How to Make Delicious Traeger Jerky at Home

June 13, 2024 2 min read

How to Make Delicious Traeger Jerky at Home

Beef jerky is a timeless snack, perfect for various occasions like hiking, road trips, or just a casual snack at home. The process of making beef jerky involves slicing meat into thin strips, marinating it in a flavorful mixture, and then drying it using low heat. While traditional methods include using a dehydrator or an oven, using a smoker like a Traeger adds a distinctive wood-fired flavor that enhances the jerky's taste. Here’s a detailed guide on how to make your own beef jerky at home.

Choosing the Right Meat

Beef is the most common meat used for jerky, although venison, pork, and even salmon can also be used. Ideal cuts of beef include flank steak, top round, bottom round, rump roast, sirloin tip, or skirt steak. These cuts are lean, with minimal intramuscular fat, which is crucial because fat can make the jerky spoil faster.

Slicing the Meat

For the best results, slice the beef into 1/4-inch thick strips. Thicker slices take longer to dry, while thinner slices can become too brittle. It's important to have uniform slices for consistent drying. A pro tip is to freeze the meat for about 30 minutes before slicing to firm it up. For tender jerky, cut against the grain; for a chewier texture, cut with the grain.

Marinating the Beef

Marinating is a vital step in making beef jerky. The marinade not only adds flavor but also helps in preserving the meat. Typical marinade components include:

  • Salty/Savory: Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or liquid aminos.
  • Spicy: Hot sauce, sliced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper.
  • Sweet: Brown sugar.
  • Aromatics: Garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cumin, and other spices.
  • Liquid: Beer, cola, or brewed coffee to increase the marinade volume.

Ensure the beef strips are fully submerged in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 12 hours.

Preparing and Smoking the Jerky

After marinating, dry the meat on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to allow for airflow. Use paper towels to pat the meat dry if needed. Choose your smoking wood based on the flavors of your marinade—stronger woods like mesquite or hickory for robust flavors, and lighter woods like apple or cherry for subtle flavors.

Dry the meat at a low temperature (165°F to 180°F) for about 4 to 5 hours. The jerky should be dry to the touch but still pliable.

FAQs and Tips

  • Smoking vs. Dehydrator/Oven: Smoking adds a natural wood-fired flavor that cannot be replicated with a dehydrator or oven. It connects you to ancient methods of meat preservation.
  • Meat Yield: Generally, 2 pounds of raw beef will yield about 1 pound of jerky, depending on the moisture content of the meat.

Recipes to Try

For a simple and delicious recipe, try the Traeger Smoked Beef Jerky by Chef Austen Granger. Explore more recipes for varied flavors and preferences.

By following these steps, you can create delicious, homemade beef jerky that is perfect for any occasion, with the added bonus of a unique, wood-smoked flavor. Enjoy your homemade jerky as a snack or share it with friends and family for a delightful treat.

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