The best cuts for beef jerky – Unlocking the secrets

best cuts for beef jerky

Table of Contents

Generations have savored the zesty flavor of beef jerky, and its convenience makes it ideal for snacking on the go! Marinating and dehydrating thin strips of beef results in an excellent source of protein that is low in fat. Although marinade ingredients can vary depending on individual preference, selecting high-quality cuts of meat is one crucial step to creating a succulent batch of homemade beef jerky.

Look no further if you’re searching for the key to creating the perfect beef jerky! In this article, you will learn:

  • Which ones are the best cuts for beef jerky?
  • What makes good beef jerky?
  • How long to dehydrate beef jerky?
  • And more!

Best Cuts for Beef Jerky

Making the perfect beef jerky requires using cuts of beef suitable for the task. Texture, flavor, and fat content all play a key role in crafting delicious, flavorful jerky – so make sure to choose wisely!

To help you out on your journey toward mouthwatering perfection, here is a list of our top picks for making homemade beef jerky:

beef cuts for jerky

Overview of different cuts of beef

For perfect jerky, you’ll want to go for nothing less than the most popular cuts of beef. The following are some prime cuts for making Beef Jerky:

  • Top round
  • Bottom round
  • Eye of round
  • Sirloin tip
  • Flank steak
  • Brisket

What makes a good beef jerky cut?

even cut for beef jerky

The ideal beef jerky cut is lean, even in thickness, with a constant grain. It should be easy to slice thinly and have minimal fat or connective tissue for maximum chewability. Its texture must remain firm but tender after dehydrating; otherwise, it can become too dry or brittle.

With carefully chosen cuts of meat and the right process, you’ll experience flavorful & satisfying beef jerky every time!

Top 4 best cuts for beef jerky

  • Top Round: This exquisite cut of the upper rear leg from a cow is an excellent choice for beef jerky. It’s lean, tender, and easy to slice thinly, making it ideal for this purpose. A mild flavor that pairs with various marinades and seasonings makes it even more desirable!
  • Bottom Round: The cut of meat for beef jerky taken from the lower rear leg of a cow can be tough, but it has an excellent texture that is easy to slice. Additionally, this cut provides a richer flavor than the top round and is sure to add depth to your jerky recipe.
  • Eye of Round: This specific cut is much like the meat from a top round, though taken from a more delicate muscle. Its taste is light and delicate, which makes it an ideal selection for making jerky. Moreover, its grain structure encourages easy slicing and dehydration alike.
  • Sirloin Tip: Derived from the hindquarters of a cow, this cut is both lean and flavorful. Though it’s still tougher than the top round, its bolder flavor profile makes it an excellent choice for jerky-making.

The honorable mentions that would also work well for beef jerky would be:

Flank steak is a great option if you are looking for new flavor and nutritional profiles in your beef jerky. Its leanness brings out its flavors, while brisket contributes an intense yet delicious taste to the mix. You can even go full-on wild with venison or bison; both offer distinct tastes that will tantalize your tastebuds!

If you’re aiming for the most flavorful and succulent beef jerky, selecting a lean cut is essential. Your selection should be able to easily slice through as well as have an enjoyable texture and taste. By picking the right cut of meat, you can guarantee that your homemade beef jerky will always turn out delicious every time!

How Long to Dehydrate Beef Jerky?

dehydrating beef

Perfectly crafting your beef jerky requires a critical step – dehydrating. This process of removing moisture from the meat helps to preserve it, all while allowing you to control its potency and flavor. But how long should one wait before their jerky is ready?

The answer depends on several factors, such as the thickness of the beef slices, the dehydrator in use, and the humidity level in your location. Here are some approximate guidelines for achieving that perfect bite!

Preparing the beef for dehydrating

To infuse flavor and tenderize your beef jerky, marinate it for several hours prior to dehydrating. Afterward, remove any excess moisture with a paper towel before arranging the strips on trays in your dehydrator. Be sure to create space between each strip so air can circulate freely throughout!

marinating beef

Time and temperature guidelines for dehydrating beef jerky

Besides selecting the best cuts for beef jerky, to achieve the perfect beef jerky, you must set your dehydrator to a temperature of 145°F – 160°F (63-71°C). The duration of this process will depend on how thick the meat is and the humidity level of your environment. Here are some helpful tips when it comes to making delicious beef jerky:

  • Dehydrating beef that has been cut into thin strips (1/8 inch or less) should take around 4-6 hours.
  • For those who desire beef jerky made from thicker slices of meat (1/4 inch or above), the drying process can take up to 12 hours.
  • To confirm that the beef jerky is completely dried out, snap a piece in half. If you detect any moisture or its texture is soft or chewy, then leave it in the dehydrator for additional time.

