How to Make Pork Jerky In the Oven, Smoker, or Dehydrator

How to Make Pork Jerky In the Oven, Smoker, or Dehydrator

There's an indescribable charm in crafting something with your own hands. You feel a sense of pride in every bite you take of a dish you've conjured up. 

But what about wild boar - can you make pork jerky? Is it safe to make pork jerky, and is it really worth your time? Absolutely.

We’ll walk you through how to make pork jerky in the oven, in a smoker, and in a dehydrator to help you feel confident and capable in your next steps. 

You’ll even gain access to fun recipes you can try to replicate - which we’ve perfected right here at Mahogany Smoked Meats

So, before you delve into the world of homemade pork jerky, let our wild boar jerky tease your taste buds and inspire your culinary adventure. Think of it not just as a flavor-packed muse guiding your journey from the start. First things first, though - can you make pork jerky?

Can You Make Pork Jerky?

Jerky may have come to mind if you were fortunate enough to hunt a wild boar and now have a ton of extra meat you’re not sure what to do with. 

Or, maybe you simply love the tenderness of pork and want to buy meat in bulk to try and make jerky with.

Either way, you may feel a hint of uncertainty - can you make pork jerky?

Yes, you sure can. Pork jerky is a delightful beef jerky alternative. Its distinct flavor profile, combined with the right marinade, can lead to a snack that's truly unforgettable. 

Moreover, pork is a versatile meat that offers room for experimentation. You can get creative and play with diverse flavors ranging from sweet and savory to spicy and tangy.

Is it Safe to Make Pork Jerky?

Safety is always paramount when handling food. So, is it safe to make pork jerky? The primary concern with pork is the presence of Trichinella spiralis, a parasitic worm that can lead to trichinosis. 

However, the threat diminishes significantly when pork is adequately cooked or frozen. So, ensure that the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to kill any potential pathogens. This is easily achievable in ovens, smokers, or dehydrators. 

Always start with fresh, high-quality pork. If you source your meat from a reputable butcher or store, and you follow safety guidelines, making pork jerky at home is not just safe but also immensely satisfying.

Why Would You Want to Make Your Own Pork Jerky?

You know that you can make pork jerky, but why would you want to try this style over the alternatives? 

In a more broad sense, why would you want to go through the toils of making pork jerky yourself rather than buying it from the store? Here are a few compelling reasons:

  • Personalized Flavors: Store-bought jerkies come with preset flavors, but when you make your own, the flavor universe is yours to command. Want it extra spicy? Or maybe a hint of honey? The choice is yours.
  • Control Over Ingredients: Many commercial jerkies have preservatives and added sugars. Making your own allows you to know exactly what's going into your snack, giving you a healthier outcome.
  • Economical in the Long Run: Making jerky at home can be cost-effective once you get the hang of it. Buying meat in bulk and crafting your own batches can save you money compared to purchasing pre-packaged jerkies.
  • The Joy of the Process: There's an undeniable joy in the process of marinating, drying, and watching those slices of pork transform into delicious, chewy jerky. It's an art, and every batch you make is your masterpiece.
  • A Healthy Snack: We haven’t even talked about the health side of things, either. In comparing pork jerky vs beef jerky, you’ll find similar levels of protein in pork compared to the beef jerky protein. And if you were thinking about eating beef jerky for weight loss, pork makes a great alternative as well. While it may not be the healthiest jerky (learn about the buffalo jerky nutrition facts, elk nutrition facts, or turkey jerky nutrition for that), it’s still better than most processed foods. Learn more about beef jerky calories in our blog if you’re interested.

You’re probably excited to learn how to make pork jerky at this point, so let’s not hold you in suspense any longer!

How to Make Pork Jerky: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Pork Jerky Different Ways

Crafting the perfect pork jerky is both an art and a science. Each step in the process can make all the difference in your end product, from selecting the meat to the final drying phase. 

But fret not, as you'll be well on your way to crafting delectable pork jerky in various methods with a little guidance. We’ve been smoking meats for over a century now and are excited to guide you through how to make pork jerky in the oven, smoker, or dehydrator. 

That being said, it all starts with choosing the best cut of pork for jerky.

What is the Best Cut of Pork For Jerky?

