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Peppered Venison Jerky Recipe

5 from 5 votes

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This venison jerky recipe is so simple and has the best flavor! It tastes salty and meaty and peppery and smoky. All the things you want in jerky. The smoky flavor comes from either liquid smoke or from actually smoking. You choose.

venison jerky on dehydrator tray and in glass jar

My family and I love jerky!

This has been our go-to venison jerky recipe for over 20 years.

I’m pretty sure that if I made it any other way I would have a rebellion on my hands the likes of which Darth Vader and the Empire have never seen.

And I love giving it away as Christmas gifts as well. At least the stuff I’ve hidden well enough that no one finds it.

If I don’t hide it, it just seems to disappear.

Totally into thin air.

No one will fess up.

Did I mention it’s really good jerky?

Every year at hunting season, we are blessed with venison. I usually have a whole one that is reserved just for jerky and sausage making.

The last several years, that has been about 70 pounds of venison sliced for jerky and ground for burger each year.

And that, my friends, is a LOT of deer jerky!

I make Peppery Deer Sticks and Summer Sausage out of the ground meat as well. And we enjoy the roasts and backstraps of the others all winter long.

A special favorite is the Crockpot Venison Goulash on busy nights.

Today, we’re going to focus on the jerky, though.

Venison jerky stores well, is easy to take on hikes or camping trips, and is packed with protein.

And It’s great for snacking on at any time.

It’s also incredibly easy to make.

Which y’all know makes me happy dance.

This recipe is a little vague.

It’s less a recipe per se, and more a tutorial.

But here we go.

venison jerky in white paper on table.

Peppered Venison Jerky

Ingredients

  • 1 venison roast or venison backstrap (or use a beef, elk, or bison roast)
  • 1 15 oz bottle soy sauce (about 2 cups soy sauce)
  • I teaspoon liquid smoke (unless you’re going to put it in the smoker)
  • Lemon Pepper

Equipment

  • Dehydrator (this dehydrator is the one I have and I love it!) OR
  • Smoker OR
  • Oven

Instructions

If your deer meat is not already sliced, slice it into thin strips. As thin as you can. 

Meat slices easier if it is partially frozen. Use a very sharp knife and slice it against the grain.

After it’s sliced let the meat thaw completely.

While the meat is thawing, mix up the marinade.

My marinade for venison jerky is so simple! Just mix soy sauce and the liquid smoke (if you’re using it) in a large bowl.

Place the thawed meat strips into the bowl in layers.

venison strips in bowl with marinade.
marinating

I like to turn the first layer of meat a few times to let the marinade get all through it. And then repeat that with the next layers.

If you’re not using the liquid smoke, you can put some meat in the bowl, pour some of the soy sauce over it, and then add more meat.

When all the meat has been added to the bowl, make sure the it’s all submerged as much as possible.

If you have too much meat for the marinade, mix up some more in the same ratio and pour it over the top.

Marinating Your Venison Jerky

Now cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator. You need to let the meat marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

deer jerky after marinating for 12 hours
after marinating

Every once in a while take it out and turn the meat so that it all gets marinated evenly.

After about 16 hours it will have absorbed all or most of the soy sauce mixture. And it will look darker like this.

At this point you have 2 options.

Option 1: Smoking

If you didn’t use the liquid smoke and you want to put it in the smoker here’s what I do.

I use parchment paper and make parcels.

Get a piece of parchment paper and put some of the meat in the middle a few layers deep, sprinkling a generous amount of lemon pepper on top of each layer.

Now, pull the longer ends up together and fold them over several times till you get down to the meat.

Then take the unfolded ends and fold them up on each side.

And then take a skewer or sharp fork and poke holes all over it. Top, sides, and bottom. That way it gets smoke in all over.

If you have mesh inserts for your smoker, just lay the strips out in a single layer on your smoker racks.

Then load them into the smoker. Just have it hot enough to make smoke.

I usually smoke it for about an hour and then bring it in and put it into the dehydrator.

Our favorite wood chips for smoking the venison jerky is hickory, but apple is our second favorite.

Deer Jerky Smoking Time: about an hour, then finish in dehydrator

Option 2: Dehydrating

The second option is to just put it directly into the dehydrator.

Lay it out on the trays so that it’s not overlapping other pieces. Then sprinkle a liberal amount of the lemon pepper all over it.

venison strips on dehydrator trays with lemon pepper.
ready for the dehydrator

Put the trays into the dehydrator and turn it on. If yours has a thermostat set it at 155°F.

After a few hours I usually turn it over. Depending on the dehydrator you have, you may need to swap the trays around to maintain an even heat.

partically dehydrated jerky strips on dehydrator tray
ready to turn

I also consolidate the meat into fewer trays as it dries because it shrinks. I sometimes end up with half the amount of trays that I start with.

Of course, the kids snacking on it before it’s completely dried probably has something to do with that.

Your venison jerky is finished when it’s leathery but still pliable.

finished venison jerky on dehydrator tray and in glass jar.
and done!

The drying time will depend on how thick the meat is, the humidity level, and the temperature of your dehydrator.

