This smoked venison loin is flavored with a citrus marinade and smoked to perfection. This may be one of the easiest ways to prepare venison.
This brings to mind the phrase, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em boys!" If you were blessed to harvest a deer this hunting season, I implore you to smoke them if you got them. Not only is it dead simple, but it may also be the most flavorful way to enjoy your bounty.
When smoking venison, particularly a tender venison loin, I recommend using a meat thermometer that you can read outside the smoker (affiliate links). It is kind of obvious to say, but you will get better results if you take out the venison when it reaches your ideal temperature. Without a thermometer, you run a high risk of overcooking the loin.
You can use the smoking wood of your choice for this recipe, but to allow the flavor of the venison and marinade to shine through I recommend avoiding strongly flavored wood like hickory or mesquite. Apple or cherry wood are good options if you are looking for a suggestion.
How Long to Smoke Venison
Generally, smoke venison for two hours at 225 degrees. However, the exact length of time will vary depending on how thick the venison loin is and your desired level of doneness.
If you like your venison to still be red, such as in my photos, aim for a cooking temp of 135. For medium, pull the venison at 145 degrees. If you are like my wife and don't want to see a hint of red, let it cook beyond 160 degrees.
Best Cuts of Venison to Smoke
The loin, also known as the backstrap is the best cut of tenderloin to smoke. It is exceptionally tender, cooks quickly, and takes on flavor well. Plus, it's larger size makes it easier to handle in a smoker than smaller cuts. However, any of your favorite venison steaks can be substituted, particularly larger roasts from the deer's hindquarter.
If you are feeling creative, cut venison steaks from the shoulder or hindquarter and smoke them to substitute in my venison chili recipe. After they are done smoking, just cut them into bite-sized pieces and let them simmer with the chili.
My smoked venison recipe includes a citrus marinade that provides a wonderfully bright contrast to the deep smoky flavor. However, you can substitute your favorite steak marinade or even my whiskey steak marinade recipe. Alternatively, you don't have to marinate it at all if you don't want to, just season the loin with Montreal steak seasoning, or paint it with a simple bourbon glaze and toss it in the smoker.
What is Venison Loin?
Venison loin is more popularly known to hunters as "backstraps". They are called backstraps because these long cuts of meat run along the spine of the deer. Venison backstraps are not tenderloins. The tenderloin is a considerably smaller muscle located under the spine, most easily accessed from inside the chest cavity. The loin and tenderloin are often confused or used interchangeably, but they are two separate cuts of meat that cook at considerably different rates.
- 1 whole venison loin
- Wood for smoking (apple, cherry, or other mild wood)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Mix together all marinade ingredients in a bowl then add to a gallon zip lock bag with the whole venison loin. Let marinate for 2 hours - overnight.
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees.
- Remove venison loin from the marinade and sprinkle with salt.
- Add woodchips to your smoker, and open vents to prevent a buildup of creosote on the meat.
- Place venison in the smoker and let smoke for 1 ½ - 3 hours, depending on thickness and desired level of doneness. (most loins will smoke in 2 hours)
- Aim for 130 degrees for red meat, 145 for medium, and cook to 160 to eliminate pink meat.
- After removing from the smoker, let venison rest for 10 minutes prior to slices so juices redistribute.