Maple-Lime Marinated Elk Backstrap

Maple syrup isn't just for breakfast. This quick and easy marinade mixes the sweet and woodsy flavor of syrup with tart lime juice for a delicious marinade.

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
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Good maple syrup isn’t just for breakfast. If you have never watched the syrup-making process, check it out here. The sweet, woodsy flavor pairs up nicely with citrus as a marinade for red meat. For this one, we squeezed fresh lime juice and mixed it with equal parts of real maple syrup for the marinade base. The tartness and acidity of the limes cut the sugar sweetness in the syrup, allowing the back flavors to come through. To kick things up a bit, we tossed in a big pinch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

Grill the tenderloin to 135 for a nice medium-rare.

Pour the marinade over your choice of venison. I chose an elk tenderloin generously gifted to us by a good friend. Cover the dish and refrigerate at least four hours and up to overnight to allow the marinade to work on the meat. If you are marinating smaller deer tenderloins, you can cut the soak time down to two hours.

Always use real maple syrup in your recipes, not the imitation stuff.

To cook the elk, I simply built a hot fire in my PK Grill and seared the elk for about five minutes per side for medium rare. Loosely cover the grilled tenderloin and allow the venison to rest for 10 minutes or so before slicing. 

Grill the tenderloin over a hot gas or charcoal grill for 3-5 minutes per side.


1 elk tenderloin or three to four deer tenderloins, about 2 pounds total


Marinade Ingredients

½ cup real maple syrup

Juice of 6-8 limes (about half a cup)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 pinch of red pepper flakes


Cooking Instructions

Mix the marinade and pour over the venison in a glass or pyrex dish. Refrigerate at least two hours and up to overnight. Build a hot charcoal fire or turn your gas or pellet grill to high. Sear the tenderloin for three to five minutes per side, depending on size and desired doneness. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for ten minutes.

Squeeze the limes into the maple syrup, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Slice across the grain for tender medallions. Serve as an appetizer or with rice or potatoes as a main course.

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