For a snack dating as far back as the 1500s, beef jerky remains incredibly popular. In fact, nearly 129 million Americans ate meat jerky snacks in 2020 alone, according to the U.S. Census data and a Simmons National Consumer Survey.
But in 2022, many aren’t content to just buy packaged jerky. Instead, they are making their own. Others are saving money by buying in bulk. But whatever the reason, finding the best jerky cutting boards are essential to enjoying your favorite jerky at its best.
In the spotlight: making artisanal jerky by hand. For Brent Griffin, preparing and cutting jerky was a life-changing experience. Working as a music producer in 2009, Griffin stopped for a snack on a road trip and tried handmade jerky for the first time. By 2013, Griffin began selling his jerky, through his friend’s Sydney-based bar.
Today, Griffin is a shining star in Australia, with Griffin’s Jerky. His jerky is made from scratch, all from grass-fed beef that’s thinly sliced and marinated for 24 hours. Inspired by his German and Australian heritage, flavors range from classic to chipotle adobo and sriracha, along with beer nut mixes and snack packages,
Of course, the same push towards authentic, high-quality jerky is being seen in the United States, not just for profit but for the sake of making it yourself. But even the best DIY recipes require a great cutting board.
And not just any cutting board will do. Before you reach for the same cutting board you use to dice vegetables or cheese, here’s your guide to what you should look for. I’ll tell you what you need to know about making homemade beef jerky, and my selection criteria for the best cutting boards in 2022.
Is homemade beef jerky better than store-bought?
Homemade beef jerky is not always better than store-bought because it’s important to specify what type of jerky you’re talking about. That is, if you buy from a specialty store that makes beef jerky by hand and you don’t know how to properly prepare beef jerky, that’s a much different equation. That said, the average beef jerky you see in stores, offered by major brands, simply doesn’t offer the fresh taste of high-quality ingredients available to you if you make it yourself.
Is it cheaper to make or buy beef jerky?
You’ll save a little money making your beef jerky in most circumstances. While making homemade jerky can still be pricey, you can cut costs by buying beef in bulk and making a large batch of jerky.
How long does homemade beef jerky last?
Homemade jerky lasts around one to two months, as compared to store-bought jerky, which can last up to a year. To increase the lifespan of your jerky, store it in an airtight container. If you leave it out, it’ll last just one to two weeks. Store-bought jerky is at its freshest within 6 months, while homemade jerky is at its prime within a week.
How do you prepare jerky?
Preparing jerky is a process, but a rewarding one. Selecting the best cut of meat and taking steps to make it tender will go a long way for a better result.
What is the best cut of meat for beef jerky?
Selecting a cut of meat for jerky is quite different from selecting flavorful meats for steak or grilling. I recommend looking for a lean, affordable cut. Fatty cuts are difficult to work with, and there isn’t a good reason for paying top-dollar. Some of the best cuts include top and bottom round, pectoral, chuck, brisket, and even flank and skirt steaks. It’s up to you, but you can control quality and taste by choosing conventional vs organic, and grass-fed vs grain-fed.
How many pounds of beef does it take to make a pound of jerky?
A general rule of thumb is that four pounds of fresh beef yield a pound of jerky.
How can I make my beef jerky more tender?
One of the most common mistakes is taking your jerky out of the dehydrator too late. This will result in tough jerky that’s hard to chew. Beef should be placed in a dehydrator for an average of four to five hours. I’d aim to check after around three and a half hours to gauge how long it’ll take. It’s better to check a little early than to let it become tough.
Some of the technique also has to do with how you’re slicing your jerky. Not slicing your jerky properly can likewise result in a tougher, less palatable result.
What temperature do I dehydrate jerky?
145 degrees Fahrenheit is the minimum temperature required for jerky. This ensures food safety. However, you shouldn’t crank up the temperature much beyond that, as it can lead to overly dry and tough jerky. It will also change the cooking time required.
How do you cut beef jerky strips?
Strips cannot simply be prepped on a regular cutting board. Making jerky requires precision. At the very least, you’ll need a precision knife. For tender jerky, aim for slices within ¼ to ⅜ inches. Slices that are too thin will result in tougher jerky.
What’s the best cutting board for jerky?
