How to Make Your Own Venison Jerky

A good, tender piece of jerky, balanced somewhere between sweet and savory can be a superbly satisfying snack.

In contrast, a small bag of jerky at the grocery store can be as much as $10, and there’s no guarantee that it will be fresh. Why not avoid that risk altogether and try making your own jerky with this surprisingly simple recipe.

Deer season in Southeast Ohio generally starts in September and ends in February. For many hunters, that means a lot of game. Instead of sticking to the usual venison steaks, give jerky making a shot.

Justin Pettit, a senior at Ohio University, has been hunting for 10 years and he’s been making jerky out of his game for just as long.

“It doesn’t last us very long when I make it,” Pettit says. “My whole family loves it.”

Making jerky is a relatively easy process with only four steps to delicious victory. The trick is getting the marinade right and using the right cuts of meat.


Step One: Find the right cut

Pettit says that meat from the leg works best for jerky, as it is a bit too chewy to be made into steaks.

“You have to slice it nice and thin and try to get it even for the strips of jerky,” Pettit says. Or, you can invest in a jerky gun, which portions the meat for you. They cost about $30.

Step two: Marinate

Once the meat is prepared, it should be marinated. Pettit says a good jerky marinade for about two pounds of meat consists of a half cup of teriyaki sauce, a half cup of Worcestershire sauce, a third cup of soy sauce, a half cup of brown sugar and hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, depending on how spicy you want your jerky. Let the jerky sit in the marinade overnight for optimal tenderness and flavor.


Step three: Dehydrate

The next day, place the meat in a dehydrator for four to six hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, put your oven on its lowest setting—usually 170 degrees. Dehydrate the meat, also for four to six hours and check on it frequently.

Step Four: Enjoy and store

Once your jerky is out of the oven, it is ready to enjoy. If you have any leftovers, place the jerky in a plastic bag with a paper towel to prevent excess moisture and store it in the refrigerator.

That is just one variation of a jerky recipe. Experiment with different rubs, spices and sauce, and even meat. Jerky can be made out of almost any meat, including fish.


Southeast Ohio strives to spotlight the culture and community within our 21-county region and aims to inform, entertain and inspire readers with stories that hit close to home. Southeast Ohio is the first student-produced regional magazine in the country. Every semester, approximately 25 students enrolled in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism produce an issue of the magazine, which is published in print twice a year. The staff generates story ideas, conducts interviews, writes stories and designs the magazine in only 15 weeks. The magazine has won several Regional Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.