Most hunters love to prepare and eat the meat they themselves have hunted, and there's no doubt that "venison jerky recipe" appears near the top of the list of their favorites—and their search results. Not only is the meat delicious, dehydrating or smoking venison or elk meat into jerky also preserves it longer—and pieces of the dried deer meat can be brought along as a snack on the next hunt.
When choosing a venison jerky recipe, you don't want to get caught up in extreme flavors that take away from the rich taste of venison or elk meat. You also don't want to waste too much time with prep, and you don't want to buy tons of specialized ingredients.
This recipe for homemade jerky keeps it simple: Cut the meat, mix up the traditional marinade for an overnight soak, then smoke it several hours to the desired chewy texture.
Tips for Making Venison Jerky
There are a few pointers worth keeping in mind when making venison jerky. First, the cut of wild game meat you use for jerky can make a big difference, not only in texture but also in overall cooking time. More-tender portions of meat, such as the backstrap or rump, require less time and have a better bite. A tougher cut such as the ribs, top round, or bottom round calls for a longer cook time and will be a little chewier as a finished product.
You can use several methods to create great deer jerky, but they all require a slightly different set of instructions and cook times. Here, we cover the steps for using a smoker, which we think offers the best flavor. You can make this deer jerky recipe in a food dehydrator, but we suggest adding a hint of liquid smoke to the marinade—1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of meat.
Smoked Venison Jerky Recipe
- 2 pounds venison roast (can also use elk)
- 1 cup soy sauce (use low-sodium for less salty taste or teriyaki for sweetness)
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)
- Trim the roast of any silver skin. Then thinly slice against the grain into quarter-inch slices. It helps if the roast is still a little frozen. Alternatively, taking the meat to a butcher to cut up using a meat slicer ensures perfectly even pieces for the best jerky results.
- Whisk together the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (if desired) in a large bowl with a lid or shake in a large zipper-topped bag.
- After your jerky marinade is mixed, place the sliced meat into the bowl or bag, one piece at a time, stirring or shaking to coat. Cover the bowl with a lid or zip the bag shut, and and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
- Heat your smoker to 180 degrees. Drain the marinade off of your jerky meat, but do not rinse.
- Once preheated, place meat slices directly onto the grill grates. Smoke your jerky for 2 to 4 hours, depending on how chewy you like your jerky. Start checking the pieces for flexibility after the 2-hour mark. Some grills run hot in certain sections, so you may need to rearrange or remove pieces. The exact doneness is personal preference. Overcooked jerky has a firmer texture and ends up tough to chew.
The jerky should be stored securely, preferably in a sealable plastic bag, and eaten within a month. You may also place jerky servings in the freezer for longer storage. Note that cooking the jerky slightly longer keeps it better longer but makes it harder to chew.
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