- Yield: 1.25 lbs.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 2h 00 min
Homemade Beef Jerky
If you do nothing else on your smoke vault or pellet grill, you have to make a batch of homemade beef jerky. Seriously. It's easy, delicious, and loads cheaper than buying a bag of mystery-ingredient jerky you'll find at the gas station. Store-bought jerky, generally speaking, has much more sugar and salt than what you need in homemade jerky. Control what goes in your food while still enjoying incredible jerky flavor with this recipe. Convinced yet? We'll tell you how to do it.
The fine folks at Hi Mountain Seasonings know their way around jerky, so we used their Cracked Pepper N' Garlic Cure & Seasoning for our recipe. You can find instructions inside their packaging about how to mix the cure and seasoning according to how many pounds of meat you have. Keep in mind that jerky shrinks up quite a bit, so a 3 lb. piece of meat will get you about a 1.25 lb. batch of jerky.
Start by getting eye of round roast; it’s a great combination of muscle and marbled fat. Most good butcher shops will slice the roasts for you if you tell them you're making jerky. If they don't, you can slice the meat yourself into 1/4-inch thick slabs. If you like thinner jerky, you can cut even thinner. Either way, you want to try to be as consistent as possible so you can cook all your beef jerky for the same amount of time. You don't want to overcook super thin pieces while you're waiting for thick pieces to finish. From there, slice the slabs into strips, preferably against the grain (this makes it easier to eat).
Next, follow the directions in the cure & seasoning packet. The included instructions give two options based on the type of jerky: whole muscle or ground. Make sure you use the measurements for whole muscle meat with this recipe (unless you're making ground jerky). Hi Mountain makes a bunch of flavors, but our favorites are Original, Hickory, and Cracked Pepper & Garlic. Mix the seasoning and cure together in the included shaker bottle, and then sprinkle generously over each side of the strips. You want to use up the entire bottle of seasoning.
Place the seasoned meat in a gallon freezer bag and put into the fridge for 24 hours. It’s not a bad idea to take the bag out on occasion to “knead” or mix the meat and seasoning around.
After a good 24-hour chill, take the meat strips out of the bag and lay them on a couple of jerky racks. Place them around the center of the racks so no pieces get overcooked on the edges. Heat your smoker or pellet grill to 225° F, and smoke the jerky for 2 or 2 1/2 hours. Our smoke vaults come with one jerky rack, but you can buy others to maximize your cooking space.
When the jerky is done, it will be dark in color and tough to the touch. You can use the "Bend Test" to make sure each piece is finished: try bending one piece of jerky in half; the piece shouldn't break or fray, but it shouldn't feel flimsy. If your jerky is somewhere in that sweet spot between brittle and limp, it's ready. Turn the smoker off and let everything cool for 10 minutes. Then place the warm jerky into a new gallon bag and seal it. It will keep the remaining moisture inside the meat so your jerky doesn't get rock hard.
You can either enjoy your jerky right away or vacuum-seal it for later. This recipe works great with your typical beef, as well as wild game like deer and elk. Just because beef jerky is something you've always purchased at the store doesn't mean you can't make it yourself. Fire up your smoker, and get cooking today.