Slicing meat when making making beef jerky is where you get to decide whether you want a chewy jerky or a more tender jerky. Here you will learn the different ways of slicing meat so you can get the best feel and taste out of your 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.
These instructions are the same if you are slicing venison for venison jerky as well. So get the deer roast ready and let's get started!
🎥 Video - Slicing meat
🥩 Trim the fat
First, trim any visible fat from your cut of meat. Here is a lean Beef Eye of Round Roast before trimmed.
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.
🔪 Cut with or against the grain?
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.
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 ¼" 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.
Below is an example of slicing AGAINST the grain.
This is what a slice of meat looks like when it is cut against the grain at about ¼" thick. You can see that the muscle fibers are running in several directions. This makes the jerky easier to tear apart and less tough.
You can also use a jerky slicer when cutting up beef jerky meat. I use a Westin Jerky Slicer to get even sized strips which is fantastic when drying your jerky. Since the strips are the exact same size, they dry evenly.
This means no more pulling several pieces of jerky off the dehydrator and leaving other pieces on to keep drying because they are a little thicker.
To use the Westin Slicer, cut the roast in 1 ¼" slabs and feed it through the machine. A couple turns of the handle feeds the piece of meat through and it slices it with ease.
Just feed the slabs through the slicer either with the grain or against the grain to achieve your favorite chew!
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)
This technique works great when making The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe.
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!!!