Lemon Balsamic Marinated Elk Steaks

Serves: 2
Prep time: 4-12 hours
Cook time: 6-8 minutes
Method: Grill or Pan Sear

If you’ve ever found yourself endlessly searching the internet for the absolute perfect Elk Steak recipe, this is the recipe for you. What makes a perfect steak anyway? To us, it’s starting with the highest quality cut of meat you can source — our go-to is the Elk Filet Mignon — and then using a seasoning or marinade that brings out the natural, rich flavor of the meat. (There’s nothing worse than a great steak that’s been overpowered by sauces or seasonings.) This recipe for Lemon Balsamic Marinated Elk Steaks perfectly complements the natural flavor of the elk meat with a zesty, umami flair. We chose to use Elk Filet Mignon Steaks but this recipe would work well with any Elk Steak you choose!

Scroll down for the recipe and be sure to check out the helpful tips and FAQ section at the end!

Recipe & Photography by @modernfarmhouseeats

Recipe notes from Modern Farmhouse Eats:

These Elk Filet Mignon Steaks are tenderized and seasoned with a lemon balsamic marinade, adding delicious flavor without overpowering the taste of the elk and creating a juicy steak. The steaks are then grilled or pan seared until nicely browned on the outside but still pink on the inside. Super easy to prepare with pantry staple marinade ingredients and recipe tips to ensure a perfectly cooked elk steak!

This post is sponsored by The Honest Bison, who I am so excited to partner with! Recipe, photographs, thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Elk steak just might be my favorite! To me, it’s the perfect balance between venison and beef. Elk has a more clean, mild taste compared to venison, but it’s still more flavorful than beef! It’s very lean and high in protein, making it a great healthy option, too.

As you may already know, we eat a lot of venison in our house because Nate and I both deer hunt, but when it comes to elk, we aren’t as fortunate. Being that we live in Minnesota, elk hunting isn’t an option. But, I did have the pleasure of trying elk steak a while back, and I remember how much I loved it, so I am so grateful for companies like The Honest Bison where you can purchase elk meat that comes from humanely raised elk that are free to forage as they would naturally.

If you’re looking to try elk for the first time, or your freezer is fresh out of elk, I highly recommend giving The Honest Bison a try. I’ve been loving both their elk and bison!!

Now, let’s talk about that marinade! I used my go-to venison marinade recipe (which has a 4.9 ⭐️star rating on Google!!), but tweaked it slightly so that it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the elk, since elk meat doesn’t have as strong of flavor as venison. It’s perfect! It adds zesty citrus notes from lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, salty umami flavor from soy sauce and Worcestershire and a touch of fresh garlic. It creates a crazy delicious, tender and juicy elk steak!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Flavorful. The soy sauce, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in the marinade add delicious flavor to the elk without overpowering the meat.
  • Tender. Marinating the elk steaks also helps to make them tender and juicy!
  • Easy to prepare. The marinade is made with simple, pantry staple ingredients.
  • Recipe tips. I included lots of recipe tips to ensure a perfectly cooked elk steak to your liking!

Best internal temperatures for cooking elk steak:

I highly recommend using a meat thermometer when cooking meat to ensure you don’t overcook it, resulting in dry, tough meat. For elk steak, here are the temperatures for degree of doneness:

  • Rare: 125 degrees F.
  • Medium-rare: 125-130 degrees F.
  • Medium: 130-135 degrees F.
  • Medium-well: 135-140 degrees F.
  • Well: 140-150 degrees F.

I like to cook elk steak to around 130 degrees. As it rests off the grill for 5-10 minutes, it comes up in temperature to around 135 degrees for medium doneness. It’s still pink and juicy in the center, but not raw, and browned around the edges.


Recipe: Lemon Balsamic Marinated Elk Steaks

Ingredients:

  • 2 The Honest Bison Elk Filet Mignons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for cooking the steaks)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • optional: lemon wedges and fresh thyme for garnish

Directions:

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Place the steaks in the marinade, coating both sides. Cover and let rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Flip the steaks over halfway through.
  2. 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the steaks fromthe marinade and pat dry. Set on a clean plate and allow to cometo room temperature.

 

Grilled:

  • 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry. Set on a clean plate and allow to come to room temperature.
  • Place the steaks on the hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees for medium-rare.

Pan Seared:

  • Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet with a big drizzle ofolive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the steaks and cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees for medium-rare.

Pro tip! Always account for the fact that the meat will continue to cook once it’s removed from the heat source. The residual heat left in the meat will continue to cook the meat and the temperature will continue to rise 5-10 degrees. So, for example, if you want the elk steak cooked to medium (130-135 degrees), remove it from the heat source at 125-130 degrees and let it rest for 5-10 minutes until it reaches 130-135 degrees.


Recipe tips:

  • Let the elk come to room temperature before cooking. This will allow the meat to cook more evenly through to the center.
  • Use a meat thermometer. Always use a meat thermometer when cooking meat. This ensures you don’t overcook or undercook the steak. There are so many great meat thermometers out there at a great price. I highly recommend an instant read meat thermometer, or even better a bluetooth meat thermometer. 
  • Sear over medium-high heat. Wait until the grill or pan is preheated to medium-high heat before cooking. This will ensure you get a nice crust on the outside, adding delicious flavor and locking in the juices.
  • How to get nice grill marks on the steak. I use a Pit Boss pellet grill and here’s how I get nice grill marks! Before adding the steaks, make sure the grill is preheated to medium-high and close the flame broiler cover about halfway, so that full flame isn’t coming through. This also works for a Traeger grill. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, it’s a little more tricking. You will need to make adjustments so that the flames aren’t directly touching the steaks.
  • Let your steaks rest before cutting into them. Cooking meat draws all of the juices to the surface of the meat, so when you cut into the meat without letting it rest, all of the juices will run out, leaving you with dry meat. So, let the cooked elk rest for 5-10 minutes after it’s removed from the heat source. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in tender, juicy cuts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have some questions about this recipes, how to cook elk meat, or even what it tastes like? Take a peek at these FAQS. If you still have questions, contact us and we’ll do our best to answer them!


What is elk meat?

Elk meat can be harvested by hunting wild elk, or elk meat can be purchased through stores like The Honest Bison, where the elk are farm-raised but free to forage as they would naturally, eating a combination of native grasses, shrubs, leaves, wild grains, bark and berries.


What does elk steak taste like?

Elk steak tastes like a balance between beef and venison. To me, it doesn’t taste as strong as venison, but it’s still more flavorful than beef. It’s a great balance between the two!

 


Is elk healthier than beef?

Elk has more protein and less fat compared to beef, making it the healthier option. Elk is very lean meat that is high in protein and packed with healthy vitamins and minerals.


Are elk steaks tender?

Filet mignon elk steak is extremely tender, especially when marinated and cooked quickly over high heat. Elk is naturally lean, so it can be tough when overcooked. Elk steak is most tender when it’s cooked to medium-rare/medium.


How can I make my elk steak more tender?

To make elk more tender, marinate the meat overnight. If desired, you can also physically tenderize the meat by using a meat mallet or piercing the meat with a fork to help break down the connective tissue. For the most tender meat, I recommend cooking elk to medium-rare/medium.


What herbs go with elk?

Thyme pairs nicely with elk. I like to garnish with fresh thyme and a squeeze of lemon juice.


What temp do you cook elk steak?

Whether grilling or pan searing on the stove, cook elk steak over medium-high heat, about 400 degrees, to quickly sear the meat creating a nice crust on the outside and keeping the inside medium-rare.


How should I store leftover elk steak?

Cooked elk steak can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


How should I reheat elk steak?

To reheat elk steak, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, then heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil. Add the elk steak and sear for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until heated through.

Alternatively, you can cut the steak into thick slices, then lay the slices in a cast iron skillet heated to medium-high heat with a little oil. Sear the first side for about 30-60 seconds, then flip and sear the other side.


 

About Modern Farmhouse Eats: Rachel Riesgraf is a recipe developer, food photographer, and avid deer hunter. She grew up on a farm in Minnesota which is where she learned how to create the best homestyle recipes using only the best fresh, seasonal ingredients. Today she applies that same passion for ingredients and style of cooking as she develops easy, from scratch, comfort food recipes for the busy, modern cook. View the original recipe post on Modern Farmhouse Eats and check out more of Rachel’s tasty work!


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