How To Make Jerky - Recipe
How To Make Jerky
25lb beef inside round (or other whole-muscle meat)
1 package Excalibur Jerky Seasoning
1oz Sure Cure (packet included with seasoning)
Water (Just enough to cover meat if marinating)
Hickory Smoke Powder (Optional, adds a smoke flavor without a smoker)
This is for standard jerky, not the tender jerky we often make and send out here. If you want to know how to make that visit How to Make Tender Beef Jerky
When you are making jerky one of the main things you will want to pay attention to is how thick your meat is. You should aim for between 1/4 and 3/16th of an inch. Whether you are closer to 1/4 or 3/16" is a matter of personal preference but you want to make sure they are as consistent as possible as this will allow everything to cook and dehydrate at the same rate.
Whether you are using a Meat Slicer, the Jerky Slicing Blades on the Walton’s Tenderizer Attachment or just a knife you will want to partially freeze your meat before slicing, as this will allow for a more even thickness.
With the Meat Slicer slice across the grain for maximum tenderness. You might experience a “tail” on the meat as you slice, this is where the end that is furthest away from the blade will begin to be pushed backward instead of cutting cleanly through. A good way to prevent this is to give your meat a 1/4 turn every few passes. Adjust the knob on the slicer until you have the meat as thick as you want it, sadly there is no number setting that will be the same on all slicers, so when you find the thickness you like make a mark on your slicer to be able to easily replicate it next time.
If you are using the Tenderizer with the jerky blades you need to cut the meat thin enough to it will easily feed down through the opening in the tenderizer. This thickness does not need to be uniform as the blades will cut the meat evenly as they pass through the tenderizer.
If you have something like the Precise Slice Knife you can get a somewhat consistent thickness but it is much harder than using a Meat Slicer or the Jerky Blades with the tenderizer.
For tumbling add your water, seasoning, cure, and any other additives you are using to your chamber and mix until all seasoning is suspended in the water. Add your meat and pull as much of a vacuum as your tumbler will allow. Tumble on low for 30 minutes or until all the solution has been absorbed by the meat. Tumbling helps pull the muscle fibers apart and allows the solution to be absorbed far quicker than marinating. Be careful not to over-tumble or you will begin to extract the proteins, which will make laying your meat out on a screen much harder and can lead to ghosting. This is where a few days after processing you begin to see a dry white substance on the outside of your jerky.
If you are marinating then mix seasoning and sure cure packet together. Sprinkle seasoning and cure mixture over slices of meat, or drag slices through the seasoning mixture. After seasoning and cure are applied, place jerky strips into a poly bag and add just enough water to cover the meat, and help it marinate. Hold the jerky meat strips in the refrigerator for between 12-48 hours. If you can, occasionally massaging the meat will help it pick up more of the solution.
Transfering to smoker/oven
If you are using a smoker lay all of your meat flat out on screens, being careful to leave at least a 4"x4" open space in the middle of the screen. We call this a chimney and it allows for more even airflow through all the screens.
If you are using an oven you can lay your meat out on a Waltons Jerky Pan and Racks or a similar patterned screen.
If you used the Tenderizer with the jerky blade attachment a good way to evenly cook and dehydrate your jerky is by pushing a toothpick or a skewer through one end of it and then hanging the meat through the rack of your oven. This allows the air to access all of the meat without having to turn it.
Thermal Processing Smoker
Lay seasoned jerky strips on jerky screens or smoke screens and place in smoker, smokehouse, oven, or dehydrator to cook. Fold one piece of the jerky over a probe thermometer to get the internal temperature readings.
130F for 1 hour (open damper on smoker, no smoke)
150F for 2 hours (2/3 closed damper on smoker, add smoke)
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
Optional - Back temperature down to 160°F and continue dehydrating until it has reached the desired level of doneness.
Thermal Processing Oven
200F until your meat is 160°F internal temp to kill harmful bacteria
If you have a convection oven (fan) set your smoker to 175° F or the lowest your oven will go and allow it to go until your jerky has reached the desired level of dryness.
