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Homemade Beef Jerky

One of the snack foods I have enjoyed for years is beef jerky. So, when I purchased a smoker, and with some reading and research, I found and worked on a great method to make my own at home! I would like to share the recipe and how I go about making it with you.

Start with flank steak, london broil or top round. I prefer london broil or top round as the flank steak is almost twice the cost. You will want it sliced about one quarter inch thick, across the grain. You will want to use a gallon freezer bag or a 9×13 glass baking dish to put the meat into and then let it soak overnight. Here is the marinade recipe for one batch, or about 3 to 4 lbs of meat:

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp black pepper (fresh ground is best)
  • 1 tsp salt (I prefer Kosher)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup soy (I use light or low sodium)
  • 2 cups Whorstershire
  • 1/2 cup honey

One word of caution, if you don’t like things very spicy or hot, remove the red pepper flakes and cayenne. Experiment with it also. My wife doesn’t like the spiciness as much as I do.

Preparing the beef jerky for the smoker

You will need to mix the marinade in well with the meat and stick it in the fridge overnight, making sure all of the meat is soaked in it. Now, the next morning, or day depending upon when you plan on smoking it, you will need to drain the juice and get out a large cookie sheet or two. Layer the bottom of the cookie sheet with paper towels and then start laying the meat on it. We will make layers of meat, paper towels, meat, paper towels and repeat until all is completed. You may want to make double layers of paper towels depending upon how thick your paper towels are. This will let the meat dry more while leaving the flavor intact. Now go fire up the smoker to a steady temp of 150 F to 170 F.

I prefer to use pecan wood with a little cherry or apple wood for my smoke, but I have used hickory as well. The hickory gives it a little more “bite” to the meat. Once you have your smoker set, you will want to keep a constant smoke going also, lets turn our attention back to the meat.

Start laying out the meat on the rack of your smoker. I have a WSM 22.5″ so I can lay out quite a bit on one rack. Since it will shrink a lot, layer it close together to maximize your space. I can get three (3) packages of london broil on two racks easily. That is about 9 to 11 pounds, depending upon the weight of the packages, just to give you an idea. It also holds enough heat that I could make two batches in one day as well, I just haven’t gone that far yet. I also like to use a pepper grinder and once the meat is on the rack, hit it quickly with fresh ground pepper before going into the smoker.

Homemade Beef Jerky

You will want to maintain about 150 – 175 F on the meat for about 3 hours and then start checking it. Depending upon how crisp you like your jerky, or chewy, will dictate how long you leave it on. I have had batches completed in around 3 to 4 hours and have had others go for 5 to 6 hours. The longer you leave it on however, the greater the chance you will end up with crumbling pieces that aren’t all that good. This will also depend on how thick the slices are.

I hope that helps and if you have questions, leave me a comment!

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