Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe

If you’re a fan of beef jerky and can’t resist the smoky, savory flavors, then you’re in for a treat. In this article, you’ll discover the ultimate recipe for making the best beef jerky using a smoker. It’s a simple yet incredibly flavorful method that will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Get ready to savor the delicious taste and tantalizing aroma of homemade beef jerky like never before. Get ready for a smoking hot beef jerky recipe that will leave you craving for more.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Choosing the Right Beef

When it comes to making the best beef jerky, selecting the right cuts of beef is crucial. You want lean cuts of meat that have minimal marbling. Lean cuts not only ensure that your jerky is healthier, but they also make for a more flavorful and tender end result. Good options for lean cuts of beef include eye of round, top round, and bottom round.

Selecting Lean Cuts

Lean cuts of beef are those that have a low fat content. Look for cuts that have minimal visible fat and connective tissues. These cuts are usually found in the hindquarters and the round of a cow. Avoid cuts from areas such as the chuck or rib as they tend to have more fat and marbling.

Choosing the Right Marbling

While lean cuts are essential for beef jerky, a certain amount of marbling is still desirable to add flavor and moisture. Marbling refers to the streaks of fat within the muscle fibers. When choosing the right marbling for your beef jerky, look for thin, even streaks of fat. This will ensure that the jerky is not overly fatty or dry.

Considering Thickness

The thickness of the beef slices is another important aspect to consider when making jerky. Thin slices will dry faster and result in a crispier jerky, while thicker slices will take longer to dry and result in a chewier texture. Consider your personal preference and the cooking time when deciding on the thickness. Aim for slices that are around 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick for the best balance of texture and flavor.


Preparation is key to achieving flavorful and high-quality beef jerky. There are a few important steps to follow before getting started with the cooking process.

Trimming the Fat

Before slicing your beef, it is essential to trim off any excess fat. Fat does not dehydrate well and can result in a greasy and unappetizing texture. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove any visible fat from the meat. This will ensure that your jerky is lean and flavorful.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe

Slicing the Beef

Once you have trimmed off the excess fat, it’s time to slice the beef. It is important to slice the beef against the grain for a tender and easy-to-chew jerky. Cutting against the grain shortens the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender texture. Use a sharp knife to make thin, even slices across the grain of the meat.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Marinade Options

Marinades are an essential part of the beef jerky making process, as they impart flavor and help to tenderize the meat. There are various marinade options to choose from, each offering a different flavor profile. Let’s explore three popular marinade recipes for beef jerky.

Classic Soy-Based Marinade

A classic soy-based marinade is a great option for beef jerky. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Whisk the ingredients together until well combined. Place the sliced beef in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight for more intense flavor.

Teriyaki Twist

For those who prefer a sweeter flavor, a teriyaki marinade is an excellent choice. In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the beef slices in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Allow the beef to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before proceeding to the drying process.

Spicy Cajun Blend

If you’re looking for a kick of heat in your beef jerky, a spicy Cajun blend marinade is the way to go. In a bowl, combine hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Mix until well combined. Place the beef slices in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Allow the beef to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight for a spicier taste.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Drying and Preserving

Properly drying and preserving the beef jerky is essential to achieve the desired texture and ensure its longevity. There are different methods and techniques you can use to achieve the best results.

Air Drying vs. Using a Dehydrator

Beef Jerky Dehydrator





When it comes to drying beef jerky, you have the option of air drying or using a dehydrator. Air drying is the traditional method and requires hanging the marinated beef slices in a well-ventilated area. On the other hand, using a dehydrator offers more control over temperature and airflow, resulting in more consistent and efficient drying.

Using a Dehydrator

If you choose to use a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for beef jerky drying. Typically, this involves arranging the marinated beef slices on the drying racks, setting the temperature to around 160°F (70°C), and allowing the jerky to dry for 4 to 6 hours. Be sure to rotate the trays during the drying process for even drying.

Temperature and Drying Time

Whether you air dry or use a dehydrator, maintaining the right temperature and drying time is crucial. The general guideline is to dry the beef jerky at a low temperature between 130°F and 160°F (54°C to 71°C). Drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the beef slices, humidity levels, and the method used. On average, it takes around 4 to 6 hours for the jerky to dry completely.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Smoking Techniques

Smoking beef jerky adds a unique and delicious flavor to the meat. There are various smoking techniques to choose from, each offering different flavors and levels of smokiness.

Choosing the Right Wood

The type of wood you choose for smoking your beef jerky will greatly impact its flavor. Different woods impart different flavors, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your taste preferences. Popular wood choices for beef jerky include hickory, mesquite, and cherry.

Cold Smoking vs. Hot Smoking

Before you begin smoking your beef jerky, it’s important to understand the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking involves smoking the meat without cooking it, resulting in a smoky flavor but no temperature increase. Hot smoking, on the other hand, involves both smoking and cooking the jerky at higher temperatures.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe




Adding Flavor with Smoke Generators

To enhance the smoky flavor of your beef jerky, you can use smoke generators. Smoke generators are devices that generate smoke without the need for an actual fire. They can be purchased commercially or even made at home using wood chips and a smoking chamber. Smoke generators allow you to add flavor to your beef jerky without exposing it to excessive heat.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Best Wood Choices

Hickory for Classic Flavor

Hickory is a popular wood choice for smoking beef jerky due to its classic smoky flavor. It imparts a robust and slightly sweet taste to the meat, resulting in a traditional jerky flavor that many enjoy. Hickory also provides a beautiful reddish-brown color to the jerky.

