Venison Cuts: We Rank Our Favorites

Here's a ranking of our favorite venison cuts. Let the arguments begin!

With one quick glance at any venison processing chart, it doesn't seem all that much different from one that illustrates the major cuts of beef. As with any of the larger mammals that we hunt and eat, there is more to it than the obvious tenderloin and backstraps.

In fact, each cut of meat is special in its own right and we would be remiss as hunters if we overlooked any of them.

When we talk about venison, it usually includes such words as chuck, round, and shank. Not only that, but those discussions will almost always include a favorite recipe and sometimes even a vote for our favorite cut of venison.

Many of us as hunters eat every bit of the nutritious venison we patiently harvest long before the season comes around again, partly because of the vast number of tasty recipes we have. They're usually included within these outstanding cuts of meat. The bottom line is, which ones are our favorites?

Specific Cuts of Venison and Where They're Located


The shanks are located around the mid-portion of both front and back legs above the knee. Shanks are excellent to braise, make soups and stews, and certainly to grind into burger. If you've never had a proper venison Osso Buco, you're in for a treat.


The front shoulder, also known as the chuck, is most famous for being a succulent roast, but is great for braising, stewing, and the ground meat can be made into excellent sausage.

Hind Quarter

This is where the round comes from. The back legs produce excellent steaks, stew, and roast meat which is great for grilling kabobs. As with most cuts it certainly can be used for jerky meat.


The flanks are the thin pieces of meat that stretch between the ribs and hindquarters on both sides of a deer. You can add them to the grind pile, slice them for jerky, or use them in soups and stews.


The rump offers a smaller piece of muscle that is probably best for pot roast and stew meat. The size of the meat that you get from the rump varies depending on how carefully the hindquarters are removed.


One of the most underrated cuts, the neck is great as a roast and can also be wonderful as stew meat. If you don't care for those ideas, it grinds into burger very nicely.


Venison ribs can be cooked and eaten on the bone, but they don't yield very much meat per piece. Many outdoorsmen simply cut off the strips between the rib bones and save it for grinding or as filler meat for stew and chili.


The backstrap, loin, or backloin, is located along each side of the spine of the deer. You know, as it says, right down the back. You can use it for filets, steaks, kabobs, and if you want to cut it into chops, more the better. This tender cut marinates great and cooks on the grill deliciously.


The tenderloins are found inside a deer's abdominal cavity and are quite a bit smaller than backstraps. The only way to reach tenderloins is after field-dressing the deer and cutting them out from there. It is arguably the most tender and tasty section of the entire venison haul. You probably don't want to make jerky out of this cut.

So then let's cut away the fat, throw a couple of the less-than-prime cuts out the door, and rate which are the best, bottom to top.

5. Neck

This is one of the favorite cuts for the slow-cooker crowd. The great texture of the neck meat gives us a unique way of using it similar to that of a pork shoulder. It can used for braised meat dishes such as street tacos or burritos, and if you are careful to remove the silver skin, it can even be used as a pizza topping.

4. Rump

One of the best reasons why this cut is on the list is due to its multitude of uses. The rump makes great steaks, which means its great for kabobs and for the slow-cooker it sits well and stays juicy inside of the pot. Ground meat from this cut is one of the best for your chili recipe since it holds so much flavor.

3. Hind Quarter

For many, the hindquarter is their favorite cut since it is so big and has so many possibilities. The major muscles in the hindquarter include the top round, bottom round, eye round and the sirloin. With these in mind, a cook can have innumerable possibilities such as stir fry, fajitas, and tri-tip. You'll find a new way to oven roast or grill these cuts if you try hard enough.

2. Backstrap

Here's where the rubber meets the road. Even if we've passed up your favorite cut already on this list, you still apreciate putting the backstraps so close to the top of the heap. Like any venison, it is imperative not to overcook this delicious piece of meat. It can be butterflied, tied with kitchen twine, and some folks even like to make a venison tartare from it.

1. Tenderloin

There is no question that the tenderloin is king for most of us as meat eaters. It isn't called the fillet mignon of deer meat for nothing.

It can be cooked as simply as searing on the grill with some salt and pepper as it can by pan frying it in the skillet with butter and mushrooms.

Tenderloins can be smoked, fried, seared, grilled, and all made into the tenderest, most succulent piece of venison meat that you ever had. Part of its unique draw is the fact that it is smaller and more rare than the other cuts, coupled with the fact that there is basically so little of it on every deer. 

Kudos to the brisket lovers out there along with eye of round and flank steak aficionados as we feel that all of the cuts of meat on a deer are our favorite, bar none. When we think about deer meat we are more concerned with crockpot recipes than we are with muscle groups. Whether you prefer to do the butchering yourself, prefer bone in, or boneless the tender cuts of venison tenderloin there is a venison cut that's right for you, no argument.

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