Bacon Wrapped Vension (or Beef) Tenderloin

There are so many things that I love about cooking with wild game….

  • It’s truly 100% organic
  • It’s grass-fed, making it very nutritious
  • It’s frugal (if you process the meat yourself)

I really enjoy the thrill of the hunt when I go antelope hunting with my hubby. It really is something special to go all the way from harvesting the animal in it’s natural habitat, to cutting up the meat, to then serving it in delicious ways.

(Warning for my sensitive readers- dead animal photo ahead)



I’ve killed three antelope since moving to Wyoming. I didn’t hunt growing up and learned everything from my hubby (and Hunter’s Safety, of course). So if you are someone who didn’t come from a hunting family, there is hope for you!

Today I am sharing my absolute FAVORITE meal. No kidding. I would pick this over a steak any day of the week.

Since we don’t have venison as often as we do antelope, it’s a rare treat. But boy-oh-boy, I savor every last bite when it is available! (We usually don’t do this with our antelope, but you definitely could. The meat just might have a bit more of a “gamey” flavor.)

If you don’t have venison available right now, you can substitute a beef fillet or tenderloin instead. But if hunting is an option in your area, I highly encourage you to find a good mentor, take a Hunter’s Safety course, and get out in the field!

Bacon Wrapped Venison Tenderloin

  • 1-2 lbs venison tenderloin (aka backstrap) cut into medallions that are around 1 inch thick. (Or use the beef equivalent)
  • 1 lb bacon (use nitrate-free if you can)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I use the real, raw stuff)
  • 1/8 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce will work in a pinch)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sucanat OR Rapadura OR regular sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In a baking pan (a 9×9 or a pie plate usually works for me), combine all of the ingredients except the tenderloin and bacon.

Place the medallions in the marinade mixture. Turn them over once to coat, then allow to marinate for 2-6 hours in the refrigerator. (I try to flip them at least once during the process).

When you are ready to cook them, remove from the mixture and discard the marinade.

Wrap one slice of bacon around the edge of each medallion. Secure with a toothpick.

Grill to your preference. I like the bacon to be crispy, but for the inside of the meat to still be a little pink.

Remove from the grill. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Cooking notes: I am far from a Grill Queen, so I hesitate to tell you exactly how to cook these. You know your grill and preferences best, so just cook them like you would your favorite steak. However, for maximum flavor, I would advise NOT overcooking them.

If you are in a pinch, these can definitely be grilled inside as well. In the photos, I am using a cast iron grill pan. It took longer to cook them on the stove top than on our gas grill, but it still worked.

The marinate infuses the meat with flavor, while the bacon fat bastes it as it cooks. It’s heaven on a fork people.

Bacon Wrapped Vension (or Beef) Tenderloin


  • 1-2 lbs venison tenderloin (aka backstrap) or beef equivalent, cut into 1" thick medallions
  • 1 lb bacon (nitrate-free if you can)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce works in a pinch)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sucanat, Rapadura, or regular sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. In 9x9 pie plate or baking pan combine all ingredients except tenderloin and bacon
  2. Place medallions in marinade mixture, turning once to coat, then marinate 2-6 hours in refrigerator
  3. Flip them at least once
  4. Remove before cooking and discard marinade
  5. Wrap a slice of bacon around each medallion, securing with a toothpick
  6. Grill to your preference
  7. Remove and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving
  8. Enjoy!

Serve with mashed spuds or a fluffy baked potato and a side of steamed garden veggies! Whoever thought local food might be boring never had a bite of this!

If you are a venison fan, check out my Slow Cooker Vension Chili, too!

Are you a fan of wild game? Have you ever been hunting?

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  1. says

    Love venison wrapped in bacon, and love the apple cider marinades. This combination looks great. Your backstraps look a little bigger than mine (our Northern VA white tails are a little bit smaller than your Wyoming mules :))

    • Jill says

      Yes, this one is a Mulie! :) We had lots of white tails where I grew up in Idaho, but mostly Mule Deer here.

  2. says

    I’m glad to see a homesteader writing about wild game! It’s how we get all of our meat. Bacon-wrapped venison (or elk!) is a favorite here. I’ve never had antelope, they aren’t common where I live. Another trick, if you don’t have bacon, is simply to rub your steaks with bacon grease. Ups the flavor and really moistens them. But not as good as the real thing. :-) Good post!

