Jack Links soft jerky

  • Regular Contributors

    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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  • W

    I believe the recommended curing time is 12 hours but can I go less than that? I was expecting my order to be here tonight and it won’t be here till tomorrow morning now.

    I was going to mix up my batch of jerky tonight but will have to do it tomorrow on my lunch break. Just wondering if tomorrow evening would be long enough to let the meat cure.



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  • M

    Your recipe calls for 1. Sure Cure, 2. Sure Gel Meat Binder, and 3. Smoked Meat Stabilizer. I have all but the Sure Gel Meat Binder. Can I get by without using this? Second question- Is Excalibur’s Cure Excellerator the same as Sure Cure?

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  • @andyman Great question, Carrot Fiber holds up to 26 times its weight in water, and while the 80 oz is still well inside that I have never done that before. I max out (even with Carrot Fiber) at 64 oz which is 2 qts. My only fear with doing 80 is that it might take a lot longer to cook as it will have more water content that will be trying to evaporate. Most of that water should be bound up in the carrot fiber though so it wouldn’t really be available to be cooked out. Hmmm, my recommendation, to be safe is to stick with 64 oz of water.

    Now, as to should you add more seasoning, some people will taste the difference if you did not add additional seasonings and some (most) will not. Your water and your seasoning is technically part of your meat block (anyone who is reading this who doesn’t consider this don’t worry!) so adjusting your meat block to include your water is sometimes done. If you do decide to add more spices or seasonings I would add aromatics and things like Rosemary and Basil, don’t add more salt as that is formulated specifically for the meat block.

    Hope this helps and if you do decide to go with 80 oz of water then I would be very interested in the results!

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  • D

    i use denuded round. higher cost, less waste, cleaner eating

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  • @twigg267 I did a meatgistics university article on this topic, you can view it Jerky 103 - Best Cuts For Jerky and read the article! Let me know if you have more questions beyond what is available there!

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  • A

    @jonathon I enjoyed this line of questions and comments, it made me think. Here is my related question: Assume I use 25 lbs. of meat to make summer sausage and add one package, 4 oz., of Carrot Fiber and 80 oz. of water. The ratio is 20 times the weight of water to the weight of CF. In other words, I am adding 5 lbs. 4 oz. of water/CF paste to my meat dough. Should I adjust the amount of salt and spices, I add to the dough? I am concerned that the flavor will be weaker if I don’t add spices for the new total, 30 lbs. curious as to what y’all thinking.

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