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Homemade Venison Jerky

Homemade Venison Jerky

Venison Jerky

Venison jerky can be really expensive if you are lucky enough to find it. Do you hunt deer or know someone who does? Make this at home! This jerky is not the crazy dry super hard jerky you may have had in the past. It's tender and easy to bite off every tasty, chewy, smoky morsel. This recipe is also made without sodium nitrite and should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within one week. As if it would last longer than that at my house! Ha!

My husband is a great hunter and this is one of our favorite things about having deer meat in the freezer. Of course you could make this with beef or any other number of lean meats but making your own jerky from deer or elk can be really rewarding. The flavor of ours is exceptional, very much like beef and not at all gamey. This is because the deer we hunt feed in the wheat fields of the Pacific Northwest. They are essentially grain fed vs. grass fed and it seems to make quite a difference.

Deer and Elk season is in the fall and then it's gets quite cold here so I don't do any smoking over the winter. When summer comes around we're usually getting down to the last packages of last years deer meat and it's time to make jerky!

Brining the venison

Venison in brine overnight.

The first step is to cut up your meat into jerky size pieces, The thinner you cut it the less time it will take to dry out as it smokes. I also try to remove as much fat as possible. Fat on small pieces of meat that are exposed to smoke rapidly become saturated with it and it can be an overpowering flavor. Fat on a large cut of meat will work wonders but for jerky you want to use the leanest meat. It also helps to keep the meat tender if you can cut the meat across the grain as much as possible.

Now it's time to mix up the brine. For the nearly 2 lbs. of deer meat I was smoking I used 1/2 cup brown sugar to 1/4 cup sea salt with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of pepper. I do not add any liquid. I use the same brine mixture for smoking salmon too. We like to use pepper but you could use any dry seasoning that you like in place of the pepper or nothing but the brown sugar and salt. A basic ratio of 2 to 1; sugar to salt, is all you need.

Sprinkle this mixture over the thinly sliced pieces of meat and give it a good toss, then leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. The meat will begin to lose it's moisture into the pan and the pieces will begin to firm up. I try to stir this once before going to bed but this time I forgot and didn't really notice a difference. Leaving the meat uncovered gives it a chance to evaporate some liquid as well. After all, the goal is to concentrate the meaty flavors and dry the meat.

After the overnight in the refrigerator, get out the smoker and heat it 175 degrees if you have the time, warmer if you don't. I cut my pieces of meat fairly thin to less than 1/2 inch thickness and it takes about 8 hours at that temperature. You can do it on a higher temperature for less time. I like to think it makes the jerky more tender if it's done more slowly. Either way, this jerky is not the crazy dry super hard jerky you may have had in the past.

Timing as to when the jerky is done is also a personal preference so you will need to check it periodically and decide for yourself just how done you like it. I like to use 3-4 very small additions of wood chips to my electric smoker through the smoking process and although I used Alder chips this time, I like to vary the kind of smoke I use because I enjoy the variety of flavors.




Homemade Venison Jerky


2 pounds Venison (or other lean meat of your choice) cut into thin strips against the grain.

for the brine:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoons ground pepper (optional)



Wood Chips


Cut meat into thin slices across the grain as much as possible

Sprinkle the brine mixture over the thinly sliced pieces of meat, toss it well and then leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

Smoke meat according to your smoker's manufacturer instructions.

I smoked this recipe at 175 degrees for 8 hours using Alder chips.

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Keeps for a week or more in the fridge if you can make it last that long!

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