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The Best Cuts of Meat to Use When Making Jerky

Are you planning to make jerky? Confused about the best cuts of meat? It is natural because there are too many cuts to choose from.

Jerky is lean trimmed meat (1), which you slice into strips and dry. This method of preserving meat has been in use since ancient times. Although beef is the traditional and most commonly found jerky, today you can find jerky made of wild game such as elk and moose, and even fish jerky. Salt is the main preservative, but now there are many alternatives available with many other seasonings and acids to help kill bacteria and enhance its taste.

Making Jerky with the Best Cuts of Meat

If you are going to make jerky (2), then let us tell you that it is quite simple. Moving air and constant low heat are the two things you need to dry out the meat. You only have to be careful about the right balance of heat. It should be high enough to reduce moisture, yet not too high to cook the meat. It is a favorite of hikers and trekkers because it is light in weight, does not spoil quickly, and full of protein.

What Are The Best Cuts?

Cows are smashed into nine original or main parts:

  • Chuck rib
  • Short loin
  • Sirloin
  • Round / Topside
  • Flank
  • Short Plate
  • Fore shank
  • Brisket

Smaller or sub-primal pieces come from these main parts. With so many cuts to choose from, it is easy to get confused and not know which are the best cuts? There is no single ‘best’ cut, but some cuts are better for making jerky.

Eye of round

it is the most popular cut for making jerky. This is a single oval muscle in the rear leg. It is the best option because it is

  • Lean
  • Has very little fat
  • Easy cutting because the grain runs its length
  • Not very expensive

The bottom round

It is the outer muscle of the upper rear leg and the right choice for making jerky. It is not very tender yet makes excellent jerky.

  • Lean meat
  • Interior marbling effect
  • More flavorful
  • Relatively inexpensive

Top round / Topside

it is similar to the bottom round in texture. It is cut from the inside leg muscle, which is opposite to the bottom round. It is tenderer than the bottom round and less tender than the eye of the round.

  • Lean meat with less fat
  • Very flavorful
  • Economical

Sirloin Tip

this cut is very tender. Though it is not very popular for making jerky, it is still a good cut for it.

  • Very lean
  • Extremely tender
  • Bit expensive

Flank steak

if sliced with the grain, the jerky will come out very tough. A better option is to slice against the grain.

  • Lean but you may have to trim some fat
  • Has more interior marbling
  • Jerky can be tougher
  • More expensive

Apart from these cuts, you can make jerky with ground meat as well. Just make sure to choose lean meat. Ground meat jerky is easier to chew because it is easier on your teeth. Its texture is very different from the whole meat jerky, and you must keep that in mind.

Important Tips

Making jerky with any type of cuts requires some basic rules. When you go shopping for your choice of cuts, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Never buy old or expired meat. The jerky will not come out well and may even become harmful to you
  • Buy the right quantity of meat. Understand the process of making jerky. While making jerky, you will lose about 2/3rd of its weight. If you buy 6 pounds of meat, you will end up with 2 pounds of jerky
  • Find cuts which have less fat. Inspect carefully and don’t buy in a hurry


Making jerky is not very difficult, but only if you use the best cuts. One most important rule is to choose a cut with the least amount of fat. Avoid cuts with fats because it will spoil the jerky. Taste and texture will differ with different cuts. Try them all to see which one you like the most and then enjoy feasting on it.


  1. Jerky is lean trimmed meat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerky
  2. make jerky: https://www.mashed.com/210567/this-is-how-beef-jerky-is-really-made/

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