Smoked Venison Jerky

  • Prep Time

    20 mins

  • Cook Time

    4 hrs

  • Serves


  • Difficulty


Smoked Venison Jerky recipe comes from award winning cookbook author, Hank Shaw and is made in a smoker.

Curing Time: 1 day

Once made, your jerky will keep for a few weeks at room temperature, and forever in the freezer.

Definitely pay attention to your meat when slicing. No sinew or silverskin. For those of you who get a lot of deer in a year, backstrap is great for this. Hank mostly use roasts from the hind leg.

Keep the salt to meat ratio as it is in this recipe, but the other spices you can play with. Some variations could be to add allspice or coriander, cinnamon, or hell, just use Tajin from a Mexican market.

You can also soak your meat in soy sauce plus 1/2 cup of sugar, let it sit no longer than 8 hours, then smoke it. Soy is very salty, so you don't want to oversoak it.

Definitely try a batch with just the salt and black pepper once. It really shows off the quality of your venison.


  • 5 pounds venison, sliced against the grain 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne or other chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder, or 8 garlic cloves, minced and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon citric acid (optional)


  • 1

    When you are making slices for smoked venison jerky, you will want to only partially thaw your roasts. When they are sort of half-frozen, it is far easier to make nice, even slices. Pieces that are around 1/4 inch thick are chewy not brittle. 

    As for the smoke, remember you are drying the venison here, not really cooking it — although yes, it gets cooked. That means you want your smoker relatively cool. Keep your smoker at 165°F on full smoke. No matter what you do, you want the smoker under 200°F. 

  • 2
    Mix all the spices together in a bowl. If you are not using the citric acid powder (Fruit Fresh), wet the slices of the venison with the lime juice. Coat the venison with the spice mix well, pressing and massaging it into the meat. Put all this in a covered container in the fridge for a day, and up to 2 days. More than that and things might get too salty.
  • 3
    Get your smoker going at about 165°F and no hotter than 200°F. Wood choice is up to you. Remove the meat from the container and shake off any excess spices; you do want some on there, though. Lay the meat out in the smoker so they are not touching. Smoke until leathery, so not juicy and not brittle. Start checking on the meat at 2 hours, then every 20 minutes past that.
  • 4
    Once the jerky is to your liking, let this cool to room temperature before you put in the fridge.