This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for full disclosure.
While that statement may seem just a little over the top my philosophy is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”! This has been our go-to venison jerky recipe for 20 years. I’m pretty sure that if I made it any other way I would have a rebellion on my hands the likes of which Darth Vader and the Empire have never seen. I love giving it away as Christmas gifts as well. At least the stuff I’ve hidden well enough that no one finds it.
Since we are blessed with venison every year, I usually have a whole one that is reserved just for jerky and sausage making. The last several years, that has been about 70 pounds of venison sliced for jerky and ground for burger each year. I make Peppery Deer Sticks and Summer Sausage out of the ground meat as well. And we enjoy the roasts and backstraps of the others all winter long. A special favorite is the Crockpot Venison Goulash on busy nights.
Today, we’re going to focus on the jerky, though. Venison jerky stores well, is easy to take on hikes or camping trips, and is packed with protein. And It’s great for snacking on at any time. It’s also incredibly easy to make. Which y’all know makes me happy dance. 🙂
Pin for later
This recipe is a little vague. It’s less a recipe per se, and more a tutorial. But here we go.
Best Ever Venison Jerky
- 1 venison backstrap
- 1 15 oz bottle soy sauce (I use Kikkomen)
- I capful of liquid smoke (unless you’re going to put it in the smoker, which I like to do)
- Homemade Lemon Pepper
- Dehydrator (this is the one I have and I love it!)
If your meat is not already sliced, slice it as thinly as you can. Meat slices easier if it is partially frozen. Then let the meat thaw completely. Then mix the soy sauce and the liquid smoke (if you’re using it) in a large bowl and add the meat. I like to turn the meat a few times to let the sauce get all through it. If you’re not using the liquid smoke, you can put in some meat and pour some of the soy sauce over it and then add more meat. Now make sure the meat is submerged as much as possible. If you have too much meat for the sauce, mix up some more in the same ratio.
Marinating Your Venison Jerky
Now cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator. You need to let the meat marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Every once in a while take it out and turn the meat so that it all gets marinated evenly. After about 16 hours it will have absorbed all or most of the soy sauce mixture. And it will look darker like this.
At this point you have 2 options.
Option 1: Smoking
If you didn’t use the liquid smoke and you want to put it in the smoker here’s what I do. I use parchment paper and make parcels. Get a piece of parchment paper and put some of the meat in the middle a few layers deep. Now, pull the longer ends up together and fold them over several times til you get down to the meat. Then take the unfolded ends and fold them up on each side. And then take a skewer or sharp fork and poke holes all over it. Top, sides, and bottom. That way it gets smoke in all over. Then load them into the smoker. Just have it hot enough to make smoke. I usually smoke it for about an hour and then bring it in and put it into the dehydrator.
Option 2: Dehydrating
The second option is to just put it directly into the dehydrator. Lay it out on the trays so that it’s not overlapping other pieces. Then sprinkle a liberal amount of the lemon pepper all over it.
Then put it into the dehydrator and turn it on. If yours has a thermostat set it at 155°F. After a few hours I usually turn it over. Depending on the dehydrator you have, you may need to swap the trays around to maintain an even heat. I also consolidate the meat into fewer trays as it dries because it shrinks. I sometimes end up with half the amount of trays that I start with.
Of course, the kids snacking on it before it’s completely dried probably has something to do with that. Your venison jerky is finished when it’s leathery but still pliable. The drying time will depend on how thick the meat is, the humidity level, and the temperature of your dehydrator. It could take as little as 4 hours, and up to 12 or more. After it’s dried, let it cool and then put it in an airtight container.
Storing Venison Jerky
The jerky has enough salt in it from the soy sauce to keep well for a few weeks. If it makes it that long. 🙂 But for longer storage I seal it with my FoodSaver and put it in the freezer. And then hide it in the deep dark recesses so I can have some later when no one else is around. But that’s our little secret…
Do you have a go-to jerky recipe? Share it with the rest of us. Pretty please. 🙂