- What venison and game meat cuts are best for jerky?
- What are the benefits of making game meat jerky?
- How to make venison jerky (or other game meat jerky)
- Cutting venison jerky for optimal chewing experience
- Chinese-inspired venison jerky recipe
- Step-by-step venison jerky instructions
Making venison jerky, and other types of game meat jerky like elk, is a great way to use every part of the animal you harvest. Jerky is a wholesome, minimally processed, high protein snack that you can make yourself. It travels well and can be preserved for long periods of time, ensuring that no meat goes to waste. Larger cuts of game meat that are typically tougher make excellent whole single-strip jerky (versus ground meat jerky).
What Venison and Game Meat Cuts Are Best For Jerky?
The best venison and game meat cuts are best for whole pieces of jerky are:
- Bottom round roast. When butchering, one of the major areas of division is the portion of upper hind into sirloin, eye of round, and bottom round roast portions. We reserve the bottom round for jerky.
- Older roasts from previous years. If we have been very fortunate in our hunts, sometimes there are a few roasts that been left uneaten. If we want jerky, we will sometimes use older frozen roasts from previous years.
I’ve made jerky from venison and elk, but I assume you can make jerky out of any large game animal. For jerky strips, I think using the toughest and oldest roasts is best. Larger pieces of meat are easier to process into jerky and more pleasant to eat. Using smaller or more tender cuts is definitely possible, but probably isn’t the best use of those animals (save your sirloin for steaks!). This is just my opinion and what I usually do, but feel free to experiment yourself.
You can also make ground meat jerky, but this post is specific to strip jerky.
What are the Benefits of Game Meat Jerky?
There are many benefits to using venison and other game meat for jerky:
- Jerky is an excellent way to preserve game meat
- Using tougher cuts of meat is a good way to make the most of every part of your harvest (versus making everything into hamburger)
- It’s a tasty, high protein, minimally processed snack
Making jerky is also fun and makes your house smell good (if you like the smell of jerky, that is).
How to Make Venison Jerky (Or Other Game Meat Jerky)
Follow these steps to make venison jerky:
- If making jerky from frozen, defrost venison meat for 1-2 days until semi-frozen, as it is easier to slice thinly and evenly. If meat is fresh, freeze for 1/2-1 day until semi-frozen.
- Cut venison into 1/8″ strips at slight diagonal across the grain (see below for more detail).
- Choose jerky recipe and follow (Hank Shaw and Alton Brown are reliable sources). Combine venison with marinade ingredients and follow recipe instructions for marinade time. If you’re planning to eat jerky right away and/or store in the fridge, you can be less selective about what recipe you use (example). If you’re planning to store jerky in dry place and/or preserving for a long period of time, I recommend following a trustworthy recipe that has a specific ingredient-to-salt % ratio and dehydrating until fully dry to prevent spoilage.
- Drain jerky strips and lay on dehydrator sheets, discard brine. Dry on medium (~150-degrees) until jerky is dried to your liking, flipping halfway through. It will take approximately 8-10 hours. Store in sealed bag in fridge or freezer.
These steps can be followed for elk or other large game animals.
Cutting Venison Jerky For Optimal Chewing Experience
How to cut venison jerky – or rather, where to cut venison for jerky – is an oft-contended topic on the internet. Some people argue that you should cut with the grain and other people insist that you should cut against the grain. I think cutting totally against the grain will leave you with short, stubby pieces of crumbly jerky that will fall apart in your mouth. On the other hand, I find cutting completely with the grain too chewy. So, I cut my jerky with the grain, at a slight diagonal, to get the best of both worlds.
I like to cut my venison jerky with the grain at a slight diagonal to try to get the best of both worlds in regards to tenderness and chew. Here’s a picture of exactly how I would cut a venison bottom round roast, my favourite cut for venison jerky:
Chinese-Inspired Venison Jerky Recipe
Chinese Venison Jerky
Chinese venison jerky is a great way to preserve seasonal wild game using traditional East Asian flavors like Chinese five spice and soy.
- 2 lbs venison bottom round, partially frozen with excess fat and silver skin removed (or other suitable venison cut)
- 1/2 c. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. worcestershire sauce
- 4 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tsp five spice powder
- 1 tsp white pepper (can substitute with black pepper)
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 inches ginger, peeled and sliced
Cut venison into ⅛” strips with the grain at a slight diagonal.
Combine all ingredients in a freezer bag and marinade in the fridge for 3-24 hours depending on how salty you want your jerky and how long you’ll be storing it for.
Drain jerky strips and lay on dehydrator sheets, discard brine. Dry on medium (~150-degrees) until jerky is dried to your liking, flipping halfway through. It will take approximately 8-10 hours. Store in sealed bag in fridge or freezer
This post was originally published on October 24, 2017 and was updated on August 12, 2020.