Just as with the best cuts of elk meat or the best cut for beef jerky, choosing the right cut is pivotal for achieving that perfect jerked texture and flavor. Lean cuts work best for making pork jerky. Here are our personal favorites:

  • Pork Loin: This is the top pick for many jerky enthusiasts. It’s lean, tender, and provides a consistent texture throughout, making it ideal for jerky. A significant advantage of the loin is its uniform shape, which leads to even drying.
  • Pork Tenderloin: The tenderloin is a close relative of the loin and another excellent choice. It's slightly more tender than the loin, which can be advantageous for those who like their jerky on the softer side.
  • Pork Butt (or Boston Butt): Don’t let the name fool you - it's not from the rear of the pig. This cut has more marbling, which means you'll need to trim more fat, but it can provide a richer flavor.

Regardless of the cut you choose, remember to trim off as much fat as possible. While fat can add flavor, it doesn't preserve well and can make your jerky go rancid quickly. Our guide on how to cut beef for jerky applies to making pork jerky as well.

Preparing Your Pork: Marination and Seasoning

Marination goes well beyond imparting flavor. It's also about beginning the preservation process. Here's how to get your pork ready for jerking:

  • Slicing the Pork: Thin, consistent slices are key. Aim for 1/4-inch thickness. Some prefer to slice with the grain for a chewier jerky, while others go against the grain for an easier bite.
  • The Marinade: The foundation of your flavor. A basic pork jerky marinade might consist of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, and garlic powder. However, the beauty of making your own jerky is tailoring the marinade to your taste buds. Love a smoky undertone? Add some liquid smoke. Craving some heat? Throw in some chili flakes or hot sauce. You can gain inspiration from our elk jerky recipe, the best elk jerky marinade, or buffalo jerky recipe guides.
  • Marination Time: Once you’ve submerged the pork slices in the marinade, seal them in a zip-top bag, ensuring as much air is removed as possible. Marinate for at least 12 hours, though 24 hours is optimal for best results. This allows the flavors to fully permeate the meat.
  • Drying the Slices: After marination, remove the pork slices and pat them dry with paper towels. This step is crucial. Excess surface moisture can extend drying time and potentially lead to an unevenly dried jerky.

With your pork prepped and ready, you’re set for the drying phase, whether that's in an oven, smoker, or dehydrator. We’ll start with how to make pork jerky in the oven.

How to Make Pork Jerky in the Oven

The trusty oven can easily transform your marinated pork into delightful jerky. This is the first approach we recommend as every home has an oven, so you don’t have to stress about finding a smoker or dehydrator. Here's the process:

  • Preheat and Prep: Start by setting your oven to its lowest temperature, usually between 160°F to 180°F. Lay your marinated pork slices onto cooling racks placed on baking sheets while it's heating up. This arrangement allows air to circulate around the meat, leading to even drying.
  • Oven Door Ajar: An essential trick is to prop the oven door open just a tad, using a wooden spoon or heat-resistant silicone utensil. This encourages moisture to escape, promoting efficient dehydration.
  • Baking Time: The drying process in the oven typically takes 4 to 6 hours. It’s crucial to check the jerky periodically, especially after the 4-hour mark, to avoid over-drying. The jerky should be leathery and pliable, not brittle.

How to Make Pork Jerky in a Smoker

This is our preferred approach here at Mahogany Smoked Meats, as our name suggests. You can infuse your pork jerky with that unparalleled smoky flavor using a smoker. Here’s how to make pork jerky in a smoker:

  • Prepare Your Smoker: Begin by preheating your smoker to around 160°F. If you're using a wood-fired smoker, hardwoods like hickory, oak, or cherry are excellent choices for jerky. We personally use mahogany wood because it’s so unique - in fact, we’re the only smokehouse in the nation that uses this wood! Taste the difference by getting some of our smoked meats online today. Or, read more about the best wood for smoking jerky in our blog.
  • Positioning the Pork: Place the pork slices directly on the smoker grates, ensuring none overlap. This ensures an even exposure to the smoke and heat.
  • Smoking Time: Pork jerky in a smoker will take about 4-5 hours. Remember, you're not just cooking the meat but dehydrating it. Again, aim for jerky that's leathery and bendable.

