If you’re looking for a delicious and savory snack that has tons of flavor while still being healthy and relatively easy to make then beef jerky is the perfect choice. If you have access to a smoker, then making beef jerky in it is the way to go!
This post will walk through everything from selecting the cuts of beef all the way through how long to smoke your homemade creation. Whether this is your first time making beef jerky or you’re an old hand at smoking meats, there are tips and tricks here for everyone. Let’s get started with our ultimate guide on how to make beef jerky in a smoker!
What is Beef Jerky?
Beef jerky is a snack-like food made from lean cuts of beef that have been trimmed of fat, marinated in a mixture of spices and seasonings, then smoked until it’s slightly chewy but still tender. It’s usually served as a snack or light meal between meals and has become increasingly popular over the years due to its portability, convenient packaging, and flavor. It’s also incredibly low in fat compared to other snacks like chips or candy bars!
Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts:
– Low in calories: around 100-200 calories per serving
– Low in fat (around 1-2g)
– High in protein (usually around 15g)
– Good source of iron, zinc, and other minerals
– Contains some B vitamins
Selecting the Best Cuts for Homemade Beef Jerky
To make the perfect beef jerky with your smoker you’ll need to select an appropriate cut of meat. The best cuts are typically leaner cuts with very little marbling or fat such as top round, sirloin tip, bottom round steak, or flank steak. You may also find pre-sliced packages of these cuts at your local grocery store which is a great way to save time!
Before you start cutting your beef, make sure it’s completely thawed. Frozen meat won’t work as well in a smoker since the fat and muscle fibers can become tough when cooked slowly. Once your meat is thawed, slice it into thin strips that are ¼-inch thick and about 2 inches long. This will ensure even cooking in the smoker.
Marinating Your Beef Jerky
Once your beef strips are sliced and ready to go, combine them with any marinade or dry rub of your choice. Let the beef soak up all those flavors overnight for best results, but if you’re pressed for time then at least try to let it sit for an hour or two before smoking. Popular marinades for beef jerky include Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
What Cuts of Beef Should be Used for Making Jerky?
When selecting the cut of beef to use for making jerky it’s important to choose something that’s lean and free of any visible fat. Some great options include sirloin, flank steak, eye of round, and London broil. If you’re feeling adventurous then you might even want to try making jerky out of venison or elk!
How Should the Meat be Prepared?
Once you have your chosen cut of beef it’s time to prepare it for smoking. Start by cutting the meat into thin strips that are no more than ¼ inch thick. This will ensure that they cook evenly and quickly in the smoker. After cutting the meat into strips, season them with your favorite seasoning blend or marinade (some popular choices are Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, etc.)
Let the meat strips marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if you want to really absorb all of the flavor. Once it’s ready, remove the strips from the marinade and pat them dry before placing them on a rack in your smoker.
What Temperature Should be Used When Smoking Jerky?
When smoking jerky in a smoker, you should aim to maintain an internal temperature of around 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius). It’s important not to go any lower than this as doing so can result in food-borne illness. You should also check the internal temperature of your jerky with a meat thermometer after about 2 hours of smoking to ensure that it has reached the desired temperature.
How To Make Beef Jerky In A Smoker
The amount of time you should smoke your jerky for will depend on the size and thickness of the strips as well as how smoky you want the flavor to be. Generally speaking, it’s best to smoke it for around 3-4 hours. However, if you plan on eating it right away then you can reduce this to 2-3 hours without sacrificing any flavor. Just make sure that the internal temperature of your jerky reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius).
1. Select the right cut of meat: It’s important to choose a lean, fat-free cut of beef like sirloin, flank steak, eye of round, or London broil.
2. Slice the meat into thin strips: Cut the meat into strips that are no more than ¼ inch thick so they will cook evenly in the smoker.
3. Marinate the beef: Combine your favorite seasoning blend or marinade with the sliced beef and let it sit for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
4. Smoke the jerky: Place your marinated beef strips on a rack in your smoker and maintain an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius).
5. Check the internal temperature of your jerky: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest piece of beef and make sure it has reached 165 degrees before consuming.
Making beef jerky in a smoker is an easy way to enjoy delicious, homemade snacks! With just a few simple steps, you can create flavorful, tender pieces of beef that are perfect for snacking or adding to your favorite recipes.
How to dry the Beef Jerky
Once the beef jerky has been smoked to the desired temperature, it’s time to dry it. Transfer the beef strips from the smoker onto a cooling rack that’s placed inside of a baking sheet and let them sit in your kitchen for about 4 hours. This will ensure that all of their moisture is removed and they are ready to be stored or eaten right away.
At this point, you can also season your jerky with additional spices or sauces if desired. Once they have dried and cooled, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze them for longer-term storage.
