Elk Steak Recipe: Rubbed, Marinated & Cooked Your Way

Elk steak sitting in a skillet surrounded by mushrooms

How to Cook the Best Elk Steak

 

I wrote this to share a couple of ways to cook your elk steaks to tender perfection. First, I will show you how to dry-rub and pan-sear elk sirloin. Then, we head over to the grill with some marinated elk loin steaks. 

If you don’t have any elk steaks on hand yet, head on over to our buy elk meat for sale page.  Click on one of our trusted suppliers and get delicious elk meat delivered directly to your doorstep. 

What does Elk Steak Taste Like?

Elk steak is amazingly complex meat; it has layers of sweet and savory flavors paired with a tender texture. There are two main sources of obtaining elk meat. Of course, you could hunt, kill, and process your own elk. Or you could purchase it from a store/online marketplace.

Wild elk that you shot on your hunting trip is going to taste slightly gamier than the elk meat that you source from one of our trusted online suppliers. This is because farm-raised elk are fed specific diets. No matter the source of your elk steak, you’re in for a treat. These elk steak recipes will help add subtle, complementary flavor to your meat without compromising elk’s natural flavors.

I’d like to tell you that my way of cooking elk steak is the best, but I’d be lying. Cooking any steak, be it elk or beef, is a personal endeavor. I challenge you to add a little of your own flair to my recommendations and create yourself a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Should You Marinade or Dry Rub Your Elk Steak?

Should you marinate your elk steaks? Should you leave them au-natural? Should you use a special dry rub? That’s up to you!

If you’re looking to experience the taste of elk, and you want that flavor to shine through, then less is better. Season your elk steak with a little sea salt and pepper and move on to the cooking portion. 

If you want to infuse your elk steaks with flavor, continue reading. I will show you my own special elk steak marinade recipe to complement the sweet and lean taste of elk loin steak. I will also show you how to use a special dry rub on a pan-seared elk sirloin that really complements elk steak’s naturally complex flavor.  

What You’ll Need (Marinade vs Dry Rub)

For both recipes, we’ll start with some base ingredients across both recipes. 

  • Four Elk Steaks (elk sirloin or elk loin steak) (Click here to purchase online)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

MARINADE INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz water
  • 2 oz Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ oz white wine (or Dry Sherry)
  • ½ oz Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar

DRY RUB INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley 
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Prep Time: 5 minutes (1 to 2 hours for marinade)

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Important First Step: Tenderizing Your Elk Steak

This step is easy. Most elk steaks from our trusted online suppliers are always tender and ready to eat. 

If your sirloin is thick (1.5” +), then feel free to lightly pound it between wax paper prior to letting it rest in the fridge. 

Elk cooks much faster than beef and a thick cut may be hard to cook to the correct temperature.

The tenderness of your elk steak is going to rely heavily on how you cook it. Overcook the steak (near 150 degrees Fahrenheit) and you’ll dry it out and make the meat tough. Less is more in terms of heat and time when it comes to cooking elk. 

The marinade will also tenderize the meat. Make sure you limit the marinade time to 2 hours or less, as over marinating can have an adverse effect on texture.

Option One: Marinate Your Elk Steak

Marinating your elk steak provides the perfect marriage of texture and flavor. 

Mix all your ingredients in a 1-gallon zip lock bag.

Put your tender elk steaks in the bag and make sure they all get evenly coated with the marinade. 

Place the bag in your refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. 

Option Two: Dry Rub Your Elk Steak

A dry rub will give you more of a blackened flavor profile to your elk steaks. No saucy goodness here, just the sweet juices of elk steak combined with my special blend of seasoning. 

Mix all dry ingredients. You could either put the seasoning in a one-gallon ziplock bag and then give it a good shake. Make sure the seasoning coats the steaks. Or if you are the type that doesn’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, give your elk steaks a rub by hand, but first coat in a little olive oil, then pour the dry seasonings on and massage into the elk meat. 