Here are a few tips that will help ensure you achieve optimum results!:

  • To ensure the beef strips are thoroughly dehydrated, take care to slice them to an even thickness.
  • To guarantee that everything is evenly dehydrated, rotating the trays in your dehydrator every hour is very important.
  • If you’re in a particularly humid climate, drying your beef jerky may take longer than expected.

Once your beef jerky has dehydrated completely, it’s essential to store it correctly to endure its freshness and flavor. Preserve homemade beef jerky in an airtight structure like a zip-top bag or mason jar at room temperature for extended use. If kept properly stored, your DIY jerky will last from several weeks up to a few months! However, if you observe any mold growth or spoilage, discard the foodstuff immediately.

How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last?

homemade beef jerky

Delectable and nourishing, beef jerky made at home can last for many weeks – even months! Of course, this shelf life is contingent upon multiple factors, like the quality of meat, used, preservatives incorporated into it, and how well it’s put away. So make sure to factor in all these elements when crafting your homemade beef jerky to ensure a long-lasting snacktime treat!

There are a number of factors that contribute to the shelf life of beef jerky, including:

  • Quality of the meat: To ensure jerky lasts longer, the finest quality meat should be used.
  • Type of preservatives: Beef jerky recipes can include natural preservatives such as salt, vinegar, or citrus juice to preserve their flavor and freshness. Alternatively, some recipes may opt for artificial preservatives instead. It is important to note that the type of preservative used will ultimately determine how long the homemade beef jerky remains shelf-stable.
  • Storage conditions: The length of your beef jerky’s shelf life hinges on how well it is stored. Any amount of moisture, air, or heat can make the meat spoil in a matter of days! Draft up an action plan for safeguarding your beef jerky to ensure its freshness and taste are preserved.

Read more >> How long does vacuum-sealed meat last?

Signs that homemade beef jerky has gone bad

Before consuming homemade beef jerky, it is essential to check for any signs of spoilage. If the smell or appearance had changed significantly from how it was when you made it, then that may be a symptom that your jerky should not be eaten. Other indicators of possible spoiling include:

  • Mold or discoloration: If any mold or discoloration is visible on your jerky, it has gone bad and must be discarded.
  • Off odor: If the jerky smells sour or off, it’s a telltale sign that it has spoiled and should be discarded.
  • Texture changes: When the texture of jerky has become slimy or sticky, it clearly indicates that it’s no longer safe to eat.

Tips for storing homemade beef jerky

If you want your homemade beef jerky to stay fresh for as long as possible, follow these easy storage tips:

storing beef jerky
  • Preserve the jerky’s freshness and flavor by storing it in a tightly sealed bag or mason jar.
  • To maintain its optimal flavor, store your jerky in a cool, dry area that is not exposed to sunlight or heat.
  • Storing your jerky in the fridge or freezer? Be sure to label the container with when it was made to track how long it has been preserved easily.

By following these tips, you can guarantee that your freshly made beef jerky stays flavorful and scrumptious for a likewise extended period!

For those brand new to beef jerky-making, it’s vital to be aware that the process can take a considerable amount of time. The total length of dehydration depends on both how thick your meat is and what temperature you’re utilizing in your dehydrator – so don’t rush! This kind of haste may lead to either undercooked or even burnt jerky; instead, be patient and watch as delicious homemade treats are created before your eyes!

Begin with a tiny batch and experiment with unique cuts of beef, marinades, and seasonings to discover the perfect combination for you. When you’ve perfected the art of making beef jerky, you’ll have an irresistible yet nutritious snack that can be enjoyed from your home or on the go.


To wrap it up, keeping the perfect cut of beef in mind is key to creating delicious, mouth-watering jerky. Lean cuts that are flavorful and easy to handle will guarantee success.

When preparing homemade beef jerky, food safety should be your top priority; keep everything clean while you’re cooking, and make sure the product has been properly stored post-preparation for optimal freshness and safe consumption!

With the best cuts for beef jerky, carefully selected marinades and spices, and a thorough understanding of dehydration, you can make delectable homemade beef jerky!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Picture of Tom Wilmer

Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

Meet Tom
Scroll to Top