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Easy Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin

Pelled Grilled Elk Tenderloin
Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin

Living in Arizona, you get exposed to many different, amazing cultures. The Southwest has a rich history of Latin American and Mexican culture, old west flair, and Native American heritage. My son‘s best friend is a blend of all of those things, and his family has done such an amazing job at teaching him about all of those cultures.

We were blessed last week to be included in his first fall hunt with his Native American family. Elk are very plentiful in Arizona at this time of year, and during their first hunt, Native Americans traditionally give the meat away to the elders of their community, and other loved ones. Their hunt ended successfully on Sunday morning, and by Sunday evening, we were given a beautiful, lean, perfect elk tenderloin.

The elk tenderloin is a long muscle that runs along the spine inside the rib cage. And while it is lean, that part of an elk’s body doesn’t do much work, so the meat usually stays tender and soft. It's also somewhat small compared to some of the other cuts of elk meat, so the tenderloin can often sell for as much as $50 per pound in retail settings.

Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin
Rub Ingredients for Elk Tenderloin

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about cooking this. I had never cooked an elk tenderloin before, and I knew of its value and meaning, not only to us, but also to the family who was generous enough to gift it to us. I really didn’t want to mess this up, so I decided that my pellet grill was the most gentle way to cook the tenderloin. I knew it would give the tenderloin the flavor of an organic, outdoor grilling situation, but wouldn’t burn or overcook it like normal grills or inside ovens can sometimes do.

I used the same prep and rub that I used last week for my prime rib roast. I combined some garlic paste, fresh chopped rosemary, and a salt and pepper seasoning to make a paste. I rubbed that all over the outside of the tenderloin and let it rest for about three hours in the fridge to marinate.

Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin
Marinade Prep for Elk Tenderloin

I then set my pellet grill to a high setting (425°), placed the tenderloin inside, and checked on it about every five or ten minutes to watch the temperature rise up to about 120°. Once that was up to temperature, I placed it on a searing burner for just about 30 seconds on each side to give it a nice finish. I then let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it, and the result was absolutely amazing! The meat was perfectly medium rare, and cooked evenly throughout. The meat was tender and juicy, and had zero gamey flavor. It had a very similar flavor to beef and my son loved it!

Elk Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Acorn Squash, Red Potatoes and Broccolini

We served the tenderloin with some roasted potatoes and acorn squash, and just a bit of broccolini. While the meat was marinating, I cubed some small, red potatoes and an acorn squash. I seasoned the vegetables with the same spice blend I used for the meat, and roasted them for about 20 minutes while the meat was grilling. For the broccolini, I just placed it in with the vegetables for the last 5 minutes of roasting and then sprinkled it with some salt before serving.

Elk Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
Seasoned Acorn Squash and Red Potatoes

This was such a special meal for us, and we are so grateful to live in a place where we have so many amazing people surrounding us with so many different cultures.

Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin
Medium Rare Elk Tenderloin

Pellet Grilled Elk Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes / Servings: 4-6

Elk Ingredients:

  • 1 large Elk tenderloin (2-3 lbs.)

  • 2 tbsp. garlic paste

  • 2 tbsp. McCormick garlic, onion, black pepper and sea salt seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. fresh, chopped rosemary

  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt

Vegetable Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. small, red potatoes, quartered

  • 1 medium acorn squash, peeled and cubed

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 tbsp. McCormick garlic, onion, black pepper and sea salt seasoning

  • 8-10 sprigs of broccolini or baby broccoli


  1. For the elk tenderloin: Place the elk tenderloin in a large, sealable plastic bag. Add the rest of the ingredients, seal the bag and rub the mixture together until the tenderloin is completely coated placed in the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for 2 hours.

  2. Preheat your pellet grill to 425°. Grill the tenderloin for about 15 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 120°. Remove from the heat and place the tenderloin on a searing burner for about 30 seconds on each side to finish (optional). Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

  3. For the vegetables: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  4. Place the chopped vegetables on a baking sheet or in a large roasting pan. Coat with the olive oil and the seasoning.

  5. Roast for about 20 minutes. Add the broccolini and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the broccolini with salt before serving.

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