Next, pop your seasoned elk steak into the refrigerator and let the flavors get to know each other for about half an hour. 

How to Pan Sear that Succulent Elk Steak

Get that pan piping hot. I prefer a cast iron here to give it a perfect crust, but any frying pan will do. 

Once your pan is good and hot, go ahead and throw in about 2 tablespoons of butter into it. Your pan should be hot enough to melt almost instantly. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some minced garlic in with the butter and a sprig of rosemary. Let the garlic and rosemary cook a bit to infuse your butter with flavor. This step isn’t necessary, but it does add quite a bit of flavor to your steak. 

Now, I recommend eating elk at a medium-rare temperature. You will find the perfect tender, reddish, medium-rare will come at around 130 degrees. This takes about 3-4 minutes per side on a 1.5” thick elk steak in a hot pan. Do not cook your steak over 150 degrees or it will get rough and lose a bunch of its moisture.

Throughout the cooking process, tip the pan to the side and collect the butter than runs to the edge of the pan. Then use a spoon, collect the butter, and distribute it butter over the top of your steak. Do this constantly to coat your elk steak. This will give it that little extra bit of texture on the outside while locking in the elk juices on the inside. 

Grilling Your Elk Steak to Perfection

Another great way to cook elk steaks is to throw those puppies on the grill. That smokey, charred taste just can’t be replicated otherwise. 

The same thing as pan-frying, you need a hot grill. The meat should sizzle when you put it on. I like to put the steaks on a less hot part of the grill at first and create marks while slowly bringing the internal temp to 120 degrees. 

I turn the elk steaks 45 degrees after being on the grill for about 2 minutes. Then, after another 2 minutes, I like to flip them and repeat on the other side. You eat with your eyes first, and grill marks always make my mouth water. 

After your elk steaks reach 120 degrees, put them on the hottest part of the grill for an additional two minutes. One minute for each side and then you are done. This final char gives the steak the perfect texture and smokiness. 

Letting the Steak Rest

Like any steak, you want to let your steak rest for a few minutes after cooking. Once you pull it out of the pan, or off the grill, you are going to want to let those elk steaks rest so the meat naturally redistributes its juices.  Now, get your sides ready. 

Best Sides to Eat with Elk Steak

Serve your elk steaks with any of your favorite sides. You can go sweet, savory, or spicy here — elk pairs nicely with many flavor profiles. The options are endless.

Personally, I want the elk steak to be king of my meal. It is so flavorful, my sides are pretty much window dressing. But, with that said, here are some sides that pair really nice with an elk steak. 

SIDE #1: Roasted Vegetables

Take broccoli, brussels sprouts, jalapenos, onion, and carrots tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, and throw them in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slightly blacked and roasted veggies go really well with elk steak. 

SIDE #2: Potatoes

The buttery starchy flavor that comes with potatoes, either mashed or baked, pairs well with the meaty and hearty texture of your elk steaks. Don’t forget sweet potatoes! My favorite side to pair with my elk steak is a baked sweet potato with butter, sour cream, and chives. The sweet and starchy flavors go perfectly with the subtly sweet flavor of elk meat. 

SIDE #3: Rice

My kids love wild rice, and as it turns out, it goes great with elk. Nicely seasoned wild rice helps bring more nutrition to your elk steak meal without stealing the show. Throw in a couple of dinner rolls and you’re done. 

Why I’ll Always Choose Elk Steak over Beef

Elk meat is more nutritious, delicious, and sustainable than cattle. Period. 

Top-notch suppliers I know and trust bring elk meat straight to my door. Eating quality food is incredibly important to me and my family. 

If feeding your family healthy, delicious, and sustainable food is important to you — or you are simply curious and want to try something new — then I implore you to order some elk meat today from one of our trusted vendors.

Where to Buy the Best Elk Steak

If you want to impress at your next dinner party, or are simply curious about eating elk but don’t know where to get it, check out our list of trusted elk meat suppliers broken down by brand, cut, and source.

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More Elk Recipes

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