How to Make Authentic Beef Jerky That Tastes Delicious

After buying a pellet grill or smoker, after conquering the brisket, and cooking the perfect slab of baby back ribs, many enthusiasts wonder how to make authentic beef jerky on their new grill. This article will walk you through the different cuts of beef that make the best jerky, as well as some marinade recipes and best practices for smoking your meat low and slow. If followed correctly, you will be making delicious, chewy, and flavorful smoky beef jerky in no time.

What is the Best Cut of Meat for Beef Jerky?

When learning how to make beef jerky, it is important to select the right cut of lean beef. The right cut of beef makes all the difference when making great tasting jerky.

It’s important to select a lean beef cut with as little fat as possible. Why? Because fat can ruin and spoil the jerky, and it becomes rancid over time. So, if you want jerky that will last for as long as possible without spoiling, select a very lean cut of beef.

Lean beef cuts

Cuts of beef

The following cuts are the best to use for your jerky:

Eye of round
The most popular cut for making jerky, this cut is located in the rear leg of the cow. It is very muscular so there is little if any interior fat. Any exterior fat can be easily trimmed off the meat.
Top round
Top round is the inside muscle of the rear leg. It is less tender than the eye of round.
Bottom round
The least tender of the “round” cuts.
Sirloin tip
Slightly less tender than eye of round and a little more expensive.
Ground beef
Ground beef is a far less common cut, but a great for a jerky that is easier to chew. One important thing to note is that when using ground beef, you must choose a lean mix. Although your teeth might thank you, don’t expect the classic chewy, jerky texture.
Flank steak
If you decide to use flank steak, make sure you slice it against the grain. Slicing with the grain will make the jerky much harder to chew.
Wild game
If you’re an outdoorsman or have a friend who just gave you a nice cache of elk or venison meat, you can use it as a beef substitute. Since wild game is usually extremely lean, it is a great option for jerky.

How much meat should I get?

A good rule of thumb is that 3lbs of raw meat will yield about 1lb of dried jerky.

Beef Jerky Marinade

jerky marinade image

There are many wonderful marinade recipes for beef jerky on the internet. Some common ingredients include:

  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worchester Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • Hot sauce or hot peppers
  • BBQ Sauce

Choosing a marinade recipe just boils down to personal preference in terms of sweetness, spice, saltiness, etc.

Slicing the meat

raw meat image

Before you marinade, it is important to slice the beef. You can do this either by hand or with a deli slicer, if you have one handy. Remember, slicing with the grain will result in chewier jerky and slicing against the grain will be more tender. Make sure your slices are as even as possible.

How long should I marinade the beef?

You should marinade your beef in a plastic bag or bowl and set it in a refrigerator for no less than 6 hours. You can marinade the meat for as long as you would like (without it spoiling) but 24 hours should be plenty of time. If your beef is marinating in a bag, be sure to shake it every few hours to ensure the beef is sitting evenly in the marinade.

Related: Wondering which wood pellets to pair with your beef jerky? Check out our blog on The Best Pellets for Smoking.

How to Make Jerky in a Smoker

lifestyle image

Now that the beef has been bathing nicely in the marinade, it’s time to fire up the Louisiana Grill. If you don’t have a Louisiana Grill and you’re using a vertical smoker, or any other smoker, the same basic principles apply in terms of temperature and length of smoke.

  1. Set your LG to SMOKE and wait for it to reach 160°F-200°F. Any lower than 160°F and you might not dry the food fast enough before it spoils.
  2. Make sure your SearSlide Plate is closed to ensure indirect heating.
  3. Line a cookie sheet or serving platter with paper towel.
  4. Take the meat slices out of the marinade and dry each slice with the paper towel to remove excess moisture.
  5. Once the excess moisture is removed, lay the meat down on your grill grates and spread evenly.
  6. Close the lid and let it smoke for 4-5 hours or until dry. The meat should be chewy (not crispy) and you should be able to flex it with medium effort.
  7. While the jerky is still warm, transfer it to a re-sealable bag and let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature.
  8. Make sure there is no air in the bag and place it in the refrigerator. The jerky should last for 2-3 weeks.

Haven’t Purchased a Louisiana Grill yet?

A Louisiana Wood Pellet Grill or Vertical Smoker can allow you to make homemade, smoky beef jerky a snap! With easy to use temperature control and wood fired flavor, you can treat yourself to a delicious protein packed snack any day of the week.

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