Venison backstrap is one of the best cuts of meat from a deer. The back strap is a versatile cut of meat that is exceptionally tender, nest to only the tenderloin.
Although there are multiple ways to cook a backstrap, the temperature it should be cooked to nearly always remains the same.
The ideal temperature for a venison backstrap is between 120-140F.
Venison Backstrap Temperatures
As mentioned above, the ideal temperature for venison backstrap is between 120-140F. This means the backstrap is best served rare to medium rare.
While you can cook venison backstrap to well, it is not recommended for taste and texture reasons.
The least intrusive degree of cook on any meat is rare. Generally, this is only recommended for red meats as they typically pose fewer health risks.
Outside of making venison tartare, rare is the closest to uncooked.
Rare venison backstrap should have an internal temperature of 125-130F. Typically this degree of cook is reserved for only the finest cuts of meat which the venison backstrap qualifies for.
Regardless of how you cook your venison backstrap, a rare cook is an option.
This will work for steaks, oven roasts, grilled, etc. While nobody is expecting a rare backstrap to come out of a slow cooker, it would be a shame to cook a backstrap using a slow cooker in the first place.
Stick to the classic tender-cut cooking methods, and you can achieve a nice rare cook on your venison backstrap.
Medium rare is typically 5 degrees higher than rare and probably the best temperature for venison backstrap.
Medium-rare temperature for venison backstrap is between 130-135F. This temperature is optimal because it allows the venison to remain juicy while almost appearing to have a full cook with a warm center.
Many people do not like the cold center of a rare cook, so medium-rare is a great option.
Medium is probably the most popular cook for both venison and beef alike.
A medium cook on a venison backstrap should read 135-140. While with beef, you can get away with this; venison begins to lose some of its moisture and flavor.
If you are looking for a medium cook, aim for 135F rather than 140F and allow the resting period to continue the cook.
When it comes to venison backstrap, cooking beyond medium is rarely talked about or heard of.
As I previously mentioned, venison will begin to become chewy and take on a livery flavor after a certain temperature.
You can reach this temperature with slow cooking or pressure cooking methods. But for traditional cooking methods for backstrap, I do not recommend going beyond 140F
However, should you wish to go beyond medium to medium well, the internal temperature of the backstrap should be between 145-150F.
There will be absolutely no sign of red in the meat, instead it will have a gray appearance.
I almost don’t want to discuss cooking a backstrap to well. In my opinion, if you reached this temperature, you burned the venison.
There is not much to say about this temperature, except don’t do it.
If you do want to ignore my advice, the temperature you are looking for is between 155-160F.
You will have a very chewy backstrap with a deep liver flavor at this temperature.
An important part of cooking a prime cut of venison like the backstrap is searing.
Searing allows you to get a nice outside layer on the meat while allowing the inside to remain juicy and tender.
There are two searing methods, and both play an important role in the temperature of the meat.
Standard searing is cooking the meat on very high heat before placing it in the oven.
Reverse searing is cooking it over really high heat after it comes out of the oven.
While both methods work well, I prefer to reverse sear as it leads to a much more even cook.
Another important consideration when cooking venison backstrap is resting time.
The resting time allows for the meat to relax after contracting in the heat. However, it’s important to note that resting time can affect your final temperature.
This is because the meat still cooks while it is resting. As you will see above, I give a range for internal temperatures; ideally, you should choose the lower temperature; this will allow a little room for the resting time.
Safe Cooking Temperatures
While the temperatures mentioned above are my opinion and what I recommend from a food quality standpoint, there is still a safety aspect to consider.
The USDA recommends cooking venison to 160F; however, they do not specify this is for backstrap.
I can assure you that venison backstrap cooked to that temperature would not be enjoyable for most people.
While deer can carry diseases, there are very few cases of any diseases transmitted to humans through the consumption of venison.
If you take proper care from field dressing to butchering and storing the venison, then you have little to be concerned about.
Inspect your venison closely to make sure it has not spoiled before cooking.
This is not health or medical advice but the opinion of a professional chef that has eaten rare venison hundreds of times.
The external cooking temperature is a big influence on the cooking of venison backstrap.
There are many cooking methods for backstrap, but the most popular are pan-fried, grilled, or oven baked. Sometimes a combination of two cooking methods is best, such as seared on the pan and then oven baked.
When cooking venison, it’s typical to choose a lower internal temperature. For example, medium rare venison backstrap is between 130-135F, whereas for beef, it is 135-140F.
The external cooking temperature works the opposite way; venison is usually cooked over a hotter temperature for less time.
For example, on a grill, common temperature for beef is around 400F, whereas, for venison, I recommend around 500F.
However, for oven-baked venison backstrap, I like to use a lower heat but sear over high heat.
The best temperature for venison backstrap is between 130 and 140F. I do not recommend going over 140F from a food quality perspective. Beyond this temperature, the backstrap will begin to lose its moisture and deteriorate in texture.
Rusty enjoys connecting food and nature and has done so since a child. He was fortunate enough to explore cuisine worldwide and work at great European restaurants. He now enjoys thinking up new recipes that he can find around him in nature in North America.