How thick should you cut your beef jerky? The answer depends on how you plan to serve it. If you are going to use a dehydrator, then the best thickness is around ¼ inch. This way, the meat will dry evenly and without being too tough when finished. You can also choose how wide to cut your strips for drying out in an oven or smoker at home- anywhere from 1/8th inch up to ½ inch will work well.
Thick vs Thin Cut
There’s arguments to be made on why exactly you should cut your beef to a certain thickness when making your own beef jerky.
On the one hand, a thinner cut of meat will dry more quickly and may be considered less likely to lead to tough jerky. On the other hand, it’s much easier for bacteria on your hands or in general air flow to get into those thin slices while you’re preparing them, which increases how fast they spoil and how bad they taste.
The right thickness depends a lot on how long you plan on storing that beef jerky before eating it- if you’re just making some quick snacks for camping or hiking over the weekend, then go ahead with an ultra-thin slice because of how difficult keeping fresh food is out there! If not though, make sure your cuts are at least ¼ inch thick so that when finished they’ll still be chewy.
Downsides to Certain Thicknesses
There are downsides to using certain thicknesses when making your own beef jerky. For instance, thin slices are how most jerky is sold in stores now and it’s what you’ll find on the shelves of your average grocery store. This size can be a bit tricky to work with because they’re so long that when dried out they tear easily. It also takes them longer to cure than thicker cuts do since there’s more surface area for water or salt solution to get into- as such, don’t try making these unless you plan on eating it right away!
Thick homemade beef jerky however typically lasts much longer without spoiling which makes sense considering how slow drying times will be (it could take days). You might not care if this meat goes bad- after all, we live in a world where nearly everything is processed and canned. But for those of us who still enjoy the taste of fresh, homemade goodness- how much thickness should you go with?
A good rule of thumb is to cut your jerky strips as thick as a pencil or about an inch in thickness and then dry them out on low heat for 12 hours or so. If you’re going thicker than that (say between two inches and three) then we’d recommend leaving it overnight at the very least since this will take longer to cure properly.
The main reason I want to mention how long your meat needs to stay on its drying rack is because there’s no point using expensive cuts like flank steak if they’ll only be around long enough just to get dried off before spoiling.
If you’re using ground beef, then the thickness of how your meat is dehydrating will depend on how wet it was to start with- remember that a more watery mixture will dry out faster! If you’ve hydrated the meat enough and want it extra chewier though, go ahead and cut those slabs up into smaller pieces so they can really get all firm while drying.
Jerky is a great snack and it can be made from many different types of meat. One thing to consider when making jerky is how thick you want the pieces to come out. Thicker pieces will take longer to cook, but they also stay fresh for much longer than thinner ones because there’s more surface area exposed in the air that bacteria needs to grow on before it reaches all areas of the beef jerky stick. What thickness do you typically like your beef jerky? Let us know if we missed anything!