  3. Tarheelbilly says

    This is my family’s favorite vension recipe! :-) It’s simply lovely, with an amazingly subtle flavor. Sometimes bacon can overpower a recipe, but it doesn’t in this case. Wonderful!

  4. Jessica T. says

    We love wild game too – elk, deer, antelope. :) I will have to try this recipe… it looks very tasty! And the bacon would definitely help keep it moist and add flavor. My favorite way to cook it, especially if I know I won’t have a lot of time in the evening and the cut is a little on the tougher end, is to cut my steaks up so they are more bite-sized and put them in the crock pot for about 6-8 hours (depending on how long I’m out for the day) with a little water or beef broth for moisture and some fresh minced garlic. (Don’t forget the garlic!) :) Then when we get home, all we have to do is mash some potatoes and make some gravy in with the meat. And sometimes if I’m wanting more of a stew I will add carrots and taters so that they cook all day with the meat. Then when I get home I can add the corn, green beans, or other veggies and a can of V-8. Oh so tasty! :) Thanks for doing a post on wild game! :)

  5. says

    Another wild game fan here! I have an elk steak in the freezer that I’ll use your recipe for – thank you so much!

    I don’t know where you are located, but someone recently pointed out to me that wild game – venison in particular – is not necessarily organic or grass fed. Deer are not grazers – they are browsers. In the midwest, they eat a lot of corn and soybeans in farm fields, and are therefore grain fed and unless the farms they select are organic farms, the meat would be considered conventional. Bummer, I know!

    • Jill says

      Good point Laura- that is a bummer!
      However, this deer came from the “desert” of Wyoming where there isn’t much but sagebrush and rocks, so I’m pretty sure he’s grass (or at least sagebrush) fed! hehe

  6. Julia says

    My husband is an avid hunter and once my children get a bit older I do plan on giving hunting a try. I am always looking for new recipes to use for cooking our venison and not just doing the same things with it I am going to try this soon it looks and sounds very good.

  7. Cathy says

    Jill, thanks for this recipe! We do something similar with elk, deer and goose, but I haven’t tried the marinade first, THEN the bacon wrap, so I am looking forward to this!!! We end up with a lot of round steak from elk which is much tougher than the tenderloin, so I’ve been tenderizing that with a meat hammer, then marinating it in (raw, homemade) buttermilk for most of the day. Something about the acids in buttermilk make a great tenderizer, and since we end up with a lot of fresh buttermilk, its great to use. I think yogurt and kefir might work as well. Have you read Girlhunter? It’s a new book out that my friend just loaned me about a woman professional chief that decides to get up close an personal with her food. She tours around and hunts all sorts of things, and then has recipes for cooking the wild game she gets. Just started reading it, but it’s good so far…….

  8. says

    We have venison in the freezer right now, thanks to my deer-hunting hubby! I have never gone hunting with him, but it’s on my to-do list!!

  9. says

    Oh, this looks good. I’ve never had venison befrore…I’m not even sure if I can get that here on the Central Coast of California…but organic beef, bison etc…runs aplenty here :) :) …and everything is better with bacon :) :) Also, good if you want bacon are dates wrapped in bacon..and served good :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  10. Laila says

    LOVE wild game and the pictures, well… Jill you really need to label them food porn! I drool every time I come to check and there they are. I really need to find a source of game meat- I miss it.

  11. says

    Your marinade sounds delicious! We either grill or smoke our deer tenderloin but this sounds like a nice alternative. Thanks for sharing!

  12. says

    Oh, this photo is worth waiting for but I did like the hunt photo!!! MMMMM…my husband is from MN and hunts religiously. I don’t hunt but I learned after proper marinating (to remove an especially gamey smell) is to always remove the silver stuff, wash off as much blood off the meat, and undercook (like “rare” compared to beef). A couple of nights ago I made General Tso’s chicken using elk and posted it on my blog. I’ve made that recipe with antelope and rabbit too as well as beef & chicken. I’ve warned my friends and family that at my house it may look just like what you’d get at a restaurant but it may not be beef or chicken but elk or snake!

  13. says

    Thank you thank you! That was by far the best recipe EVER!! My kids are picky about venison so I usually hide it in casseroles and pasta dishes…but they asked for seconds!!! Definitely will be doing this again!!

