Although homemade beef jerky is typically made in a food dehydrator, your smoker is perfectly suited for the task. You can infuse the meat with that delicious smoky flavor while cooking it at a safe temperature, then use the smoker to dehydrate the meat until it reaches your desired texture. To make teriyaki-flavored jerky, you can use your favorite store-bought marinade or make one at home. Select a lean cut of beef like top round or bottom round.
Slice the beef into 1/4-inch thick slices. Very cold meat will slice more easily, so you may chill the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing, if you wish.
Place the meat, along with the teriyaki marinade of your choosing, in a zip-top plastic bag. Allow the beef to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Flip the bag over every few hours to ensure the marinade is evenly distributed.
Drain the meat from the marinade and lay the slices on wire smoking racks or baskets. Make sure the beef slices aren't overlapping.
Prepare your smoker as you would normally and heat it to 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the wire racks into the smoker and allow the meat to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F, about two to three hours. According to the USDA, beef must reach a temperature of at least 160 F before it is dehydrated to kill off any harmful bacteria.
Reduce the smoker's temperature to between 170 and 180 F and continue to cook the meat without any smoke. Make sure the smoker's chimney damper is completely open to circulate the air and encourage the meat to dry. Drying times may vary depending on your smoker, so check the meat every 45 minutes or so for doneness. The jerky is ready when it has lost about 50 percent of its volume and you can bend it without snapping it.
Cool the jerky at room temperature and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.
- Always cook beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F before dehydrating it to kill harmful bacteria.
Irena Eaves began writing professionally in 2005. She has been published on several websites including RedPlum, CollegeDegreeReport.com and AutoInsuranceTips.com. Eaves holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Boston University.