How to Smoke Beef Jerky

How to Smoke Beef Jerky: The Complete Guide to Smoking Beef Jerky

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You know you want to try smoking beef jerky yourself at home, but you aren’t sure where to start.

How long do you smoke beef jerky?

What temp to smoke beef jerky is best?

Which marinades are best for your recipe?

You’ve come to the right place. We’ve been smoking meats for over a century now and have earned a reputation as the #1 place to buy beef jerky online. We’ll walk you through how to smoke beef jerky below so you can feel confident bringing your own beef jerky recipe to life.

But, if at any point along the way you decide that it’s too much or you simply want to gain a little inspiration from the pros, remember - Mahogany Smoked Meats has the delicious premium jerky online you deserve! 

Can You Smoke Beef Jerky?

First, can you smoke beef jerky at home on your own? Absolutely! Not only is this possible, but this is a time-honored tradition that infuses the meat with a rich, savory flavor and a tender, chewy texture that's hard to resist. 

The process of smoking jerky dates back centuries as a method of preserving meat. Indigenous peoples and early settlers relied on smoking as a way to extend the shelf life of their protein sources, ensuring a stable food supply.

You can learn more about when was beef jerky invented in our blog if you’re interested. Otherwise, let’s dig deeper into why smoking beef jerky is our preferred approach.

Why Smoking Beef Jerky is Our Preferred Approach

As we discuss in our guide on how is beef jerky made, there are many methods at your disposal - from techniques like oven dehydration to air fryer beef jerky. That being said, there is a reason more and more individuals are learning how to smoke beef jerky…

Flavor Profile: The Smoky Difference

The slow dance of meat with smoke grants it a deep, rich flavor profile that's hard to achieve with just marination or seasoning alone. This full-bodied experience engages the palate with every bite.

The choice of wood plays a pivotal role in this culinary alchemy. Woods like hickory, mesquite, or applewood each impart their unique essence, creating a symphony of smoky notes that elevate the jerky to gourmet status. We’ll talk more about the best wood to smoke beef jerky in a moment.

Texture: Achieving the Perfect Chew

The texture of beef jerky is a delicate balance - too dry, and it becomes tough. Too moist, and it lacks that satisfying chew. Smoking jerky at a low temperature over a prolonged period is the secret to hitting that sweet spot. 

The gentle heat works its magic, breaking down the meat's connective tissues without sapping away all its moisture. The result? Jerky that's tender enough to bite into effortlessly, yet chewy enough to savor the smoky flavors as they unfold. In other words, the perfect balance!

Preservation: Extending Shelf Life Naturally

One of the original purposes of jerky was preservation, and smoking is a natural preservative that has stood the test of time. The combination of low heat and smoke works to inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the jerky to last longer without relying on artificial preservatives. 

This method of curing the meat not only maintains its nutritional value but also keeps the jerky safe to eat, whether you're on a hike, at work, or simply enjoying a snack at home.

How to Smoke Beef Jerky: Step-by-Step Guide

As you can see, there’s a lot to love about smoked beef jerky - so without any further ado, let’s get into our step-by-step guide to smoking beef jerky! 

From choosing your wood, picking a recipe, perfecting your smoking process, and more - this is the only resource you need to learn how to smoke beef jerky like the pros…

The Best Wood to Smoke Beef Jerky

The foundation of any great smoked beef jerky is the wood used during the smoking process. Each type of wood imparts a distinct flavor to the meat, and the choice can make or break the final product. 

Woods commonly used include hickory, with its strong, traditional smoky flavor, mesquite, which offers an intense earthiness, applewood, known for its sweet, fruity notes, and cherrywood, with a mild and slightly sweet profile.

That being said, we do things a bit differently here at Mahogany Smoked Meats. We’re the only smokehouse in the nation that uses mahogany logs. So, why is this the best wood for smoking beef jerky

Its subtle, almost buttery smoke profile complements the meat by enhancing its taste rather than competing with it. This choice of wood lends itself to creating a jerky that's not just a snack, but a culinary experience.

