Flank steak is often thought to be the best choice for beef jerky, but it’s expensive. By using a cheaper cut of beef and slicing it thin, you will save money without sacrificing flavor or texture.
Look for a very lean cut of beef without a lot of fat. Although marbled fat adds amazing flavor to steaks and prime rib, it causes beef jerky to turn rancid faster.
Choose a lean piece of top roast, London broil, or rump roast.
2. Flash freeze the beef and slice it thin.
Beef can be difficult to slice into thin even strips. The best trick I’ve leaned to create thin slices is to freeze the beef for a short time right before slicing. Just 30–45 minutes in the freezer will make the beef firm enough to slice easily.
Then look for the grain of the beef and slice the beef into 1/8th inch slices, against the grain. Cutting against the grain will give the dried beef jerky that tough-but-tender texture we love.
3. Marinate the sliced beef.
This is your moment to check all your ingredients and make sure no sneaky chemicals are flavoring your jerky.
Personally, I like to start with a marinade base of gluten-free soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. You can adjust my recipe easily by using low sodium soy sauce, or even coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.
4. Rack it.
For best baking results, place the wire rack over the top of a baking sheet and lay the beef strips across the rack. As the beef juices drip down into the pan, the jerky stays dry up top.
5. Bake low and slow.
Turn the oven to 175ºF and bake for 3 to 4 hours. If you have a convection oven, you can bake your jerky for 2 to 3 hours.
6. Check it.
Remember, the drier the beef jerky is, the more “preserved” it is, so you can leave it at room temperature for a week or two without worry. However, if you leave it in the oven too long, it will turn into tough beef crackers.
Take a strip of jerky out of the oven at the 3-hour mark. Let it cool. Then pull it, taste it, and chew it well. If it’s at the texture you like, take the pans out of the oven. If it looks a little too soft and meaty for jerky, keep it in the oven.
7. Store it.
Good quality beef jerky can be placed in an airtight container and left at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
If you are worried you under-baked your jerky, or used a cut of beef with too much marbled fat, you can store it in the refrigerator.