How to make Jerky: Smokey BBQ Jerky Recipe

A good smokey bbq jerky recipe is perfect for making your own trail food for hiking trips. It’s an excellent source of protein, lightweight, doesn’t require refrigeration and the high sodium content can help with dehydration.

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Pre-packaged jerky is an excellent option if you’re time poor, but it can get expensive. Fortunately, making your own jerky is pretty straight forward and all you really need to get started is a dehydrator. Using a good smokey bbq jerky recipe to DIY produces better flavour and you can tailor the recipe to suit your taste preferences.

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You don’t need a fancy dehydrator to make this smokey bbq jerky recipe. Mine cost less than $50. The only thing you might want to consider is the noise level as it will run for about 8 hours at a time.

Which Beef for Smokey bbq jerky recipe

The best beef for this smokey bbq jerky recipe is the leanest you can find. Fats are great for flavour when cooking meat, but fat can accelerate the spoiling process in jerky. This is more of an issue on hiking trips when the jerky won’t be refrigerated. I prefer topside roasts due to the low fat content. There will still be ribbons of fat through the meat, so take the time to cut out as much as possible. The fat can be saved or frozen to use later in a stew or bolognese.

Extending the shelf life of your jerky

As a guide, home-made jerky made with this smokey bbq jerky recipe is best eaten within 2 weeks if refrigerated and within 1 week if it’s not refrigerated.

Sodium Nitrate can be added to extend the shelf life of your jerky. I don’t bother with this if I’m making jerky to eat at home as I store it in the fridge and it’s lucky to last a week. But you could consider this for camping or hiking trips.

Vacuum sealing jerky may extend the shelf life by an extra month or two. But once opened, eat it within a week. For this reason, packaging smaller portions of jerky is better for hiking.

Moisture and oxygen spoil jerky. If you see any mould on the jerky, discard immediately and don’t eat it.

Smokey bbq jerky recipe

Time to make smokey bbq jerky recipe

Set aside a couple of days to make the smokey bbq jerky recipe. This includes marinating and dehydration time. This is not to say that making jerky is complicated, it’s actually very straight forward. But the flavour is better if you marinate the meat for at least 12 hours and the drying time is approximately 8 hours. Make jerky when you’re likely to be home, such as the weekend, to keep an eye on it and make adjustments if needed.

Smokey Bbq Jerky Recipe


Smokey bbq jerky recipe
  • 1kg / 2lb of topside beef
  • 1/2 cup / 4 fl oz of soy sauce
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2 tbs liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tbs paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • Chilli powder/ Chilli sauce to taste
Step 1

Slice each strip thinner than a 1/4 of an inch. The thinner the better. Freezing the beef for 30 minutes before this step can make it easier to cut.

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I use a Wusthof 5″ boning knife. It slices very finely and is a worthwhile investment if you’re going to make a lot of jerky. Those not confident with knife-skills or short on time, can purchase meat from a service butcher and ask them to cut the meat for you.

Take note of the grain in the meat- fibres of muscle tissue that run in a single direction similar to wood grain. Cutting with the leads to chewier jerky so I prefer to cut against the grain.

Step 2

Place all the beef strips and the above ingredients in a zip lock bag to marinate. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Longer marinating times give a stronger flavour.

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Step 3

Strain the beef in a colander and then pat the meat strips with paper towel to shorten the dehydration time. Assemble the beef strips on the shelves of your dehydrator, with the thickest strips on the bottom rack, and the thinnest at the top. Ensure that the strips aren’t layered on top of one another.

Step 4

Set your dehydrator to 70 degrees Celsius / 158 Fahrenheit for 6- 8 hours. The length of time it takes for your jerky to completely dry out will depend on your dehydrator, the humidity and the thickness of your beef strips. It’s a good idea to dry your meat on a day you’ll be home so you can keep an eye on it.

If the meat is over-dried, it’s still edible but may be chewier. Undercooked beef jerky has a slight bounce when you press on it due to the water content. So how to know when jerky is done? You don’t want it to to be soft, but you don’t want a clean snap when you break it either.

Step 5

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Once your jerky is dehydrated store in either a vacuum seal bag or zip lock bag in the fridge. Eat refrigerated jerky within 2 weeks or unrefrigerated jerky in one. Jerky stored in a vacuum seal bag can be kept up to 2 months, but eat within 1 week once sealed packaging is opened.

How do you like to make your smokey bbq jerky recipe?

Read on for my 5 favourite thru-hikes.