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Easy Venison Backstrap

Venison Backstrap is the best cut of deer, hands down. Easy to cook, melts like butter, it’s easy to see why this is considered one of the prime cuts of wild game. A necessity to any country homestead menu or date night dinner.

sliced venison backstrap on a plate with sauted onions and mashed potatoes


The Venison Backstrap

Are you someone who eats the best thing first or do you save it for last? I am usually one who saves the best for last. Unfortunately that usually means something goes bad or gets freezer burnt before I have a chance to enjoy it. This year, we’re enjoying the backstrap early!

My husband got a deer this year and between that and the pig we had butchered, our freezer is full. In this day and age, what a blessing! Am I right? We’ve already enjoyed the heart, so last night he pulled out pork for a Pork Ragu I wanted to make for lunch and also a venison backstrap for dinner. To say our day was filled with delicious food and love is an understatement.

Backstrap is like the filet mignon or prime rib of venison. It’s so tender and so easy to overcook. But I’m going to share with you the easiest way to make this so you can get it perfect every time! So let’s get to it.

What is the backstrap?

Deer backstrap is just as it sounds. It’s the cut of meat that runs along the spine of a deer. You only get two per deer, so it’s best to make it count when it comes to a recipe. Check out this image for more of a visual.

How to cook venison backstraps

Less is more when it comes to a delicate cut of meat like the venison backstrap. A bit of oil, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, garlic, and of course onion are all you need to make this. Some people marinade their backstraps. I’ll have to try that on the next one. But the secret is really in the treatment.

Make sure that the backstrap is fully thawed and comes to room temperature for an even cooking. We vacuum seal our meat and freeze it. So that means it was pulled into the refrigerator last night, and this morning set on the counter to fully thaw. You do not want to defrost this in a microwave. Do not even risk cooking or over cooking this in the slightest.

Once fully thawed, pat dry with a few paper towels while assembling a wet rub. I prefer a wet rub here since the oil is needed for the skillet. That way I can control the amount of moisture and oil all around the backstrap. To make the wet rub, use a mortar and pestle to grind the fresh herbs together. Mix in a small bowl with a high-heat oil like avocado oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Rub all over the backstrap.

Heat the 12-inch skillet over medium heat with a few Tablespoons of butter and a medium onion sliced. Start sautéing the onion until about halfway cooked. Then nestle the backstrap (likely needing to be cut in half) into the onions. Don’t touch them for 2-3 minutes. We’re looking for a nice sear here. It may smoke and that’s totally fine. Flip and repeat. Once flipped, cover the top of the backstrap with some of the onion slices. Place the entire skillet into a 375F oven for just 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet and cover with foil for just 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet to stop any cooking and allow to rest about another 5 minutes so juices can redistribute. Slice into about 1/2 inch medallions and serve.

Other ways to prepare a backstrap

  • Grill
  • Smoke
  • Stovetop only
  • Marinated
  • with a Dry Rub

What temperature do you cook venison backstrap?

If you don’t like rare meat, then this is not a recipe for you. Much like Prime Rib, venison backstrap should be cooked only to about 120-130F. It will continue to cook a bit as it rests, especially in the cast iron skillet. But you really want to serve this on the rare side to avoid a tough texture in your final cut of meat. A rare piece of backstrap will melt in your mouth like butter. After resting the internal temperature will be more like 135-140F.


More Tips and Tricks

  • Keep the backstrap as a loin and do not cut into chunks, strips, or medallions before cutting.
  • Sear the backstrap on both sides for added texture and development of flavor.
  • Do not use garlic powder, use raw garlic. Garlic powder will enhance the gamey flavor.
  • Add additional fat to the skillet. Venison is a lean meat and needs love from butter and oil.
  • Cook in a smokin’ hot skillet. In such, use a high heat oil to avoid a burnt taste on your deer.
  • Make sure all the silver skin is removed prior to cooking.

What to serve with venison backstrap?

As you can see in the photos, we love serving this with mashed potatoes. Ever heard the term “steak and potatoes”? Yeah, this is it. Potatoes, onions, a salad, Dutch oven bread… it’s a hearty meal. So any of your typical hearty meal sides will go well with it.

More of our favorite

Side Dish Recipes

Need some more side dish recipes to go with this venison? Check out the ones below!

Easy Venison Backstrap

Seared in a skillet and finished in the oven, this venison backstrap is a tender cut of deer meat served up as a hearty winter meal.
Print Recipe
sliced venison backstrap on a plate with sauted onions and mashed potatoes
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Resting Time:5 mins
Total Time:20 mins

Equipment

  • 12 inch cast iron skillet
  • tongs
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • mortar and pestle

Ingredients

  • 1 venison backstrap
  • 1 medium yellow onion skin removed, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Pat dry a fully thawed, room temperature venison backstrap with paper towels.
  • Slice the onions and add to a skillet with butter over medium heat. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Do not fully cook the onions.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the sage and thyme into almost a paste. Add to a bowl with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
  • Coat all sides of the backstrap with the wet rub. Cut the backstrap in half to fit in the skillet. Nestle the backstrap in the cooked onions searing on both sides for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Transfer to the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and cover with tinfoil for about 3 minutes. Remove the backstrap from the skillet and allow to rest another 5 minutes on a cutting board before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 489mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 172IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 5mg
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 264kcal
Author: Katie Chase

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6 Comments

      1. 5 stars
        Substituted dried herbs of marjoram and oregano for lack of fresh herbs. Turned out amazing!! It really an easy recipe. Clear & concise instructions. Thanks so much for sharing. This is now my go to venison tenderloin recipe!!

  1. I’m new…new, new to venison. Family sent us some “fresh” cuts from Pennsylvania to us in Florida this week. My husband enjoyed my cooking of the “Chunks”. He doesn’t like to see the “red” at all and I was really nervous that I would overcook. Now, he wants the “Strap” and I’m nervous about it coming out too “medium” for him. Should I do extra time in Skillet or the Oven?

    1. Give it a little extra time in the skillet or oven. Use an internal thermometer and stop cooking when you’re about 5 degrees away from your target temperature. Remember that it will continue to cook as it rests. Cover with tinfoil and allow to rest about 10-15 minutes so all the juices can redistribute. We don’t want a tough meat. Let me know how it goes!

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