!
- Olive Oil: Any high smoke point oil will work in place of olive oil. Avocado oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc. will all work.
- Flaked Salt: I like to add a little flaked sea salt after slicing the steak for an extra pop of flavor. You can also use other coarse salt or flavored finishing salts, but it isn't necessary.
- Pellet Grill: This recipe is tailored for a pellet grill, but you can apply the same method to any outdoor grill (gas grill, charcoal grill, etc.).
- Meat Thermometer: A digital thermometer is essential for grilling your steak to the perfect internal temperature. For best results, I like to use the Thermapen ONE thermometer.
What is Backstrap?
Backstraps are the long muscles that run alongside both sides of a deer's spine (and other wild game animals). The whole backstrap starts at the shoulder, rests on top of the ribcage, and ends at the pelvis.
The muscle fibers run lengthwise down the back of the deer. There is very little connective tissue inside the meat which is what makes backstraps so desirable.
Also known as the venison loin, backstraps are a prized cut of meat. Professional and home butchers often cut backstraps into 1 lb portions or into butterfly-style steaks.
Backstrap vs. Tenderloin:
People often mistakenly call backstraps tenderloins, likely because backstraps are also referred to as loins. However, tenderloins are smaller cuts of meat located in the abdominal cavity under the spine, instead of on top of the spine.
In relation to domestic meat, backstraps come from the same cut as ribeyes and prime ribs on a cow. Filet mignon is cut from the tip of the beef tenderloin while medallions are cut from the middle portion of the tenderloin.
Hunters generally consider the backstrap and tenderloin to be the most tender cuts of meat. Check out this simple venison tenderloin recipe for more ideas on how to cook these tender cuts of deer meat.
Delicious Ways to Cook Venison Backstrap:
There are SO many tasty methods for cooking deer backstrap. See below for a few of my favorite ways!
- Grilled: Follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to properly grill venison backstrap.
- Pan Seared: A perfectly cooked venison backstrap seared in a cast iron skillet is a time-honored classic. Follow the method in this perfect venison backstrap recipe.
- Bone-In: A rack of venison is a backstrap with the rib bones still attached. It makes for a gorgeous presentation for special occasions. Learn how to butcher and cut this special cut of meat in this rack of venison recipe.
- Smoked: A sweet and salty brine adds moisture and flavor to venison backstrap while a touch of smoke enhances the natural flavor of the meat. Check out this recipe for smoked venison backstrap.
- Marinated: Backstrap is delicious on its own, but you can add some extra flavor with a simple marinade. Try this recipe for marinated venison steak with a delicious mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a handful of other ingredients.
- Medallions: Backstraps and tenderloins from larger deer or other big game animals like elk can be cut into medallion steaks. People also refer to medallions cut from backstraps as chops. Cooking them in a hot pan with butter and herbs, like in this elk medallions recipe, yields excellent results.
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Grill Venison Backstrap:
Venison is a very lean meat and is prone to drying out on the grill. However, with a little fat added as a protective coating and frequent flipping of the meat on the grill, you can still have perfectly tender, juicy meat.
This recipe uses direct heat for a "hot and fast" cooking method to keep the meat moist and tender. Follow the simple instructions below for this fool-proof venison recipe!
Step 1: Let steak rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before cooking. Pat the steak dry with paper towels.
Step 2: Drizzle olive oil over the steak and use a basting brush or your hands to completely cover the steak in oil.
Step 3: Season generously with salt and black pepper on all sides.
Step 4: Place the seasoned meat on the hot grill grates, directly over the open flame. Cook for 2 minutes.
Step 5: Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Step 6: Flip and cook for an additional 1 minute.
Step 7: Repeat and cook for an additional 1 minute. Check the temperature and continue flipping the steak frequently until the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare.
Step 8: Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut into ½" slices or into medallion-size steaks.
Pro Tip: If overcooking is a concern, pull the meat off the grill on the rare side. The residual heat will continue to cook the meat as it rests.
Creative Venison Steak Recipes to Try:
Simple venison steaks make beautiful centerpieces for any meal. But, there are a lot more creative ways to cook your venison steak as well! Here are a few fun ideas:
- Asian Marinated Steak
- Grilled Steak Fajitas
- Venison Steak Poke Bowls
- Steak Nachos with Avocado Crema
- Venison Crostini
What to Serve with Grilled Venison Backstrap:
Grilled venison backstrap is a star on its own but it also pairs exceptionally well with a variety of complementary dishes.
Or you can get fancy and serve it with risotto and red wine mushrooms. No matter how you serve it, this is sure to become your go-to recipe for venison backstraps!
You can cook backstraps in various ways, but the most effective method involves quickly cooking the meat at a high temperature directly over the heat source. This ensures the meat retains its natural moisture while being cooked to a perfect medium-rare. Achieve this by grilling or cooking it in a cast iron pan.
Cook deer backstrap to a medium-rare internal temperature of 120-125 degrees F. If you cook it past medium-rare, the meat starts to lose its natural moisture and will dry out quickly.
Tenderloin and backstrap are not the same cuts of meat. The backstraps run along the back of a deer while the tenderloin is tucked inside the abdominal cavity under the spine. People often mistakenly call backstraps tenderloins, likely because backstraps are also referred to as loins. Both prized cuts of meat, backstraps and tenderloins are valued for their tenderness and lack of connective tissue.
Any steak cut of venison is great for grilling. Backstraps, tenderloins, sirloin steaks, round steaks, etc. are all great for grilling.
More Recipes You'll Love:
If you make this recipe, please leave a star rating at the bottom of the page! This provides helpful feedback to me and fellow readers. And if you want more delicious, wild game recipes you can subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!
Easy Grilled Venison Backstrap
- 1 lb venison backstrap (whole)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- flaked sea salt (optional, for serving)
- Let steak rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before cooking.
- Heat grill to 350°F.
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels.
- Drizzle olive oil over the steak and use a basting brush or your hands to completely cover the steak in oil.
- Season generously with salt and black pepper on all sides.
- Place the backstrap on the grill, directly over the flames. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Flip and cook for an additional 1 minute. Repeat and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- Check the temperature and continue flipping the steak frequently until the internal temperature reaches 120-125°F for medium-rare. The cooking time will depend on which portion of the backstrap you're using and the size of the animal.
- Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut into ½" slices or into medallion-size steaks. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt, if desired. Enjoy!
- This recipe is written for a pellet grill but the same method will work with any outdoor grill (gas grill, charcoal grill, etc.).
- Depending on what section of backstrap you're using, the size of the animal, and the thickness of the meat, you may need to adjust the cooking time a bit. This recipe will work for various types of wild game steaks, you don't have to use backstrap!
- Any high smoke point oil will work in place of olive oil. Avocado oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc. will all work.
- If you're worried about overcooking the meat, pull it off the grill on the rare side. The residual heat will continue to cook the meat as it rests.
- I like to add a little flaked sea salt after slicing the steak for an extra pop of flavor. You can also use other coarse salt or flavored finishing salts, but it isn't necessary.