What is the Best Cut of Beef for Jerky? (Best for Tender Jerky)

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Beef jerky is a delicious snack to have around the house, but it can get expensive when you’re buying it in the store. Homemade jerky on the other hand is delicious, can be cheaper, and is rewarding to make yourself.

However, if you’re new to making jerky you might be curious to know: What is the best cut of beef for jerky?

In this article, I will explore some information about beef jerky, including what is the best cut of beef for jerky.

Keep reading to find out more.

**Note** We’ve written a guide on the best cuts of meat for jerky right here – even though it may sound like the same thing, this article is a deep dive into types of beef  for jerky specifically.  Check out our other guide for non-beef jerky ideas.

What Is the Best Cut of Beef For Jerky?

Top Round

Top round is an excellent source of economical, lean, and large cuts great for beef jerky.
The meat is extra lean, is less tender, and is relatively inexpensive.

Top round tends to be the most popular cut for commercial jerky makers.

Bottom Round

Bottom round is an extra lean meat and tends to be on the cheaper side if you’re on a tight budget. That being said, it has little marbling and less flavor.

The bottom round tends to be tougher than the top round, but is still an excellent choice when it comes to making beef jerky!

Pectoral Meat

Pectoral meat is also known as special trim. It tends to be more flavorful, is relatively inexpensive, and has medium intramuscular marbling.

From the chuck primal, it is a medium lean cut of meat.

Sirloin Tip

Sirloin tip is a less popular choice, but is still excellent for making homemade beef jerky.

Sirloin tip is also known as round tip and knuckle, tends to be a little more expensive, but also has more flavor!

Flank Steak

Named after the flank area of the cow, flank steak is a lean cut with long grains.

Flank steak is very flavorful, less tender, and even more expensive if you’re on a tight budget.

Eye of Round

Eye of round is similar in shape to the tenderloin, but is much less tender.

Eye of round is extra lean, less flavorful, and tends to be a much more expensive cut of meat.

How Do You Choose a Cut of Beef For Beef Jerky?

Choose Economical Cuts of Meat

When choosing your beef for jerky, you should always buy fresh, high quality beef. However, you don’t need to buy the fanciest cuts of beef, and in fact, it’s wasteful to do so. This comes down to the fact that the process of making jerky turns tougher cuts of meat into tender jerky that melts in the mouth.

While you might initially think that jerky made from fancy cuts sounds like a great idea in theory, it’s a poor use of the meat and is a waste of your hard earned money!

When buying fancy meat (such as a ribeye or NY strip), you want to celebrate just that: the meat. You don’t need the bells and whistles to enjoy it. As a result, then, turning it into jerky is a waste of time, effort, and money and is simply not recommended.

Low Fat Content

The key to choosing a cut of beef for jerky is ensuring that it has the least amount of fat possible. Due to its composition, fat cannot be fully dehydrated. The presence of excess fat in a batch of jerky can cause the jerky to go bad and spoil at a quicker rate.

While you can get away with a slightly fattier cut of meat if you’re going to be enjoying the jerky immediately after making it or within a few days, it’s not a good choice when you intend to be storing your jerky for longer periods of time.

While cuts of beef with more marbling are excellent for other uses, it’s best to select a cut of beef with minimal fat content. This will ensure that your jerky keeps well, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for a longer time, too!

Tips When Making Homemade Beef Jerky

Buy Fresh Meat

When making homemade beef jerky, you should only buy fresh meat. Do not buy expired meat or even meat that is nearing its expiration date. The fresher the meat, the better. When choosing your meat at the store or butchers, you should avoid beef with dark spots, any off smells, or cartilage, ligaments, or tendons.

The beauty of making beef jerky home is that you have full control. Make sure to inspect each piece of meat to ensure you are getting exactly what you want.

Buy a Sufficient Amount of Beef

Another important tip to remember is that you should always buy a sufficient amount of beef. You will need to keep in mind that you will lose anywhere between 50 – 75% of the original weight during the dehydration process.

As the jerky dries, it will shrink back, and the meat you thought was a large amount will seem like a tiny portion in comparison.

If you’re going to the effort of making homemade jerky, you want to be able to enjoy it and share it with the people that you love. As a result, it’s important that you make sure to buy a sufficient amount of meat. A good rule of thumb is 3 to 1. Every three pounds of raw meat will transform into 1 pound of jerky.

Always make sure that you’re buying enough meat. Trust me – you will thank me for it later when everyone wants a portion of your delicious jerky! Make sure that there is enough to go around.

Get a Dehydrator

There’s no getting around it, you’ll need to dehydrate your beef in order to get to the finished product of beef jerky.  We think it’s best to pick up a proper jerky dehydrator to make your process as easy as possible.

In Summary

There are a variety of different meats that are excellent for making homemade jerky!

Make sure that you do your own research and choose the cut of beef in line with your personal preferences.

While making homemade jerky is more effort, once you start to experiment with different flavor profiles and see how much you’ll have leftover to store and share with friends and family, you’ll never want to buy the expensive store-bought jerky again!