Are you looking for a simple smoked jerky recipe? Look no further! In this post, I'm going to teach you how to make perfect smoked jerky using a pellet smoker.
I used elk round for this recipe, but it's great with beef, or venison too.
Slicing Meat for Homemade Jerky
The first thing you need to do is slice your meat into ¼ or ⅛ inch slices against the grain. The easiest way to do this is to partially thaw your round steaks, and then slice against the grain. If you wait until the meat has completely thawed it will be hard to get consistent thickness.
While you're slicing, be sure to trim away any pieces of silverskin or fat on the meat. The silverskin is not great after it's been smoked. This is one of the reasons we select a lean cut of meat for jerky. The fat tends to not cook very well and makes the jerky extra hard to chew.
When you're done slicing put all of your slices of meat in a gallon zip lock and set off to the side.
Smoked Jerky Marinade
In a medium-sized bowl combine soy sauce, beer, honey, Worcestershire, garlic salt, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar.
Whisk the ingredients together, and then pour them into the ziplock with the sliced meat. Squeeze as much air out of the ziplock as you can, and then seal and place in the fridge.
I like to let the meat marinate for at least 12 hours, but I've found it's best if you can wait a full 24 hours. That's enough time for the flavors to really get absorbed into the meat.
How to Make Smoked Jerky
After the meat has marinated for at least 12 hours remove the bag from the fridge, and place your slices of meat on a cookie sheet lined with foil and paper towels. Place one layer of meat, and then add a paper towel layer, and add another layer of meat. Continue this process until you've placed all of the meat on the cookie sheet.
Mopping up the extra moisture helps the meat cook more consistently. Our end goal is to use the smoker to dry out the meat, you can skip this step, but you'll add time to your total cook.
Once you've soaked up the extra moisture, it's time to add the slices to your smoker. Set the smoker to smoke at 180 degrees, and place each slice of meat directly on the grill grates. A jerky rack is helpful if you are running low on space inside your smoker.
I like apple or cherry wood when I'm making smoked beef jerky.
After two hours of taking on smoke, check on your meat. You want to let the jerky continue to smoke until the meat just barely bends when you shake it. It usually only takes 2 to 2 and a half hours until jerky is done on my smoker, but it can vary. Keep an eye on it after the two hour mark, and pull off any pieces that finish before the rest of the batch.
How to Store Smoked Jerky
When the jerky is done smoking place it on a rack to cool. Once the meat has come down to room temp place it in a zip lock bag or sealable container, and place it in the refrigerator. The jerky will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, or for months in the freezer.
Smoked Beef Jerky
- 3 pounds round steak
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¾ cup beer IPA
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup worcestershire
- 2 tsp garlic salt
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp curing salt optional
- Trim any excess fat off of your meat, and then slice thin (¼ - ⅛ inch thick slices). This is easier if the meat is still slightly frozen
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Put the meat in a zip lock, and pour the marinade into the bag and then seal. Let the meat marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours
- Remove the meat from the marinade and blot dry with a paper towel. Place the meat on your smoker and let it smoke at 150 to 180 degrees for 2 hours.
- Check on the meat at 2 hours. Some of the pieces may be done; you can tell if you pick up a piece and when you shake it, it doesn't bend.
- Place the jerky on a cooling rack until it's come down to room temp, and then store in an airtight container in your fridge.
I love the step by step you provided. I always have trouble slicing the meat that thin. Not sure if I thaw too much or my knives aren't sharp enough. Do you swear by any particular knife to do your slicing?
Hi Colleen - I use a set of knives that Dad made for my wife and me when we got married... The knives are super sharp, but I think the real key is slicing when the meat is still slightly frozen. That allows you to slice much thinner slices.
Your butcher may slice it for you for free if you ask nicely 🙂
Frank C Newman says
What is curing salt? Recipe seems like its has ample salt. Dr. says I have to cut back on salt.
Ronald Kondler says
Curing salt is regular salt, combined with sodium nitrite. The nitrite within the mixture serves as a preservative agent. However, if you are concerned with medical warnings against using the nitrite, due to usage leading to the possibility of colon cancer, I prefer not to use it. From other articles that I have read it is somewhat difficult to find as well.
This will be my second time making this recipe. Though, I added less red pepper flake and using peach preserves instead of honey because didn’t have any on hand. But, it sure doesn’t last long between my Dad and I. Very simple recipe.
Hi Colleen I use and swear by them knifes , they are American made relatively cheap and are the best ! Catch is you can only find them at flee markets or maybe on line ,
RADA cutlery ! Good luck !
Jim Hartman says
I use metal shishkabob skewers and let the meat hang down between the grill rails. Smokes a lot of meat at one time.
Mike W. says
That's a great idea Jim! Thanks!
Winnie Prince says
Just learning to make it in my Bradley smoker. Enjoy getting new one to make
Lee Palmer says
This was my first attempt at making jerky and it turned out great. I don't drink alcohol so used malt vinegar instead of the IPA beer. It's so good that I had to hide it from my wife and son.
Just use a meat slicer, way easier. I picked one up second hand for 40 bucks and works just great
Rizi Harris says
How long will it last in the fridge?
Wow! I followed your recipe & instructions exactly as you posted it (I did freeze my beef plus I sliced it using my Cuisinart electric slicer) -- onto my pellet smoker after marinating per your recipe & instructions & in 2 hours it was perfect -- family devoured it & I will be making this again & again! Thank you so much!
toby young says
I have been making this recipe with a few tweaks. Little cayenne, black pepper and chili powder really kick it up nicely. Crowd favorite for sure!
I made this! I followed the ingridents and changed the beer flavoring to a Natrual Light beer, it made it mild, but a craving for more of the flavor. Next time I am going to tryin this on some pork ribs.
Can you use Kosher salt instead?
Curious how to do it if I am grinding the meat and using a jerky tube.. Can I still use these ingredients? or is there a different recipe to follow?
ERIC DAVISON says
This was the first jerky recipe I tried when I got my smoker, I tried half a dozen since then. Haven't found a replacement recipe for this one. Won't be looking anymore, nice job pal!
Happy New Year all…
Great recipe and 3rd time using it. I prefer a little more heat with the sweet so I add to the marinade:
- 1 tspn of ground ginger
- 1 tspn of fresh ground pepper
- 1 tbsp of Smoked Serrano Hot Sauce
- 1 heaping tbsp of Sambel Oelek fresh chili paste
- 1 tspn of a homemade fermented jalapeño hot sauce.
I use Eye of the round and cut 1/4” slices.
Thank you for the recipe. It’s awesome.
This beef jerky is incredible. I cut the red flakes way down because it would be too hot for most people. The meat also needs more than 2 hours to achieve the proper texture so account for more time.