Smoked Venison Jerky Recipe

This savory jerky recipe includes garlic and black pepper to complement the wood-smoked flavors. I prefer to use tender roasts from the hindquarter (like eye of round or top sirloin), but any large hunk of red meat will do. These pieces should be sliced across the grain and marinated for two days to maximum flavor.

Wood type is the dealer’s choice. Mesquite gives the strongest flavor and is my favorite for venison. Hickory, oak, and pecan are a little more subtle, but still offer plenty of taste. Sweet pellets like cherry and apple are the most mild. They’re better for things like turkey, hog, and fish.

Serving size

2 1/2 - 3 pounds

Time to make

3-4 hours, plus marinating time


2 1/2 – 3 lb. venison roast
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Prague powder #1
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. dried rosemary leaves
1/2 cup water

Also works with


Special equipment



  1. Slice the meat against the grain between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch thick. This is easier to do when the meat is chilled in the freezer for an hour or hasn’t fully defrosted. Place all the sliced meat in a large, resealable bag.
  2. If you have a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic cloves until you reach a rough paste. Mix the garlic with the water, soy sauce, pink curing salt (Prague powder #1), red wine vinegar, black pepper, and sugar until well blended.
  3. Pour the liquids into the bag with the meat and mix to coat each piece on both sides. Marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to two days, tossing and mixing the bag periodically.
  4. Prepare a smoker according to manufacturer’s settings using your choice of wood. Pre-heat to 160 degrees.
  5. Remove the meat from the marinade and squeeze off excess liquid. Lay each piece of meat on a metal grid or pizza screen. If you have the time and space, let the pieces air-dry for a few hours in the refrigerator so it will absorb more smoke.
  6. Smoke the venison for 3 to 4 hours. It should be fully dry but still pliable. If your smoker cannot get below 180 degrees, you can opt to smoke for 1 hour to impart flavor, then switch to a traditional dehydrator set at 145 to finish. This will prevent the jerky from becoming bitter or too brittle.
  7. Once completely cool, store in an airtight bag for 1 to 2 months. The jerky can also be refrigerated for 3 to 6 months or frozen for a year.

Note: Pink curing salt (also known as Prague Powder #1) is a blend of sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium nitrite. It is used to prevent the growth of botulism bacteria, impart the savory flavors of cured meat, and give it a pink color when smoked. Although it isn’t required, I recommend it if you’re storing the meat for more than a few weeks. Do not use more than a teaspoon per 5 pounds of meat.