Meat Selection

The secret to making good jerky is starting with good meat. Quality meat means quality jerky. When headed to the supermarket to buy your meat, keep in mind the following 3 tips:

* LEAN MEAT. An easy and common cut is flank steak. If beef flank steak is unavailable, other good candidates would include: round steak, rump roast and brisket flats. London broil cuts are good as well and organic is always great! Remember, the less marbling and fat, the better because fat will turn rancid very quickly and ruin your jerky in a matter of days!
* FRESH MEAT. Fresh beef should be a nice ruddy red. Pork should be a healthy light pink (that is, if you’re wanting bacon) and chicken should be a flesh tone shade. Dark spots or old smells are bad so make sure the meat you pick is fresh.
* QUANTITY. It requires about 3 to 5 pounds of meat to produce one 1 pound of jerky. Therefore, to get more for your money, range fed, 100% premium, visually lean, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected, flank steak is your best buy. There is no waste with this type of meat because it is all lean, pure red meat with consistent straight grain making it easy to prepare. If you do happen to get meat that you have to trim, use those trimmings to make ground beef!

** Note: Have the butcher cut long, ¼” strips either across or with the grain. If you are trimming your own, put the meat in the freezer for no more than 30 minutes to firm up but DO NOT LET HARDEN.


Just a quick tip to keep in mind when headed to the supermarket:

* Check first what type of meat it is. Learn cuts of meat and which are cheaper and of coarse which have a higher fat content. (80% lean ground beef is obviously a better choice and lower in fat than meat that is only 60% lean.)
* Check the weight, the price per pound, total price and sell date. Make sure the package of meat has not passed that date and plan to use or freeze the meat within two days of purchase, sooner if the sell-by date is up.
* If your meat is packaged in white butcher paper, be sure to repackage the meat for the freezer in plastic wrap, foil or plastic bags and label.


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28 Responses »

  1. by JerkyRecipes

    Here is my two cents…jerky that is made from meat that is sliced across the grain is easier to chew than meat that is sliced with the grain. You should try different slicing methods to find the texture that is just right for you.

  2. by Chieftain

    Flank steak is selling for about $1.48 a pound at our local wholesaler (Cash & Carry). They usually package 6 flanksteaks to a pack and it’s always excellent meat and easy to slice. I’m heading over tomorrow to pick up a pack, marinate 2 in Mojito sauce* for the grill, and make jerky out of the rest…probably with a Cajun rub.

    Mojito is easy:

    5 pounds limes
    3-4 sweet oranges
    too much garlic

    Juice the fruit, chop as much garlic as you can stand, and marinate your flank steak in it. Either grill it or jerky it, but the flavor is just amazing!

  3. by JOhnny-0

    human heat tends to be wayy to salty. Not to mention how gamey it is, never a good candidate. I’ll stick with beef and turky thanx.

  4. by Munch man

    If making human jerky, be sure and use a liberal. Conservatives have tough spots in them and they’re chewy.

  5. by Afishegg

    I usually use “Top roud” or sometimes called just “beef round”, it makes big sided pieces and it’stexture is just right. I’m gonna start tryin flank steak or aka “fajita meat”. It sounds like it is cheaper (hence more of it) and I guess it comes out not to tough, if it there #1 meat recomended to use. I have used trimmed half or whole briskets in the past and I found it to be pretty tough and gets packed down in my teeth (which hurts like hell after chewin on it for awhile). But I’m glad I found this site, good tips!

  6. by Afishegg

    Also as far as marinade, Lime are great for fajitas but I’m from Texas and I like the basics for marinade.
    Soy sauce
    Teriyake sauce
    Salt to taste
    Liquid smoke (wood flavors don’t matter there all good)
    Garlic/onion Powder/salt (optional)

    Marinate 12-24 hrs and after I lay it out on the dehydrator I put fresh ground black pepper on the pieces.
    If you wanna spice it up, I de-stem and wash about 7 Jalapenos and then whisk in blender and spoon on top then dehydrate. DELICIOUS!

  7. by Sasquatch Jerky Man

    I go through about 75 lbs of jerky meat per week, and I use USDA Grade A eye of round roast that my butcher slices up for me. He removes most of the fat. I cut it into strips and remove any other marbling/fat that needs to be removed. I marinate in my own recipe for at least 12 hrs and then dehydrate on 2 Excaliber 9 tray dehydrators for 6-7 hours. I get my meat for $3.00 per pound. I might try the flank steak if it’s that cheap as long as it still makes good jerky. As far as using human meat………I think liberal hunman meat would be too tender and giving. I like consertative meat that is tough and makes you work at it!!!

  8. by madslick

    I have found in my 10 years of jerky making that marinating your beef tends to produce a jerky that is way to salty. I prepare my marinade and dip my beef only briefly before drying……Perfect,every time!

  9. by Bryan

    It doesn’t take 3-5 pounds of beef to make 1 pound of jerky. I just did this experiment with an electronic cooking scale. 5 pounds of beef will dehydrate to just over 2 pounds of jerky. That’s 5 pounds of *trimmed* beef, *prior* to marinating.

