Grilled Elk Chops with Jalapeño Ranch Sauce

This spicy jalapeño ranch sauce is the perfect accompaniment for any type of grilled or fried wild game, including these bone-in elk loin chops

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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While I normally remove the loin from large game like deer and elk and either package it as roasts or cut into individual steaks, I sometimes like to change things up a bit and make bone-in chops, particularly with elk and their larger backstrap muscle. 

Spoon the jalapeño ranch sauce over the grilled elk chops.

The process is simple with a skinned animal. First, decide how long you want your bones. They can be as short as just outside the loin muscle or as long as full ribs. Or anything in between. Once you've decided a bone length, cut the length of the rib section at that point. To free the loin from the spine, cut down along the inside of the loin where it rests against the backbone to where the rib attaches. Use a saw to cut through the rib just outside the backbone. You can leave several bones attached as a crown roast, or cut between each bone for individual steaks. 

Season the elk steaks on both sides before grilling.

If you hunt in a CWD zone, I strongly advise leaving the back section whole until you have a negative CWD test. I always advise against sawing through bone, particularly around the spine, until you know for certain that your animal is CWD free. 

For these elk chops, we seasoned with a simple spice rub, then grilled them on our Traeger until they hit medium rare. We then mixed up one of my favorite wild game sauces  — a creamy, spicy jalapeño ranch. Drizzle the sauce over the finished steaks just before serving. 

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5-6 elk backstrap steaks

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon cayenne powder (yes, powder)

½ teaspoon smoked paprika



1 ½ cups sour cream

½ cup Duke's Mayonnaise

¼ cup buttermilk or buttermilk powder

1 packet dry ranch dressing mix

½ cup pickled sliced jalapeños

¼ cup fresh cilantro 

Juice of one lime

Cooking Instructions

Blend until smooth, then refrigerate until needed. Make the sauce first.

This tasty sauce takes only a few ingredients.

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor. 

Add all sauce ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Blend until smooth, then refrigerate until needed. 

Store the sauce in the refrigerator until needed.

Let the steaks come to room temperature and pat dry. Mix the spices into a rub and sprinkle over both sides of the steaks. Grill at 350 for 4-5 minutes per side or until they reach your desired doneness. 

Grill the elk 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness, to desired doneness.

Sauce before serving.

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