Electric Smoker Beef Jerky: Tips for Perfect Jerky (and a Tasty Recipe you can Make at Home)

Beef jerky is a popular snack that has been around for centuries.

It’s perfect for those who are always on the go and need a quick and easy source of protein. Electric smoker beef jerky takes this classic snack to the next level by adding a smoky flavor that can only be achieved through smoking.

Tillamook Country Smoker Real Hardwood Smoked Beef Jerky, Spicy & Sweet, 10 Ounce

One of the best things about beef jerky is its versatility. You can enjoy it as a standalone snack or use it as a topping for salads, soups, and other dishes. Its long shelf life also makes it an excellent option for camping trips or other outdoor activities where refrigeration may not be available.

Making Jerky in an Electric Smoker

Preheat the Electric Smoker to the Recommended Temperature

Before starting, it is essential to preheat the electric smoker to the recommended temperature for beef jerky.

The ideal temperature for making beef jerky in an electric smoker is between 160-180°F.

Preheating the smoker ensures that it reaches and maintains a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

Preparing the Beef

While waiting for the electric smoker to preheat, prepare the beef by slicing it into thin strips against the grain.

Slicing against the grain makes it easier to chew and gives a more tender texture.

It’s best to use lean cuts of meat like sirloin or round steak as they are low in fat and make excellent jerky.

Marinating the Beef Strips

Once you’ve sliced your beef, marinate it in your desired seasoning mixture for at least four hours or overnight in a ziploc bag.

homemade beef jerky, drying marinated meat in the net in the sun.

Marinating adds flavor and helps tenderize tough cuts of meat. You can use any marinade recipe you like, but some popular options include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

Patting Dry with Paper Towels

After marinating your beef strips, remove them from the bag and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Excess moisture can cause bacteria growth during smoking or dehydration and can also affect how well your jerky dries out.

Arranging Beef Strips on Smoker Racks

Arrange your beef strips on smoker racks carefully, leaving enough space between each strip for proper air circulation. Proper spacing allows smoke and heat to circulate evenly around each piece of meat resulting in uniform drying.

Smoking Beef Jerky in Electric Smoker

Smoke your beef jerky in an electric smoker for 4-6 hours or until it reaches your desired level of dryness. Keep an eye on your jerky every hour or so; if it’s drying too quickly, you can reduce the temperature or add a water pan to increase humidity.

Alternatively, if it’s taking too long to dry out, you can raise the temperature slightly.

Transferring Beef Strips to Dehydrator

If your beef jerky is not fully dried after smoking in an electric smoker, transfer it to a dehydrator to finish drying.

A dehydrator is an excellent option for finishing off your jerky as it provides consistent heat and airflow. Place your beef strips on the dehydrator trays and set the temperature between 145-155°F. The drying time may vary depending on how thick your beef strips are, but generally, it takes around 2-4 hours.

Cooking at Low Temperatures for Several Hours

The cooking process takes several hours at low temperatures until the jerky has dried out and has a chewy texture. It’s important not to rush this process as undercooked jerky can lead to foodborne illness.

Refrigerating Jerky After Cooking

Once cooked, refrigerate the jerky in a sealed bag or container immediately after cooling to preserve its freshness. Proper storage is essential for maintaining the quality of your jerky.

Incorporating Jerky into Your Diet

Jerky can be a great addition to your diet as it’s high in protein and low in fat. It’s perfect for snacking on during long hikes, road trips, or even at work. Additionally, making your own jerky allows you to control the ingredients and seasoning blends used in the process.

Choosing the Right Meat for Jerky Making

Choosing the right meat is crucial. The quality of the meat you use will affect not only the flavor but also the texture of your final product. In this section, we’ll discuss some tips on how to choose the best meat for jerky making.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat

One of the most important things to consider when choosing meat for jerky making is its fat content. You want to choose lean cuts of meat to ensure that your final product isn’t too fatty. Fatty jerky can spoil quickly and doesn’t taste as good as leaner options.

Beef is a popular choice for jerky making, and there are many different cuts you can use. Some of the leanest cuts include eye of round, top round, and bottom round. These cuts come from the rear leg and are relatively low in fat.

Pork can also be used for jerky making, but it should be trimmed of excess fat before slicing. Pork loin or tenderloin are good choices because they are relatively lean.

