smoked jerky
October 29, 2015

Smoked Beef Jerky

I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite recipes – Smoked Beef Jerky – for making jerky using both deer and beef.

My Smoked Beef Jerky process starts with selecting the meat. For me that’s lean muscles from the deer or cuts of beef with little to no fat. For beef it’s roasts like London Broil, Eye of Round or Bottom Round work great and are often times less expensive at the supermarket. I’ll catch these on sale and store in the freezer until it’s time to make Smoked Beef Jerky.

Smoked Beef Jerky

I’m not a fan of ground and formed jerky, so everything I make is basically a thin strip. It helps to have the meat semi-froze when you’re cutting it so take it out of the freezer the day before and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Use a good knife and cut the roasts into 1/8” strips across the grain.

Smoked Beef Jerky

Now it’s time to get some flavor on the meat and today I’m using a few different recipes that I really like.

The first is store bought seasoning called Legg’s Old Plantation Jerky Blend. It’s my go-to seasoning for a classic Smoked Beef Jerky. You can find it online or in sporting goods stores. I use the Legg’s seasoning in combination with Pink Salt to preserve the jerky for a long shelf life. If you don’t use the pink salt the jerky needs to be kept in the refrigerator or eaten fairly quick – but that’s never a problem around my house.

I follow the directions on the package for the Legg’s Blend, it calls for 25lb of meat to 13oz of seasoning. You can cut the quantity down according to how much meat you have. For the pink salt it takes 1tsp per 5lbs of raw meat.

I’ve found the easiest way to marinate jerky is to use zip lock bags. You can weigh the bag and calculate exactly how much seasoning you need for your Smoked Beef Jerky. For my recipe I needed:

Legg’s Old Plantation Jerky Blend

  • 2oz Legg’s Jerky Seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon Pink Salt (6.25%)
  • 2 cups water

In a mixing bowl combine the jerky seasoning, pink salt, and water. Stir to combine and pour over the sliced meat. Work the marinade around the meat and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next flavor I want to share is an Asian inspired marinade. I also use 4lbs of meat for this recipe, so you can adjust the quantities for how much you are preparing.

Asian Style Jerky (recipe for 4lb of meat)

  • 12oz Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 4 cloves Fresh Garlic Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger Minced
  • 1 Tablespoons Red Chili Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk. Pour the marinade over 4lbs of sliced jerky meat in a zip lock bag. Work the marinade around the meat and refrigerate overnight.

The final recipe is for a Sweet and Spicy Sriracha flavored marinade. This is one of my personal favorites and you can get it as spicy (or mild) as you like. Just adjust the amount of Sriracha that you use, also any hot sauce can be substituted for the Sriracha sauce.

Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Jerky (recipe for 4lb of meat)

  • 1 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ cup Sriracha Sauce
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk. Pour the marinade over 4lbs of sliced jerky meat in a zip lock bag. Work the marinade around the meat and refrigerate overnight.

Once you have all the jerky in the refrigerator let it set for at least 12 hours. This gives the flavors plenty of time to incorporate into the meat. The next day take the meat out of the bags and let the majority of the moisture drain. I use several of my pork racks when making Smoked Beef Jerky to make things easier.

Smoked Beef Jerky

Make sure you spray each rack with cooking spray so the meat doesn’t stick as bad and arrange the slices in one layer on the racks. You don ‘t want to crowd the racks so air can flow around the Smoked Beef Jerky.

The process of turning the meat into jerky is all about removing moisture and using seasonings to preserve and flavor it. To remove the moisture from the jerky you have a few options. There are inexpensive dehydrators that work just fine, I’ve used the oven set to low temps, but my favorite way is out on the smoker. Smoke adds another depth of flavor to jerky that just makes it better.

Today I’m using my Ole Hickory Smoker to dry out the Smoked Beef Jerky. I’m running very little coal, about 2 handfuls, and a couple chunks of seasoned hickory wood. Any smoker can be set up for jerky as long as you keep the temps low.

smoked beef jerky recipe

I want to see 140-160 degrees for the first part of the cook. It’s going to take somewhere between 6-8 hours for this load of Smoked Beef Jerky to dry and it’s not exact, so be patient and check on it along the way.

You should see a thin smoke rolling through the smoker and as the wood and coals burn down, you’ll need to add a little more of each. In my smoker it last about 2 hours; then another handful goes in the firebox. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.

After 4 hours take a look at the jerky and check for moisture. It should still be soft at this stage and it’s a good time to rotate the racks. As the meat dries some of it may need to come off. I like my jerky a little flexible instead of rock hard, so once most of the moisture is gone it doesn’t hurt to try a few bites and see where it is.

smoked beef jerky recipe

Some of my racks came off at the 6hour mark and the bigger slices took a couple more hours. There’s no right or wrong time here just make sure the moisture is gone and it has the feel you like.

Let the racks of Smoked Beef Jerky sit out on the counter for a little while to cool. I’ve found that if you place the jerky in storage bags right away what little bit of heat present will create moisture in the bag. Once the Smoked Beef Jerky is completely room temps it’s time to bag it up.

For Storage of the Smoked Beef Jerky: the Legg’s batch we made with pink salt is perfectly safe to keep out. It will last a long time and is great to take along on hunting trips.

smoked beef jerky recipe

The other two batches need to be consumed within a week or so – you can also keep it in the refrigerator to prolong shelf life. It will last even longer if you vacuum seal it.

The act of turning meat into jerky takes time but it’s not a difficult process. That’s a big part of why it cost so much in stores. Pound for pound it’s some of the most expensive meat you can buy, but if you don’t mind putting in a little work you can make your own jerky for a fraction of the cost. Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think.

Malcom Reed
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