This is the best homemade elk jerky recipe, and it doesn’t require any special equipment! This recipe can be used to make beef jerky, moose, and venison jerky!

Tender elk jerky on a wooden table with several pieces in the background.

Once upon a time, I would have never thought I’d be making my own jerky, let alone elk jerky!

But alas, I began dabbling in the art of jerky and have since come up with what I like to think is the perfect wild game jerky.

Check out the recipe below, and if you want some of my favorite variations, be sure to check out the ‘tips’ section!

​What you’ll need to make elk jerky

Elk roast (2 pounds): You can use any elk meat roast, but my favorite from a tenderness standpoint would have to be a hindquarter roast. (check out my tips on how to make jerky with ground meat below if you would prefer)

Soy sauce: it provides a salty and savory flavor while also acting as a natural tenderizer.

Worcestershire sauce: This is a classic addition to any jerky marinade, providing a slightly sweet and tangy flavor that complements the natural flavors of the elk meat.

Spices: We use a variety of spices, including sea salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Plus, the optional cayenne pepper can be added to bump up the heat level of the jerky to suit your spice preferences.

Liquid smoke: For a smoky twist, we have added a touch of liquid smoke to the marinade. If you don’t have it on hand, the jerky will still turn out just fine.

Dried elk jerky poured out of a glass container.

Elk jerky recipe instructions

Step 1: Slice the elk meat.

Slicing a large elk roast with a sharp knife.

Start by slicing the elk meat between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick across the grain. I prefer a thinner jerky, closer to a 1/8″ thick cut.

Note: the thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook.

Pro tip: to make it easier to slice, either freeze your roast ahead of time for 2 hours, or if it’s already frozen, defrost it for about 8 hours before slicing.

Step 2: Make the marinade.

Adding all the ingredients for the marinade into a medium sized bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients – soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, ground black pepper, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if desired). 

Whisking the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together until they are well combined.

Step 3: Marinate the meat.

Marinating the thin sliced elk jerky before drying.

Add the sliced elk meat to the marinade and toss until the meat is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, giving the elk meat enough time to absorb all the delicious flavors of the marinade.

During this time, toss the meat occasionally to ensure even marination.

Step 4: Prepare the jerky.

Lining the elk jerky on a wire rack over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

When you’re ready to start the cooking process, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over it.

Then, arrange the marinated elk slices on the wire rack, ensuring they’re not touching each other.

Step 5: Cook the jerky.

Fully cooked jerky cooling on a wire rack.

Preheat your oven to 175°F and bake the elk slices on the center rack for 4-5 hours. Be sure to rotate the baking pan halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Once done they should be completely dried out and leathery, but not too tough to chew. (160°F internal temperature)

Pro tip: You should be able to bend the jerky in half and it split but not break in half completely. (see the image below)

Note on the cook time: It’s really hard to say how long it’s going to take to cook through. When I cut my jerky into 1/8″ strips, it takes exactly 4 hours. But each oven is different, so you will need to adjust the times accordingly.

Bending the jerky in half to see if its ready.

Step 6: Allow it to cool before serving.

Tender elk jerky on a wooden table with several pieces in the background.

Once done, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool completely before tasting. I do like to sprinkle them with crushed red pepper flakes before storing them.

Jerky Tips

Cut each piece as evenly as possible. 

You’ll find that over the course of several hours in the oven, the thinner slices will crisp up sooner than the thicker pieces.

If you find yourself with different-sized pieces, try placing the thinner ones in the middle of the wire rack and remove them as soon as they are done.

​Trim the fat!

Choose a lean roast and trim away as much fat and sinew as possible. The fat will not dry out and will accelerate spoilage.

This will be the biggest issue with making beef jerky, as beef tends to have more fat on it. I have found that grass-fed beef is much better for making jerky as it generally has less fat on it.

​Can I cook my jerky directly in a baking pan or skillet?

​So, I have made jerky right in the bottom of my cast iron skillet. I don’t use any oil; just place them evenly in a single layer and bake them just like I do when I use a rack.

