how to make venison jerky with ground meat : Homemade Guide

Venison jerky made from ground meat is a delightful twist on a classic snack, offering a unique blend of flavors and textures. This article delves into the art of making venison jerky, guiding you through selecting the right meat, preparing it, and crafting a delicious jerky that’s both nutritious and satisfying. Whether you’re a seasoned jerky maker or a curious beginner, this comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of the process, ensuring your venison jerky is a hit.

Introduction to Venison Jerky with Ground Meat

Venison jerky is more than just a tasty snack; it’s a journey into traditional food preservation methods, infused with modern culinary twists. Ground venison, with its lean texture and rich flavor, provides an excellent base for jerky, offering a healthier alternative to traditional beef jerky.

Selecting and Preparing Your Venison

When it comes to making jerky, the quality of your venison is paramount. Opt for a lean cut, as fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster. If you’re hunting your own deer, consider the deer’s diet and age, as these factors can influence the meat’s flavor. For those purchasing venison, look for meat that is fresh and has a deep, rich color.

Grinding your venison is the next crucial step. A fine grind ensures a uniform texture in your jerky, which is essential for even drying. If you don’t have a meat grinder, a food processor or a visit to your local butcher can do the trick. Remember, the finer the grind, the more cohesive your jerky will be.

Grinding Techniques for Venison

Achieving the perfect grind for your venison is an art in itself. If using a meat grinder, ensure it’s clean and sharp. A dull blade can smear the meat, affecting the texture of your jerky. For those using a food processor, pulse the meat in batches to avoid overworking it. The goal is a consistent, fine grind that will hold together well when formed into strips or sticks for drying.

In this initial phase of making venison jerky, the focus is on quality meat selection and proper grinding techniques. These foundational steps set the stage for a successful jerky-making experience, ensuring your end product is flavorful, textured, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Preparing the Meat

Discover the art of making delicious ground venison jerky at home with our comprehensive guide. Perfect your jerky-making skills now!

In the world of homemade jerky, the preparation of your meat is a critical step that can make or break the final product. This part of the process is where your culinary creativity can shine, as you select and blend ingredients to infuse your venison jerky with flavors that tantalize the taste buds.

Choosing the Right Cut for Ground Meat

When it comes to making ground venison jerky, not all cuts of meat are created equal. The best cuts for grinding are those with a balance of lean meat and a small amount of fat. This could include the shoulder, round, or even the sirloin of the deer. The lean nature of venison makes it an ideal choice for jerky, as excess fat can lead to quicker spoilage and a greasier texture.

Grinding Techniques for Venison

Grinding your venison is more than just a step in the process; it’s an opportunity to influence the texture and consistency of your jerky. A coarse grind will give your jerky a more rustic, chewy texture, while a finer grind results in a smoother, more uniform jerky. If you’re using a meat grinder, chilling the meat beforehand can make the grinding process smoother and more efficient. For those without a grinder, a food processor or even manual chopping can be used, though care must be taken to ensure the meat is evenly processed.

In this stage, the focus is on selecting the right cut and grinding it to perfection. These steps are crucial in setting the foundation for delicious, homemade venison jerky. With the right cut and grind, you’re well on your way to creating a jerky that’s not only flavorful but also has the perfect texture to satisfy any jerky enthusiast.

Discover more delicious recipes like Best Meats to Mix with Ground Venison

Ingredients and Equipment

Creating the perfect batch of venison jerky requires not just skill and patience, but also the right blend of ingredients and the appropriate equipment. This part of the process is where your jerky begins to take on its unique flavor profile and texture.

Key Ingredients for Flavor

The ingredients you choose are crucial in defining the taste of your venison jerky. Here are some essentials:

  • Salt: A key ingredient in jerky making, salt not only flavors the meat but also acts as a preservative.
  • Curing Salt: Often referred to as Prague Powder or Instacure, this helps prevent bacterial growth during drying.
  • Spices and Herbs: Black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika are popular choices. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to find your perfect blend.
  • Liquid Ingredients: Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or even a splash of your favorite beer can add depth and moisture to your jerky.
  • Sweeteners: A touch of sugar, honey, or maple syrup can balance the savory flavors.

Necessary Equipment for Jerky Making

To transform your seasoned ground venison into jerky, you’ll need some specific equipment:

  • Meat Grinder or Food Processor: For grinding your meat to the desired consistency.
  • Jerky Gun: This tool helps in shaping the ground venison into uniform strips or sticks.
  • Dehydrator or Oven: Essential for drying the jerky. A dehydrator is preferred for its consistent heat and airflow, but an oven set to a low temperature can also work.
  • Mixing Bowls and Utensils: For mixing your ingredients and preparing the meat.

Having the right ingredients and equipment at your disposal is crucial in making venison jerky. They not only ensure that your jerky is flavorful and safe to eat but also make the process more enjoyable and less cumbersome.

Step-by-Step Ground Venison Jerky Recipe

Now that you have your ingredients and equipment ready, it’s time to dive into the heart of jerky making. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of creating your own delicious venison jerky.

