Jack Links soft jerky

  • Power User

    Looking for a recipe for the thicker cut soft Jack Links style jerky. I’m assuming it’s some type of sugar cure and spice then it’s slightly dried but doesn’t look like it’s smoked or dehydrated. I have a good cured and smoked venison recipe. But I’ve never tried the thinker style any insight as to the process would be helpful Thanks

  • Admin

    I’m not 100% positive on this, but this is what I’d suggest for getting a close variant.
    Do remember, anything we make at home or in small batches without the same equipment and exact process might not be identical to the large scale and commercial products you can find else wise. That said…this is what I think…

    Start out with a thicker cut of meat sliced about 3/8" thick. It’s been awhile since I’ve had jack links jerky, so I couldn’t tell you if they are cutting with or against the grain though.

    The sliced pieces of jerky should also be cut in smaller chunks and not long, large, and wide slices. The smaller pieces, but thicker cut, will help attribute to the texture, softness and style you are looking for.

    The jerky will probably have the best results if you use some sort of seasoning that is composed of a lot of sugar. The sugar will help bind with the water and meat, allowing the jerky to stay more moist while still having a low water activity typical for jerky. My recommendation for the seasoning would be either Sweet Teriyaki Jerky Seasoning or BBQ Jerky Seasoning. Both of which are very high is sugar content.

    If you can, vacuum tumble the meat, seasoning, cure, and water. If you don’t have a small tumbler, go with mixing it all together and putting into vacuum pouches. If you cannot vacuum seal, just use a ziploc bag, but you’ll want to let it marinade for quite a while and no vacuum may make it hard to pick up all the water and seasoning completely. Either way, I’d let it sit for 24 hours to really let the water and sugar soak into everything. I do think Sugar is a key point in how this product is expected to turn out.

    When you go to cook the jerky, whether you smoke it or not shouldn’t make a big difference in your product besides whether you add smoke flavor or not in this case. You will not want to dry it out as much as normal jerky though. You still will want to hit an internal temp of 160 and have some drying time, but it’s does not seem to be as dried as other jerky and what is typically made at home. It should end up being a moister product, but hopefully using a lot of sugar will help with binding water so that even if the product is moister, you will still end up with a low water activity typical for jerky and help with your shelf stability and longevity.

    If you have other questions, let me know if I can help or clarify. These are at least some initial thoughts, comments, and ideas…

  • How do you vacuum seal the meat/marinade without freezing it first?
    I’ve tried that method before, with moisture being leached from the meat and cooling off the sealing area to the point it won’t seal.

  • Admin

    @dennishoddy The easiest way is with a chambered vacuum sealer. Not everybody has one or can get one of the chambered sealers though. If you are using a non-chambered vac sealer, there’s a couple other things to try. First, keep the package of meat/marinade below the vacuum sealer. If they are laying flat on a counter, it can be easy for the liquid to run back up into the seal bar and vacuum area, so just prop up the vac sealer a couple inches to keep the bag of meat further below it. Then you can also try using the manual vacuum/seal process. Most vac sealers have a manual method to start/stop so you can vacuum just long enough to where the liquid starts to move back up the package towards the seal bar. Or, you also try to add a barrier between the meat and seal bar, like a paper towel in the package so the liquid has a harder time making its way back up into the seal bar and vacuum area. You may not get a full vacuum with liquid in the package and using the manual vacuum/seal mode, but at least some vacuum will be better than nothing.

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    @parksider I am using fibrous casings and soaking in warm water for alt least 30 minutes. I mixed the meat, 20 pounds for about 12 minutes. The casings were tight when I was stuffing them. I was processing at 125 for 1 hour, 140 for 1 hour, 155 for 2 hours and 170 until the internal was 165. I water bathed them, forgot to hang them over night, but just put them in the refrigerator. I didn’t take the internal temp after I water bathed them.
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  • P

    Very similar process. Try dividing the spice into 1/3’s. Rub 1/3 on each day for 3 days. Yes it’s very thin, doesn’t take much. Local hardware store had crocks on sale so i got 2. I rub, and rotate each day.
    After day 3, rotate each day for 5 more days. If it’s cold out i leave on the floor in my garage, if not it goes in the fridge-great either way just depends on weather.
    Hang one day-i never rinse. Cold smoke (100F) for 6 hours. rest overnight, cold smoke for 6 more hours. Rest overnight.
    I like mine to be a deep cherry color, that’s how i determine when to stop smoking. If it’s not that rich cherry color, smoke it more! Then rest it for 3 days and slice. We slice it on a slicer so i get super thin slices. Uncle Cecil said slice it thin enough that you can read the paper through it!
    One tip-Walton’s has the little drying pouch that’s in the store bought jerky, They are cheap and make it last forever in the fridge or freezer. I also vacuum seal to 98% with the chamber vac or it get too hard. Here is a pic of what I’m looking for. The fellas have named this George Washington Jerky. It was the only way i could explain it to them before i made it. Told them we were going VERY old school, and now they love it!


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