2 Methods for Making Your Own Venison Jerky
This past weekend marked the opening of archery deer seasons in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Connecticut—not to mention special youth and disabled hunts in Iowa and a reduction hunt in Indiana if you’re not a bowhunter. (Not sure where to hunt in these states? Check the FarWide app for locations, regulations, dates and more.)
If you bagged a whitetail this past weekend—or you plan to head out soon—you can put your harvest to good use with these two methods for making your own venison jerky. Carry it with you the rest of the season for a great protein-packed snack when you’re in the field.
Related Reading: 5 Gourmet Venison Burger Recipes
These two methods are specifically for making sliced venison jerky strips. Check the FarWide blog later this fall to learn how to make jerky from ground venison using a jerky gun.
The best cuts to use are lean, intact muscle tissue. Before slicing, put the meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes so it has a chance to firm up before you begin the drying process. Slice with the grain to yield a chewier jerky; slice against it for one that’s a bit more tender. Most recipes advise cutting the pieces about 1 inch wide and ⅛ inch thick. Critical tip: Make sure the pieces are consistently thick so they dry evenly.
In a plastic zip-seal bag, combine your marinade. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your marinade, but if you’re looking for recommendations, here are two options:
Teriyaki venison jerky marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
(You can also substitute the first four ingredients with a pre-made teriyaki marinade, but the fresh garlic and ginger add a ton of flavor.)
Whiskey venison jerky marinade (because everything’s better with whiskey):
1/4 cup whiskey (we like bourbon for the additional sweetness)
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
(For black pepper jerky, substitute the 1 tsp black peppercorns with 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns, plus some ground pepper for dusting after it’s dry.)
Add your meat to the marinade and knead the bag to combine. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator, kneading the bag occasionally.
Related Reading: 5 Deer Scouting Tips for a More Successful Hunting Season
Venison Jerky in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees F. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack to catch the drippings. Arrange the meat strips so they’re not touching on a rack above the dripping pan. Leave in oven for 6 to 8 hours, checking regularly in the last two hours to monitor the consistency.
Venison Jerky in a Dehydrator
Set the temperature control on the dehydrator to 130-140 degrees F. Arrange the venison strips on the dehydrator’s racks so they’re not touching . Dry for 8 to 12 hours to your preferred consistency.