How to Make Tender Jerky At Home

  • Walton's Employee

    Tender Jerky
    Slicer Knife

    How to Make Tender Jerky At Home

    Learn How to Make Tender Jerky At Home with Walton's and Meatgistics. Watch the video, read the guide, and then post your questions or comments below.

    What Is Jerky?

    When you make jerky at home you are seasoning, curing and removing moisture from the meat by drying it out. Doing this helps prevent the growth of bacteria in your meat as it has a low water activity level, meaning that there is not enough water to allow bacteria to grow. Homemade jerky has a tendency to be a little dry and brittle, however it is possible to make a jerky that has low water activity but is still shelf stable like the store bought jerky from some of the better jerky making companies. To make this at home the best way to do it is to use a seasoning and cure package like normal and then add additional sugar. The sugar envelopes the water molecules and prevents it from being able to cook or dry out of the meat but also makes it unavailable for microbial or bacterial growth.

    Meat Block

    25 lb of Eye of the Round


    Walton’s Bold Jerky Seasoning Seasoning
    1 oz package of sure cure
    18% Additional Brown Sugar
    20% Water


    To do this we are going to be using 25 lb of eye of the round cuts with the fat cut off, a package of Walton’s Bold Jerky Seasoning and cure, then we will add 18% of the starting weight in light brown sugar and 20% of its starting weight in water. So this would mean we will be using 2.8 oz of brown sugar and 3.2 oz of water per lb of jerky. Because we need the water to dissolve as much sugar as possible we will be mixing that in first and then adding the cure and seasonings to the mix. You really need to mix this very well, my recommendation would be once you think you are done keep going for another few minutes.


    Since the goal here is to keep the pieces tender we will want to avoid cutting the pieces too thin so we will stay in the 1/4 to 3/8 range. Since we have large eye of the round cuts we are going to use a slicer, this will make the process faster and give us far more uniform cuts. If we want, we can cut the slices into strips to give it more of a classic jerky look before we tumble it. If you don’t have a slicer the Precise Slice Adjustable Knife from Victorinox works well, it will just be a little bit slower. Now, I put my eye of the rounds in the our blast freezer for about 45 minutes first to make the slicing easier and more accurate.


    Once we have sliced this into pieces that are 1/4 - 3/8" thick we will tumble them for 40 minutes to allow the meat to pick up as much of the solution as possible. We will have all the data on how much of the solution was picked up in the meat, what the meat weighed before smoking and what it weighed after. Average loss in product when making jerky is between 50 and 75%, we are hoping to achieve much better results with this recipe.

    We are going to tumble this using our KMV Vacuum Tumbler but you can use something like the Marinade Express Vacuum Tumbler-Pro. We have used that before and it works well, you just need to make sure you do not exceed the recommendations for the drum or it will not pick up as much of the solution as you want it too.

    Now, if you don’t have a way to tumble this at home you will need to hold it in a container in a cooler for 12-24 hours to try to get the meat to pick up as much of the solution as possible. Without a tumbler mixing in all the sugar and seasoning becomes even more important so make 100% sure everything is dissolved.


    We started out with 24.5 lb of meat, 11.35 lb of solution, after tumbling there was .35 of a lb left that the meat did not pick up. Our finished dry weight was 19.8 lb giving us less than 20% product loss.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Stage 1 - 20 Minutes at 110° (dampers wide open)
    Stage 2 - 30 Minutes at 135° (begin adding smoke)
    Stage 3 - 10 Minutes at 140° (dampers wide open again for drying)
    Stage 4 - 30 Minutes at 150°
    Stage 5 - 175° until internal temperature is 160°

    Advanced Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Stage 1 - 20 Minutes Dry at 110° 0 Relative Humidity(RH)
    Stage 2 - 30 Minutes Dry at 135° 0 (RH)
    Stage 3 - 10 Minutes Dry at 140° 0 (RH)
    Stage 4 - 30 Minutes Dry at 150° Wet at 126° 50 RH
    Stage 5 - 30 Minutes Dry at 155° Wet at 130° 50 RH
    Stage 6 - Dry at 175° Wet at 155 RH 60 until internal temperature is 160°


    Allow the jerky to sit out at room temperature for an hour before packaging to avoid condensation inside the packaging.

    Wrap up

    We were very pleased with these results of this recipe, it gave us a nice tender jerky with a good (if somewhat sweet) taste and our product loss was minimal. We started with 25 lb of meat and after smoking and dehydrating we ended up with just about 20 lb of jerky giving us a product loss of only 20% which is outstanding when a loss of 50% is generally considered good.

    Additional Tips

    • It might be worth it to use a little more seasoning to cut through the sugar taste

    Other Notes

    Our water activity was below .85 so this is a shelf stable product but remember without a way to test water activity at home there is no way for you to be sure that yours will be and the main benefit to following this recipe would be that you end up with a soft and tender piece of jerky and far less product loss compared to traditional methods.

    Watch WaltonsTV: How to Make Tender Jerky At Home

    Shop for Weston 10" Slicer

    Shop for KMV Vacuum Tumbler

    Shop for Marinade Express Vacuum Tumbler - Pro

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    Hello Everyone,
    Gary T. From Branford CT, I’ve been making jerky for some 30 years now, not sure how I missed Waltons site but I’m glad I found it, great to see all the videos tips and forums.

    Trying the Waltons BOLD Jerky seasoning today in a restructured mix, I normally try a mix as is the 1st time then alter to my taste later on, I needs TONS of flavor so I’m hoping this one does the trick. I also bought the Teriyaki & Cajun to try.

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