Worst Cuts of Meat for Beef Jerky

Published By Kevin Turner

Last Updated Mar 5, 2023

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tenderloin beef jerky
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    The worst cuts of meat for making beef jerky are rib-eye, shank, tenderloin and brisket. These cuts all range from too fatty to too soft, and should be avoided when making beef jerky.

    As you probably already know, beef jerky is a popular snack food that has been enjoyed for centuries.

    It’s a dried, seasoned, and often spicy meat product that is portable, protein-rich, and has a long shelf life.

    The key to making a good beef jerky is to choose the right cut of meat (We cannot stress this enough0!

    Some cuts of meat are just not suitable for jerky-making.

    In this short article we’ll take a closer look at why certain cuts make horrible beef jerky… and are much better saved for making wonderful steaks (served medium rare of course).

    The worst cuts of meat for making beef jerky:


    This cut of beef is prized for its rich  buttery flavor and tender juicy texture.

    However this same tenderness and high fat content make it an unsuitable choice for jerky-making. The high fat content of rib-eye will cause the jerky to spoil faster and become rancid (yuk!).

    The tenderness of the meat also makes it more difficult to slice into thin and even strips that are needed for jerky-making. Also keep in mind that the fat will not dry out during the drying process. That is important because it is essential for making jerky that is safe to eat.

    The Shank Cut of Beef


    shank beef jerky

    This popular cut is often used for stews and soups because it takes hours of clow cooking to break down the meat.

    Shank’s toughness is due to the fact that the shank is a heavily worked muscle. The same toughness that makes the shank a good choice for slow-cooking recipes makes it a poor choice for jerky-making.

    The meat will not dry out properly and will remain chewy and tough even after hours of drying.

    And you should know that the high collagen content of the shank will result in a rubbery texture that is unappealing in jerky.

    More reading: Best cuts of steak for jerky


    Perhaps my favorite cut of beef because it is one of the most tender.

    The tenderloin is a muscle that gets little exercise and that is actually what makes it a poor choice for jerky-making.

    The high tenderness of the meat means that it will not dry out properly. That will once again result in a soft and mushy cut. 


    brisket beef jerky

    Just like shank, this cut is perfect for slow-cooking recipes.

    The high fat content of the brisket makes it a poor choice for jerky-making (a common theme I hope you realize by now!). 

    Remember: meats that are both tough and high in fat make bad choices for beef jerky. It’s that simple guys!

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    Kevin Turner
    Hi there, I'm Kevin Turner, Founder and CEO of thegrillingmaster.com. I started this website to share my passion and knowledge with you. You can leverage my years of experience as a pit master and professional to grill great food!

    About The Grilling Master

    Hi there, I'm Kevin Turner, Founder and CEO of thegrillingmaster.com

    My passion has always been grilling, smoking and BBQ delicious meats that satisfy my inner carnivore!

    I started this website to share my passion and knowledge with you, the hungry reader who wants to prepare the perfect meal. 

    You can leverage my years of experience as a pit master and professional. 

    Send me a message and let's connect on Twitter here.

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