How Do You Select the Best Meat for Beef Jerky?
You can choose the best meat for beef jerky based on your specific needs and goals. But the following general factors help you choose the proper cut of meat for beef jerky:
- Fat Content: The best meat for beef jerky is beef, which has high fat content that provides a softer jerky .
- The Cut of Meat: Choosing a lean cut of meat will help the jerky dry evenly and prevent it from becoming greasy .
- Texture: A tougher cut of meat will require a longer drying time, so if you need a quick jerky, you should choose more tender cuts of meat like flank steak .
Learn More: The Best Meat to Smoke: 15 Best Cuts to Throw into the Smoker
Based on these factors, you can choose the type of meat that best suits your specific diet, but the following 9 cuts can give you the best beef jerky.
The Best Cuts of Meat for Beef Jerky
There are a variety of cuts of meat that you can use to make tender and delicious beef jerky, including:
- Top Round,
- Bottom Round,
- Eye of Round,
- Sirloin Tip,
- Lifter Meat,
- Flank Steak,
- Pectoral Meat,
- Deer Meat, and
- Elk Meat.
Learn More: Is Steak Good for Weight Loss? The Best and Worst Cuts of Meat
The Top Round, or “Inside Round Steak” or “London Broil”, is a lean and affordable choice for beef jerky. It’s a popular cut due to its affordable price and large size. However, it lacks the intense flavor and tenderness compared to other cuts.
This cut, also known as “Bottom Round Oven Roast” or “Round Roast”, comes from the same area as the Top Round, which is the hind leg of the cow, specifically the muscles in the region known as the "round.". It’s a bit tougher and less tender than the top round but makes great beef jerky.
Eye of Round
It can be found in the cow’s round primal area and comes from the elongated muscles located in the center. It’s more expensive but also more tender and flavorful than the top and bottom round.
Also known as “Knuckle” or “Round Tip”, sirloin tip is a less popular cut from the cow’s round primal, but it’s a great option. Its price is reasonable, has more flavor, and is less tender than the top round, bottom round, and eye of round.
Lifter meat, aka “Blade Meat” or “Cap and Wedge Meat”, comes from the cow’s ribs primal and outside of the ribs. This cut is a little less lean and has medium marbling, which means it has medium fat content through muscle tissue, which is good for more tender and flavorful beef jerky at a slightly higher cost.
Flank steak, also called “Beef Flank” or “Plank Steak”, comes from the flank primal. It’s a lean cut with low marbling, which is less tender than lifter meat but has much more flavor and is one of the most expensive cuts for beef jerky.
Pectoral meat, also known as “Special Trim”, comes from the cow’s chuck primal. It has more fat and marbling than other meats like top and bottom round, sirloin tip, and lifter meat.
This cut is extremely tender but less flavorful. It is an affordable option and one of the cheapest cuts for beef jerky, especially for first-time jerky makers.
Deer meat is another tender, lean, and flavorful choice that you can use to make a great jerky.
Elk meat is also very lean, tender, and great for making jerky but has less flavor, unlike deer meat.
The following table shows the nutritional values in 100 grams of the above cuts of meat :
According to these nutrition profiles, if you’re looking for high-protein meats for jerky, top round, sirloin top, and elk meat can be the best options.
But if you’re on a high-fat diet like Carnivore and Keto, it’s better to choose bottom round, flank steak, and pectoral meat for jerky, as they contain more fat.
There are some other cuts of meat that are not suitable for making beef jerky due to their high levels of fat and toughness.
Learn more: The Carnivore Diet: Is it Healthy? Benefits and Side Effects