The best cutting boards typically include a meat slicer or guided marks for precise cutting. This is important to ensure consistency.
For materials, I recommend food-safe stainless steel or plastic. Stainless steel is more expensive but more durable, though it can dull knives over time. With both, look for features such as non-slip rubber or silicone feet. This provides more control as you cut. Wood isn’t my preferred, as it’s much harder to sanitize.
If you’re new to cutting jerky, I highly recommend a specialized cutting board. This guides you towards cutting the precise, thin slices you need for optimal results. Trying to cut beef jerky slices yourself is tricky, and you’ll likely end up with less than stellar results. Guided blades, grooves, and ridges designed for jerky are greatly helpful.
Can you use a meat slicer to cut jerky?
You may use a meat slicer to make jerky as well. An electric meat slicer allows you to make clean, precise cuts and typically are easy to clean. Keep in mind that such equipment can be dangerous if you don’t follow safety precautions. They are also best suited for making batches of jerky of around two to five pounds. Opt for a modestly sized meat slicer. You can find some for an average of $150 to $300.
Jerky Slicer Cutting Boards: My Picks
Ready to shop? Here are my top recommendations for slicing cutting board kits and electric meat slicers to ensure precise cuts. All of these options are made out of materials suited for the task, sold by reputable manufacturers, and will help get you started slicing the right way. I’ve included a variety of styles and price points for all needs. By investing in a quilting cutting board kit or slicer, you’re on your way to delicious, homemade jerky.
Slicing Cutting Board Kits
Start here if you don’t want to spend a fortune– and if you don’t plan on making tons of jerky. These slicing cutting board kits are all you need to get started making precise cuts. While there’s plenty of room for error, high-quality boards can be a great, economical way to get started making homemade jerky. Practical and easy to store, these cutting boards will be the best option for most who haven’t made jerky before or are just starting. All of these kits come with a quality cutting board and other materials you don’t have to go shopping twice.
Hi Mountain Ultimate Jerky Board and Knife
Boasting 5-star reviews, this board and knife kit is constructed with 420 high-grade stainless steel for a durable, practical option. The cutting board is dishwasher safe and features non-slip rubber feet for better control. Two cutting depths– ¼ or ⅜ inches– allow you to make your perfect jerky.
Ridges collect liquid away from meat, making your prep work easier and less messy. The board flips over and doubles as a flat surface after you’ve cut your slabs. Alongside this excellent cutting board, your purchase supplies a knife with a precise blade, with an ergonomic and non-slip grip. Buy Here.
The Sausage Maker Jerky Cutting Board with Knife
Just need to make small batches? This jerky cutting board and knife set is made in the United States and has some helpful features. Preset for ¼ inch slicing, food-grade plastic inserts provide extra guidance for precise cuts.
Adjust to your liking, and throw the stainless steel cutting board in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. You can also preview this product with the YouTube demonstration video. A serrated knife designed for jerky cutting is also included. Buy Here.
TSM Products Jerky Cutting Board and 10-Inch Slicer Knife
69 percent of Amazon customers (200) rated this jerky cutting board and knife kit a 5 out of 5. Many claimed that this set performed far better than past purchases. Fast, efficient, and comfortable cutting were among some of the high praises.
The durable, food-grain stainless steel board is dishwasher safe, with inserts to easily adjust to thin jerky slices (pre-set at ¼ inches). The board includes a handy 10-inch knife for easy cutting. Buy Here.
Meat Slicer Stainless Steel Jerky Maker Cutting Board With 10-Inch Professional Slicing and Carving Knife
If I had to make just one recommendation for a cutting board for jerky, it would be this one. Perhaps one of the best jerky cutting boards you can buy, this highly-rated set is a great gift as well. The kit includes a high-quality stainless steel board and ultra-sharp 10-inch blade.
This professional-grade kit is catered to making beef and wild game jerky, and it shows. Nylon spaces are adjustable for the thickness of ⅛ inch of a time, complete with a slip-resistant design. The blade is precisely made to cut jerky, with great control, a comfortable grip, and a sharp tip. Buy Here.
