Best Cut of Meat for Beef Jerky (6 Of Our Favorites)

Everyone loves beef jerky. It’s tender, tasty and perfect for when you’re looking for something to snack on. 

But what if you want to make your own homemade beef jerky? Making beef jerky is awesome, but it’s also vital that you have the best cut of meat so that comes out right.

Not sure where to start? We’re going to break down the different types of cuts of meat so you can whip up homemade jerky with ease. 

Top Round

Top Round is also known as London Broil or Inside Round Steak. It comes from the round primal region and is large, lean and affordable.It’s not the most tender meat available but is an excellent choice for beef jerky. 

Bottom Round

Bottom Round is also known as Round Roast or Bottom Round Oven Roast.

It comes from the round primal region and is tougher than the top round. 

Bottom Round and Top Round are similar cuts of meat and both excellent choices. 

Eye of Round

Similar to Bottom and Top Rounds, the Eye of Round is also from the round primal region.

It comes from the muscles located in the center which makes it more tender. 

This meat is more flavorful than the other two but also more expensive. 

Sirloin Tip

Sirloin Tip is also known as Round Top or Knuckle. 

Like the others, it comes from the round primal region.

It is less tender than the other meat, more flavorful, and has an average price tag. 

Lifter Meat

Lifter Meat is also known as Cap and Wedge Meat or oyster blade

It comes from the rib primal, specifically the meat on the outside of beef ribs. 

It has medium marbling which will result in very tender, delicious beef jerky. 

Flank Steak 

Flank Steak is also known as Plank Steak or Beef Flank. 

It comes from the flank primal and is known for its bold meaty flavor. 

The meat is a more expensive cut, is not very tender, but full of rich flavor.

Want to see how I smoke pit boss flank steak? It always comes out juicy and tender

Pectoral Meat

Pectoral Meat is also known as Special Trim. 

It comes from the chuck primal and is a reasonably affordable option. 

The cut has a tender texture and is less flavorful but perfect for first-time jerky makers. 

Other Alternatives

If you don’t have any beef for jerky, or want to try something different have a go at these!

Deer Meat

Deer Meat is a nice cut and makes excellent jerky. 

It is very lean, tender and has a decent amount of beefy flavor. 

Deer Meat is also ideal if you harvest your own venison during the hunting season. 

See my smoked venison recipe here.

Elk Meat

If venison isn’t your thing, maybe elk is. 

Like deer, elk is very lean meat that can be used for tender jerky. 

Elk Meat also has a more mild game flavor, which is good if you don’t want anything too overpowering. 

Pork Loin and Tenderloin

The pork loin is lean but is still the best option for making pork jerky. 

It is relatively economical, tender, and has incredible flavor. 

Pork jerky is also perfect with sweet and spicy recipes. 

How Do I Choose the Best Beef Cut?

We’ve outlined some tips that will help you make the best choice for beef jerky. 

It will also help you understand the terminology and what you should be looking for. 

Intermuscular Fat

Intermuscular fat is the fat around the protein. 

You will need to remove the layer of fat before you start making the jerky. 

Therefore, aim for cuts with the least amount of it as possible to make your life easier. 

Intramuscular Fat

Intramuscular Fat is the marbling, which goes through the muscle fibers. 

You want more marbling as it generally makes better jerky. 

Marbling helps with the flavor, tenderness and juiciness of the meat. 

Fat Content

Because you can’t fully dehydrate the fat, leaner cuts are generally better options. 

Your jerky won’t last as long if it has a large fat content. 

But, if you are planning to eat the jerky quickly or within several days choosing a fattier cut is fine. 

Go For Economical Cuts

Avoid premium beef and save your filet mignon and ribeye for another day. 

For beef jerky, we want fresh and high-quality meat. 

But, that also means choosing smart and finding a cut that will do the job without being a waste. 

Can I Use Ground Beef?

Yes, you can. 

But it involves a more difficult process and the taste may not be the same as using other beef. 

The texture may also be different from regular jerky. 

Buying The Beef Jerky Meat

Sometimes it can be overwhelming when it comes to buying your meat. 

Here are some tips to make sure you make the best choice. 

Know What the Different Cuts Are

We’ve done the bulk of the work for you on this one. 

But, there are still other cuts out there that you could look into. 

Make sure you do your own research before making a purchase. 

Find a Great Butcher

Butchers are an excellent source of knowledge if you’re looking for more guidance. 

They will know which types of meat they have in stock so you can narrow down the options. 

Butchers can also slice the meat, which is helpful for the jerky-making process. 

Buy Fresh and Only Fresh

Fresh meat is crucial for making jerky so don’t compromise. 

Avoid any dark spots, cartilage, ligaments or tendons on your piece of meat.

Inspect your meat before taking it home and check that it’s in good condition. 

Make Sure You Get the Right Amount

When the dehydration process takes place the weight of the meat decreases greatly.

Be sure to take this into account when working out how much you’ll need. 

A general rule to follow is three pounds of meat for one pound of beef jerky. 

There are plenty of cuts of beef to choose from when it comes to beef jerky. 

And a lot of them are affordable, tasty and readily available. 

But be sure not to compromise on freshness or go for cuts that have too much fat. 

Making beef jerky is a lot of fun and it’s important that you have the best possible cut for you. 

What cut of meat do you make beef jerky with?

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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