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how to slice meat for jerky

How to Slice Meat for Jerky? (Explained for Beginners)

Jerky makes an enjoyable snack. While you can buy from the store, the pleasure from a homemade jerky is better. Homemade is healthier, and you get to make it how you prefer.

Making jerky at home may be time-consuming, but it can also be a fun and learning process. The hard part of preparing this snack is slicing the meat, and you can use a knife or a jerky slicer.

What Is Beef Jerky?

Beef jerky is a nutritious snack made from meat. The meat used is cut in slim strips, seasoned and dehydrated to prevent spoilage. Dehydration is the process of drying the meat. The word “jerky” is gotten from a Quechua word “CH’ARKI,” which means salted, dried meat.

Usually, when the meat used in making jerky is being dried, salt is added to discourage bacteria from growing. Though Jerky is available in stores across the country, some people enjoy making it themselves, and it can be a fun process too.

When prepared properly and with thorough dehydration, you can store your jerky for months without it going bad. Store-bought jerky is usually made with highly processed meat and contains other additives.

You can use any meat you want; your choice isn’t restricted to just beef. You can use filet mignon, brisket, duck, sirloin tip, venison, London broil and even flank steak.

How to Slice Meat for Jerky With a Knife?

How to Slice Meat for Jerky with a knife
To prepare your jerky, the way you slice the meat determines the end product you get. If the meat will be well flavoured and the jerky chewable, you must cut the meat strips properly. Since you’ve decided to use a knife, here is how to go about it;

Related – You Can Get Premium Knife for Cutting and Slicing Meat

1: Your Knife Must Be Sharp

Avoid using a blunt knife; this can be disastrous. It will damage how your jerky will turn out. Your jerky won’t come out nice if you decide to use a dull knife. You’d most likely get thick, uneven bits of meats that aren’t well marinated.

To prevent the effort and time invested from going to waste, get a very sharp knife before you begin. If your knife is blunt, you can quickly remedy this by taking them to a sharpener or using sharpening stones if you have any. A sharp blade helps you work easier and faster.

2: Eliminate the Fat on Your Beef

It is vital you cut off any fat on your meat. Fat can ruin your jerky. Other than making your cutting slippery, it can also lead to spoilage. Since fat doesn’t fully dry up, your jerky with fat on it will only last for maybe two weeks or less.

Removing fat will help your jerky last longer, as longevity is a feature of jerky. Also, by cutting the fat off your meat, you are setting the stage for easier slicing. You can also look out for beef with less fat on them when buying from the butcher.

3: Consider Refrigerating Your Meat

It is far easier to slice chilled beef. You don’t have to let the meat stay in the freezer for too long; an hour or two is enough time to achieve the firmness you need.

Refrigerating the meat will help you achieve the thin strips that are perfect for jerky. So the beef isn’t slipping out of your hold as you try to gain a firm grip.

4: Slice Beef Against the Grain

The decision of slicing with or against the grain is totally up to you but slicing against the grain will result in well-seasoned jerky that is easy on the teeth. If you prefer to cut with the grain, you will have tougher jerky that is generally harder to chew.

Beef cut against the grain usually takes in marinade faster. There is another method that allows you to enjoy tender jerky when you cut with the grain. Though the result won’t be as soft as beef cut against the grain.

When you slice your meat with the grain, you can make it tender by using the pointed side of a meat mallet to break the muscle fibre.

5: A Jerky Slicer Won’t Hurt

A jerky slicer will give you thinner slices of beef than you can ever cut with your hands. If you will be making jerky for a long time, consider investing in a slicer. It will make your production more straightforward and faster.

You don’t have to worry about uneven slices with a jerky slicer, and you can afford to pull every piece off the dehydrator. And you no longer need to wait for some portions to keep drying. You put your slices of beef into the slicer, and they all come out in perfect cuts.

Should You Slice Meat With Grain or Against the Grain?

Should you slice meat with grain or against the grain
The “grain” is the muscle fibre in the meat. Slicing your meat with or without the grain is a decision for you to make. It depends on whether you’d like for your beef to be chewy or not. Slicing with the grain means you want tougher jerky pieces that will take longer to chew.

Slicing against the grain will give you softer meat. The grains are usually on the meat; you will find them from the top to bottom of a piece of meat.

How you want your jerky to turn is the primary determinant of how you cut your meat. However, cutting against the grain will enable your meat to absorb a lot of seasoning.

With an Electric Meat Slicer, Can You Slice Meat for Jerky?

Yes, you can. If you are slicing a large amount of meat, it is wiser and faster to use a slicer. A meat slicer cuts thinner slices than you will cut with your hands.

Not only will your meat be thinner, but it will also be in uniform and absorb marinade easily. If you plan on producing jerky in large quantities, a slicer is a good investment.

How Thin Should You Slice Meat for Jerky?

How thin should you slice meat for jerky
The thickness or thinness of your jerky depends on you. If the meat is very thin, your jerky will be tough, and if the meat is too thick, the jerky will come out very chewy.

It is necessary one strikes a balance. But slicing your meat one-fourth of an inch thick is okay. Achieving this exactness for all of the beef slices may be tricky since you are using a knife.

Can a Butcher Slice Meat for Jerky?

A butcher may not be able to get that exactness with his knife. Or he/she just might. But getting your butcher to pre-slice your meat is a step in the right direction. It lessens your chore and saves you some time.


The process of slicing your beef won’t be easy, but the promise of holding the finished product (the jerky) will be worth it. In this article, you have learnt how to slice meat for beef jerky. I hope that by following this process, your homemade jerky comes out pleasant. Do not forget that the way you cut your beef can make or mar your jerky.

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