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Smoked and reverse seared venison backstrap is easy to make on a pellet grill! Utilizing this beginner-friendly cooking technique helps you get the most out of your fresh deer steaks! Subtly flavored with smoke, with a perfect sear on the outside and a tender medium rare inside this is one of my favorite venison recipes ever.
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If you’ve never smoked a venison backstrap, golly are you in for a treat! Using applewood or another fruit wood adds just a touch of sweetness to compliment the flavor of the fresh venison that you may never cook your backstrap another way again.
Though, of course, if you’re still wanting to enjoy grilled backstrap, I’ve got you covered there, too!
Seasoning Venison Backstrap
Dry the steaks with paper towel to remove any old blood from the steaks. This will help provide a cleaner flavor to your meat!
Season each piece liberally with my venison dry rub and place in refrigerator for at least two hours.
Setting up the Smoker
Add applewood or other fruit wood pellets to your Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 DLX pellet grill and set it to preheat to 225 degrees on the “Smoke” setting.
While the smoker is preheating, take the backstraps out of the fridge to come up in temperature because you should never cook meat straight from the fridge!
How to Smoke Venison Backstrap
Insert temperature probes into the steaks and set the temperature alert to 110 degrees.
Place the steaks in the center of the grill to start the smoking process.
When the thermometer reads 110 degrees (this will take about 10 – 15 minutes), remove backstraps from the smoker and set in warm place.
Reverse Searing Venison Steaks
Switch the heat baffle to the “Sear” mode and set the temperature of the grill to 450 degrees.
When the grill is up in temperature, sear backstraps on each side for 2 – 3 minutes for medium rare, or to desired doneness.
Be sure you let the venison rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving so the juices can redistribute.
How not to overcook venison?
Remember that cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of your backstraps!
For this recipe, my backstraps weren’t exactly the same size. One was about ½ an inch thinner than the other, meaning it cooked faster and I removed it from the grill before the second one.
For medium rare backstrap remove the steaks when they reach 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Carryover cooking while they rest will bring them up to 135 - 140 degrees.
If you don’t have a thermometer or temperature probe, I always think it’s best to error on the side of underdone, as you can always cook the venison a little longer after resting and slicing. It’s hard to rescue a deer steak once it’s been cooked too long!
Smoked and Pan Seared Backstrap
If you don’t have a pellet grill that can sear after smoking, you can still enjoy this great smoked backstrap recipe! Here’s how:
- Preheat your smoker using applewood to maintain temperature around 225 degrees.
- Smoke the backstrap as directed in the recipe, to an initial internal temperature of 110 degrees. (This will take about 10- 15 minutes,).
- When the meat is around 100 - 105 degrees, set a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and let it get screaming hot.
- Add a high smoke-point oil such as avocado to the preheated pan and sear the backstraps for 2 - 3 minutes, per side, or to desired doneness.
- Proceed with resting and serving as directed in the recipe card.
This is how I like to smoke venison tenderloin, as those cuts of fresh venison are generally thinner than backstrap and the heat from a drum smoker is so gentle I’m not worried about overcooking them!
What to serve with venison backstrap?
We’re very classic in our family – typically serving the venison steaks with a carb and veggie.
Any way you slice it, this is the best recipe for smoked venison backstrap!
Smoked and Reverse Seared Venison Backstrap
- Pellet Grill
- Instant Read Thermometer
- 1 ½ pounds venison backstrap either whole or cut into two equal pieces
- 2 teaspoons venison dry rub more or less to taste
- At least 2 hours before cooking, pat the backstrap dry with paper towel and season liberally on all sides with 2 teaspoons venison dry rub (more or less to taste). Place in the fridge, uncovered for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- An hour before cooking, remove the backstrap from the fridge so it can come up in temperature.
- At the same time, preheat your Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900 DLX pellet grill to 225 degrees, making sure the heat baffle is set to “Smoke” and the hopper is filled with apple or other fruit wood pellets.
- If using, place temperature probes from your instant read thermometers into the steaks, setting the alert for 110 degrees.
- Place the backstrap in the center of the grill and smoke until they reach 110 degrees internally. Remove from the grill and store in a warm place (tenting the meat with foil on a pan works well, here). Remove temperature probe for easier handling, if desired.
- Switch the grill’s heat baffle to “Sear” and set the temperature to 450 degrees.
- Sear the backstrap for 2 – 3 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer. (Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your backstraps).
- Remove from grill and tent steaks with foil to rest for 5 minutes. Carryover cooking will bring the steaks up to 135 - 140 degrees internally. For a more well-done backstrap, sear for an additional minute or two per side before resting.
- After resting, slice and serve with your favorite sides!
- See post for notes on smoking the backstrap in a drum smoker and searing in a cast iron pan.