What Kind of Meat Is Backstrap? A Guide to Understanding Venison Backstrap and its Culinary Uses

by Derrick | Last Updated: August 8, 2023

Ever wondered what kind of meat is backstrap? Here’s a surprise: it’s a type of venison. Our comprehensive guide will unravel the mysteries, breaking down all aspects of the venison backstrap, from understanding its anatomy to mastering preparation techniques.

Intrigued? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

Understanding Venison Backstrap

Venison backstrap is a lean and flavorful cut of meat, different from the tenderloin, found along the spine of deer and other game animals.

What is Venison Backstrap?

Venison backstrap is a premium cut of deer meat along the spine and is prized for its tenderness, leanness, and rich flavor. One of the most sought-after cuts from large game animals like elk or antelope, it’s often compared to filet mignon in taste and texture.

As this portion of venison undergoes significantly less movement when the animal is alive, it results in a tender piece of meat that chefs love to prepare due to its versatility. It can be grilled, smoked or pan-seared depending upon personal preference; each cooking method perfectly complements the unique characteristics of venison backstrap while enhancing its inherently mild gamey taste.

Differentiating Backstrap from Tenderloin

The backstrap and tenderloin are two highly sought-after cuts of meat from a deer. While both are incredibly tender, they come from different parts of the animal. The backstrap, also known as the loin, is located along the spine and runs parallel to it.

It is elongated in shape and offers a lean yet flavor-packed experience when cooked. On the other hand, the tenderloin is found inside the ribcage area and is much smaller than the backstrap.

Both cuts can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for venison, but understanding their differences allows you to make an informed choice when preparing your next culinary masterpiece using venison as your protein.

Anatomy of the Backstrap

The backstrap is a long, lean muscle that runs along the spine of the deer. It is often considered one of the most prized cuts of venison due to its tenderness and flavor. The backstrap is equivalent to the loin in other animals and can be found on both sides of the backbone.

Its texture is similar to beef or pork tenderloin, but with a slightly gamey taste that sets it apart. When preparing venison backstrap, it’s essential to remove any silver skin or connective tissue before cooking to ensure a tender and enjoyable dining experience.

Cooking and Preparation Tips

Properly remove the backstrap from the venison and learn seasoning and marinating techniques for a flavorful result.

How to Properly Remove the Backstrap

To properly remove the backstrap from venison, follow these steps:

  1. Position the venison carcass to be stable and easy to work with.
  2. Locate the backbone of the deer.
  3. Starting at the base of the skull, use a sharp knife to cut along one side of the backbone carefully.
  4. Continue cutting along the length of the backbone, following its natural curve.
  5. Use your fingers or a boning knife to separate the meat from the bone as you go.
  6. Once you have completely removed one side of the backstrap, repeat the process on the other side.
  7. Trim off any excess fat or connective tissue from the backstrap before using it in your recipe.

Seasoning and Marinating Techniques

Get the most out of your venison backstrap by trying these seasoning and marinating techniques:

  1. Rub the backstrap with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika for a simple yet flavorful seasoning.
  2. Create a marinade using ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and minced garlic to infuse the meat with delicious flavors.
  3. For an Asian – inspired twist, try marinating the backstrap in soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and honey.
  4. If you prefer bold flavors, use a dry rub made with cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and smoked paprika to spice up your backstrap.
  5. Experiment with different herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage to add depth and aroma to your meat.

Cooking Methods: Grilling, Pan-Searing, Smoking

Grill, pan-sear, or smoke your venison backstrap to perfection with these cooking methods:

Serving and Pairing

Discover the perfect side dish and sauce suggestions to enhance the flavor of venison backstrap, along with the best cuts of meat to serve alongside it.

Side Dish and Sauce Suggestions

Venison backstrap can be paired with various delicious side dishes and sauces to enhance its flavors. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Roasted vegetables: Serve your venison backstrap with a medley of roasted vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes for a healthy and colorful accompaniment.
  2. Creamy mashed potatoes: The creamy texture of mashed potatoes pairs perfectly with the tender and flavorful venison backstrap. Add a dollop of butter or sour cream for extra richness.
  3. Garlic butter mushrooms: Sautéed garlic butter mushrooms add an earthy flavor that complements the gamey taste of the venison backstrap. It adds depth to the overall dish.
  4. Red wine reduction: Create a rich and savory sauce by reducing red wine with herbs and spices. This sauce adds a luxurious touch to your venison backstrap.
  5. Cranberry glaze: For a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, drizzle your venison backstrap with a cranberry glaze made from cranberry juice, sugar, and a hint of lemon juice.
  6. Chimichurri sauce: This vibrant green sauce made with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar brings a burst of freshness to the dish.
  7. Sweet potato puree: Serve your venison backstrap on a bed of creamy sweet potato puree for a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
  8. Blueberry compote: Create a fruity topping for your venison backstrap by simmering blueberries with sugar until they become soft and syrupy.

Best Cuts to Serve with Venison Backstrap

When it comes to serving venison backstrap, a few cuts of meat pair exceptionally well. One popular choice is beef tenderloin, which has a similarly lean and tender texture.

Another option is pork loin, which adds a slightly richer flavor to complement the gamey taste of venison. Lamb chops can also be a great choice for those looking for something different as they bring their unique savory notes to the dish.

Ultimately, the best cut to serve with venison backstrap depends on personal preference and what flavors you want to enhance in your meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore other game meats, elk or antelope steaks can be excellent options too. These cuts offer bold flavors that can stand up well against the distinct taste of venison.

Remember to marinate your chosen cut before cooking it alongside the backstrap. This will help infuse extra layers of flavor into both meats and create a harmonious combination on your plate.


In conclusion, venison backstrap is a lean and flavorful cut of meat that is often compared to beef steak. It can be prepared using various cooking methods such as grilling, pan-searing, or smoking.

With its gamey taste and tender texture, venison backstrap makes a delicious and unique addition to any culinary repertoire. So why not give it a try and explore the versatile uses of this delectable protein?.