Mixing Ingredients

  1. Start with the Ground Venison: Take your ground venison and place it in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the Flavors: Incorporate your chosen spices, salt, curing salt, and any liquid ingredients. This is where your jerky gets its unique taste, so feel free to experiment with different combinations.
  3. Mix Thoroughly: Use your hands (clean, of course!) to mix the ingredients into the venison. Ensure that the spices and liquids are evenly distributed throughout the meat.

Marinating Process

  1. Let the Flavors Meld: Once mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Marinating time can range from a few hours to overnight, depending on how intense you want the flavors to be.
  2. Consistency is Key: During the marinating process, the flavors will penetrate the meat, and the curing salt will start its work, ensuring your jerky is safe to eat.

Shaping and Preparing for Drying

  1. Using a Jerky Gun: If you have a jerky gun, fill it with the marinated meat mixture and press out uniform strips onto your dehydrator trays or oven racks.
  2. Without a Jerky Gun: Alternatively, you can shape the meat by hand or use a rolling pin to flatten it and then cut it into strips.

Drying and Storage Tips

  1. Dehydrator or Oven: Place the strips in a dehydrator set to 150°F (65°C) or in an oven at the lowest setting. The drying process can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the thickness of your strips.
  2. Check for Doneness: The jerky is done when it bends and cracks but does not break. It should be leathery and chewy.
  3. Storing Your Jerky: Once cooled, store your jerky in airtight containers. It can be kept at room temperature for short periods or refrigerated for longer storage.

Creating venison jerky is a rewarding process that not only provides a delicious snack but also connects you to a time-honored tradition of meat preservation. By following these steps, you’ll be able to produce jerky that is not only safe and tasty but also customized to your personal flavor preferences.

Recipe Variations and Expert Tips

Making venison jerky is not just about following a recipe; it’s an opportunity to experiment and personalize your snack. In this part, we’ll explore some exciting variations and share expert tips to enhance your jerky-making experience.

Flavor Variations

  1. Spicy Kick: For those who love a bit of heat, adding chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or even a splash of hot sauce can give your jerky a spicy twist.
  2. Sweet and Savory: Incorporate brown sugar or honey for a sweeter jerky. Pairing sweet with savory elements like soy sauce creates a complex flavor profile.
  3. Herb Infusions: Adding dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano can give your jerky an aromatic touch.
  4. Global Flavors: Experiment with different cuisines by adding teriyaki sauce for an Asian twist or a blend of cumin and coriander for a Middle Eastern flavor.

Tips for Perfect Jerky Every Time

  1. Even Thickness: Ensure your meat strips are of uniform thickness for even drying. Uneven pieces will dry at different rates, leading to some being overdone while others are still moist.
  2. Test for Doneness: Bend a piece of jerky to test if it’s ready. It should crack but not break. Overdried jerky becomes tough and brittle.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding: In the dehydrator or oven, arrange the strips so they are not touching. This allows air to circulate freely, ensuring even drying.
  4. Patience is Key: Jerky making is a slow process. Rushing it by increasing the temperature can result in unevenly dried or even burnt jerky.

By exploring these variations and adhering to these tips, you can elevate your venison jerky from a simple snack to a gourmet treat. Each batch of jerky offers a new opportunity to tweak and perfect your recipe, making each batch uniquely yours.

Health and Nutritional Benefits

Venison jerky isn’t just a delicious snack; it’s also packed with nutritional benefits that make it a smart choice for health-conscious individuals. In this part, we’ll delve into the health aspects of venison jerky, highlighting why it’s more than just a tasty treat.

Nutritional Breakdown of Venison Jerky

Venison is renowned for its high protein content, making it an excellent snack for muscle building and repair. It’s also lower in saturated fat compared to traditional beef jerky, making it a heart-healthier option. Here’s a closer look at the nutritional benefits:

  • High in Protein: Essential for muscle growth and repair, venison provides a substantial amount of protein, which is vital for overall body function.
  • Low in Fat: Venison is naturally lean, meaning your jerky will have less fat, especially if you choose the right cuts and trim any excess.
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Venison is a good source of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, which is crucial for nerve function and blood formation. It’s also rich in iron, which is essential for transporting oxygen in the blood.
  • Low in Calories: When prepared without excessive added sugars or fats, venison jerky can be a low-calorie snack, making it suitable for weight management.

Health Benefits Beyond Nutrition

  • Low in Sodium: By controlling the amount of salt used in your recipe, you can make a lower-sodium snack compared to store-bought options, which is beneficial for blood pressure management.
  • No Artificial Preservatives: Homemade jerky allows you to avoid the artificial preservatives and additives often found in commercial jerky.
  • Energy Boosting: The protein in venison jerky provides a sustained energy release, making it an ideal snack for active individuals or those needing a midday energy boost.

Venison jerky is not just a treat for your taste buds; it’s also a boon for your body. By choosing to make your own jerky, you control the ingredients, ensuring that what you’re consuming is not only delicious but also nutritious.

fore more information explore National Deer Association

Common Mistakes and Solutions

Discover the art of making delicious ground venison jerky at home with our comprehensive guide. Perfect your jerky-making skills now!

