Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spicy Beef Jerky: Oven vs. Smoker


Over the last few years, I have made quite a few batches of beef jerky using one of my smokers.  While
every batch has turned out great, I have friends that swear by their jerky made in the oven.  With the NFL Draft coming up, I thought it was a perfect time for a Beef Jerky Battle Royal.  Which Jerky will  come out on top? Here's a hint: SMOKE EM' IF YA GOT EM!!

I went by my local Sam's Club and picked up 10 lbs of bottom round already sliced.  Next time, I will ask for whole roast and slice my own.  This way I can cut it the way I want.  It's easier to slice if the meat is semi frozen, so I placed them in the freezer for about an hour.  I need to "Bite the Bullet" and purchase a meat slicer, but will have to slice this one by hand.

Ready to Slice

It's very important to trim the fat as much as possible on meat when making jerky.  The fat becomes chewy and rancid after awhile and will ruin a great piece of meat.  Trim off as much fat as possible and slice into 1/8 inch strips.  I have heard guys say to "cut across the grain" and I have also been told to "cut with the grain".  I have found no difference in the 2 methods and just sliced so that I can get some nice long strips of meat.

Fit and Trimmed
Sliced Thin

Once it's sliced up, it's time to add the jerky seasoning.  I have found some great jerky seasoning's over the years and decided to try a new one this time around.  The Pendery's spices have never disappointed.

Sprinkled the meat with the seasoning and added a little HEAT

Once the meat is seasoned, we start the waiting game.  I usually let it go for 24-48 hours.  I prefer 48 hours, but also have a problem waiting sometimes.  I waited a week when making CDN Bacon, so I guess I can wait a measly 48 hours.  :)

Mini Meat Locker

Once the longest 48 hours ever are over, it's time to cook.  If you are using the oven, place some foil on the bottom rack to catch any drippings.  I hung the meat by some toothpicks so that they would hang for better drying  The key here is to dry out the meat, not cook it.  I set the oven to 175 degrees and let it go for about 3 hours. Another very important thing to remember is keeping the oven door cracked open to let the moisture escape.  I placed a small wooden spoon in between the door and the oven to create a small opening.  This is a MUST!!!

After 2.5 hours, we are getting close.  It's up to you on how far to take this step.  I like my jerky to have some bite to it and not be super dry.  This is what it looked like after 2.5 hours.

While the oven was doing it's job, I fired up the smoker. I went with my WSM for this job.  Can never go wrong with the 22.5 WSM.  It's my favorite smoker.

175 to 200 is perfect

Anywhere between 175 and 200 degrees works for me.  Some friends prefer the 160 range but I am not that picky.  As long as it's smoking and not cooking the meat, I am happy. I added a chunk of hickory and let it go.

Mmmmmm......Can't Wait

The smoking process with take about 3 hours to finish.  The color of the meat will be a bit darker because of the smoke.  The smoke will also add some pinkness to the interior of the meat. This is called the SMOKE RING.

Thin Blue Smoke

After about 1 hour, the meat will start to look darker and dryer. This is a good thing!

After about 2 hours, the edges start to get some crispiness.  Your mouth should should be watering by this point. Mine was.

At the 3 hour mark, the jerky is done. I love mine with a little bit of tenderness still in it.  If you like yours a little dryer, keep it on for another hour.

The final product looks like this.  After a few hours in the fridge or in a food saver bag, the smokey flavor gets even better. Trust me on this. 

Both of these batches turned out good, but the "SMOKER" jerky was a notch above and is my favorite.  The smoke flavor adds that little extra that I prefer.  It also passes the eye test. The oils that came out near the end add a nice touch.  This is the way to do jerky if you have a smoker.  If not, the oven will work nearly as well.  This round goes to the "SMOKER"


  1. Yum! We love home-cooked jerky! It is so rewarding to do it yourself, too!

  2. Those look yummy! I will certainly be trying it.:) I truly love you blog and get inspired to cook more and more.