Investing in a Smoker

You’ll need to invest in a smoker if you don’t already have one.  There are various types of smokers available, from electric and propane to charcoal and wood pellet smokers. 

Each has its pros and cons, but what's important is consistent temperature control and adequate space for smoke circulation. For those serious about their jerky, investing in a high-quality smoker is a decision that pays off in the caliber of the jerky produced. Remember, you get what you pay for - and the same is true of the cuts of meat you choose…

Choosing the Right Cuts of Meat

As you can imagine, selecting the right cut of meat is crucial for premium beef jerky. Look for cuts with minimal fat, as fat does not dry out and can cause the jerky to spoil faster. The leaner the meat, the better your jerky will be. 

Top round, bottom round, sirloin tip, and flank steak are considered the best cuts for beef jerky. These cuts offer the perfect balance of lean muscle and flavor, making them ideal for smoking.

Preparing the Meat: Cutting, Marinading, and More

Start by trimming any excess fat and then slice the meat against the grain into consistent strips. This ensures that each piece will dry evenly and have the ideal texture. We have a detailed guide on how thick to cut jerky.

Marinating the meat is where you can get creative. A blend of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of brown sugar can provide a solid base, but feel free to experiment with additional spices and flavors to suit your taste. 

The marinating process should last at least a few hours, but for best results, let the meat marinate overnight. This allows the flavors to fully penetrate the meat, setting the stage for a delicious jerky.

What Temp to Smoke Beef Jerky

Perhaps the most common question we see aspiring jerky-makers ask is what temp to smoke beef jerky at. jerky. It all depends, but in general, you're aiming for a low and slow smoke to dehydrate the meat without cooking it. 

The ideal temp to dehydrate jerky is between 160°F and 180°F. This range is high enough to safely dry the meat but low enough to prevent it from cooking or becoming too tough. 

Maintaining a consistent temperature within this range will ensure that your jerky dries evenly and develops a rich, smoky flavor.

Putting the Beef in the Smoker

Once your smoker has reached the steady temperature range of 160°F to 180°F, it's time to introduce the beef to the smoke. 

Begin by laying out the marinated beef strips in a single layer on the smoker racks. Make sure there is a small space between each piece to allow for proper airflow and even smoking. This ensures each strip dries consistently and absorbs the smoky flavor uniformly. 

If you're using a smaller smoker, you may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding. Carefully place the racks into the smoker, taking care not to let the strips overlap or touch. 

Close the smoker lid or door, and let the magic happen as the smoke works its way into the meat, transforming it into the flavorful jerky you crave.

How Long to Smoke Beef Jerky

If it’s not what temp to smoke beef jerky, it’s figuring out how long to smoke beef jerky that leaves new jerky-maker puzzled. Just like the temp itself, there’s a fine line between ensuring the jerky is completely cooked and safe to eat and still tender, chewy, and delicious.

This is where a bit of nuance is important, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Determining how long to dehydrate jerky can vary based on the thickness of the meat slices, the type of smoker, and the temperature. 

Generally, smoking beef jerky can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. It's important to start checking the jerky after the first couple of hours and continue to monitor it closely. The thickness of the slices will directly affect the drying time, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Signs Your Beef Jerky is Done Smoking

Ultimately, the best way to determine your jerky is done smoking is to watch for a few telltale signs rather than adhering to a general timeframe.

The jerky should be firm and leathery but still pliable. It should bend without breaking and show white fibers when bent. If it's brittle and cracks easily, it's overdone. If it's too soft or feels raw, it needs more time. 

The final texture is a matter of personal preference, so it may take a few batches to discover your perfect “doneness”. 

Now What?

Once your beef jerky is done, it's important to let it cool completely before storing it. This will prevent condensation from forming, which could lead to spoilage. Store the jerky in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to keep it fresh. 

