Homemade Beef Jerky: Basic Recipe

Homemade Beef Jerky: Base Recipe

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Back in November, we did a home butcher of one of our beef cows. (you can read about that here) By day two we were putting roasts big and small into the freezer to grind at a later date. Well, it’s a later date and I am charged with the task of processing our freezers!

So far, I have canned chunks of meat, set aside more for grinding and made jerky. Making jerky is a really easy and creative way to use up roasts when we’re butchering a whole cow.

No cow to butcher? Well, let’s talk about the best meats to turn into jerky and why.

You’re going to want to choose lean cuts of meat, for instance, London Broil, Top Round, Eye of Round and Top Sirloin. As meats go, these are also the less expensive meats.

Why choose lean meats?

Fat doesn’t dehydrate and too much fat can lead your jerky to turn rancid. Such a bummer to waste time, energy and effort on something that won’t last so keep your fat content to a minimum by trimming away as much as you reasonably can from your roasts.

I have a few different recipes, but I want to give you my basic recipe and then try to inspire you with some add on ideas! Let’s get started!

First, trim your meat. Cut away as much fat as possible.

Next, slice the meat and place it in a large, non-metal, mixing bowl. If you partially freeze your roast, it is easier to slice into even portions. I don’t slice my meat too thick or too thin. Really, I go with about an eighth of an inch for thickness.

In another bowl, mix your marinade.

If you don’t have sweet soy sauce, well, you should get some just because! You’ll thank me! But, if you don’t have it, substitute with regular soy sauce and add another quarter cup of brown sugar.

Whisk together thoroughly and then pour the marinade over the meat.

Stir until the meat is coated well, cover the bowl and place in the fridge. Allow the meat to marinade for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours. I will typically mix all of this up before bed the night before and start it on the smoker about mid-morning the next day so that even the last batch is not marinading longer than 24 hours.

You’ll see I have extra fat on these slices. I let it pass because I knew we
would be eating this batch right away and the fat did not detract from the end product.

Line a baking sheet with a couple of layers of paper towel. Place the slices on the towel to soak up some of the extra moisture and then transfer the slices to a heat proof baking/cooling rack. Place the rack in the smoker and allow to smoke for 2-3hrs checking after the first hour.

There is so much about this that is preference.

How do you slice the meat? Against the grain?? With the grain?? It’s all personal preference. I do a little of both. One will be chewier (with the grain), one will be more tender (against the grain).

Should I smoke it, put it in the dehydrator or put it in the oven? Up to you. I LOVE it in the smoker! Each method will have its pros and cons and will vary in cooking times.

The best part about this recipe is the multitude of ways that you can vary it! We made one teriyaki recipe, a basic recipe and a spicy recipe. We have plans to create more variations with smaller batches to see which is our favorite… honey jalapeno, barbeque, maybe even a lemon and chili flavor. Truly the possibilities are pretty much endless! Something this easy is great to experiment with.

A note about storage…

Your beef jerky will easily last a week at room temperature in a plastic zipper baggie.

It will last up to a month at room temperature in an airtight container.

It will last 3-6 months in an airtight container in the fridge.

And, up to a year in a vacuum sealed bag that’s stored in the freezer.

This is a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated food that does great in long term storage.

Homemade Beef Jerky: Basic Recipe

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Marinate 12 hours
Total Time 14 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 Smoker


  • 2 lbs Lean Beef
  • 1/2 Cup Sweet Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder


  • Slice the meat in thin strips, against the grain or with the grain depending on preference; set aside in a large bowl
  • In another bowl, mix all other ingredients until thoroughly combined
  • Add the liquid mixture to the beef and toss until each piece is coated
  • Cover the bowl and set in the fridge for 8-24 hours to marinate
  • Line a baking sheet with layers of paper towel
  • Place individual slices on to the paper towel to absorb some of the excess moisture
  • Transfer the slices to a baking/cooling rack that is suitable for high heat
  • Set your smoker at 200 degrees and turn it on
  • When the smoker is ready, place the baking/cooling rack inside and close the lid
  • Check for doneness after the first hour and about every 30 minutes after that
  • When the meat has reached your preferred texture (usually firm but pliable), remove from the smoker
  • Cool and store


  • Partially frozen meat is easier to slice in thin slices
  • Remove as much fat as possible
  • Aim for about 1/8 of an inch thickness
  • Cut against the grain for more tender pieces
  • Cut with the grain for pieces that have more of a chew
  • Your jerky will last about a week stored at room temperature in a zip top bag, about a month at room temperature in an air-tight container, 3-6 months in an air-tight container in the fridge and about a year in a vacuum sealed bag in the freezer.
  • For a teriyaki flavor, add 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • For a spicy flavor, add a half cup of sweet chili sauce and an 1/8-1/4 Cup of Siracha¬†

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