smoked elk sliced on white plate

Smoked Elk

Smoked Elk: One of the BEST smoker recipes there is, smoked elk is one of our favorite ways to cook elk steak, elk medallion pieces, or almost any part of this wild game meat.

Quick Overview: Smoke at 225° – no marinade required but the elk rub is what gives it TONS of flavor! See the full elk recipe below.

Elk Steak on a cutting board.
Smoked Elk

What you’ll love about this recipe

Smoked elk meat is a great dish of meat that will win over the crowd! You can use several different cuts of meat but for this recipe, I used backstrap, and that’s the cut that will run along the length of the backbone. (If you saw our other elk backstrap recipe, this smoked elk backstrap sure gives it a run for its money!)

Here you’ll find an easy spice recommendation and it will help you with step-by-step smoking instructions.

Smoked elk meat.
Smoked Elk Backstrap

I love telling my stories about my hunts, but if you’re just interested in the recipe, feel free to scroll on down to the bottom of this post where I share the recipe card with all the details you need to know to smoke this piece of meat something to be proud of.

The Hunt

The day started late I had just come off of three weeks of guiding elk hunts in Montana. I was completely worn out but my legs were extremely strong from all the hiking and pack outs!

I started around three o’clock that evening the elk had moved up to 6,700 feet on the mountain the elk had taken a beating from the season! This is the day before thanksgiving the last of the hunt for me!

Making the Move

I broke out my vortex spotting scope and began the glass routine spot the elk! I love spotting the elk on this day I had zero snow to work with. It seems when snow is on the ground it’s almost like cheating the elk really stick out!

As I made my rounds with glassing, I spotted a small group of cow elk – six to be exact.

I remember thinking,

“I want a nice cow elk for my freezer.”

I made my way working the wind, crawling to the perfect spot.

I set up my Bog Death grip tripod then propped my Browning .325 WSM up.

At this point I have about one hour of daylight left.

The Blast

Spotting the group of cow elk with my Vortex fury’s. I set up my rifle and zeroed in 500 yards.

I said to myself,

“Become stone cold.”

I calmed my breathing. Bringing the crosshairs to the pocket of the cow elk.

Bang! Thud! She did the spin but I pumped one more for good measure.

As I watched her drop I remember saying to myself “Mark that spot in your mind.”

I was at the base of the mountain so I had a 1,800 ft climb. Twenty minutes go by, and it was time to get her out, and it was getting late and I was by myself.

Hiking up the mountain through the sage I soon realized that it was really steep!

Field Dressing

The fun began. It was time to gut this bad girl on the side of the mountain then I realize something…

It was getting dark and it was going to be rough! Then it hit me!

“I’m going to roll her and see how far she goes down!”

Away she went like a boulder thrashing down the mountain.

After a few rolls, I go ther almost to the bottom!

After getting her field-dressed all I could think was that this was the perfect hunt!

From that moment I have been on a mission to smoke some elk meat, making delicious steaks and throwing them on the smoker! What a fantastic way to get the freezer filled!

How to Make Smoked Elk Meat

Smoked Elk on cutting board.
Sliced elk backstrap

Thinking of going on an elk hunt soon? Make sure to check out my hunting pack list!

Now that you read my story, you can probably imagine why I cherish elk meat these days.

How to Make Smoked Elk

Pick your cut of lean elk meat. I used 5 pounds of elk backstrap.

Smoked Elk video how-to


For the binder, I used mustard. If you don’t have mustard, you can use other items such as mayonnaise or honey, or your favorite condiment that will “hold” spices on to the meat.

Elk meat with mustard binder being rubbed on.

How to season and spice the elk meat

You will place the mustard binder on the elk, and then rub on the spice mixture, creating a working rub paste.

The seasoning mixture adds flavor and color to the wild elk. This is a really great rub and also easy to make. Plus, you probably even have the spices on hand already. Mix all of the ingredients below, together in a small bowl.

  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder (you can use garlic cloves – minced if you prefer for a heavier garlic flavor)
  • 3 Tablespoons Rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt (kosher salt or table)
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • (Optional) 2 Tablespoons Traeger Saskatchewan rub

After the mustard binder is in place, apply the seasoning, and rub it in!

Seasonings being mixed together in bowl.

How to smoke the elk meat

I prefer to use pellet smokers but I believe the principles are the same for an electric smoker, charcoal smokers, and propane smokers.

Get the smoke rolling for that ultimate smoke flavor and get the temperature of the grill to 225 degrees.

Elk meat being placed on the smoker.

Once it is on the smoker, close the lid of the smoker, and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. I use a wireless meat thermometer to check the temperature but you can use any digital thermometer or meat thermometer of your choosing.

The smoking time can vary but we found that it took us about 2.5 hours to reach the desired temperature.

The best way to lock in juices is to pull it off the smoker, wrap it in aluminum foil and then let it rest for 15 minutes. This will give you a nice medium temperature.

What to Serve with Smoked Elk

Just about any side dish recipe can go with a cut of meat like this but we especially love this bacon wrapped asparagus!

If you like elk recipes, make sure to check out my best elk chili or the best elk burgers where you’re sure to find another favorite recipe. Enjoy!

Yield: 10 servings

Smoked Elk

smoked elk sliced on white plate
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes


  • 5 pounds elk backstrap (or tenderloin, or steak)
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder (you can use garlic cloves - minced if you prefer for a heavier garlic flavor)
  • 3 Tablespoons Rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt (kosher salt or table)
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • (Optional) 2 Tablespoons Traeger Saskatchewan rub


  1. Add applewood pellets to smoker and preheat smoker to 225°.
  2. Rub mustard, generously covering elk meat.
  3. Mix all seasonings in to a small bowl and then cover all sides of the elk meat.
  4. Rub the seasoning mixture in to the elk meat.
  5. Place on preheated smoker and smoke at 225° until internal temperature reaches 130°. This took about 2.5 hours.
  6. Remove from the smoker and wrap elk in aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. This will result in a medium-rare temperature. Slice elk in to 4 ounces slices and serve.

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  1. Did this with a chunk of 1lb elk tenderloin (weighed it ) (whole not in chunks like the video) did suggested time and temp but it took about 45 min longer on a treager. Never done anything like this before I prefer cut into steaks throw into a bag of flower and cook on the cast iron but overall flavor was good. Obviously I cut recipe down cause I didn’t do 5lbs! Didn’t care for it I’ll stick to the way I’ve had it every year for 32 years fried in cast iron

      1. Absolutely delicious! All the flavors combine so well. Definitely will be making this time and time again! Thank you for the delicious recipe.

  2. First time i smoked meat….Used this recipe for a backstrap from the elk i was fortunate enough to take the week before Thanksgiving. I took the backstrap after the hunt to hang off the bone until thanksgiving. After trimming down to the 7lb 4oz backstrap i cut it in two and let soak in milk and flavor overnight. I used solid cherry wood and a water pan soaked in cherry in a vertical smoker. Used an olive oil/butter mix as the binder for the rub. Kept the smoker between 225 and 265, mostly about 250 for two hours then seared at 500 for two minutes each side and let rest for 20 min. Then cut into beautiful succulent smoke ring stained 1.5 inch medallions, the most moist lean meat I’ve ever had, and the flavor was booming. Along side my 13lb fried turkey this fed 11 people at thanksgiving. Each person had 2-3 elk steaks. Thanks for the recipe!!

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