Venison Backstrap and Caramelized Onion Canapes

Want to put a wild game twist on your next party appetizers? Try these savory bites

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes Print Recipe
prep time
cook time

A great way to introduce friends and family to wild game is through appetizers and snacks. These easy canapes are just the thing. Simply season and grill either backstrap or, even better, an inside tenderloin. Slice the meat into thin strips and serve it on toasted baguette slices.

These appetizers are a blend of savory, sweet, and spicy.

To add flavor contrast to the savory grilled venison, top it with sweet caramelized onions that have been cooked with a bit of red wine and brown sugar. All that sweetness needs a bit of spice for balance, and that comes from a dash of horseradish sauce. Since no one wants soggy toast, use a baby spinach leaf between the baguette and the venison as a moisture barrier and to add a splash of green for visual appeal.

Serve them up with pre-dinner drinks and a charcuterie board.

Try serving these canapes with assorted cured meats, cheeses, and a bit of fruit for an appetizer spread everyone will love. We use the Realtree Logo cheese board and glasses from Cave Pop to add a bit of an outdoors feel to the spread.



1-pound section of venison backstrap or inside tenderloin


Seasoning Rub

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


Caramelized Onions

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 large Vidalia or other sweet onions, sliced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup red wine



36 baguette slices, toasted

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup store-bought horseradish sauce, or make your own by mixing 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish with 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and salt to taste


Cooking Instructions

Mix the seasoning rub and coat the venison inside tenderloin or backstrap well. Set the meat aside and preheat your Traeger Grill to 350 degrees.

Season the tenderloin or backstrap well before grilling.

To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and canola oil. Add the sliced onions, then sprinkle on a large pinch of salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the brown sugar and red wine. Stir well, then reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions are well caramelized and a deep mahogany color.

Add the brown sugar and wine to the onions and continue cooking.

While the onions cook, place the venison on the grill. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, or until the venison reaches about 130 degrees internal temperature for medium-rare. Turn the venison on the grill 2 to 3 times to evenly brown all sides. Remove the venison and allow it to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Rest the grilled venison before slicing thinly across the grain.

To plate, carve the rested venison, against the grain, into thin slices. Top each baguette slice with a baby spinach leaf.

A baby spinach leaf is the perfect size to act as a moisture barrier between the venison and toast.

Add a slice of venison and a spoonful of caramelized onion, then finish with a dollop of horseradish. These appetizers taste as good as they look, and they won’t last long at your next get-together.

Have a recipe you would like to suggest as a feature? Email us and let us know!