  10. by ian

    i don’t know about you guys but terrorist meat is pretty good. Orphan meat is much better though, the tears make it tasty.(just kidding)

  11. by Leonard

    Anyone have a good Soylent Green recipe?

  12. by Baconfat

    I make my jerky with pork tenderloin. It’s easy to slice and after marinating and dehydrating it taste as good as beef. Try using store bought cajun spice.

  13. by Mortimer P. Schwartz

    I tend to prefer Cannibal Meat! Cannibals are absolutely the best meat for making jerky from. And it looks like I’m going to have an easy time finding it.

  14. by 4_HardEight_4

    I agree. the best cut is a “Girello” also called “Eye of Round”. It is usually of similar weight [1.3-1.7kg] and size so you can be consistent with marinade amounts. Always Fresh from a butcher, marinated overnight before dehydrating. Never frozen. It is not that expensive [here in Australia anyway]

  15. by LastGirl

    I use mostly London broil for my jerky when I can find it on sale…and sometimes I pay regular price. It seams to absorb the marinade better and it tends to have less fat in the middle. I also find that 12 hours is long enough to marinade. When I marinaded for more than 12 hours recently, the jerky didn’t taste as flavorful as the 12 hour jerky.

  16. by Bearman

    I use the lifter off of the London broil,it soaks up the most marinade. Also has the perfect bite when cut with the grain.

  17. by OneTrueGodOfJerkey

    My favorite cut, overall, is top round. I select a whole roast and ask the butcher to slice it 1/4″ thick. I then trim away what little fat is around the slices before marinating. Top round is super-lean, no fat=no rancidity. Compared to eye round, the top tends to be more succulent and bloodier, which means more beef flavor. Fortunately, it’s also one of the cheapest cuts around.

    Bottom round is also superb. It’s not quite as lean, but that little bit of fat contributes to flavor and texture, but can also reduce shelf life.

  18. by Jason knauff

    I’m glad i found this site!I’m happy to see different cuts of meat work fine. So, it sounds like lean meat, cut against the grain, organic is leaner(?), marinading can be short. I used to use the flank steak in my Ronco food dehydrator (with no fan). I would put it in the marinade and after a short time start drying. I would get enough for a few batches, so the rest would marinade longer.I think the shorter marinades were better typically. brown sugar, soysauce, liquid smoke, and the secret ingredient….ground red pepper! Not ground cuyan pepper, as it has a bitter taste. You might have to get crushed red pepper and grind it up.

  19. by Laura

    For any foul recipes, is there any difference between light and dark meat? (With all visible fat removed, of course.) Is there any difference in taste, does dark meat not work well (and if so, why not), etc.

  20. by don

    I use whole eye of the round and slice it about an 1/8 thick. Flank steak has gotten more expensive around here(s.w. Michigan) because of the demand for fajita meat. banquet hams make good jerky also. Fully cooked. just slice and dry.

  21. by Ed

    four comments.
    For marinade I use a quart of the cheapest Mexican salsa Valentina ($2.) and 6 ounces of Louisiana hot sauce.

    If you really want the marinade to go into the meat, get a vacuum marinader as seen on cooking shows. Works great!

    With all the debate on which cut of beef is best, no one mentioned that the grade of meat is probably more important. The cheapest grade, Select, is the best because it has the least fat and marbling.

    After dehydrating, bake the jerky at 275 degrees for twenty minutes as recommended by FDA. Use a cookie sheet covered with wrinkled aluminum foil. The fat that remains in the meat will melt out and you can blot it away with a paper towel.

  22. by Matt Calidonna

    Great tips, very helpful. Is there a different procedure I should use when using ground meat?

  23. by Utah Hank

    At the urging of a friend, I tried conservative jerky. I was pretty disappointed. After cutting away all the fat and gristle there was very little of substance left. What was left was pretty bitter. Anyway – to each their own I guess.

  24. by samo

    any good marinades

  25. by April Whitfield

    We are wanting to use an electric dehydrator to dehydrate ground dark alligator meat. We removed all fat from the meat. Is this possible??? Thanks! 🙂

  26. by Stone Jettson Loehr

    I use bottom round for the most part because of the local store has a BOGO every few weeks. I buy 2 roasts that start out as 2.5 to 3lbs. I cut the fat bottom off trim the silver skin and slice down into strips against the grain. The meat seems to chew easy in that slice. First I marinade the meat for a few hours 3-4. Then Hit it in the oven at 160 for 1 hour to kill bacteria. Then onto the dehydrator until dry overnight.
    My marinade is close to the others with more garlic and honey. This product I make never lasts for more than 7 days.
    Then I have to repeat the process.

  27. by Lugnut

    I just bought my wife a dehydrator. She sent me a link to this page. After reading all the comments about eating human flesh, I’m slightly concerned as to my wife’s intentions for the dehydrator. I guess there could be worse ways to go.

  28. by Frank Kleist sr

    3-Lbs Meat
    ¼- Cup Terikiya Sauce
    4- Tsp Liquid Smoke
    ¼- Cup Sugar
    4- Tbs Soy Sauce
    ½- Cup Water
    2- Tsp Season Salt

    Cut into ¼ inch thick pieces soak in above mixture overnight. Place in dehydrator.

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