Opt for Cuts with Long Muscle Fibers

Another factor to consider when choosing meat for jerky making is its muscle fibers. Cuts with long muscle fibers, such as flank steak or sirloin, are ideal because they will result in a chewier texture.

Shorter muscle fibers tend to break down more easily during marinating and drying, resulting in a softer texture that may not be as satisfying to chew on.

Avoid Tough Cuts of Meat

While it may seem counterintuitive, tough cuts of meat like stewing beef should be avoided when making beef jerky. These cuts require more time to marinate and dry out properly and may result in a tougher final product.

Instead, opt for leaner cuts like those mentioned above that don’t require as much time or effort to prepare.

Remove Visible Fat and Connective Tissue

Before slicing your meat for jerky making, it’s important to remove any visible fat or connective tissue. This will help prevent spoilage during the drying process and ensure that your final product is as lean as possible.

Use a sharp knife to trim away any excess fat or connective tissue before slicing the meat thinly against the grain. Slicing against the grain helps break up the muscle fibers and makes for a more tender final product.

Creating the Perfect Marinade for Your Jerky

A good marinade is essential to creating delicious beef jerky. It’s what gives the meat its flavor and makes it tender. The right combination of marinade ingredients can make all the difference in the world we’ll discuss some tips and tricks for creating the perfect marinade for your jerky.

Variety of marinades for meat and poultry

Start with a Base of Water

Water is an important ingredient in any marinade. It helps to distribute the other flavors evenly throughout the meat and keeps it moist during cooking. You should use enough water to cover your meat completely.

Add Flavorful Ingredients

Once you have your base of water, it’s time to add some flavorful ingredients. Worcestershire sauce is a popular choice because it adds a savory umami flavor that complements beef well. Black pepper is another common ingredient that adds a bit of heat and depth of flavor.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding sweet tea to your marinade. Sweet tea adds a subtle sweetness that pairs well with beef and can help balance out stronger flavors like Worcestershire sauce or black pepper.

Marinate Your Beef for at Least an Hour

After you’ve mixed together your marinade ingredients, it’s time to add your beef. Make sure that each piece of meat is coated evenly with the marinade before placing them into a sealable bag or container.

Let your beef marinate for at least an hour but no more than 24 hours. Marinating too long can break down the proteins in the meat too much, resulting in mushy jerky instead of tender strips.

Use a Water Pan in Your Electric Smoker

When smoking your jerky in an electric smoker, it’s important to use a water pan to maintain proper humidity levels inside the smoker chamber. This will help prevent your jerky from drying out too quickly and becoming tough.

Add a Coat of Fat to the Meat

Another trick to prevent your jerky from drying out too quickly is to add a coat of fat to the meat before smoking. This can be done by brushing on some melted butter or oil before placing the meat in the smoker.

Experiment with Different Recipes and Ingredients

The best way to find the perfect marinade for your taste is through experimentation. Try different recipes and ingredients until you find one that you love. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your flavors.

For example, you could try adding soy sauce, garlic powder, or even whiskey to your marinade for a unique twist on traditional beef jerky flavors.

Pay Attention to Time and Temperature

When smoking beef jerky, it’s important to pay close attention to both time and temperature. The ideal temperature range for smoking jerky is between 160-180°F. Smoking at higher temperatures can cause the meat to dry out too quickly while lower temperatures can result in undercooked jerky.

As for time, most electric smokers will take between 4-6 hours to smoke beef jerky properly. However, this can vary depending on factors like humidity levels and thickness of the meat slices.

Smoking Your Beef for Perfect Jerky

Smoke Your Beef at Low Heat

Now comes the fun part – smoking! Set your electric smoker to around 160°F and add wood chips for a smoky flavor. Hickory wood chips work great with beef jerky but feel free to experiment with other types of wood chips as well.

Smoke your beef for several hours until it’s dry but still pliable. The exact amount of time will depend on how thick you sliced your meat but usually takes between 4-6 hours.

Store Your Beef Jerky Properly

Once it’s done smoking, let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or zip-top bag. It can last for up to a week at room temperature or longer in the fridge or freezer.

Beef jerky is not only delicious but also a great source of protein. It’s perfect for snacking on the go, hiking trips, and even as a topping for salads or soups.