Even the most experienced jerky makers can encounter issues. Understanding common mistakes and knowing how to address them is key to perfecting your venison jerky. In this part, we’ll explore some typical challenges and offer solutions to help you achieve jerky-making success.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Uneven Drying: This often occurs when the meat strips are of varying thicknesses or the dehydrator/oven isn’t set to the correct temperature.
    • Solution: Ensure all meat strips are uniformly cut. Use a meat slicer or a sharp knife for consistent thickness. Regularly check and rotate the trays in the dehydrator or oven for even drying.
  2. Too Salty or Too Bland: Getting the right balance of flavors can be tricky.
    • Solution: Always start with a smaller amount of salt and seasonings, then adjust to taste. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s mixed in.
  3. Meat Spoilage: Improper storage or using meat that’s not fresh can lead to spoilage.
    • Solution: Use fresh venison and ensure it’s properly refrigerated before and after grinding. Store the finished jerky in airtight containers, and refrigerate if not consumed within a few days.
  4. Texture Issues (Too Tough or Too Soft): This can result from over or under-drying the jerky.
    • Solution: Monitor the drying process closely. Jerky is done when it bends and cracks but doesn’t break. If it’s too tough, it’s been dried for too long. If it’s too soft, it needs more drying time.

Troubleshooting Common Jerky Issues

  • Mold Growth: This can occur if the jerky hasn’t been dried sufficiently or stored properly.
    • Prevention: Ensure the jerky is completely dry before storage. Use vacuum-sealed containers and store in a cool, dry place or refrigerate.
  • Lack of Flavor: Sometimes the jerky might not be as flavorful as expected.
    • Enhancement: Increase the marinating time for deeper flavor penetration. Experiment with different spices and herbs to find the right flavor profile.
  • Fat Rancidity: Fat in the jerky can become rancid, affecting taste and shelf life.
    • Prevention: Trim as much fat as possible before grinding the venison. Fat doesn’t dry like meat and can spoil quickly.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and knowing how to solve them, you can ensure that each batch of venison jerky you make is delicious, safe, and satisfying.


Over the course of this guide, several common questions about making venison jerky with ground meat have emerged. In this section, we’ll address these frequently asked questions to clarify any remaining uncertainties and provide additional insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I make venison jerky without a dehydrator?
    • Yes, you can use an oven set to its lowest temperature with the door slightly ajar. However, a dehydrator is preferred for its consistent temperature and airflow.
  2. How long does homemade venison jerky last?
    • Properly dried and stored venison jerky can last up to 2 months in an airtight container at room temperature. Refrigeration can extend its shelf life further.
  3. Is it necessary to use curing salt?
    • While not strictly necessary, curing salt (like Prague Powder) helps prevent bacterial growth, especially if the jerky will be stored for an extended period.
  4. Can I use frozen venison for jerky?
    • Absolutely. Just ensure it’s thoroughly thawed and properly handled before grinding and preparing.
  5. How do I know when the jerky is properly dried?
    • The jerky should be leathery and bendable, cracking but not breaking when bent. Over-drying will make it brittle, while under-drying can lead to spoilage.
  6. Can I add other meats to the venison?
    • Yes, mixing venison with a small amount of another meat, like pork or beef, can add flavor and a bit of fat, which can enhance the texture.
  7. Is venison jerky a healthy snack?
    • Yes, it’s high in protein, low in fat, and can be made with minimal added sugars and preservatives, making it a healthier alternative to many store-bought snacks.

By addressing these FAQs, we hope to have resolved any lingering questions you may have about making venison jerky with ground meat. This process, steeped in tradition and culinary creativity, offers a satisfying way to enjoy a nutritious and delicious snack.

Conclusion – The Joy of Homemade Venison Jerky

As we wrap up our comprehensive guide on making venison jerky with ground meat, it’s clear that this process is more than just a means to create a tasty snack. It’s an art form that combines culinary skill, patience, and creativity. From selecting the right cut of venison to mastering the drying process, each step offers an opportunity to craft a unique and satisfying product.

Wrapping Up

  • The Process: We’ve journeyed through selecting and preparing the meat, understanding the importance of the right ingredients and equipment, and delved into the detailed steps of mixing, marinating, shaping, and drying venison jerky.
  • Customization: The beauty of making your own jerky lies in the ability to customize flavors, textures, and ingredients to suit your personal taste.
  • Nutritional Value: Venison jerky is not only delicious but also packed with nutritional benefits, making it a great snack for health-conscious individuals.
  • Common Challenges: We’ve addressed common mistakes and provided solutions to ensure your jerky-making experience is both enjoyable and successful.

The Final Takeaway

Making venison jerky with ground meat is a rewarding endeavor that yields a product far superior to store-bought alternatives. It’s a process that allows you to connect with traditional food preservation methods while also exercising your creativity in the kitchen. Whether you’re a seasoned jerky maker or a novice, the satisfaction of biting into a piece of homemade venison jerky, flavored just the way you like it, is unparalleled.

We hope this guide inspires you to embark on your own jerky-making adventure, creating delicious, healthy snacks that can be enjoyed by friends and family alike. Remember, the key to great venison jerky lies in the care and attention you put into each step of the process.

Happy jerky making!

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