This elk steak is 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.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Flavorful. The soy sauce, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in the marinade help to add delicious flavor to the elk without overpowering the meat.
- Tender. Marinating the elk also helps to make it 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!
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 gamey 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!!
What does elk steak taste like?
Elk steak tastes like a balance between beef and venison. To me, it doesn't taste as gamey as venison, but it's still more flavorful than beef. It's a great balance between the two!
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.
Elk steak marinade ingredients
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Balsamic vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Black pepper
Let the elk steak marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight, flipping over halfway through to ensure both sides get marinated.
How should elk steak be cooked?
There are two common methods for cooking elk steak:
- Grilled elk steak
- Pan seared elk steak
I enjoy both methods, but I prefer grilling when the weather allows! But both methods truly work great though.
When cooking elk, like most meat, you should use a meat thermometer to ensure you don't overcook the meat, which causes it to become tough and dry.
Grilled elk steak
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill the elk steak for 3-4 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer reads 125-130 degrees for medium-rare to medium. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
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.
Pan seared elk steak
- Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Sear the elk steak in the hot skillet for 3-4 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer reads 125-130 degrees for medium-rare. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Best internal temperature for 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.
Why you should let meat rest
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.
Storage & reheating
How to store leftover elk steak
Cooked elk steak can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
How to 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Is elk healthier than beef?
Elk has more protein and less fat compared to beef, making it the healthier option.
Is elk healthy to eat?
Yes! Elk is very lean meat that is high in protein and packed with healthy vitamins and minerals.
Is elk steak expensive?
Elk meat is priced slightly higher than beef. Elk isn't as widely available as beef, and it also has more protein and typically has higher levels of natural vitamins and minerals compared to beef.
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.
- 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 the meat rest before slicing. I know it's tempting to cut into the steak right away, but let it rest on a plate for 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat before slicing, ensuring a juicy steak.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below! I'd love to hear from you! If you’re on Instagram, share a picture of the food you created and tag me at Modern Farmhouse Eats! I enjoy seeing all the pictures! 😊
Marinated Elk Steak
- 2 The Honest Bison Elk Filet Mignons (or 6-8 ounce elk steaks)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for cooking the steaks)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- optional: lemon wedges and fresh thyme for garnish
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the grill to medium-hight heat, about 400 degrees. Grease the grill grate with olive oil.
- 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.
- Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet with a big drizzle of olive 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.
- Whether grilling or pan searing, use a meat thermometer. Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise once removed from the heat. Transfer the steaks to a plate and loosely tent with tinfoil for 5-10 minutes before slicing. While resting, the temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees bringing it closer to medium doneness.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with fresh thyme.
- Rare: 125 degrees F.
- Medium-rare: 130-135 degrees F.
- Medium: 135-140 degrees F.
- Medium-well: 140-145 degrees F.
- Well: 145-150 degrees F.