After about an hour and a half, you’ll need to carefully drain any liquid that collects in the bottom of the skillet. It’s also a good idea to flip the meat over at least once if you are going to cook it this way.

​Store your jerky strips in the fridge!

I know many people leave their jerky out, but for best results and maximum shelf life, I recommend keeping the jerky in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

I also recommend using it within the first two weeks.

Be sure to experiment with different flavors!

A great way to add your personal touches to this elk jerky recipe is to experiment with different flavors! Consider adding a few splashes of teriyaki sauce and a dash of onion powder to this elk jerky recipe!

Or try this marinade here.

Fully cooked and dried elk jerky on a wooden drying board with several pieces in a glass jar in the background.

Making jerky with ground meat.

Ok, as promised, I would show you guys how to make jerky with ground meat. Now, you can use any meat for this, ground venison or ground beef, but I do recommend grass-fed beef since it tends to be more lean.

Then just follow this recipe, except you’ll need to cut the amount of soy sauce in half. 

Step 1: Combine the meat, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and all the spices in a large bowl. Leave it to chill, covered in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Step 2: Then, load the meat into a jerky gun and squeeze your jerky strips into your desired lengths. Bake following the same instructions as outlined below.

You can use any wild game roast for jerky.

I have made this exact jerky blend for venison jerky, moose jerky, and, of course, this elk jerky. 

Sprinkling crushed red peppers on my fresh cooked homemade jerky.

Enjoy this elk jerky recipe.

I think the best part about this recipe is that you don’t need any special equipment to make it. This is perfect for snacking on the go or packing for a hike.

And don’t forget to check out our expert tips and variations so you can customize your jerky to your liking.

Once you try this recipe, you will be hooked on elk jerky for life. So take some time to marinate, bake, and enjoy this tasty treat today!

If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a rating below or tag us @castironskilletcooking on Instagram!

More great recipes

Tender elk jerky on a wooden table with several pieces in the background.

The Best Elk Jerky Recipe

Laura Ascher
Once you try this recipe, you will be hooked on elk jerky for life. So take some time to marinate, bake, and enjoy this tasty treat today!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 174 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pound elk roast substitute for beef, venison or moose roast
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper optional
  • Crushed red peppers optional

Instructions
 

  • Slice the elk meat between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick across the grain. I prefer a thinner jerky, closer to a 1/8" thick cut. Pro tip: to make it easier to slice, either freeze your roast ahead of time for 2 hours, or if it's already frozen, defrost it for about 8 hours before slicing.
  • Combine the marinade ingredients – soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, ground black pepper, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if desired). Whisk the marinade ingredients together until they are well combined.
  • Add the sliced elk meat to the marinade and toss until the meat is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (up to 16 hours), giving the elk meat enough time to absorb all the delicious flavors of the marinade. During this time, toss the meat occasionally to ensure it marinates evenly.
  • When you're ready to start the cooking process, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over it. Then, arrange the marinated elk slices on the wire rack, ensuring that they're not touching each other.
  • Preheat your oven to 175°F and bake the elk slices on the center rack for 4-5 hours. Be sure to rotate the baking pan halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once done, they should be completely dried out and leathery but not too tough to chew. (160°F internal temperature) *See note below.
  • Pro tip: You should be able to bend the jerky in half and it split but not break in half completely. (See step by step images in the post)
  • Allow the jerky to cool completely before sprinkling it with crushed red peppers and storing it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Notes

Note on the cook time: It’s really hard to say how long it’s going to take to cook through. When I cut my jerky into 1/8″ strips, it takes exactly 4 hours. But each oven is different, so you will need to adjust the times accordingly. I suggest checking on your jerky after 3 hours to see where its at.
This jerky can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Any fat or moisture on the meat will accelerate spoilage.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ozCalories: 174kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 31gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 1005mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Keyword Elk jerky recipe, How to make jerky
Tried this recipe?Mention @castironskilletcooking on Instagram
This website provides approximate nutrition information based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands, measuring methods and portion sizes per household. We recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer.

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5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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