Home » Slicing Meat for Beef Jerky

Slicing Meat for Beef Jerky

So hopefully at this point you have decided what type of meat to use when making your homemade beef jerky, now you just need to trim and slice it! If you haven’t picked a cut of beef yet, visit my page on Best Cuts of Beef for Jerky.

First, trim any visible fat from your cut of meat. Here is a lean Beef Eye of Round Roast before trimmed.

Eye of Round Roast

Use a sharp knife to cut away any fat. Fat makes beef jerky spoil faster, so it is best to trim as much as you can now to prevent your jerky from going bad.

Trimming Fat

There are a couple different ways to slice meat for beef jerky that will make a huge impact on the final result.

You have probably heard about the “grain” of meat; and depending on how you cut in regards to the grain will affect the texture of your jerky. The simplest explanation is:

  • Slicing WITH the grain = Chewy / Tough Jerky
  • Slicing AGAINST the grain = Less Chewy / Soft Jerky

So what exactly is the “grain” of meat? The grain of meat refers to the direction the muscle fibers run within a piece of meat. Okay, so how do you know what direction the muscle fibers run?

You will be able to see the lines of fibers that run parallel to each other along a cut of meat. In the picture below, the fibers are running vertically from bottom to top.

Eye of Round with Grain Instructions

Slicing in the SAME direction of the fibers is called “slicing WITH the grain”. The 3 slices of meat seen above were sliced WITH the grain at about a 1/4″ thick. As mentioned earlier, slicing with the grain will produce a more chewy / tougher piece of jerky.

In the picture below you will see the blue arrows again showing the direction of the grain of the meat. When slicing the meat perpendicular to the direction of the grain (in the direction of the black arrows), you will be slicing AGAINST the grain. Again, as mentioned earlier; this will produce a softer / less chewy piece of jerky.

Slicing Against the Grain

Below is an example of slicing AGAINST the grain.

Slicing Against the Grain

This is what a slice of meat looks like when it is cut against the grain at about 1/4″ thick. You can see that the muscle fibers are running in several directions. This makes the jerky easier to tear apart and less tough.

Sliced Against the Grain

***What if you like a piece of jerky that isn’t so tough your jaw hurts from chewing, but also isn’t so soft you don’t get that great beef jerky chew? TENDERIZE!***

Slice the meat WITH the grain and tenderize with a meat mallet (beat the hell out of it with the pyramid pointed side). This will break up the muscle fibers and make the jerky a little less chewy. (This will give you a chew not as tough as if you sliced only with the grain and not as soft as slicing only against the grain) That’s what I did when making my Brown Sugar Beef Jerky.

Brown Sugar Jerky Marinade

I hope this has helped you decide how to slice your beef for making beef jerky. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below! Happy Jerky Making!!!

You Might Also Like:

Best Cuts of Beef for Jerky

How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator

How Long Does Beef Jerky Stay Good?


  1. John Blando says:

    Thanks for the info..against the grain makes the most sense..I’m new to making jerky and i have an old round dehydrator..I’m still experimenting..different marinades and cuts of beef..I feel bad though..just ruined a two pound piece of tip by leaving ot in too long..live and learn huh?

  2. Mike Taylor says:

    Thanks for the great post. So you are saying cutting WITH the grain and tenderizing will lead to more tender jerky than cutting against the grain.

  3. Tania says:

    Great info. I’ve never made jerky before, and I want to try this weekend. I don’t have a dehydrator, so I’m going to do a small batch, slow cooked in the oven. wish me luck.

  4. Roger Williams says:

    Will thanks for making me crave jerky .. Walking out the door to go too Walmart and buy a dehydrator, meat ,and all the ingredients to make damn jerky this weekend …

  5. Philippe says:

    Hi Will, and thanks for the great info on your site. I am a bit concerned that slicing eye of road against the fiber might produce very large slices. If I start slicing against the grain to keep the cut tender, will I ruin the effort by cutting the slices into strips? I guess cutting slices into strips comes down to doing the last cut with the grain.
    Any advice on how to manage create tender strip in regard to sequence of cutting?

    • Will
      Will says:

      If you slice against the grain and get a very large piece, slicing that large piece in a strip will NOT ruin the effort of making it less tender. You will notice that when you go to slice a “large slice that was cut against the grain” into a strip, with the normal shape of a eye of round, you will not be cutting with the grain but simply only cutting that slice into smaller strips. Once you cut a slice against the grain, the grain now runs lengthwise ONLY as thick as your slice was cut, normally 1/4″. With the grain in a piece only running 1/4″, it will not be chewy no matter how you slice it into strips. This was extremely hard to describe! Once you go to cutting your slices, it will all make sense… Thanks for the question Philippe!

  6. Gary Guagenti says:

    What a great place for Jerky Lovers! Thanks so much for your advice. I have just learned more about making jerky in 5 minutes than I learned in a lifetime!

  7. Ed says:

    Hello.. I’ve been making jerky for about six months now and find I’m making a batch every weekend. The beef I’ve been using is top round which I’ve been buying from a local butcher who slices it on a ban saw. Because they are slicing it, they charge a premium for it. I started researching electric slicers (I want the uniform thickness) and found slicers with both serrated and non-serrated blades. Can you recommend a blade type that’s not going to destroy the texture of the beef? Thanks in advance.

    • Will
      Will says:

      I can not recommend one at this time. I hand cut all of my meat and do not use slicers because of so many bad reviews I’ve found when researching them. I might buy 2 or 3 here in the near future and do my own testing on them, but have not used one as of yet. Sorry I couldn’t help. If you get one, let me know which one and how well it works!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *