Grill or broil deer tenderloin for a healthy meal.

How to Cook a Healthy Deer Tenderloin

by Michelle Kerns

A 3-ounce serving of cooked deer tenderloin is low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B-12, niacin, iron, zinc and copper. Compared to cooked beef tenderloin, deer tenderloin contains less saturated fat per serving: beef tenderloin has 2.5 grams in every 3 ounces, while deer tenderloin has less than 1 gram. If you use certain cooking methods, you can keep the fat and calorie count of deer tenderloin as low as possible, but still get a large amount of flavor. According to, cooked venison like deer pairs well with sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic, cherries and herbs like coriander, thyme, rosemary and juniper berries.

Use a sharp knife to remove as much of the connective tissue, fat and tough, outer membrane from the surface of the deer tenderloin as possible.

Rub the deer tenderloin with a mixture of herbs and spices, or marinate the meat in a mixture of oil and seasonings for at least 24 hours. Use a low- or no-sodium seasoning mix and, if possible, use a homemade marinade containing a heart-healthy fat like olive oil, vinegar and seasonings such as ginger or garlic.

Grill or broil deer tenderloin as a whole roast or in sliced medallions. Place the meat on a rack to allow the fat to drip down and be discarded, which will make the finished dish lower in fat.

Baste the tenderloin during cooking to add flavor and to keep the meat from drying out. Avoid choices high in saturated fat like butter or bacon grease in favor of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.

Allow whole deer tenderloin to cook until an instant-read meat thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare meat. Remove the tenderloin from the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes, tented with foil.

Items you will need

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Herbs and spices, optional
  • Marinade
  • Grill or broiler pan with a rack
  • Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Aluminum foil


  • Game meats like deer have a strong flavor that some people find unpleasant. If that's a problem for you, mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into every quart of water, cover the tenderloin in the mixture and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove the meat from the mixture, season it and cook.


  • Avoid eating cooked deer tenderloin that has an internal temperature below 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Be careful trying to use a beef tenderloin recipe to prepare deer tenderloin. According to the Serious Eats chief creative officer, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, deer tenderloin will cook in about two-thirds of the time of a similarly sized cut of beef because it is much leaner.

About the Author

Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.

Photo Credits

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