Entree | Field To Table

Smoked Venison Backstrap

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Here’s a different way to cook one of the most tender cuts of deer. This Smoked Venison Backstrap will amaze you. It’s that good.

Sliced loin on cutting board.Pin

Smoking meats is usually reserved for the tougher cuts of an animal. The legs, brisket, neck and the like. The slow cooking helps retain moisture and adds incredible flavor.

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This loin is even more tender when it is slow cooked and the smoking does add that incredible flavor.

What is the backstrap

There is a lot of confusion amongst hunters about what the deer backstrap, loin and inner loin (tenderloin) are. The deer loins, otherwise known as the backstraps are located above the ribcage on either side of the spine. These muscles work less than for instance, the leg muscles so they are incredibly tender.

The inner loins, or venison tenderloins are located on the inside of the rib cage, just under the the backstraps. The inner loin is the most tender cut of meat on the animal. They are the equivalent of filet mignon of beef but much smaller than beef tenderloin.

Ingredients you need

Smoking, in general, is a very flexible cooking method. Use your favorite spices or seasonings or whatever you have on hand. You can use a marinade or a brine to flavor and tenderize the meat even further.

A marinade would consist of an acid like citrus juice, wine, soy sauce or vinegar and oil, usually olive oil along with spices of your choice.

This is simple but one of our favorite combinations to let the flavor of the deer shine through.

  • kosher salt or sea salt
  • black pepper – grind you own pepper for best flavor.
  • granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • granulated onion or onion powder
  • brown sugar
  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder or cayenne powder
  • dry mustard
Ingredients for making smoked venison loin. See details in recipe below.Pin

How to make it

  1. Measure and mix all of the spices. Add them to a small tupperware or jar and shake vigorously to combine.
  2. First and foremost, when cooking any cut of venison is to cut as much of the fat and silver skin off. Not only is the fat not palatable like that of the beef, it can be grizzly and hard to chew. Pat to dry off backstraps with paper towel. Place in a covered bowl or container. Cover all sides of the meat evenly with the brine. Refrigerate at least a couple hours or overnight (you can even leave it 2-3 days) for best flavor. The longer it brines the more flavorful it will be.
  3. The next day set up the smoker and preheat to 180°F. Set the meat on the grates. You don’t have to wait until the loin warms to room temperature since this is such a long cook time. Insert your smoker’s probe or another good meat thermometer into the thickest part of the loin. Close the door or lid and try to keep it closed as much as possible.
  4. Smoke until the meat reaches 135°F internal temperature for medium rare. Depending on the thickness of your meat, this will take 2-4 hours.
  5. It’s very important to tent the meat with foil and let it rest when it comes out of the smoker for at least 15 minutes so that the juices will redistribute.
Step by step process for making smoked venison backstrap. See details in recipe below.Pin

Note: We don’t recommend cooking the meat over 140°F which is medium. Since the loin is so lean, it can become tough quickly. If you have folks who don’t like to see the red in the meat, then tent with foil for more like 30 minutes. You shouldn’t have any red left.

What if I don’t have a smoker?

If you don’t own a smoker, you can still enjoy smoked meats. You can use your grill to smoke. Set up your grill so that the fire is only on one side. You will place the meat on the side of the grill that does not have the direct flame (indirect heat). This is called indirect cooking.

Add soaked wood to a metal tray (we use a disposable foil pie plate or bread pan). Add another metal tray with water. Remember to fill the water if it runs out.

You can also create a similar setup for your oven in a pinch or in the winter.

Thin slice venison on hoagie roll with cheese sauce.Pin

What type of wood to use

Like fish, we prefer a mild wood for venison. Fruit woods like apple, cherry or peach, pecan or alder are our favorite.

What spices can I use for venison loin

Lots of spices enhance the flavor of the deer meat without overpowering it.

  • garlic
  • onion
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • juniper berry
  • paprika
  • mustard
  • sugar, such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and the like
  • chili powder
  • you can even wrap the loin in bacon, secured with toothpicks, so that it bathes the meat with pork fat.
Sliced backstrap on board with fresh rosemary garnish.Pin

How to serve it and sides

  • We like to serve the meat various ways but some of favorites are slice the meat thin and serve it with BBQ sauce in a sandwich. Serve the sandwich with coleslaw and a pickle.
  • Slice it into chunks and serve with mashed potatoes, coleslaw and corn on the cob.
  • Slice or chop it and make tacos with our favorite salsas and toppings.
  • Serve with roasted potatoes and your favorite green vegetable
  • Try topping it with horseradish sauce, just like beef.

Tools you need

More venison recipes

More recipes for smoking

Smoked venison sub with waffle fries.Pin

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Sliced backstrap on board with fresh rosemary garnish.Pin

Smoked Venison Backstrap

Here's a different way to cook one of the most tender cuts of deer. This Smoked Venison Backstrap will amaze you. It's that good.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Brining time: 8 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 14 servings
Calories: 184kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $2

Ingredients

Instructions

  • First and foremost, when cooking any cut of venison is to cut away as much of the fat and silver skin off. Not only is the fat not palatable like that of the beef, it can be grizzly and hard to chew.
    3½ pounds venison loin
  • Pat to dry off backstraps with paper towel. Place in a covered bowl or container.
  • Measure and mix all of the spices. Add them to a small tupperware or jar and shake vigorously to combine.
    2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 2 tablespoons garlic, granulated, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon Chili powder, 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • Cover all sides of the meat evenly with the brine. Refrigerate at least a couple hours or overnight (you can even leave it 2-3 days) for best flavor. The longer it brines the more flavorful it will be.
  • The next day set up the smoker and preheat to 180°F. Set the meat on the grates. You don’t have to wait until the loin warms to room temperature since this is such a long cook time. Insert your smoker’s probe or another good meat thermometer into the thickest part of the loin. Close the door or lid and try to keep it closed as much as possible.
  • Smoke until the meat reaches 135°F internal temperature for medium rare. Depending on the thickness of your meat, this will take 2-4 hours.
  • It’s very important to tent the meat with foil and let it rest when it comes out of the smoker for at least 15 minutes so that the juices will redistribute.
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Notes

Note: We don’t recommend cooking the meat over 140°F which is medium. Since the loin is so lean, it can become tough quickly. If you have folks who don’t like to see the red in the meat, then tent with foil for more like 30 minutes. You shouldn’t have any red left.
You can use this recipe for tenderloins as well. Cooking time will be lessened to about 1 hour, depending on the size of the tenderloins. You also won’t need as much of the rub.
Like fish, we prefer a mild wood for venison. Fruit woods like apple, cherry or peach, pecan or alder are our favorite.
How to serve it and sides
  • We like to serve the meat various ways but some of favorites are slice the meat thin and serve it with BBQ sauce in a sandwich. Serve the sandwich with coleslaw and a pickle.
  • Slice it into chunks and serve with mashed potatoes, coleslaw and corn on the cob.
  • Slice or chop it and make tacos with our favorite salsas and toppings.
  • Slice and serve with horseradish sauce on sandwiches or not.
  • Serve with roasted potatoes and your favorite green vegetable.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 485mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 311IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 5mg
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So so so good! Just made it with elk straps and the flavor was amazing. Only used the brine for 2 hours, smoked the back strap for 40 min and cooked at temp for 30. PERFECTION!!

  2. 5 stars
    I was a little skeptical to try this since the backstrap is a nice cut of meat but this turned out incredibly moist and tender. Thanks for a really different recipe!

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