If you do not have a convection oven prop your door open with a wooden spoon to allow air to circulate, this will help with the drying process.
Thermal Processing Oven and Dehydrator
Follow the 1st step in the Thermal processing oven section above. Once your meat has hit 160°F in your oven remove it from the oven and move it to your dehydrator. Set your dehydrator between 130-160 and run the unit until the jerky has reached the desired level of dryness.
Hold at room temp for 1-2 hours before moving to the refrigerator/freezer. After we are totally done with the cooling process, then we will package in vacuum pouches for longer-term storage.
It’s easy to get the basics on making homemade jerky, but practice does make perfect. Walton’s has everything you need (except the meat) to make great jerky, plus we have the knowledge to help you perfect your own process.
If you have any questions or need help in your process, please share your questions or comments below.
If your smoker, smokehouse, dehydrator, or oven cannot reach temperatures as low as 130F, just start as low as possible and slowly increase the temperature over time
What Is Jerky?
In a simple definition, jerky is just dried meat. Jerky can be a whole muscle or ground and restructured product. Seasoned strips of meat are cured and dried in an oven, dehydrator, grill, smoker, or smokehouse. Whole muscle is made by slicing a whole cut of meat into thin strips, while restructured jerky is a ground and formed product that is extruded into strips, by something like our All-Around Jerky Maker. Be prepared for a 50-75% loss in the weight of the product once it is completely cooked and dried. Use meats that are extremely lean, with as little of fat as possible. Inside round is Walton’s preferred cut of meat to use, and we recommend slicing against the grain of the meat.
Watch WaltonsTV: How To Make Homemade Jerky
cwerts We recently did an experiment with this where we were trying to mimic popular jerky treats that are shelf stable but still very tender. The one thing we noticed from looking at ingredients was they all had large amounts of sugar, far more than normal jerky would have. We did a video and posted the results How to Make Tender Jerky At Home that explains it pretty well. If you are looking for a base seasoning to use Walton’s Bold Jerky was what we used and I think it worked the best of any of the jerky seasonings we tried. We are working with Excalibur to create a seasoning that would give you a similar result to what we achieved without adding any extra sugar, it will already be mixed in!
@gusmanp Sorry for the delay in responding. The only real reason I would add water to a restructured product would be to make mixing and extruding easier, other than that it isn’t necessary. When I make restructured jerky I like to use smoked meat stabilizer so I can go right to the smoker, and when using that you don’t really want to add water or it can gas out so quickly that it can cause issues.
Hope that helps!
I’m going to start slicing and marinading some venison Jerky tonight. I am going to split 10 lbs of meat between sweet chipotle and colorado seasonings. Thinking about maybe adding some brown sugar to keep them from getting too dry. Any tips, ideas, or advice?
Never used brown sugar but have used a bit of white. Go for it. Can’t hardly goof up jerky.
I slice the meat 1/4 thick and against the grain. Makes for easier to chew and not so stringy product. Good luck. Shoot out some pics when done.
@kanevak Brown sugar is a good choice to avoid it drying out too much. Check out these two posts were we focussed on that https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/598/how-to-make-tender-jerky-at-home and https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/1138/tender-jerky-using-home-equipment
You can add up tp 18% the products weight in brown sugar and 20% its weight in water, though at those levels it does get a little sticky! Good luck!
I wanted to avoid too much stickiness so I did 15% of the weight in brown sugar and 20% of the weight in water. It was not one bit sticky. The difficult part is judging when to take it out of the dehydrator because when it is warm, it is much more pliable than after it cools down. Sweet Chipotle is a very delicious flavor! I can’t wait to try it with beef!
The smoked jerky… I don’t know where I went wrong but it almost looked like it cooked before it dried. It didn’t all have the nice red color and I never went above 170 degrees. The only thing I can think of is that when I seasoned it, I forgot to mix the cure with the seasoning so I ended up mixing it with the water/brown sugar. maybe it didn’t cure properly? Not sure…