I love beef jerky, but it can get quite expensive. If your only experience with this lovely creation is from the little tiny plastic bags at the grocery store then you have done yourself a disservice!
The typical homemade Smoked Beef Jerky Recipe calls for the beef to be marinated in artificial smoke to get all of its smoked flavor. It is then placed in a dehydrator for several hours until dry. That’s heads and shoulders above the store bought plastic they pass off for jerky these days, but we can do better (Yes we can!). Never, ever trust any packaging that says “Natural Style*” with an asterisk.
To be authentic, a smoked beef jerky recipe should use a smoker. Now some would argue that charcoal is the only way to go – I’m not going to debate charcoal vs. electric here, but lets just say I use the electric. That being said, the smoker is the only way to get that classic and "true" smoky taste that is desired.
The smoked beef jerky recipe dried outside on a smoker is a little closer to the old cowboy jerky. That’s when beef was cured and dried to preserve for eating on the long trails. It is naturally preserved instead of loaded with preservatives.
I’ve been playing around with different variations of this basic recipe for years, every time the supermarkets would have a sale on beef I would grab a few pounds. here’s what to start with:
Homemade Beef Jerky
- 2-3 pounds steak/roast/london broil (whatever is on sale), cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar (white wine vinegar works too)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
In a large bowl or Ziploc bag, combine everything. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare an outdoor smoker for low heat and lightly oil grate.
Lay the meat out on the grill so that the strips do not touch. Smoke over the lowest heat on your smoker. Beef jerky will be done when the edges appear dry with just a tiny bit of moisture in the middle of the pieces of meat, or about 6-8 hours. After your first bite you’ll never go back to store bought jerky again. You’re welcome!