Manual Jerky Slicers
Plan on making lots of jerky? A manual meat slicer may be the right option for you. While I recommend starting with cutting boards, meat slicers can also be handy if you’re planning to make in bulk or want them for other meats as well.
Of course, I recommend buying a manual meat slicer that can slice thin enough to suit beef jerky. My suggestions should be suited for this purpose, but if you buy a different slicer, make sure you ask. Your best bet, of course, is to buy a jerky slicer rather than a generic meat slicer- but the decision is up to you.
Weston Manual Single-Support Jerky Slicer
Cutting board not your style? Don’t want to spend on an electric option? This jerky slicer is a great middle-ground solution. This slicer has nearly 2,500 reviews and an impressive average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. 32 stainless steel blades cut jerky precisely in adjustable increments.
You can cut up to 15 ¼ inch thick strips at once, perfect for making large batches. Special stainless steel combs prevent the meat from backing up. The aluminum body is supported with heavy-duty cast iron. 100 percent food-safe, this jerky slicer is meant to last and cut back on time spent preparing. Buy Here.
Guide Gear 2-in-1 Tenderizer & Jerky Slicer
T`his highly-rated option is a two-for-one set. Slice and tenderize for the ultimate start to excellent homemade jerky. The Guide Gear jerky cutter and tenderizer set is made with aluminum for a sturdy but lightweight frame.
16 pairs of stainless steel blades allow for precise, catered cuts. Combs prevent any meat from jamming. Meat is sliced and tenderized at the same time. A C-clamp adds stability so you can feel in complete control. Buy Here.
LEM Products 433TJ 2-in-1 Jerky Slicer and Tenderizer Attachment
This specialized slicer and tenderizer is a step up, with separate attachments for each. A slice shaft and tenderizer shaft ensure precise, handmade jerky. You can make 14 jerky strips at a time, properly sliced into ¼ inches and tenderized.
The aluminum build is durable for lightweight without any assembly required. This slicer is paired with a few other LEM grinders and has been used by hunters, butchers, and restaurants. 85 percent of customers awarded this fantastic slider and grinder 5 out of 5 stars. Buy Here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Beef jerky is a snack that should be enjoyed in moderation- with pros and cons. Beef jerky has natural protein, so it can keep you full longer. The quality of ingredients varies greatly, which impacts nutritional value. Red meat, in general, should be consumed in moderation– though you can buy or make other types of jerky, most commonly turkey. Though relatively lean, beef jerky is high in sodium, and that’s especially true for store-bought jerky. You can buy reduced-sodium varieties and use a little less if you make it yourself.
Answer: Beef jerky is salty because the salt is acting as a preservative, allowing the beef to be shelf-stable. You can reduce sodium some, but should only do so based upon a specific recipe– and know that it may not last as long. Sometimes, adding other seasonings can distract from a salt-forward taste. I’ve also seen some add beef jerky to other mixes, such as trail mix. Of course, it is possible to be overly zealous with salting. I always recommend following a recipe the first time you make jerky to ensure you’re on the right track when it comes to proper seasoning.
Answer: All jerky gets past its prime at some point, but it doesn’t immediately spoil like you’d expect meat too. Lean meat, as opposed to fatty meat, can be dried and preserved. The high salt content and a minimal level of water mean it won’t quickly spoil. Of course, there is a timeframe in which you should consume jerky. Normally that’s capped at around a year for store-bought and two or so months for handmade. For optimal freshness, store-bought jerky should be eaten within 6 months, and homemade jerky within a week or so.
Making jerky yourself may seem daunting at first, but it’s a rewarding experience. Handmade jerky is a way for you to add your flavors and techniques. But if you want tender, flavorful jerky, it’s important to have the equipment to do it correctly.
Want to get started? I’ve collected just a few great homemade jerky recipes. For plain, try this basic homemade jerky recipe from Spruce Eats, this classic jerky recipe from Once Upon a Chef, or a Pioneer Woman beginner’s jerky recipe.
Whatever recipes you choose, make sure you follow it step by step the first time. While purchasing an excellent beef jerky board will get you to the first step, every step matters to ensure tender and tasty jerky that you’ll go to for a snack – and want to make time and time again.
As far as cutting boards, our top pick is the Hi Mountain Ultimate Jerky Board and Knife.