Best Cut Of Meat For Beef Jerky (And No Beef Options)

Making jerky at home is a lot easier than you might think! Marinade your meat, dry it out in the oven or dehydrator and you’re well on the way to a delicious salty snack.

High-quality jerky needs high-quality meat, and the cut of meat you use will impact on the taste and texture of the finished product.

What Makes For A Good Cut Of Meat For Jerky?

What Makes For A Good Cut Of Meat For Jerky
  • Choose the freshest cut of meat you can. Old meat makes for dry, dusty, flavorless jerky
  • Thin slices are needed; this is so they dry out more evenly. We recommend putting your meat in the freezer for 20 minutes beforehand so it is easier to slice, and sharpening your knife for the cleanest cut
  • The way you slice the meat will alter the texture of the jerky. Meat sliced with the grain will make for a chewier jerky, while meat sliced against the grain will result in a more tender jerky. Both options are great choices; it ultimately depends on your personal preference
  • You need to use lean meat for your jerky. If there is any fat on or in your meat, it will cause your jerky to spoil sooner. For example, ribeye steak is a delicious cut but as it is marbled with fat, it’s not a great choice for jerky
  • Remember that you need more meat than you may think as it dehydrates when you make jerky. As a rule of thumb, it takes between three and four pounds of meat to make a pound of jerky. You may want to bear this in mind if you want to use a more expensive cut of meat

What Is The Best Meat To Make Jerky With?

What Is The Best Meat To Make Jerky With

Here are some of the best cuts of beef (as well as other meats) you can use to make the tastiest jerky.

Flank Steak

This lean and flavorful cut of beef can make for a chewy jerky. It holds a marinade well too, meaning that it will hold the taste of whatever you immerse it in.

It’s a long and thin cut of meat, so it is easy to slice. Flank steak can sometimes have a little fat on it, so be sure to trim it off when you prepare your jerky.

Sirloin Steak

This cut of meat from the cow’s hindquarters is a popular cut of steak that goes well with everything, from stir fries and jerky, all the way through to eating with fries and onion rings!

Sirloin steak is a firm, lean piece of beef so is easy to cut. It has a very intense taste and can give a tender or chewy texture depending on how you slice it.

The only downside is that it is more expensive than other cuts on this list.

Ground Beef

You may not think you can make jerky from ground (also known as minced) meat, but you would be pleasantly surprised!

Rather than slice your meat, you flatten your ground beef into thin strips and then dry them out in an oven or dehydrator.

Make sure that you use lean ground beef as fatty meat will mean your jerky won’t last as long.

Ground beef jerky is a lot easier to chew, making it an excellent option for those who love the taste of jerky but have problems with their teeth.

It is also more brittle, so be careful if you are giving your jerky away as a gift as it may snap and may not look as nice.

As well as beef, you can use other ground meats like pork, venison and turkey.

Venison (Deer Meat)

Although jerky is traditionally made with beef, other types of meat make for fantastic jerky too.

Deer meat is very lean and tender, and has an intensely smoky, gamey flavor that tastes amazing.

The best cuts of venison for jerky are neck, shoulder and leg.

If you want to use venison but aren’t keen on the taste, elk meat has a much milder flavor.

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket comes from the lower chest of the cow. It’s a lean cut of meat with a very meaty flavor and a good mouthfeel. 

It is generally quite a tough cut, but as you are cooking it low and slow, it makes for a tender jerky.

Beef Shank

Beef shank is taken from the upper legs of the cow. It’s tough and lean, but becomes tender when you dehydrate it for jerky.

It’s a cheap cut of meat which is usually sold with the bone and marrow still in. This means that it will take extra time to prepare.

Beef Round

Coming from the rump of the cow, a lot of companies use round meat to make their jerky. This is because it is cheap and there is so much meat!

You can choose between top round, bottom round and eye of round for your jerky – all of them are good options.

This meat is tender and doesn’t have a lot of fat on it. There’s just a little cap at the end of the cut which is easy to trim off.

Alligator Meat

If you want to take a walk on the wild side with your jerky, why not give alligator meat a try?

Alligator meat is very lean, with a firm texture and a mild taste that everyone will enjoy. Alligator tenderloin is the best cut of meat to use.

If you’re looking for other alternative meats to make jerky from, why not consider yak, wild boar, duck, or buffalo?

In Conclusion

The perfect cut of meat for your jerky will ultimately depend on the taste and texture you are after. There are a wide range of lean meats out there that can be used to make a delicious jerky snack,

Our top tip is to experiment with different types until you find the one you like the most.

Do you make jerky at home? Which is your favorite cut of meat to use?

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