Mesquite for a Strong Smoky Taste

If you prefer a stronger and more intense smoky flavor, mesquite wood is the way to go. Mesquite has a bold and distinct flavor that infuses the beef jerky with a deep smokiness. It pairs well with spicy or savory marinades, adding depth and complexity to the overall taste.

Cherry Wood for a Sweet and Fruity Note

For a unique and slightly sweet flavor, cherry wood is an excellent choice. It offers a subtle fruitiness that complements the beef jerky perfectly. Cherry wood adds a touch of sweetness without overpowering the natural flavors of the meat.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Hot Smoking Tips

When it comes to hot smoking your beef jerky, there are several tips and techniques to keep in mind to ensure the best results.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe




Preparing the Smoker

Before you start smoking, it’s important to properly prepare your smoker. Clean the smoker thoroughly, removing any leftover ash or residue from previous smoking sessions. Ensure that the smoker is set up in a well-ventilated area and that the temperature can be easily monitored and controlled.

Maintaining the Ideal Temperature

Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial when hot smoking beef jerky. The ideal temperature for hot smoking jerky is around 160°F to 180°F (71°C to 82°C). Use a reliable thermometer to monitor the temperature and make any necessary adjustments to maintain the desired heat level.

Using a Water Pan

To prevent the beef jerky from drying out during the smoking process, consider using a water pan in your smoker. A water pan helps maintain a moist environment within the smoker, resulting in juicier and more tender jerky. Place the water pan on a lower rack, away from the direct heat source.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Cold Smoking Tips

If you opt for cold smoking your beef jerky, there are specific tips and techniques to ensure optimal results.

Using the Cold Smoking Method

To cold smoke your beef jerky, you need to find a way to generate smoke without raising the temperature. This can be done by using an external smoke generator or by placing a smoke-producing device outside the smoking chamber. Ensure that the jerky is exposed to the smoke for a sufficient amount of time to impart the desired smoky flavor.

Importance of Proper Airflow

When cold smoking beef jerky, proper airflow is crucial. It helps to draw the smoke over the meat and prevents the buildup of moisture, which can lead to mold growth. Ensure that there is enough ventilation in your smoking setup to allow for a steady flow of air. This will help create an even and consistent smoky flavor on the jerky.

Avoiding Over-Exposure to Smoke

While smoke is essential for adding flavor to your beef jerky, be cautious not to over-expose it to smoke. Over-smoking can result in an overpowering and bitter taste. Experiment with different smoking times and monitor the level of smoke absorption to achieve the desired flavor balance.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Flavor and Seasoning

When it comes to flavoring your beef jerky, the options are endless. Experimenting with different spices and seasonings can help you create a unique and personalized jerky recipe.

Experimenting with Different Spices

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your spice blends when making beef jerky. Consider adding ingredients like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, or even dried herbs like oregano or thyme. Different combinations of spices can result in diverse and delicious flavors.

Enhancing the Umami Flavor

To enhance the savory umami flavor of beef jerky, consider adding ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or fish sauce to your marinade. These ingredients contain natural glutamates that intensify the meaty taste of the jerky.

Balancing Sweet and Savory

Achieving a well-balanced flavor profile is essential for a satisfying beef jerky. Balance the savory and salty flavors with a touch of sweetness. This can be achieved by adding ingredients like brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or even fruit juice to your marinade. The sweetness helps to counterbalance the saltiness and adds a delightful depth of flavor.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Storing and Packaging

Properly storing and packaging your homemade beef jerky is crucial for maintaining its freshness and longevity.

Proper Packaging for Longevity

To preserve the quality of your beef jerky, it is important to package it properly. Use airtight containers such as resealable plastic bags or glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Ensure that all air is removed from the packaging to prevent moisture and oxygen from spoiling the jerky.

Vacuum Sealing for Freshness

Jerky Vacuum Sealer






For ultimate freshness and longevity, consider vacuum sealing your beef jerky. Vacuum sealers remove all air from the packaging, creating a tight seal that prevents oxidation and microbial growth. This method helps to extend the shelf life of the jerky and keeps it fresh for longer periods.

Best Beef Jerky Smoker Recipe Storing in a Cool and Dry Place

To maintain the quality of your beef jerky, store it in a cool and dry place. Excessive heat and humidity can cause the jerky to spoil more quickly. Ideally, store the jerky in a pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat. Proper storage conditions will help to preserve its flavor and texture.

With these tips and techniques, you are well on your way to creating the best beef jerky using a smoker. Remember to choose the right cuts of beef, prepare them properly, experiment with flavorful marinades, and utilize the smoking method of your choice to achieve the perfect balance of smoky, tender, and delicious beef jerky. Enjoy your homemade jerky as a tasty and portable snack!

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