But what if you’re not a fan of beef? Well, you can always try making pork jerky instead! The process is very similar to making beef jerky, but you’ll want to use pork loin instead of beef.

Mouth-Watering Smoked Beef Jerky Recipes

Beef jerky is a popular snack that is enjoyed by many people around the world. It is a great source of protein and can be easily carried around for a quick and satisfying snack. Smoked beef jerky, in particular, has become increasingly popular due to its rich flavor and texture. If you are looking for mouth-watering smoked beef jerky recipes that are perfect for electric smokers, then you have come to the right place.

Preparing the Meat

Before smoking your beef jerky, it is important to prepare the meat properly. Start by selecting a lean cut of beef such as top round or flank steak. Trim off any excess fat and slice the meat into thin strips, about 1/8 inch thick. You can either do this by hand or use a meat slicer if you have one.

Once your meat is sliced, it’s time to marinate it. A good marinade will not only add flavor but also help tenderize the meat. There are many different marinades you can use depending on your taste preference.

Marinades and Seasonings

One popular marinade recipe involves mixing soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and red pepper flakes together in a bowl. Place your sliced meat in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over it making sure all pieces are coated evenly. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Another great option is using teriyaki sauce mixed with honey instead of brown sugar for an Asian-inspired twist on traditional beef jerky flavors.

For those who prefer spicy food, try adding cayenne pepper or chili powder to your marinade mixture for an extra kick.

Texture and Consistency

Achieving the perfect texture and consistency of smoked beef jerky requires some careful attention during the smoking process. One important tip is to make sure that each piece of meat is spaced out evenly on the racks of your electric smoker. This will allow for proper air circulation and even cooking.

The temperature of the smoker is also crucial. You want to smoke your beef jerky at a low temperature, around 160-180°F, for several hours until it reaches the desired level of dryness. The time can vary depending on how thick your slices are, but generally, it takes around 4-6 hours.

Storing and Preserving

Once your smoked beef jerky is ready, you’ll want to store it properly to ensure that it stays fresh and flavorful. It’s best to store it in an airtight container or resealable bag in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard.

If you plan on storing your beef jerky for longer periods of time, consider vacuum sealing it or placing it in the freezer where it can last up to six months.

Final Thoughts on Electric Smoker Beef Jerky

Customizing Your Electric Smoker Beef Jerky

Now that you have learned how to make electric smoker beef jerky, it’s time to take your skills to the next level. One of the best things about making your own beef jerky is that you can customize it to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer sweet, spicy, or savory flavors, there are endless possibilities when it comes to seasoning and marinades.

Experiment with Different Marinades

One way to add flavor and depth to your electric smoker beef jerky is by using different marinades. A marinade is a mixture of herbs, spices, liquids, and other ingredients that help tenderize the meat while infusing it with flavor. Some popular marinade ingredients include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder.

Try mixing and matching different ingredients until you find a combination that suits your taste buds. For example, if you like sweet and spicy flavors, try combining honey with chili powder or cayenne pepper. If you prefer savory flavors, try using soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce as a base for your marinade.

Add Some Heat

If you’re a fan of spicy foods, consider adding some heat to your electric smoker beef jerky. There are many ways to do this – from adding hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes to using spicy seasonings like cayenne pepper or chili powder in your marinade.

However, keep in mind that not everyone enjoys spicy foods as much as you might! If you’re making beef jerky for a group of people with varying spice tolerances (or if you’re not sure how much heat you can handle), it’s best to start small and gradually increase the amount of spice until you find the right balance.

Experiment with Different Cuts of Meat

Another way to customize your electric smoker beef jerky is by using different cuts of meat. While beef is the most common choice for jerky, you can also use other types of meat like turkey, chicken, or even fish.

Different cuts of beef will also produce different textures and flavors. For example, leaner cuts like top round or eye of round will result in a chewier texture, while fattier cuts like brisket or flank steak will be more tender and juicy.

Consider Your Drying Time

The drying time for your electric smoker beef jerky can also impact its final flavor and texture. If you prefer softer, more tender jerky, you may want to reduce the drying time slightly. On the other hand, if you prefer a drier and tougher texture (which some people find more satisfying to chew on), you can extend the drying time.

Remember that every electric smoker is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the right drying time for your preferred texture.

You Might Also Like