How to Make Pork Jerky in a Dehydrator

A dehydrator is a worthy investment for those who are considering making pork jerky regularly. The process of how to make pork jerky in a dehydrator is super simple, too:

  • Setting the Temperature: Preheat your dehydrator to around 160°F.
  • Arrange the Pork: Lay out the marinated pork slices on the dehydrator trays in a single layer, ensuring none of the pieces touch or overlap.
  • Drying Time: In a dehydrator, pork jerky can take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours, depending on the machine's efficiency and the thickness of your slices. Start checking around the 4-hour mark. Once done, the jerky should have a uniform color throughout and be flexible.

Not sure whether you should go with smoked jerky vs dehydrated jerky? Our guide breaks down the pros and cons of each approach. You should also learn how long to dehydrate jerky while you’re at it.

Post-Cooking Processes

There's still some attention required to ensure optimal taste and longevity after your pork jerky has been lovingly cooked and dried through your chosen method. While the hard work is done, don’t neglect these post-cooking processes:

  • Cooling: Once removed from your oven, smoker, or dehydrator, spread the jerky out in a single layer and allow it to cool completely. This can take a few hours, but it's a step you shouldn’t rush. Cooling at room temperature ensures that any residual moisture evaporates and prevents condensation, which can lead to mold.
  • Testing for Dryness: Bend a piece of the cooled jerky. It should flex and bend, but not snap. If you see any moisture beads or if the inside looks underdone, you may need to continue the drying process for a little longer.
  • Vacuum Sealing for Freshness: If you're serious about retaining the freshness of your jerky, consider vacuum-sealing portions. This process removes air, a primary culprit in the deterioration of food quality.

Tips on Storing Your Bulk Pork Jerky

Just as with storing beef jerky, storing your bulk pork jerky cannot be taken lightly. 

After all, you work hard in making pork jerky - why let it spoil prematurely and go to waste when you could take a few simple measures to ensure longevity?

Here are our favorite ways to maintain flavor, texture, and safety: 

  • Airtight Containers: Use airtight containers or zip-lock bags. Before sealing, press out as much air as possible. This reduces the risk of bacterial growth and keeps the jerky fresher.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Heat and moisture are the enemies of stored jerky. Find a spot in a pantry or cupboard that remains cool and dry. Avoid areas near ovens, stoves, or sinks.
  • Refrigeration for Longevity: While jerky can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 months, for longer storage, consider refrigerating it. Refrigerated jerky can last 6 months to a year.
  • Note on Freezing: You may be wondering, can you freeze jerky? Yes, but it might alter its texture slightly upon thawing. However, it’s a viable option if you're looking at storing for over a year.
  • Monitor for Moisture: If you notice moisture inside your storage container, remove the jerky immediately and re-dry or consume it. Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Learn more in our blog where we have resources on how long does beef jerky last after opening, does beef jerky expire, the perils of eating expired beef jerky, and more.

Try Our Wild Boar Jerky as Inspiration For Making Pork Jerky Yourself!

We at Mahogany Smoked Meats take immense pride in our craft. Each batch of our Wild Boar Jerky is a culmination of tradition, expertise, and innovation. 

Delicate hints of the wilderness, complemented by our signature marinades, have made our jerky a top-tier choice for many. 

We have all the other different types of jerky as well, including fish jerky, buffalo jerky, elk jerky for sale, beef jerky online, and other premium jerky cuts worth trying.

But why just read about it? Dive into the world of premium pork jerky with our Wild Boar variant. Let it inspire your culinary adventures and give you a benchmark of excellence. Taste the wild and savor the expertise at Mahogany Smoked Meats today!

Final Thoughts on How to Make Pork Jerky In the Oven, Smoker, or Dehydrator

There you have it - how to make pork jerky in a smoker, dehydrator, or oven. Pork jerky, with its unique flavors and textures, offers an enticing alternative to the more traditional beef variety. 

As we've journeyed through the process of creating this delightful treat, we've highlighted the nuances, the care, and the versatility involved. Whether you're an oven enthusiast, a smoking aficionado, or a dehydrator devotee, there's a method tailored for you.

Want to try other styles? You can also learn how to make fish jerky in our blog. Or, read about eating beef jerky while pregnant, the benefits of beef jerky, beef jerky prices, and more.

But remember, sometimes tasting the pinnacle of a product can spark inspiration like nothing else. So as you set forth on your pork jerky-making endeavors, we invite you once more to experience our Wild Boar Jerky. 

Taste the difference firsthand and see why it’s the best jerky online. Use it as inspiration as you set out on your own journey to making pork jerky!