Make your own jerky
Make your own jerky with a tried and tested recipe, perfect for venison or beef.

Smoked: Make your own jerky at home

Got Grill? Make your own jerky at home and save some moolah!

Our simple smoked jerky recipe can transform your beef or venison into rich, savory morsels of goodness, guaranteed! You will be the champion of your street once neighbors get wind of this smoke session.

What is smoked jerky?

Smoked jerky is a preservation process to extend the shelf life of meats. Widely used centuries ago as a staple of meat preparation, it’s still relevant today.

Removing moisture from meat helps prevent bacterial and/or fungal growth which can ruin stored food. Smoking is a method of drying that also imparts flavor to meat, and smoke helps keep bacteria-carrying-insects away during the drying process.

Start by slicing lean meat (venison or beef) into thin strips, marinating overnight, and smoking on an electric smoker, charcoal grill or a wood-pellet grill.

Smoking is a process of slowly cooking meat with wood smoke over a low temperature to preserve and/or add flavor to the protein.

Hot smoke vs. Cold smoke

Hot smoking uses warmer temperatures than the cold smoking method, but the temperatures are cooler than you’d typically use to cook meat. Since hot smoking still uses cooler temperatures, it’s important to smoke the meat for a long time so it’s thoroughly cooked.

From sweet and savory to big time spicy, smoked jerky is a palatable, enjoyable snack.

Tips for smoking jerky

Here are some steps to help you become a jerky champion in your neighborhood.

  1. Slice your meat evenly. Start with a lean cut to make trimming easier. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat against the grain into thin, ¼-inch strips. Uniform cuts will keep your smoking time consistent for all pieces of jerky.
  2. Spice experimentation: Customize your jerky recipe with your favorites seasonings. Pick a premade marinade that suits your taste buds. Popular flavors/ingredients include smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, cayenne, chili powder, onion powder, mustard powder, apple cider vinegar, Frank’s Red Hot and Dijon mustard. Don’t be shy … test away and find the right concoction that you like most.
  3. Wood smoke. Fruit tree woods like apple and cherry will infuse the meat with a mild smoke flavor. Deciduous hard woods like hickory, pecan, and mesquite will result in a more distinct smoky taste. Combinations of the two types could be the flavor you are looking for, so don’t be afraid to mix it up.
  4. Shelf life. Allow smoked jerky to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. Smoked jerky will keep well for up to two weeks at room temperature and about four weeks in a refrigerator.

Prep the smoker

Before you begin the smoking process, make sure you are all set with your cooking device. You want to shoot for 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit for the cooking process, and will need to maintain that heat for about five hours.

Be sure you have plenty of wood chips and/or pellets to add to the heat while smoking.

Here are some tips for success with the different methods of smoking.

Charcoal grills

  • Make sure your grates are clean and free from previous residues from earlier grill sessions.
  • Set your grill for an indirect cook, and set your air inflow and outflow to barely open. Maintain a temperature of 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add wood chips to coals. Check every hour and replenish coals or wood chips when needed. Pro tip: Large chunks work best for smoking for long periods.

Electric smokers

  • Make sure your grates are clean and free from previous residues from earlier grill sessions.
  • Set your control switch to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add wood chips or pellets of your choice to the chip dispenser, or place in an aluminum foil pack with holes punched on top to allow a slow smoke. Check every hour and replenish when needed.

Pellet smokers

  • Make sure your grates are clean and free from previous residues from earlier grill sessions.
  • Set your control switch to 180 degrees.
  • Add wood pellets of your choice to the hopper. Although the pellets will create plenty of smoke for a jerky cook, you can add a wood chip box or tube over the igniter/pellet drop to add even more smoke to your session. Check your chip box or tube every hour and replenish when needed.

Make your own smoked jerky

Smoked Jerky

Make your own jerky at home and save some moolah! Our simple smoked jerky recipe can transform your beef or venison into tasty, smoky goodness. The marinating period is preferably overnight, hence the total time to produce this recipe.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword jerky, smoked jerky, smoked meat
Prep Time 9 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings 1.5
Calories 180 kcal


  • 1 cup Bachan's Hot & Spicy Japanese BBQ Sauce (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Local honey
  • 1/4 cup Dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Coarse black pepper
  • 3 pounds Lean beef or venison


  1. If you aren't using a store-bought marinade like the Bachan's Japanese BBQ Sauce, make your own. Using a large bowl and whisk, mix soy sauce, Worcestershire, honey, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper.

  2. Add sliced venison or beef to the marinade and stir to coat.

  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge. Allow the beef to marinate overnight, a minimum of eight hours.

  4. Remove the meat from the marinade and blot-dry with paper towels. Let the meat rest at room temperature as you heat the grill.

  5. Preheat grill to 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.

  6. Place the beef slices directly onto the grill grates over indirect heat, close the lid, and smoke the meat until it’s mostly dehydrated and doesn’t bend when you pick it up, about 4-5 hours. Some pieces may cook faster than others, depending on their grill positions. Check hourly.

  7. Transfer jerky to a cookie rack to cool completely. Transfer the room-temperature jerky to an airtight container to store for up to 2 weeks on countertop or 3-4 weeks in a refrigerator.

Happy Grilling (or smoking)!

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