How to Make Beef Jerky in a Smoker – Complete Guide

From choosing the perfect marinade fixings to storing your food, join us as we guide you on how to make beef jerky in a smoker!

Smokers can infuse any meat with an exquisite taste that you can’t achieve using a dehydrator, regardless of the cut or type of meat. They also help keep your jerky juicier by locking in the flavor to provide a slice of more flavorful and tender meat.

Smoking jerky is one of the many challenging cooking practices that ambitious chefs hope to master. We can guide you on making beef jerky in a smoker so even a beginner can enjoy some good jerky at home.

beef jerky smoke

How to Prepare Beef Jerky in a Smoker

1. Prepare And Cut Meat

Knowing how to make jerky with a smoker means you have to acquire the perfect slice of meat. Remember that your beef slices must be slim for your household jerky to cook evenly. These beef strips can cut about ¼-1/8 inches using a sharp knife, but make sure there is enough bite left in your meat.

If you’re a beginner cook who finds slicing meat tricky, use a jerky slicer or another measuring tool to slice your beef. Make sure to mark the necessary fields for your convenience to make the slicing faster. To get a leaner cut, you can also keep your beef jerky in your freezer for one or two hours.

Other experts also suggest cutting off all excess fat from the beef when making your jerky. If you skip this stage, there’s a decent chance that your jerky can end up spoilt.

2. Marinade

After preparing and cutting the meat, the next step is to prepare some marinade for your jerky. For a standard jerky recipe, you have to create a mix using different spices like:

  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • Two teaspoons of garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • Two teaspoons of onion powder
  • ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon curing salt
  • ¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce

The marinade is ideal for a pound of rounded roast beef. While the ingredients can vary in a beef jerky marinade recipe, you always need soy sauce, black pepper and brown sugar as your base ingredients.

After mixing it all, mix the marinade and beef in an airtight box or zip lock bag and keep it overnight in your fridge. After the marination, you have to take the meat out and put it on a cookie tray covered with aluminum foil and paper towels. Otherwise, you can choose to pat the excess marinade out from the jerky with paper towels so that it cooks evenly.

3. Prepare the Smoker

Next, you have to prepare your smoker for the jerky. Make sure to completely cover your drip pan with foil to prevent any messes while drying the smoked beef jerky afterwards. It’s also essential to clean your smoker methodically before cooking any food to avoid contamination.

4. Smoke the Jerky

Maintain your smoker’s temperature at a low range between 160 and 200°F. Then, place your beef jerky on the cooling rack or grill grates. You don’t have to use liquid smoke to get any extra smokey flavor. If you want to get a specific flavor for your jerky, using more pellet chips can also be good.

Allow the smoker to continue cooking for about two hours before coming back to check the meat. Also, remember that the smoking time for beef jerky can be much shorter in a pellet smoker than in an electric one. A regular smoking session can take about three or four hours.

5. Dry the Beef

You can dry your beef using many different methods. A dehydrator or an oven works just as well if available to you outside of using your smoker. It’s best to take a piece out occasionally to see if the beef can bend without breaking. In this way, you can tell if your beef is dry enough.

If you can see some white fibers, that’s a good indicator that your jerky is complete. The drying procedure can also take more than five hours, contingent on the cut of meat and the smoker’s brand. You can open your smoker vent somewhat to allow air to circulate in the smoking compartment and dry the beef better.

6. Extra Tips to Remember

You can smoke your beef on some wire racks to make jerky. That gives you easier access to your meat strips. It also allows you to place multiple cuts together if you’re serving the smoked beef jerky in bulk.


What Is The Right Piece Of Meat To Make Smoked Beef Jerky?

It would be best to choose a lean piece of beef for smoked jerky since the smoking procedure involves extensive smoking time. Also, while fat can provide extra flavor to the meat, it’s best to avoid too much of it since it could leave a bitter taste on your jerky.

What Is The Right Temperature For Smoking Beef Jerky?

The standard rule is that the thicker the beef, the higher the temperature it needs while smoking. So, whenever you cook beef, the minimum temperature you should use is 160 F to prevent any meat contamination.

How Long Does It Take To Dry The Beef?

Until it starts burning, the standard duration is four-to-five-hour while drying. You want to avoid over-drying the beef, so it’s ideal for checking on it every so often. Make sure that the meat still has some toughness and bite to it.

How Do You Store Smoked Beef Jerky?

After smoking and drying, allow the beef to cool to room temperature for an hour. Then, you keep the jerky in an airtight box or zip lock bag sealed tightly before refrigerating it.

What Temperature Range Works For Smoked Beef Jerky?

You can smoke beef between 160 F and 200 F temperature. That said, that heat measurement depends on the different aspects. These include the smoker brand, the beef thickness, and other considerations. If you want to dry out the meat, it’s all right to dry it at 200 degrees.

Can You Smoke Beef Jerky At 225 F?

Yes, you can smoke beef jerky at 225 F, primarily if you plan on drying out the beef. It can make your smoking time shorter. It would be ideal to use a lower temperature so as not to over-dry the meat. It’s best to stay within a range of 160-200 F.

Should You Use A Smoker Or A Dehydrator For Beef Jerky?

Jerky comes out better in a smoker than from a dehydrator, regardless of the cut of meat. A dehydrator makes it easier and cheaper to prepare jerky. Still, you end up with a chewier and drier amount of meat. However, you can maintain juiciness while also getting a sound bite of beef with a smoker.

food jerky

Do You Need Water When Smoking Beef Jerky?

No, it’s unnecessary to use water while smoking jerky, primarily if you’ve used a moist marinade instead of a dry rub on your beef. However, in case of a dry rub, you can fill your water pan with some vinegar or water. That can help the jerky absorb more moisture throughout the smoking process to prevent excess dryness.

Also read: How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? [BEGINNER]

Final Words

You can see that figuring out how to make beef jerky in a smoker isn’t the most effortless cooking escapade. On the contrary, it can be daunting, especially for beginner chefs. However, we can assure you that closely following this guide can help you serve some delicious smoked beef jerky to your family and friends.

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