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A Simple Elk Tenderloin Recipe


Zach's writing ranges from matters of gardening, cooking, aquariums, and fish to more niche topics like coin collecting.


When it comes to red meat, nothing beats the delectable taste of elk. Sure, beef is good, but elk is definitely better! Unfortunately, elk tends to have steep prices and sometimes very low availability. That means that when the opportunity arises, you'd better be prepared to make the most out of your precious cuts of elk.

Of course, there's no cut more precious and deserving of the most delicate care than the elk tenderloin! Cook them right and you'll be rewarded greatly. Cook them wrong and you'll end up with a mouth full of leather. In this elk tenderloin recipe, I'll steer you down the righteous road and help guide you to an elk tenderloin meal you'll never forget!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

3 hours

30 min

3 hours 30 min

2 servings (with leftovers)


  • 2 1-pound elk tenderloins
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 large carrot (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons bacon fat (lard) or butter

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized apple (I used a sweet honeycrisp)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Balsamic Reduction Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of beet water
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

How to Marinate the Elk Tenderloins

  1. Prepare the marinade by combining all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until the marinade is fairly smooth.
  2. Place the elk tenderloins into a large plastic bag and pour in the marinade.
  3. Allow the tenderloins to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 24 hours.
Marinated elk tenderloins.

Marinated elk tenderloins.


  1. Pull the tenderloins out of the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  2. At this point, you might want to consider your side dishes (I suggest beets and potatoes: see separate instructions below).
  3. Preheat your oven to 425°F and preheat a heavy skillet to high heat on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons oil to the skillet.
  4. When the oil is just smoking, add the tenderloins to the skillet and sear each side of the meat. You're looking to get a golden brown crust without cooking the meat inside.
  5. Once seared, remove the meat and add your diced onion, carrot, and celery to the skillet (or a baking pan if you don't have a skillet that can go from stove to oven!). Place the tenderloins on top of the veggie mix and rub the top of the meat with some bacon fat and extra marinade. (This keeps the meat incredibly tender.)
  6. Add the tenderloins to the oven and allow them to cook, undisturbed, for at least 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes in the oven, the meat should be rare to mid-rare depending on the size of the tenderloins. Most people prefer elk in this range. However, I prefer medium-rare and let mine go for 26 minutes total.
  8. Once the meat is pulled from the oven, immediately place the tenderloins on a warm plate and allow them to rest. Scoop out all the vegetables from the skillet and use a sieve to squeeze the juices from the veggies back into the skillet.
  9. Place the skillet back onto the stove top set to medium heat. Add the reserved beet water (see below) and balsamic vinegar to the veggie/meat juice. Place a couple sprigs of rosemary in the skillet and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Elk tenderloins seared with bacon lard and extra marinade rubbed in.

Elk tenderloins seared with bacon lard and extra marinade rubbed in.

Side Dish Ingredients:

Sauteed Beets:

  • 3 bunches of small beets (chop and reserve the beet greens)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simple Mashed Potatoes:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes (peeled)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Milk (to reach desired creaminess)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for Side Dishes (Beets and Potatoes)

  1. Bring two pots of lightly salted water to a boil. (Boiling them separate from each other keeps the potatoes from turning pink.)
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, preheat your oven for the elk.
  3. Once the water is at a boil, add your peeled potatoes and beets to their respective pots. The potatoes will need to cook a full 35 minutes while the beets only need 20 minutes.
  4. While the meat is cooking, the beets will need to be removed from the boiling water. Drain them off, but also reserve a 1/2 cup of the beet water for the balsalmic reduction sauce.
  5. Peel the beets out of their skin and quarter into sections. Combine them with the reserved beet greens and quickly sauté in a pan with butter. Keep warm.
  6. The potatoes should be finished boiling just a little before the meat is ready. Drain the potatoes off, add butter and mash well. Finish by adding small amounts of milk until the desired creaminess is reached. Keep warm.

Plating Up:

With everything cooked and in place, plating couldn't be more easy. Spoon some mashed potatoes onto the plate, sit some beets by their side, and lace the front with slices of elk tenderloin. Finish the dish with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction and enjoy! Impress some guests, spiff up a hot date, or simply treat yourself. Whatever the reason, you must try this elk tenderloin recipe! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have. I'd be glad to help out!


Rob on October 08, 2019:

An outstanding meal - tremendous elk tenderloin, great complimentary flavors with the potatoes, vegetables, beets. This was really good !

Mindy on February 16, 2017:

Amazing! My hat's off to you! We live in Montana, and shoot an elk each year. Needless to say, the 5 of us eat a lot of it. With 3 kids, I cook 99% of our meals. So I like to think I'm a good cook! I can't even say how many ways I've cooked elk of any cut, with as many marinades. Yours is so, so great! I've told several people to check out your recipe. Yay for you and thanks! This will be a recipe I guarantee my kids children will still make!

idigwebsites from United States on May 27, 2013:

Wow... it can be reeeaaaallly good! :)

OLYHOOCH from Thompson Falls, Montana on December 19, 2012:

Thanks. I will put this in My special Place for future use.


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