Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (2024)

I have always liked to shares recipes for foods that deliver the “Wow” factor and are not foods that you eat regularly. One of the best gems I have found is Venison backstrap. You can think of backstrap as the “other” type of red meat that’s often overlooked. Similar to beef in flavor and texture, venison backstrap recipes abound if you look for them directly.

Unfortunately, most people don’t consider venison in the same league as beef, but more and more chefs are discovering its appeal. According to, the top 10 food trends in 2019 include eating new cuts of meat and consuming foods that are hyper local. [1] You can’t get more local than hunting game and preparing the food you hunt.

So, in today's article, I have shared everything you need to know to make venison backstrap at home, including the meat selection process, brining, cooking and a few useful tips to have in mind.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is Venison Backstrap?
  • 2 How to Brine Venison Backstrap for Cooking
    • 2.1 Venison Backstrap Simple Brine Recipe
  • 3 Recipe for Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction
    • 3.1 Selecting the Best Venison Backstrap Cut
    • 3.2 Best Way to Cook Venison Backstrap
    • 3.3 How Long to Cook Venison Backstrap Meat
  • 4 Recommended Dry Rub and Dried Cherry Reduction Ingredients
    • 4.1 Dried Cherry Reduction Recipe
  • 5 Serving and Recommended Side Dishes
  • 6 Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad
  • 7 Tips for Cooking Venison Backstrap
  • 8 Final Thoughts

What is Venison Backstrap?

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (1)

Backstrap is part of the deer loin near the back. Along with tenderloin, the cut ranks as one of the two most prized cuts of venison. In beef, the tenderloin is filet mignon. Backstrap is the same cut as ribeye in beef preparation.

Venison tenderloin has almost no “gamey” taste, and backstrap has a similar flavor to beef without the gamey flavor. If you want to ensure that a gamey flavor won’t ruin your recipe, knowing how the deer was prepared could be critical. Proper field dressing is the best way to eliminate gamey flavor, but if you don’t know how the backstrap was prepared, you can compensate.

How to Brine Venison Backstrap for Cooking

Since venison backstrap is usually seasonal, it is crucial to know how to prepare it before cooking, so you eliminate any odd flavor and have the best results.

One of the most common ways to do this is soaking the backstrap in milk. This method should eliminate any lingering gamey flavor if your backstrap came from less-than-ideal-timing field dressing conditions. Brining the backstrap is a classic method of using salted and spiced water, known as brine, to flavor the meat and remove any gamey flavor. According to, the following recipe for brine works well for backstrap: [2]

Venison Backstrap Simple Brine Recipe


  • 3 Cups of Water
  • 1/2 Cup of Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • Peppercorns and Other Spices


Simply bring all the upper mentioned ingredients to boil to dissolve the salt. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator or freezer, or you can add ice cubes to chill the brine more rapidly. Soak the meat for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. Rinse the meat, pat dry and proceed with your favorite backstrap recipe.

Recipe for Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction

Many chefs don’t know how to handle game meat, but simplicity is best when cooking flavorful venison backstrap. Many experts consider backstrap to be the finest cut of meat in the world. Great chefs all over the world use similar techniques when preparing game, and the best ways to prepare backstrap include using a dry rub to enhance flavors and cooking the meat as quickly and simply as possible.

The recipe below is my recommended way to cook venison backstrap. You can find the selection, brining and cooking process below. Also, I have included a full dry-rub recipe in the next section.

Selecting the Best Venison Backstrap Cut

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (2)

Raw Venison Backstrap Cut

You can brine the meat or soak it in milk if you’re unsure whether it was properly dressed in the field. Remove the backstrap from the soak, rinse and pat dry. Rub the backstrap with your favorite dry rub to enhance the flavor.

It’s best to choose a backstrap close to 3 pounds, and cut a 6-inch to 10-inch piece. You can cut the meat into smaller pieces if your pans won’t accommodate the whole backstrap but the upper mentioned cuts would give the best results, no matter what cooking method you use.

Best Way to Cook Venison Backstrap

We recommend searing the meat on top of the stove and finishing off the cooking process in the oven but you can also cook the backstrap on the grill or smoker.

In either case, using a trusty meat thermometer is critical for cooking the backstrap to your preferred level of doneness. Grilling over wood or charcoal adds pleasing flavor, but the accuracy of heat on a propane grill might make using one a better choice.

If smoking the backstrap, you need to use a reverse sear. Smoke the meat to about 5 degrees less than the desired temperature. Remove the meat from the smoker, and sear it on the grill or top of the stop to produce grill marks or a golden caramelized crust.

  • Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Make Smoked Venison Meat

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (3)

Sous Vide Venison Steak

Sous vide is a fancy technique that is actually a simple cooking process -- heating the meat in enclosed bags in hot but not simmering water. The slow heating process produces fork-tender results, but we’re a little leery of the process when cooking meat because there’s no sear or caramelization.

Note: If you plan to make a sauce from the drippings, it’s best to use a stainless steel pan that doesn’t transfer unwanted flavors. Cast iron, which is ideal for searing, can produce strange flavors when used to make a pan sauce. Regardless of your pan choice, it’s critical to get it piping hot to ensure a proper sear.

How Long to Cook Venison Backstrap Meat

If you use a thermometer, and you should, you should cook the backstrap until the thermometer registers the following temperatures:

Doneness Level

Doneness Description

Recommended Internal Temp


Cold Red Center; Soft



Warm Red Center; Firmer



Pink and Firm



Small Amount of Pink in Center



Gray-Brown throughout; Firm


You want to account for a slight rise in temperature as the meat rests once you stop the cooking process. Test the meat by inserting the thermometer halfway through the thickest part of the meat in the center. Rest the meat at least 15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to resettle throughout the meat.

The meat can be finished by drizzling extra virgin olive oil over the medallions or adding a bit of butter.

Recommended Dry Rub and Dried Cherry Reduction Ingredients

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The ingredients for an appropriate dry rub that yields approximately 3/4 Cup of Rub include:

  • 1 Teaspoon of Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Cup of Hosker Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons for Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons of Espresso or Dark Roast Coffee

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and cover tightly in a container or store in a plastic bag.

Dried Cherry Reduction Recipe

The ingredients for the Dried Cherry Reduction include:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Red Wine
  • 1/4 Cup of Dried Cherries
  • 1/2 Cup of Beef or Game Stock
  • 1 Teaspoon of Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to your Taste

Directions: Deglaze the pan used to sear the meat with wine, and add the stock and dried cherries. Whisk in the brown sugar and spices and continue to hydrate the cherries and reduce the sauce until it thickens slightly. Whisk in the butter in small pieces to smooth and thicken the sauce.

Serving and Recommended Side Dishes

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (5)

Grilled Venison Backstrap Steaks

We like roasted round potatoes, baked with a balsamic glaze, as a simple but elegant accompaniment to the backstrap.

We recommend cutting several medallions of venison against the grain and propping them up for presentation. Spoon some of the sauce onto the plate, and garnish with whatever’s colorful and handy.

The venison medallions should be served with sauce on the side, the roasted red potatoes and a spicy arugula and shaved fennel salad. You can find the recipe below.

Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad

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Peppery arugula and shaved fennel salad is the perfect accompaniment to Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction. The ingredients for 4 servings of the salad include:

  • 2 Cups of Arugula
  • 2/3 Cup of Shaved Raw Fennel
  • 1/4 Cup of Thinly Sliced Red Onion

Toss the salad to mix the ingredients, and then mix the dressing fresh. The recommended ingredients for the dressing include:

  • 2 Tablespoon of Whale Grain Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients, and drizzle the dressing over the salad. You can substitute your favorite dressing in place of the dressing above.

Tips for Cooking Venison Backstrap

  • When you don’t know whether the meat was properly field dressed, soak the backstrap in milk for a few hours or brine it to remove an gamey flavors.
  • Don’t overcook the meat because venison has a lower at content than beef and dries out quickly.
  • When roasting the meat, sear all the sides quickly over high heat.
  • When smoking the meat, sear the side after smoking the meat.
  • Hunters should make a plan for harvesting deer meat that icldues field dressing the meat and delivering it where the meat can be processed quickly.

Final Thoughts

You can substitute ingredients pretty freely in this recipe without affecting the final taste, which mostly depends on the quality of the backstrap and the simplicity of the cooking process. A 6-inch to 10-inch section of backstrap should serve 4-6 people generously.

Venison backstrap doesn’t need a big introduction to those who’ve tasted it, but many people haven’t had the pleasure. We hope that our recipe will change some minds about venison in general and backstrap in particular.

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (7)

Venison Backstrap Recipe - Brining, Best Way to Cook & Temperatures (2024)


What temp should venison backstrap be cooked to? ›

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.

Should you brine venison backstrap? ›

Wild venison is a lean meat so brining it before smoking helps lock in the natural moisture of the meat. The brine has the perfect blend of sweet, salty, and savory flavors that complement the taste of the meat beautifully.