How to Store Beef Jerky after smoking
Once you’re done smoking the jerky it’s important to store it properly so that it will remain safe to eat. The best way to do this is by transferring the beef strips into an airtight container or zip-lock bag and storing them in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. This will help keep the jerky fresh for up to two months. If you plan on keeping your jerky for longer than that then it’s best to freeze it for up to six months.
When it’s time to serve the jerky, all you need to do is remove it from the airtight container or zip-lock bag and enjoy. If you want to be extra fancy, try serving your homemade smoked beef with some crackers, cheese, and pickles for an easy but delicious appetizer. You can also toss the jerky into salads or soups for added flavor or top off tacos or burritos with some smoky strips for a truly unique taste.
How to Reheat Beef Jerky
If you’ve made more jerky than you can eat right away, don’t worry! You can easily reheat beef jerky in the oven or microwave. To do this, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius). Arrange the jerky pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Alternatively, you can microwave it for 30 seconds at a time until it is heated through. No matter which method you choose, just make sure that the internal temperature of your jerky reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius) before consuming it.
What to Serve with Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed as a snack on its own or as part of a larger meal. Try pairing it with some fresh fruits, cheeses, and crackers for an easy appetizer, or serve it alongside your favorite grilled meats and vegetables for a tasty dinner. You can also use beef jerky in recipes like soups, stews, tacos, burritos, salads, stir-fries, or even sandwiches for added protein and flavor. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, there’s no doubt that beef jerky will be sure to please!
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Make Beef Jerky In A Smoker
1. Not using the right cut of meat: It’s important to choose a lean, fat-free cut of beef like sirloin, flank steak, eye of round, or London broil when making jerky in a smoker.
2. Slicing the meat too thick or thin: The thickness of your beef strips should be no more than ¼ inch thick so they will cook evenly in the smoker.
3. Not marinating the beef long enough: Marinating your beef is essential to creating flavorful jerky. Make sure to let it sit for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before smoking it.
4. Smoking at too low or high temperatures: Maintaining an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius) is essential to make sure your jerky cooks properly and isn’t under or overcooked.
5. Not checking the internal temperature of your jerky: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest piece of beef and make sure it has reached at least 165 degrees before consuming.
Making beef jerky in a smoker may seem intimidating, but with these tips you should be able to create delicious homemade snacks that are perfect for snacking or adding to your favorite recipes. Have fun experimenting with different marinades and flavors until you find the perfect combination for you! Once you master smoking beef jerky, we guarantee you’ll be hooked. Happy snacking!
How long will smoked beef jerky last?
If stored in an airtight container or zip-lock bag, homemade smoked beef jerky can stay fresh for up to two months when stored in a cool, dark place. For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to six months.
What should I serve with beef jerky?
You can enjoy your homemade smoked beef as is or pair it with some crackers and cheese for an easy appetizer. You can also toss the strips into salads or soups, top off tacos or burritos with them, or even use them in sandwiches. The possibilities are endless!
What temperature should I smoke beef jerky at?
The internal temperature of your beef should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius) before consuming. To achieve this, you should smoke your jerky at a temperature of 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit (121-135 Celsius).
What temperature do you smoke beef jerky at?
You should smoke your beef jerky at a temperature of 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit (121-135 Celsius) to ensure that the internal temperature of your beef reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius) before consuming. Be sure to monitor the internal temperature of your jerky often with a meat thermometer.
Can you use a smoker to make beef jerky?
Yes, you can use a smoker to make beef jerky. Just be sure to marinate your beef strips in your favorite marinade overnight and smoke them at a temperature of 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit (121-135 Celsius) until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius). Be sure to monitor the internal temperature of your jerky often with a meat thermometer. Enjoy!
How long should you marinate beef for jerky?
You should let the beef strips marinate in your favorite marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight before smoking them. This will ensure that your beef jerky is flavorful and delicious!
Ultimately, the key to making delicious beef jerky in a smoker is to find the right combination of ingredients and techniques for your particular smoker. Achieving the correct temperature, seasoning, and smoke level that works best for your jerky is essential. It’s also important to keep in mind the size and type of beef you are using as well as careful monitoring during the drying process.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with various ingredients or smoking times until you find a method that produces the perfect bite every time. Whether you’re an experienced griller or just starting out giving homemade beef jerky a try, following these simple steps should help ensure success in your next smoking attempt!
Credit: Cowboy Kent Rollins
James Burney is the founder of Acadia House Provisions is a restaurant that with local & upscale dishes and high-quality kitchen supplies and food products. James was born and raised in Maine, and he has always been passionate about cooking. After working in a number of prestigious restaurants he started Acadiahouseprovisions.com with the goal develop into a comprehensive information site specializing in cooking and cuisine. His goal is to make it easy for people to cook delicious meals at home without spending a fortune.