how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

Slice your beef into thin strips and pound them out to make them even thinner. Place your meat into a container or ziplock bag and pour marinade in and combine. Remove meat from the marinade and place onto your smoker between 160-200°F. Smoke for 4-6 hours until the jerky is cooked through and to your desired texture.

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In this recipe, I am going to show you how to make beef jerky my way and I am going to share the marinade that I use and a few tips and tricks to help you be successful.

If you have never made beef jerky before then you might have the erroneous idea that it is difficult or that you need special equipment to make it but, on the contrary, you can make it with a smoker, your home oven or a dehydrator.

I have made multiple batches of this smoked beef jerky recipe to perfect the process and you are the lucky recipients of all of that hard work, time and dedication.

Disclaimer: This beef jerky recipe does not use the traditional cure and therefore must be cooked to 160°F internal temperature before you call it done and it must maintain 140°F or above while it is drying. While dried beef jerky will last outside of the fridge much longer than meat with the moisture still intact, it is best to store it in the refrigerator to keep it safe and fresh.

I always use eye of round but you can also use top round, bottom round and possibly others. The eye of round is lean, has a small bit of fat on the top but it is easily trimmed off leaving you with the best meat for beef jerky in my opinion.

The butcher will usually slice this for you if you ask and I usually tell them to cut it at about 1/8 inch thick. If you think about it, you can ask them what number they used on the slicer and you can then give them the the slicing number the next time which is more accurate than giving them a thickness in inches.

Note: A commenter below let us know that 1/8 inch is just under a number 3 on most slicers. Great information!

Be sure to tell them whether you want it cut with or against the grain. I like it super tender so I have it cut against the grain most of the time.With the grain will make it more chewy if that is the way you like it.

If you want to slice it yourself, use a very sharp knife and try to keep your slice thickness very consistent. Some will tell you to place the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing and this does help but its not a substitute for an extremely sharp knife.

This is a great way to get some great flavor into the meat and if you follow my instructions, you will not have to season the meat at all after it marinates.

I have played around for several years with using my original rub and my original barbecue sauce along with other ingredients to create a marinade that just works.. perfectly.. every time and I think I have finally come up with something that you will really like.

My family and friends (my most honest critics) are telling me to not change a thing with this latest iteration and I have to agree that it is near perfect.

And yes, you can use a different rub, a different sauce and even a different marinade altogether but dont complain to me when its not as wonderful as you had hoped;-)

*You can substitute apple juice for the bourbon if you are so inclined, however, the bourbon does add a lot of flavor and the alcohol has plenty of time to evaporate before it is to the eating stage.

This recipe makes a little more than 2 cups of marinade and should be plenty to handle about 3 lbs of meat.

Once the marinade is complete, stir well then add the meat and the marinade into a 1-gallon ziptop bag.

Seal the bag closed and tumble/massage the meat and the marinade gently to make sure all of the meat is in contact with the marinade.

Note: Be sure to press out as much of the air as possible so that the bag and the marinade stay pressed up close to the meat.

Place the bagged meat/marinade into a bowl to prevent leakage (this is always a great idea) and place the bowl into the fridge for 24 hours.

Every few hours or whenever you think about it, take the bag and massage it around a little bit to make sure the marinade is able to affect all of the meat equally.

Once the meat has marinated for 24 hours or so, discard the marinade and place the slices of meat onto racks.

Place the racks in the smoker and smoke the meat at 160-180°F for 6-10 hours** or until the meat has reached the proper level of “dry” that you like.

**Why the wide range on the cook time? the thickness of the beef jerky, how wet it is when you place it on the grates, how “dry” the smoker is and how well the smoker or oven expels humidity will all play a part in actual cook time.

For safety reasons, you will also want to ensure that it has reached at least 160°F (71°C) internally using a high quality instant-read thermometer.

I use the the Thermapen One which reads in only 1 second (you read that correctly). It also has a very small tip which allows you to easily check the temperature of things that are thin such as beef jerky.

Note: If you are using the smoker or oven, it is a great idea to keep the environment as non-humid as possible. For this reason, I recommend you leave the water pan/bowl dry so as to not create steam. You can also leave the door of the smoker or oven slightly ajar so the humidity can escape.

Check the meat every hour or so until it gets close then you will want to check it every 30 minutes or so until it has the dryness, and texture that you are looking for.

It is difficult to describe beef jerky that is done perfectly other than the fact that you should be able to bend it without it breaking in half.

Once the meat is dry to your liking and cooked to at least 160°F (71°C) internally, it can be transferred to paper towels to cool.

Once cool, store it in zip top bags in the fridge for several weeks or the freezer for longer term storage.