    • Jill says

      ReNee, you just made my whole night! I’m SO happy that you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment. :)

  14. says

    Mmmm – that looks delicious! Deer are plentiful in my area, and I love venison. I’ll have to give this one a whirl sometime. Normally my cousin smokes a lot of the meat and we have stews, sausage, etc…

  15. says

    I can’t get past the fact that you go hunting and you love it – LOL I’m such a wimpy girly girl! Your venison looks amazing, though. I dont’ even know anybody close by who likes to hunt, so I’ve actually never had venison, can you believe it? Thanks for linking up to H2W; come back next week to see if you were featured:)

  16. says

    Jill, I had leftover marinated venison steak, so I sliced it up and added it to stir fried veggies and used new marinade from your recipe over the veggies and the meat and then thickened it…SO GOOD!!! Two awesome recipes from one!! Thank you again!!

  17. says

    Jill – you are my hero! My husband is a hunter. He said “Nikki, you are going to start hunting with me….and so are the girls [when they are older – they are only 1 and 2].” I said “I thought that was your Man-time?! He said “Heck no! I think it would be so awesome!” Jill, I already have my own gun(s) and have been waiting. You have just given me the green light! We are moving to the sticks in Indiana and will start hunting for our meat exclusively. I can’t wait to help. This meal looks amazing and guess what….YOUR meal is featured tomorrow on Healthy 2day Wednesdays so be sure to swing by and see it! Again, YOU ARE MY HERO! Ha ha.

    • Jill says

      You go girl! It’s totally do-able, and might I also say, quite empowering! And I am honored to be featured on tomorrow’s link up. Thank you! I will be heading over to check it out tomorrow for sure. :)

  18. says

    We only eat what we grow, hunt and fish! Our family loves the backstrap with your same marinade and covered with our own smoked pork butt that I slice into bacon thin slices; wrapped in puff pastry aka chateaubriand. I have made this for lots of folks who swore they would never eat anything but beef and have never had any leftovers! Our family is extremely healthy because of eating and appreciating the fruits of our labor!

    • Jill says

      Oooh my– the smoked pork butt and puff pastry is making my mouth water! Definitely sounds like the perfect way to “convert” those who think they don’t like game meat! :)

  19. Dia says

    Venison is the basic meat in my pantry and freezer. This recipe will be added to my arsenal.
    Just as funny story. We gather monthly with a group for dinner. Most of the men enjoy red meat, but they don’t always know how to prepare it. Any way, I fixed some tenderloin (similar ingredients to yours) sliced, with biscuits for an appetizer. Well, it was very well received by some of the guests there. They raved about it, and it kind of made a couple of the people mad. Their dry beef and bland chicken didn’t get eaten! No bragging, just saying that its good to step out of the ‘ burbs’ and give natural living a try. Thanks for your blogging. Blessings.

    • Jill says

      Ha! I love it when folks who are skeptical about game meat are “converted.” :) Game meat that is well prepared will beat dry beef or chicken any day!

  20. Theresa says

    Thanks for the recipe. I grew up in North Idaho and there was hunters in my family, so we had venison often. I actually never hunted myself. This last October I went hunting for the first time and filled my antelope and deer tags. Harvesting an animal is not for everyone, but for me I can’t wait to go again. Thanks for the recipe. I’m gonna try it tonight.

  21. D Koch says

    Oh Jill! I am a fan of the wily pronghorn too! I love everything about them and I’m thrilled to find we have that in common. I love watching them, hunting them and cooking them. They are amazing animals and my favorite by far! We had pronghorn neck roast for supper tonight. For those who say that “stinking goats are not fit for dog food”, I say, learn proper field care. I do share, but only with people I really like and hope to convert! The method is working! I have recently learned to can meat and I hope to begin smoking sausage this summer!

  22. says

    I envy you being able to hunt your own game! We lived in Montana for a while and although we ate quite a bit of venison, elk and antelope, we never had the experience of hunting it ourselves. (some dear friends gave us their leftovers… which was also great!)

    And I agree that everything tastes just so much better with bacon! ha ha!


  23. Jamie says

    I’m going to make this for dinner tomorrow I’m up in canada and I would think that this would be great with moose also mmmmm moose