Oh, Deer: The Hands Down Best Venison Ever


Deer are lovely creatures and taste good, too (Photo by Kath Usitalo)

I can’t imagine shooting a deer with anything but my camera, but it’s nice to know hunters who are happy to share their bounty.

When we were in Ithaca, New York for Thanksgiving weekend a couple of years ago to visit college student Paige, we rented a house through Vacation Rentals By Owner so we could cook our traditional turkey feast and enjoy our family time in space and comfort. (For more about the trip check out the story posted here.)

We lucked into all that and freshly bagged venison from Roger, a partner in the VRBO property. He stopped by the house and generously gave us the beautiful deer tenderloin.

Bacon-wrapped venison tenderloins

Bacon-wrapped and sugar-sweetened, how could the venison be anything but delish?

We brought that venison back to the 313 and found the following recipe on food.com, where a contributor claims this is the “hands down BEST deer meat recipe in America.” And, “Even those who don’t like wild game meat will fight for a piece of this.”

TJ whipped up the recipe (below) and the two of us—well, Tucker the Wonder Dog had some too—enjoyed the ”candy tenderloin” over the next couple of days. Hot or cold, it was tender, sweet, and definitely not gamey.

Oh, deer, it was delish.

Sweet Bacon-Wrapped Venison Tenderloin
found at food.com
Serves 2-3


2 lbs venison tenderloin (or moose, elk, pork or beef)
1/2 lb bacon (plain, thin-sliced is best)
3 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups soy sauce (regular, not low-sodium; you’ll want the saltiness)
1/4 cup white sugar (optional for added sweetness)


1. Mix brown sugar and soy sauce in a bowl.
2. Put deer loin in a cooking tray and pour sugar/soy sauce over loin. Roll loin in mixture, completely covering it.
3. Let meat marinate in refrigerator a minimum of 3 hours; preferably at least 6 hours or overnight.
4. Remove loin from tray and place on slotted bake sheet with drip pan or aluminum foil beneath to catch drips. Save marinade from pan.
5. Wrap a piece of bacon around the very end of the tenderloin, securing with a toothpick.
6. Repeat process until entire loin is wrapped in bacon “loops.”  The loin should look like an arm with a bunch of  wrist watches on it, the watches being the bacon strips.
7.  Drizzle remaining marinade over loin. You can continue to baste the loin withe the marinade throughout the cooking process with either a brush or turkey baster.
8. Place on center rack in oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. This should cook the meat to about medium. For those who prefer it rare cut the time to 25-30 minutes and then follow OPTION 2 below regarding searing.
9. OPTION 1: With about 10 minutes of cooking time left, lightly dust the top of the loin with white sugar. This creates a sweet crust on top of the bacon.
OPTION 2: For a crispier crust and bacon remove loin from oven and place directly on a grill over medium high heat to sear the bacon and outer loin.
10. Remove from oven and place on cutting board. Cut the loin between each strip of bacon; each slice will have its own toothpick.
11. You can eat these pieces directly from the toothpick or remove the pick and eat like a steak. You can thank me later.
12. The next day try the leftovers on a wheat bun with spicy BBQ sauce for an awesome leftover sandwich.

NOTE: TJ kinda sorta adopted Option 1 in step 9.

(Venison photos by Chef TJ Kozak)

(Venison photos by Chef TJ Kozak)

Venison cooking photos by TJ