My most important tip of the day: Do not overdry the jerky. It will always be more dry than it seems once it cools so take it out just shy of that point. Once it cools down, it will be more brittle, more dry and more done than you thought it was. Ask me how I know this?!

I have the 2900ECB-9 Dehydrator by Excalibur. Ive had it since 2010 and it still works as good as the day I got it.

With a 7-inch fan, adjustable thermostat (95-155°F) and 9 trays, it is wonderful for doing dried fruits as well as jerky. I just cant say enough good things about it.

One of my favorite features is that the fan blows air across the shelves rather than from the bottom. This dries meats and fruit much more evenly.

Also, because the shelves are not stacked like many dehydrators, I can easily pull out each individual shelf to check on it.

If you have never made beef jerky before then you might have the erroneous idea that it is difficult or that you need special equipment to make it but, on the contrary, you can make it with a smoker, your home oven or a dehydrator.

In this recipe, I am going to show you how to make beef jerky my way and I am going to share the marinade that I use and a few tips and tricks to help you be successful.

Smoking-Meat.com is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page.

I have played around for several years with using my original rub and my original barbecue sauce along with other ingredients to create a marinade that just works.. perfectly.. every time and I think I have finally come up with something that you will really like.

Place the bagged meat/marinade into a bowl to prevent leakage (this is always a great idea) and place the bowl into the fridge for 24 hours.

⏲️ Drying the jerky

Dry the jerky strips on paper towels to remove any excess marinade and either lay your jerky pieces across the metal racks of the smoker or use toothpicks and hang your strips. I have decided to use toothpicks to hang my strips. After drying the strips on paper towels, I slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each piece of jerky.

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

Place the top metal rack on the highest slot in your smoker, and hang your strips. The Dehydrator that is shown in the photos is my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker.

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

Open the top vent on the smoker 100% and dry for 1 ½ hours at 170°F. *Do not put water in the water pan when making jerky if you soaked your strips in a “wet” marinade. If you used a dry rub to season your meat without any liquid, put a little water or vinegar in the pan during this 1 ½hrs.*

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

Bring the temperature up to 180°F to 200°F and add a handful of wood chips to the smoker. Before adding the wood chips, soak them in water for about 10-15 minutes. Smoke at this temperature until the wood chips have quit smoking (about 30 minutes to 1 hour). A blue smoke should be coming out of the smoker if the wood is burning at the right temperature. If the smoke is a heavy white, increase the temperature of the smoker. This white smoke can give the meat a bitter taste and ruin the jerky.

Lower the temperature back to 160°F and DO NOT add any more wood chips. Too much smoke will also ruin the jerky; 30 minutes to an hour of smoke is just perfect in my opinion. Leaving the wood tray door halfway open (after all the wood has finished burning) to allow airflow through the smoker also helps dry the jerky faster.

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

If using a pellet smoker / pellet grill, simply turn the smoker to 200°F and lay the strips on the grill grates.

Smoke for 3-5 hours until finished. Beef jerky will finish a lot faster in a pellet smoker than an electric smoker. Start checking around the 3 hour mark.

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

♨️ Prepping the smoker

Cover the drip pan with aluminum foil to avoid cleaning up drippings after the drying process. It will make a mess if you do not put a layer of protection down. If you are like me, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cleaning your smoker because you skipped a 30 second step in the process!

Put a small sheet of foil above the heating element to make clean up easier as well. Use a small piece of foil to allow air to easily flow from the bottom of the smoker up and out of the top.

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

how long does it take to smoke beef jerky

Slice your beef into thin strips and pound them out to make them even thinner. Place your meat into a container or ziplock bag and pour marinade in and combine. Remove meat from the marinade and place onto your smoker between 160-200°F. Smoke for 4-6 hours until the jerky is cooked through and to your desired texture.

FAQ

How long does jerky take smoking?

6-8 hours at 200 degrees consistently makes great jerky. Adding a little home grown cerrano pepper works well too.

How do you know when jerky is done smoking?

The jerky should have a dry, leathery appearance. Any intramuscular fat should be rendered and cooked out. Any residual fat should have a deep, rich, golden brown color. White or ivory colored fat is a sign the jerky still needs more time.

Can you over smoke beef jerky?

But the benefit of making jerky in a smoker is that it creates a great smoky flavor that you can’t get any other way. However, it is easy to over-smoke jerky since the meat is cut very thin before being smoked, so it is important to follow the steps carefully.

How long to smoke beef jerky at 160?

With your favorite smoker preheated to 160-170 degrees F, place the formed sticks on jerky racks and smoke for around 2.5-3 hours or until the jerky reaches 165 degrees F and the jerky bends without breaking. Cool and enjoy. Make sure to allow the jerky to cool fully while still on the jerky racks before eating.

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