It could take as little as 4 hours, and up to 8 or more. After it’s dried, let it cool and then put it in an airtight container.

Deer Jerky Dehydrator Time: 4 hours to 8 hours

Option 3: Oven Drying

If you don’t have a dehydrator, no worries! You can oven dehydrate your deer jerky.

Spread the jerky slices out on cooling racks over rimmed baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.

The baking sheets catch the drips so they don’t end up in the bottom of your oven.

Set your oven to the lowest setting it has. Mine is 170°F.

Is should dry out faster in your oven because the temperature is usually higher than the dehydrator. Leave the oven door cracked to allow the moisture to escape.

Check how dry it is after about an hour.

You will probably need to turn it over at the same time.

Check the dryness frequently. It’s done when it’s leathery but still pliable.

Deer Jerky Oven Drying Time: 2 to 4 hours

Storing Venison Jerky

The jerky has enough salt in it from the soy sauce to keep well in an airtight container for a few weeks.

At least, if it makes it that long. 

But for longer storage I seal it with my FoodSaver and put it in the freezer.

sealed foodsaver bag of venison jerky.
ready to squirrel away for later

And then hide it in the deep dark recesses so I can have some later when no one else is around.

But that’s our little secret…

Do you have a go-to jerky recipe? Share it with the rest of us. Pretty please. 

Blessings!

More venison recipes you should try:

Frequently Asked Questions About Venison Jerky

How long does venison jerky last?

This recipe has a lot of salt in it, so it will last for about 2 weeks without freezing or refrigeration.

Can you freeze venison jerky?

Absolutely! I do it all the time. You can put it in an airtight container like a zip top freezer bag and store for 3 to 5 months. If you use a foodsaver bag like I do, it will last for over a year.

What is the best cut for venison jerky?

I like to use the roasts for jerky. You can use backstrap, but I like to save that for other recipes.

venison jerky on dehydrator tray

Venison Jerky Recipe

Venison jerky stores well, is easy to take on hikes or camping trips, and is packed with protein. And it's great for snacking on at any time.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Marinating Time 12 hrs
Total Time 16 hrs 5 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Calories 541 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 venison backstrap
  • 1 15 oz bottle soy sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (unless you're going to put it in the smoker)
  • Lemon Pepper

Instructions
 

  • If your meat is not already sliced, slice it as thinly as you can. Meat slices easier if it is partially frozen. Then let the meat thaw completely.
  • Then mix the soy sauce and the liquid smoke (if you’re using it) in a large bowl and add the meat. I like to turn the meat a few times to let the sauce get all through it. If you’re not using the liquid smoke, you can put in some meat and pour some of the soy sauce over it and then add more meat.
  • Now make sure the meat is submerged as much as possible. If you have too much meat for the sauce, mix up some more in the same ratio.
  • Now cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator. You need to let the meat marinade for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • Every once in a while take it out and turn the meat so that it all gets marinated evenly. After about 16 hours it will have absorbed all or most of the soy sauce mixture.
  • Option 1: Smoking If you didn't use the liquid smoke and you want to put it in the smoker here's what I do. Get a piece of parchment paper and put some of the meat in the middle a few layers deep. Fold the paper up and over to make a packet.
  • Take a skewer or sharp fork and poke holes all over it. Top, sides, and bottom.
  • Then load them into the smoker. Just have it hot enough to make smoke. I usually smoke it for about an hour and then bring it in and put it into the dehydrator.
  • Option 2: Dehydrating The second option is to just put it directly into the dehydrator. Lay it out on the trays so that it's not overlapping other pieces.
  • Then sprinkle a liberal amount of the lemon pepper all over it.
  • Then put it into the dehydrator and turn it on. If yours has a thermostat set it at 155°F. After a few hours I usually turn it over.
  • Depending on the dehydrator you have, you may need to swap the trays around to maintain an even heat. I also consolidate the meat into fewer trays as it dries because it shrinks.
  • Your venison jerky is finished when it’s leathery but still pliable. The drying time will depend on how thick the meat is, the humidity level, and the temperature of your dehydrator. It could take as little as 4 hours, and up to 12 or more.
  • After it’s dried, let it cool and then put it in an airtight container.

Notes

The jerky has enough salt in it from the soy sauce to keep well for a few weeks. But for longer storage I seal it with my FoodSaver and put it in the freezer.
NUTRITION NOTE: The calculations are for the entire recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 541kcalCarbohydrates: 0.1gProtein: 103gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 383mgSodium: 296mgPotassium: 1433mgFiber: 0.01gSugar: 0.02gCalcium: 23mgIron: 15mg
Keyword venison jerky, deer jerky
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on October 25th, 2022

5 thoughts on “Peppered Venison Jerky Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Great idea to slice the beef when it’s partially frozen. This is really helpful and easy to follow. Thank you! Can’t wait to make this.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I absolutely LOVE jerky. Unfortunately, I can’t make it when the husband is around, he gags from the smell. Something about eating too much of it as a kid. Either way, I’ll be making this when he is on shift and will be gone for a couple days

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I had a friend that used to deer hunt and then make venison jerky every year. This sounds like it may be close to his recipe! So delicious!!

    Reply

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