How Thick Do You Cut Meat for Jerky?

How Thick Do You Cut Meat for Jerky?

Isn’t it a real challenge to decide about how thick do you cut meat for jerky? For most cooks out there, it is. Cooking perfect beef jerky is not easy, but a bigger challenge is cutting even slices in the ideal thickness. The thickness of the meat slice is the most important thing when it comes to cooking a perfect meat jerky.

The final thickness of the meat slice also depends on the type of jerky you want to cook, whether that be a tender/soft jerky or a chewy/tougher jerky. Even though jerky is a very popular meat dish and can be a great treat to your guest’s taste buds, you can only achieve this if you get the thickness right.

How Thick Do You Cut Meat for Jerky?

As mentioned above, it all depends on the type of the jerky you need to cook and your personal liking. This means that there is no established rule for the thickness. However, for the best results, most professionals recommend a ¼-inch thickness. Some choose 3/16-inch slices.

Overall, both the ¼-inch and 3/16-inch slices are the most used thickness by professional chefs. To make it a more chewy jerky, you can increase the thickness according to your own personal liking, or decrease it to cook tender jerky.

The way you cut the meat can also affect the end result even when the slice is of the same size. We will learn about that in the next section.

Preparing the Meat for the Cut

Even though the most popular meat used in jerky is beef, you can also use chicken, turkey, and fish. However, most people prefer beef jerky over other types of meats.

For perfect meat slices, you first need to find the leanest part of the meat. Make sure there is no fat attached to it because fat can ruin the taste and can spoil your effort. Some most commonly used cuts of meat for beef jerky are:

  • Eye of round (The oval muscle in the rear leg)
  • Bottom round (The outer muscle in the upper rear leg)
  • Top round (The meat cut from inside thigh area)
  • Flank steak (The meat cut from the bottom rib area)

After that, cut the meat into ¼-inch thick slices. One of the best ways to do this, if you are using a knife, is to cut in regards to the grain of the meat. Most professional chefs recommend cutting with the grain, which means you cut it parallel to the meat muscle fibers. Why?

Cutting the meat parallel to its fibers will keep the meat slice intact during cooking as fibers keep it together. However, it also depends on the type you want to cook. If you want to cook tough and chewy jerky, then cut the meat with the grain. As mentioned above, it will keep the slice together and makes it chewier. If you want soft jerky, it is better to slice it against the grain.

Finding the Grain of the Meat

To find the grain of the meat, look for the muscle fiber in the meat, which are the thin white lines that run parallel to each other. There are two rules in this regard:

  • When you cut in the same direction as that of the fiber lines, you are cutting the meat with the grain.
  • When you are cutting it horizontal to the fiber lines, you are cutting it against the grain.

How to Cut Precise Slices for Meat Jerky?

The traditional way to cut precise slices is to use sharp knives. However, many asks, “Is it the best way?” The truth is, no, it isn’t.

For perfect slices with accurate thickness, you can use meat slicers. There are many affordable models available in the market for home use, so you don’t have to go to a restaurant or a butcher shop for perfect meat slices.

Meat Slicers

Modern electric meat slicers are a good addition to your kitchen counter that not only provides you precise meat slice for jerky or any other meat dish, but can also cut vegetables, fruits, and even cheese. Overall, we find meat slicers much better than knives in cutting precise slices.

Actually, when you cut meat using a knife, you cut it based on your guess about the thickness. You don’t do a precise calculation to measure the thickness, right?

We’ve never seen anyone who uses a measurement scale to measure the thickness of meat before cutting it with a knife. This increases the chances of error because there is a big chance that you will cut it too thin or too thick.

However, this is not the case with meat slicers. The latest models almost all come with an option to adjust thickness with precision. You can just set the thickness you want and can get the accurate thickness with absolutely no margin or error.

Jerky Slicers

Another popular option to take advantage of is a jerky slicer. This equipment can also help you cut even meat slices. It is also very important to cut all your pieces in the same size because you need to dry them first. If not of the same thickness, they will not dry evenly and develop different texture and taste when cooked.

This is exactly why knives are often not a good idea to use when it comes to jerky slices unless you are too precise with your measurement. Use a meat slicer or jerky slicer for better precision.

Final Words

Beef jerky is a popular dish all over the world, but it is not very easy to cook it perfectly. You need to take care of a lot of things precisely to cook a tasty beef or any other meat jerky. One of the most important things is to cut the meat slices in the perfect size, which is 1/4 inch but also to keep all pieces exactly of the same size.

We are sure you now know the answer of the question how thick do you cut meat for jerky, but to achieve a perfect cut, you also need to look into tools you use and the method you are following.

Do you have lean meat with you? Is it completely fat-free? Are you using a knife, or more precise meat slicer or jerky slicer? Are you cutting the meat with the grain or against the grain? You need to take care of all these things to ensure perfect thickness for your jerky meat slices.

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