Balsamic Marinated Grilled Venison Backstrap

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Grilled Venison Backstrap that’s been marinated in a balsamic sauce is both easy and delicious. You may find it hard to choose between this grilled method and our Easy Venison Backstrap with onions. Either way, you can’t go wrong. But if you’re looking for something tangy, sweet, and a touch of heat, this is the recipe for you.

Close up image of grilled venison backstrap tenderloin cut into medallions and served on a cutting board

Grilled Venison Backstrap

Backstrap is the prime rib of venison. It’s so tender. It is really the best cut of meat on a deer. But it’s really easy to overcook. And though I love backstrap with a simple salt, pepper, and onion combination, it’s nice to jazz it up every now and then.

My husband pulled out the last backstrap from the freezer tonight, otherwise I would have waited until the summer to grill it outside. But thankfully, we have a cast iron grill pan. So that means we can still get the charred taste of perfectly grilled meat, inside. Served up with a skillet of potatoes and onions, and a side salad – you would have sworn summer was here!

featured image of grilled venison backstrap sliced and served on a cutting board

How to store & thaw venison

When we get a deer, it’s usually a 2 day event. The first day includes cleaning and draining the deer in cold weather. Cold meat is easier to harvest than warm meat. The next day, while still cold, the deer is portioned out. Once all the meat has been harvested we use a vacuum sealer to package the larger cuts of meat and the ground venison after it has been mixed with a pork butt for fat. Once everything is packaged, it can be frozen and typically used within a year. To thaw any of the frozen meat, we allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight if I’m planning ahead. Otherwise, place the frozen vacuum sealed meat into a cold water filled sink or large bowl for about 4 hours. This will help it to thaw slowly. Rapid thawing of meat can result in bacteria growth. Not something to have on your dinner plate!

How to Marinade Venison Backstrap

Being that venison backstrap is much like a pork loin in that it is long and slender, you can do a marinade relatively quickly. This backstrap sat in an oval Dutch Oven for about 4 hours in the refrigerator, flipped once and that was it. The key is really the ingredients. Making sure your marinade has a good amount of acid to really penetrate the meat, remove any gamey flavor, and help breakdown connective tissue, as well as seasonings that will help flavor the meat is important.

venison backstrap being marinated in a cast iron dutch oven.

Marinating Backstrap Tip

You can do this in a dish or in a Ziploc bag to limit the oxygen getting to the meat. If marinating for only 4 hours, just use a dish. If marinating up to 24 hours, use a Ziploc bag. Either way, be sure to remove the backstrap from the container, allow excess marinade to drip off without wiping it, and set on a plate to come to room temperature. This will take 30 minutes to about 1 hour.

Balsamic Marinade Ingredients

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Chives or Scallions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes

How to Grill Venison Backstrap

Once your venison has marinated 4 to 24 hours and has come to room temperature, heat the cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and add a bit of avocado oil. Once the pan is quite hot, might even be slightly smoking, cut the backstrap in half and lay on the grill pan. You should hear a sizzle. DO NOT move it! Give it about 7 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your backstrap, before flipping. Note that if your backstrap is sticking to the grill pan, it’s not ready to flip.

overhead image of grilled venison backstrap on a cast iron grill pan

Grill the other side of the backstrap for another 7 minutes, checking with an instant read thermometer by sticking in horizontally at the end into the middle, thickest portion of the backstrap. You’re looking for about 120F internal temperature. If close, remove from the grill pan and set on a plate, covered with tinfoil. It will continue to cook slightly as it rests. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes for the juices to redistribute before slicing into medallions.

Is venison backstrap the same as venison tenderloin?

There are two backstraps on a deer. Just as the name suggests, the backstrap runs along both sides of the backbone of the deer. In comparison, tenderloin runs along the inside of the body cavity. While similar, not exactly the same.

Grilled venison backstrap sliced into medallions served on a plate with potatoes and salad.

How to make your venison taste like beef

If you have friends or family that aren’t exactly on board with the gamey flavor of venison, or the thought of venison, preparing in this method may be just the ticket to changing their minds. Brining or marinating venison through acidic means or in a buttermilk solution, will help to remove the gamey flavor. The backstrap, I liken to filet mignon on beef. It is tender, juicy, and best served on the rare side. Being sure not to overcook it and remove the gamey flavor, is the best way to get your venison tasting more like beef.

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    Cooking Venison Backstrap

    Backstrap is such a delicious cut of meat. Don’t squander it by chopping and putting into a stew. The risk is much higher that you will over cook it and it will become hard to chew. With less fat and more protein than a chicken, this is a very easy cut of meat to overcook. Seared and cooked to a rare perfection, you’ll see why this is often the most coveted cut of meat to come from a deer.

    close up image of venison backstrap on a plate of sauted potatoes and onions
    What to serve with

    Venison Backstrap

    Looking for a side dish to serve with your wild game? We’ve got just the sides you’ll be equally wild about.

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    Grilled Venison Backstrap Recipe

    Course Dinner, Main, Main Course
    Cuisine American
    Prep Time 4 hours
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Resting Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
    Servings 6 people
    Grilled Venison Backstrap prepared in a balsamic marinade is a sweet and tangy way to enjoy the most tender cut of meat of your venison.



    • 1 venison backstrap about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/8 cup brown sugar
    • 4 scallions roughly chopped
    • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or more depending on heat preference
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


    • Combine all ingredients into a Ziploc bag or casserole dish. Refrigerate for 4 hours minimum, flipping once.
    • Remove from the refrigerator and allow excess marinade to drip off of the backstrap, without wiping any away. Set on a plate and allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes or up to an hour if was refrigerated overnight.
    • If grilling outside, keep backstrap whole. If grilling in a cast iron grill pan, cut the backstrap in half to fit in the grill pan.
    • Heat the grill pan over medium-high heat and lightly spray with avocado oil. Place the backstrap down and do not touch for 7 minutes. Flip and repeat.
    • Use an instant read meat thermometer in the thickest part of the backstrap to ensure it reaches 115-120F minimum. Remove from grill pan and allow to rest on a clean plate, covered with tinfoil for about 5-10 minutes for juices to redistribute. Meat will continue to cook as it rests.
    • Slice into medallions and serve.


    Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 490mg | Potassium: 657mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 278IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 7mg

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