How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Cut with or against the grain?

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the “grain” of meat; the texture of your jerky will vary depending on how you cut it. The simplest explanation is:

  • Slicing WITH the grain = Chewy / Tough Jerky
  • Slicing AGAINST the grain = Less Chewy / Soft Jerky

The direction that the muscle fibers run within a piece of meat is known as the “grain” of meat, but what does that actually mean? Alright, so how can you determine which way the muscle fibers are running?

The lines of fibers running parallel to one another along a piece of meat will be visible. The fibers in the image below are oriented vertically from bottom to top.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

“Slicing WITH the grain” refers to slicing in the SAME direction as the fibers. The three meat slices pictured above were cut at a thickness of about ¼” WITH the grain. As was previously mentioned, cutting jerky along the grain will result in a chewier, tougher piece.

The blue arrows once more indicate the direction of the meat’s grain in the image below. You will be cutting against the grain when you slice the meat perpendicular to the grain (in the direction of the black arrows). As previously stated, this will result in a less chewy and more tender piece of jerky.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Below is an example of slicing AGAINST the grain.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

When a piece of meat is cut against the grain and about ¼” thick, it looks like this. The muscle fibers are seen to be moving in multiple directions. As a result, the jerky is less tough and easier to break apart.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

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You can also use a jerky slicer when cutting up beef jerky meat. I use a Westin Jerky Slicer to get even sized strips which is fantastic when drying your jerky. Since the strips are the exact same size, they dry evenly.

This implies that since some of the jerky is a little thicker than the others, you can no longer take several pieces off the dehydrator and leave the others on to continue drying.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Cut the roast into ¼-inch slabs and feed it through the Westin Slicer. The piece of meat is fed through with a few turns of the handle, and it slices through it effortlessly.

To get your preferred chew, simply feed the slabs through the slicer either with or against the grain!

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Using a meat mallet, slice the meat WITH the grain and pound it until it becomes tender (beating it with the pyramid pointed side). This will help the jerky become slightly less chewy by breaking up the muscle fibers. (This will result in a chew that is neither as soft as slicing only against the grain nor as tough as if you sliced only with it.)

When preparing The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe, this method works perfectly.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

I hope this helps you determine the best way to slice your beef for beef jerky. Happy Jerky Making! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Hi! My name is Will and I live in Colorado. I love to hunt, fish, make jerky & smoke meat. Discover why I created this website: to share with you my best jerky and grilled/smoked recipes! →

Video – Slicing meat

First, trim any visible fat from your cut of meat. This is an untrimmed, lean beef eye of round roast.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Use a sharp knife to cut away any fat. It is best to trim as much of the fat as you can now to keep your beef jerky from spoiling. Fat makes beef jerky spoil more quickly.

How To Cut Meat For Beef Jerky

Necessary Tools & Supplies for Cutting Meat for Jerky

To get uniform, clean cuts, you need the right tools:

  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: This is non-negotiable. A razor-sharp knife ensures safety and precision.
  • Cutting Board: Opt for a large, sturdy board. Wood or hard plastic is preferable.
  • Freezer or Chill Space: You can handle and cut your meat more easily if you partially freeze it.

If you don’t have them already, these are worth getting. You’re just as good as your tools, just like an artist is with their paintbrush and canvas!