What temperature do you cook venison at? ›

Venison behaves in many ways like beef, albeit very lean. You can cook the tender, steaky cuts of venison to the same doneness levels as you would beef, namely 130–135°F (54–57°C) for medium rare and 135–145°F (57–63°C) for medium. Hitting those temperatures just right is important for maximum enjoyment.

What is best to soak deer meat in before cooking? ›

Soaking: The most common soaking liquids are buttermilk, saltwater, white milk, vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice. While some hunters swear by certain soaking methods to take the “gamey” flavor away or bleed the meat after processing, others don't find it all that helpful.

What temperature do you cook backstrap in the oven? ›

What oven temperature should I use to cook deer backstrap? Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). This high temperature will help to sear the outside of the backstrap, creating a flavorful crust while keeping the interior tender and juicy.

What is a safe temperature for venison tenderloin? ›

Tender cuts of venison should be prepared using quick cooking methods to a rare or medium-rare level of doneness (internal temperature of 120° to 135° F). If it is prepared past medium-rare too much moisture will be cooked out causing the meat to become dry and tough.

How long can you leave venison in a brine? ›

Submerge venison roast in brine and refrigerate overnight, for a minimum of 12 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

How do you brine deer meat? ›

  1. In a large pot, add the water and all the ingredients for the brine, and heat over medium-high heat. ...
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool.
  3. After the brine has cooled, gently drop the meat into the pot to brine in a cool place for 24 to 48 hours.
Sep 8, 2021

Do you wash brine off meat before cooking? ›

What to Do After the Meat Is Brined. After waiting the appropriate amount of time, remove the meat from the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel. You won't need to rinse it with fresh water unless you accidentally brined it for too long. From here, cook the meat according to your favorite recipe.

Should venison be room temperature before cooking? ›

Let venison come to room temperature before grilling it – just as you should with any meat. Thicker cuts - an inch or more - can sit for 30 to 60 minutes. You certainly don't want a charred surface and cold meat left at the center.

What temperature do you cook venison in the oven? ›

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Season venison with garlic, grill seasoning, and chili powder. Place into a casserole dish and pour in beef broth. Cover the dish with a lid.

Does venison get more tender the longer it cooks? ›

Large cuts of venison taste best when pot-roasted for several hours. If you have access to a crock pot, use any recipe for beef pot roast and you'll be pleasantly surprised. However, instead of cooking for two to four hours, venison may require substantially longer cooking time for the meat to become tender.

What spices go best with venison? ›

Ideal flavours for venison
  • Fruits: quince, cherries, prunes, blackberries, apples.
  • Herbs: thyme, rosemary, bay, sage.
  • Spices: star anise, allspice, black pepper, cloves, juniper.
  • Alcohol: red wine (e.g. Grenache, Zinfandel), cider, ale. Other: chestnuts, celeriac, red cabbage, chocolate, mushroom.
Mar 7, 2016

What do you soak deer backstrap in? ›

Directions: Soak the venison backstrap in 40 percent fat content buttermilk and fresh rosemary for 48 hours in the refrigerator. After the meat is done marinating, rinse off all buttermilk and rosemary and leave the meat out at room temperature for about 45 minutes. (Never cook any red meat that's cold.

How do you tenderize a deer backstrap? ›

Soaking the meat in milk or buttermilk for a couple of hours before cooking helps. Store bought tenderizers can work too, just be careful of the flavors it can add. One thing that specifically helps is not to over cook your venison.

Is venison safe to eat at 145 degrees? ›

The USDA recommends cooking whole cuts of venison to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) with a three-minute rest time. For ground venison, the recommended minimum internal temperature is 160°F (71°C).

Is venison safe at 140 degrees? ›

Medium temperature is passable: 135 to 145 degrees. However, venison steak will begin to take on a gray appearance, taste slightly livery and lose moisture at these temperatures. Medium well and beyond, above 145 degrees, is not recommended.

What is the internal temperature of medium venison backstrap? ›

For those who prefer a tender, rare-to-medium-rare muscle cut like a backstrap or tenderloin, wild game experts prefer an internal temperature of around 120 to 130 degrees for venison. “I like 125 to 130,” says Michael Pendley, the author of Timber to Table recipes for RealTree.

What is the internal temperature for medium rare venison backstrap? ›

Venison is very low in fat and is best served medium-rare. This equates to an internal temperature of 57°C/135°F if you're using a meat thermometer.


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