But, does beef jerky go bad? If so, how long is beef jerky good for? Properly stored, your homemade smoked beef jerky can last for several weeks, but chances are it'll be enjoyed long before then. If not, you can freeze beef jerky to get it to last longer. 

We have more tips on how to store beef jerky to avoid expired beef jerky in our blog. But now that you've mastered the art of how to smoke beef jerky, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and share your delicious creation with friends and family.

Save Yourself the Time of Smoking Beef Jerky or Gain Recipe Inspiration at Mahogany Smoked Meats!

There you have it - how to smoke beef jerky! This can certainly be a rewarding endeavor, but it's not without its challenges. Achieving that perfect balance of smoky flavor and texture requires patience, precision, and a bit of practice. 

The process of selecting the right cuts, marinating the meat, managing the smoker, and ensuring the jerky is dried to perfection is time-consuming and can be intimidating for beginners. Not to mention, the initial investment in a quality smoker and the ongoing cost of wood and ingredients can add up.

So - if you love the taste of smoked beef jerky but would rather skip the trial and error, Mahogany Smoked Meats offers a convenient and delectable alternative. 

You can save time and treat your taste buds to some of the best smoked beef jerky available online. Our jerky is expertly crafted using time-honored smoking techniques and the finest cuts of meat, resulting in a product that's rich in flavor and perfect in texture.

Even if you decide to go through with smoking beef jerky at home, you can at least try our world-renowned recipes as inspiration. Get a taste of the best and see if you can emulate it yourself! What separates our smoked jerky from the rest, though? 

  • Unique Smoking Wood: We are one of the few brands that use mahogany wood for smoking, which imparts a distinctive smooth and rich flavor you won't find in other jerkies.
  • Quality Meats: We source only the best cuts for our jerky, ensuring that every bite is lean, tender, and full of flavor.
  • No Artificial Preservatives: Our smoking process naturally preserves the meat, allowing us to avoid artificial preservatives and deliver the healthiest jerky online.
  • Handcrafted with Care: Each batch of our jerky is smoked to perfection with a keen eye on temperature and timing, ensuring consistent quality in every package.
  • Variety of Flavors: We cater to all palates with a wide range of flavors, from traditional to innovative, ensuring there's something for everyone.
  • Convenience: Our online store makes it easy to order and enjoy high-quality smoked meats no matter where you are, with the confidence of knowing you're getting a product crafted by experts.

We don’t just have high-quality beef jerky, though. From the best elk jerky to the best fish jerky, we’ve got all the beef jerky alternatives you could be interested in trying as well:

Across all these different types of jerky, you can expect the same commitment to quality. We’re so confident you’re going to love our snacks that they’re backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. So, what are you waiting for? Browse our selection today as we wrap up our guide to smoking beef jerky below.

Closing Thoughts on How to Smoke Beef Jerky

As we wrap up our guide on how to smoke beef jerky, we want to reiterate that this is an art that combines the right choice of wood, quality cuts of meat, and precise temperature control to create a delicious, savory snack. 

While the process can be intricate and time-consuming, the result is a richly flavored, perfectly textured jerky that's well worth the effort. 

Still, if you don’t have the time, the resources, or even the desire to smoke your own beef jerky, you’re in luck. Mahogany Smoked Meats offers an exceptional selection of smoked beef jerky made with the finest ingredients and traditional techniques.

You can learn more about beef jerky in our blog with resources on beef jerky while pregnant, beef jerky calories, is beef jerky good for weight loss, why is beef jerky so expensive, is beef jerky keto friendly, beef jerky nutrition facts, is beef jerky good for you, biltong vs jerky, and more.

From our beef jerky recipe to our elk jerky recipe, buffalo jerky recipe, fish jerky recipe, and everything in between, though, the delicious, nutritious snacks you deserve are just a few clicks away. 

Experience the unparalleled taste of our mahogany-smoked meats by visiting our online store and treating yourself to the finest smoked jerky available - we can’t wait to hear which flavor is your favorite!