Venison Medallions, Backstraps, Tenderloins

venison with caramelized onions on a plate
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This is what Ted Nugent is obsessed with: The Great Venison Backstrap. What is there to say, really?

I mean venison loin and tenderloin are the primo cuts of meat on a deer, elk, moose or other four-footed cervid. They are lean, tender and requires nothing more than fire and salt as seasonings. Cooked medium-rare and seasoned simply is how I cook most of my backstraps, but I will often pair it with a sauce, a number of which are available here.

For the record, backstrap refers to a length of loin on the back of a deer, elk, moose, etc. It’s the ribeye in beef and loin in pork. Tenderloins are the two strips of very tender meat under the loin, behind the ribs. This is filet mignon in beef.

For general tips on cooking venison steak, here is an article on the subject I wrote for Petersen’s Hunting.

Below are the venison backstrap recipes I enjoy.

Venison steak Diane

Venison Steak Diane

A classic dish, this is my favorite fancy way to serve venison backstrap. It is a century-old recipe updated for the modern kitchen.

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Pan seared venison tenderloin with a red wine sauce on a platter, alongside lingonberries and wild rice.

Pan Seared Venison Tenderloin

The tenderloin is the filet mignon of venison. Here’s how to cook it perfectly.

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Venison tenderloin with Icelandic blueberry sauce

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

An Icelandic dish updated for the modern kitchen. This blueberry sauce (I used huckleberries) isn’t sweet and gloppy, unlike a lot of versions of this dish.

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Venison steak with wild rice pilaf

Venison Steak with Wild Rice Pilaf

Venison steaks cooked simply with a fun wild rice pilaf. This pilaf is all about teaching you how to freestyle in the kitchen.

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Venison stroganoff on a plate with spatzle.

Venison Stroganoff

Wild game comfort food at its best, and I am pretty proud of my rendition of this classic.

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Elk tenderloin on a plate with ancho sauce and pico de gallo.

Elk Tenderloin with Ancho Sauce

Simply seared tenderloin with an astonishingly deep and rich ancho chile sauce.

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Grilled venison steak with a summer salad on a plate.

Grilled Venison Steak

When the weather’s hot out, move outside. After lots of experiments, I’ve found that this is the best way to grill a venison loin.

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A platter of venison tacos.

Venison Tacos

I love making these tacos with venison or elk flank or skirt steak, but it’s just as good with grilled backstrap, too.

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cumberland sauce with venison

Venison with Cumberland Sauce

Simply seared venison backstrap served with what is, for many, the ultimate wild game sauce.

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Venison steak with caramelized onions on a plate

How to Cook a Venison Steak

Combine three of my favorite ingredients — backstrap, caramelized onions and mushrooms — and this is what you get. Easy and really, really good.

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belgian venison medallion recipe

Venison Medallions with Gin and Juniper

Another venerable dish, this one combines the woodsy flavors of gin and juniper, which work perfectly with the venison.

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Sauce au poivre with nilgai on a plate.

Classic Sauce au Poivre

Yep, this is that French version of pepper steak we all know and love. Great with venison backstrap, or, as in the case of this photo, duck or goose breast. It’s easy to make and wonderful.

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A platter of venison souvlaki with all the fixins.

Venison Greek Souvlaki

Greek souvlaki is commonly served with lamb, but venison backstrap (or even leg meat) works great, too. It’s a little like Greek tacos, only with pita bread instead of tortillas, and tzatziki instead of salsa.

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Morel sauce with venison loin on a platter.

Morel Sauce with Venison

When life gives you mushrooms, make this recipe. It is best with fresh or dried morels, but any good mushroom works well here.

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A bowl of venison tartare with an egg yolk.

Venison Tartare

Like beef tartare? You will LOVE venison tartare. This version uses a super-fresh egg and Northern European flavors.

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ethiopian tibs recipe

They Called Me Mr. Tibs

Funny name, but this is a super easy – yet exotic – hybrid stir fry and stew you make in minutes, using venison loin or sinew-free leg meat.

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venison stir-fry recipe

Venison Stir Fry

A basic stir-fry that teaches you a vital Chinese trick to keep lean meats tender called “velveting.”

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venison and broccoli on Chinese plate

Venison and Broccoli

A perfect dish for slices of backstrap, this is just like the Chinese takeout version.

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Chinese venison with cumin

Chinese Venison with Cumin

Cumin? In Chinese food? You bet. It’s a thing in northern China, and you’ll want to taste this dish, which is mild yet exotic-tasting.

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Kung pao venison

Kung Pao Venison

The Chinese restaurant classic made with venison instead of chicken. Yep, it’s just as good. Easy to make, too.

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chimichurri sauce recipe

Chimichurri with Venison

Grilled or seared venison backstrap smothered in a garlicky, herby Argentine sauce called chimichurri.

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A plate of jagerschnitzel

Classic Jaegerschnitzel

A German dish meaning “hunter’s schnitzel,” this is a cutlet — venison, duck, boar, etc — pounded very thin, barely dusted with flour and served with a mushroom sauce. Chanterelles are traditional, but button mushrooms are fine, too.

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Venison Tenderloin with Roasted Red Peppers

The bright, acidic sweetness of fire-roasted, preserved peppers, buzzed into a sauce, really works well with venison tenderloin or backstrap.

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