Jerky 104 - Whole Muscle Jerky Basics

  • Walton's Employee


    Jerky 104 - Whole Muscle Jerky Basics

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Laying Out Jerky
    Finished Jerky

    What Is Jerky?

    Simply put Jerky is a meat product that has been processed, seasoned, cured and then cooked or dried.

    Meat Block

    10 lb of Eye of the Round
    1 Bag of Sweet Chipotle Jerky Seasoning
    1 Bag of Sure Cure (Included with purchase)
    20 oz of water (Just enough to cover the meat)


    Weston Pro 10"
    Pro-Smoker PK-100
    Weston 3-Tier Jerky Rack


    The first thing we are going to do is remove all the fat that we can with a knife. Get as little meat as possible when doing this but don’t stress if some meat comes off with the fat. Since we want to have as little fast as possible in this meat, deer and other wild game are great choices for making jerky.

    Then we are going to want to cut our jerky into strips between 1/4 and 3/8" thick. We are going to do this with the Weston Pro-320 slicer but it can also be done with a Precise Slice Adjustable Knife, the Weston Jerky Board, and Slicer Kit or a regular slicing knife if you have a very steady hand. Uniformity is important here as we want all of the slices to be the same thickness so they can cook at the same rate.

    Meat Mixing

    Then mix the cure with the jerky seasoning until it is evenly distributed. Now either coat both sides of each slice of meat by sprinkling it on or drag slices through until they are coated.

    Holding Overnight

    Place all jerky in a food safe poly bag and add enough water so that all the jerky is completely covered by water and hold for 12 hours to allow the cure to work. If you do not want to hold this overnight then you need to use a Cure Acclerator to speed up the curing process. If you use one of these you can go directly to the smoking or cooking process.


    The next step is to smoke or cook the jerky, remember simply using a dehydrator (unless it will get to over 160°) is not recommended. Lay all strips down on smoke screens or jerky screens and set the temperature to 130° and let it cook for an hour with the dampers open to allow for some drying, if you are using an oven you can use something to prop you oven open slightly.

    If your jerky is too thin to inject a probe thermometer you can fold over a piece of jerky and place a probe thermometer in between the fold to get a fairly accurate reading.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    1 Hour at 130° with dampers wide open
    2 Hours at 145° with dampers closed 2/3rds of the way
    Cook at 175° until internal temperature reaches 160°


    Finally, we will hold the jerky at room temperature for 1-2 hours at room temperature before moving them to the refrigerator or the freezer before vac packing.

    Wrap up

    Whole Muscle Jerky is a very simple thing to make, it might take some practice to perfect but the major points to focus on are to cut the muscle into even strips, use just enough water to make sure all of the meat is covered when holding it overnight and have your dampers wide open for the first hour of thermal processing to assist in drying the product.

    Additional Tips

    • To increase the shelf life of your product make sure everything that will come into contact with your meat has been sanitized, we spray everything down with Hard Surface Sanitizer

    Other Notes

    You can use snack stick or summer sausage seasoning to make whole muscle jerky if you want to try different flavors.


    Watch WaltonsTV: Whole Muscle Jerky Basics

    Shop for Jerky Seasoning

    Shop for Meat Slicers

    Shop for Dehydrators

    Shop for Smoke Houses

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  • P

    I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.

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  • E

    Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
    As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
    I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
    Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
    Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
    I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
    Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.

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  • K


    Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??

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  • K


    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.

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  • @Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.

    One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.

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