The cut of beef used for your beef jerky will influence its taste and texture. And a variety of beef cuts can be used for different purposes, so what cut of beef for beef jerky?
What Are the Options?
There are eight major beef cuts: the chuck, rib, loin (short loin and sirloin), round, flank, short plate, fore shank, and brisket. Smaller beef cuts like tenderloin and tri-tip are derived from these major beef cuts.
Is There a Single Best Cut for Beef Jerky?
No. There is no single best cut for beef jerky. However, some beef cuts are better for beef jerky than others due to the specific qualities that they have.
At Holy Jerky, when getting beef cuts to make our preservative-free, certified kosher prepared, real wood smoked, chef-created beef jerky, we only use the freshest beef cuts of top quality. We do this because we know that freshness and quality go a long way in determining flavor and texture.
What Makes a Cut Great for Beef Jerky?
For the best beef jerky, choose lean cuts and avoid excess fat. Perhaps you're thinking, "I want flavor, and they say fat equals flavor." Remember, you want your beef jerky chewy and dry—not quite what you want your steaks to be.
Furthermore, the higher the fat percentage in your beef, the greater the likelihood of a short shelf life because fat spoils faster than meat. So, just because it makes a great steak doesn't necessarily mean it's perfect for beef jerky.
Finally, exterior fat, when dehydrated, forms gristle on the meat which is not what you want for your beef jerky.
Fresh always beats stale, especially when considering what cut of beef for beef jerky. As a rule of thumb, the fresher your meat, the better your beef jerky. Avoid frozen or pre-stored meat when buying your beef, and start the jerky-making process as soon as you have your meat. Avoid storing it in a freezer or refrigerator.
Quality is a key factor when deciding what cut of beef for beef jerky. This is why, at Holy Jerky, we only use top-quality lean meat for our jerky. We believe quality should never be sacrificed for anything.
What Cut of Beef for Beef Jerky?
Now that we've discussed what makes a cut great for beef jerky, you have a general idea of what to use for your jerky and what to avoid. We'll now be looking at the best cuts of beef for jerky.
Eye of Round
Been asking what the best cut for beef jerky is? Here you have it. The eye of round is a single oval muscle in the cow's rear leg and is the most tender of rounds. All you need to do is remove the fat cap before cutting it into fine strips. We love it because:
- It is lean with minimal interior fat.
- It is relatively inexpensive for the value it offers.
- Its grain runs in a single direction, so it's easy to cut into strips.
Another great cut for beef jerky is the bottom round. This sub-primal cut is the outer muscle of the upper hind leg and the least tender of the round cuts—an excellent choice for dry, chewy beef jerky. We love the bottom round because:
- It's lean.
- It's flavorful.
- It's economical.
Still a part of the primal round cut, the top round is a very lean cut that makes for terrific beef jerky. It is an inner leg muscle whose tenderness falls between the eye of the round and the bottom round. We love this cut because:
- It is lean.
- It is relatively inexpensive.
- It has little to no inter-muscular marbling.
The flank cut, specifically steaks, is a bit more expensive and fatty than other primal cuts. But, when done right, flank cuts make excellent beef jerky. We love the flank because:
- It's flavorful.
- It also makes for tougher beef jerky.
Particular about your beef jerky being flavorful but scared of spoilage? Then, sirloin is your go-to. Sirloin contains enough fat for flavor but not so much to be scared of spoilage. However, its price is generally a bit higher than round cuts.
Short loin is another excellent cut for beef jerky. It's actually responsible for Delmonico steaks and NY strip steaks. Its price tag might seem a bit scary, but it's worth every penny.
The knowledge base needed to choose the right cut for beef jerky is a bit different from the conventional beef shopping demands. Just remember, the leaner, the better, and more expensive doesn't always mean better beef jerky.