Note: Crazy Horse is a sponsor of this website, but has no effect on our ratings and reviews.
It's been nearly a year since I published my reviews of Crazy Horse Beef Jerky (Original, Sweet, and Cajun). And since that time, the owners of Crazy Horse have told me that sales have been great.
Along with that, customers have asked them to launch new flavors, and so towards that request, they've launched this new "Steak House" variety. Dave and Cara Wenrich, the owners of Crazy Horse, claim to love steak sauce and felt it would add a great flavor to their jerky.
Based in Hellam, PA, Dave started making this brand of jerky based on a old family recipe that he got from his father, who received the recipe from his father, who received it from his father...
Note: Chef Craig's is a sponsor of this website, but has no effect on our ratings and reviews.
One the newest jerky brands on the market is Chef Craig's Beef Jerky. A product of CJM Products, it's based out of West Kingston, RI.
It's the idea of Craig Mitchell, who a few years ago, had sent me samples of his own homemade jerky, with the intent of launching a business someday. Mitchell received his Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University, and has been cooking professionally since 1978.
As of this review, the only flavor Chef Craig's offers is this Original.
He was a jerky hobbyist, experimenting with interesting recipes for himself and his friends, until he came to the realization that his job practicing LAW was making him LESS happy.
He was certain he could contribute more to the world with his jerky than his lawyering.
Matt launched Lawless Jerky with a Kickstarter on the day of his 30th birthday … and the rest is history. Almost 4 years later, Lawless Jerky is available in 4,000 stores in the US and Canada along with a bustling online business. Enjoy the following tips for making your own jerky at home, and sample his greatest hits at LawlessJerky.com.
1) Choice of Meat: One of the great things about home dehydrating is that you can use any meat that you want. So if you're looking to try an exotic meat (e.g. duck, goat, elk, venison, etc.) or just a different cut of a more common protein (e.g. beef brisket, chicken thighs), the world is your oyster!
2) Slicing the Meat: If (like most people) you don't have a meat slicer, you can get a thinner slice on your meat (and thus more surface area to marinade, and a quicker cook) by slicing the meat while it is still partially frozen.
3) Making a Marinade: In my early days, I'd start with a base marinade or sauce and then supplement it with salts, sugars, spices, and other sauces/vinegars. Once you're comfortable with building a nice jerky marinade from a base sauce/marinade, you can move towards building your marinade completely from scratch.
4) Calibrating your Marinade: Make your marinade stronger (more intense) than you would for grilled meats. The marinade's intensity will dissipate some during the drying process.
5) Marination: Marinate the jerky at least overnight, ensuring that the marinade is evenly distributed over each piece. If marinating in plasticware, shake the mixture rigorously during the marination process to simulate the tumblers that we use at our facility.
6) Rotating Trays During the Cook: No matter the style of your home dehydrator, there are probably multiple trays. When full, the top trays (if you're using a Nesco dehydrator for example) or the back of EACH tray (if you're using an Excalibur or Weston) should be rotated during the cook process to ensure an even cook. With a Nesco, swap your bottom two trays with your top two trays halfway into your cook and as needed throughout to control the consistent drying of your jerky. For "heat-element-in-the-back" units, simply rotate each tray in its slot 180 degrees, or two turns.
7) When to Pull the Jerky” Just like other cooked meats, deciding when the jerky is "done" is a matter of taste. To experiment with different levels of doneness, you can either cook meat sliced into different thicknesses for the same amount of time or cook meat of a uniform thickness for different amounts of time. Remember that the jerky will continue to cook and harden once it's pulled from the dehydrator, so account for that extra hardening when deciding when to pull it!
8) Bagging the Jerky: Make sure to let the jerky fully cool before bagging so that evaporated moisture (an enemy of jerky preservation) doesn't accumulate inside of your bag/container.
9) Cleaning Up: Whether dehydrating in a dehydrator or a home oven, if you're using a wet marinade, make sure to line the bottom of your unit with towels/paper towels to catch the drip of the marinade and to make for easy cleaning. Cleaning a Nesco is pretty easy but a stainless steel Weston definitely benefits from a bottom catch layer, or drip tray.
10) Jerky Shelf Life: One of the nice things about home jerky is that you can get a level of freshness that is impossible for commercial jerky to achieve. Like eating fresh cookies out of the oven! Also, as a home jerky maker, you aren't constrained (by law) by the moisture content of the final product, so you can have a moister jerky product than you could ever find in stores.
Tony's Killer Elk Jerky is a brand of Beaver Mountain Distributors, based out of Beaver, UT. We actually reviewed this brand back in 2010, under the name "Tony's Killer Beef Jerky".
The "Tony's Killer" brand is not sold online, but in small, independent shops and roadside stands throughout the back country of the United States. The jerky itself is actually manufactured by a co-packer named, Springville Meat Company in Springville, UT.
We found this particular package of Peppered Elk Jerky, as well as another package of their Teriyaki Venison, at a local market in Soldotna, Alaska, during a recent trip.
Humboldt's Best Beef Jerky is a brand owned by Robert's Distributing, based out of Fortuna, CA. It's one of those brands you typically find inside a convenience store/gas station located in the middle of nowhere along the Interstate.
This brand doesn't have a website where you can buy online. We found this at a Shell gas station in Garberville, CA, and I'm sure you can probably find it in other venues throughout Humboldt County, CA.
The packaging doesn't make any claims or promises on what this jerky tastes like, nor anything on what it offers.
Jerky by Art was established by Arthur Sandoval in 2004, based out of Albuquerque, NM.
As an iron worker, Art started making carne seca (Mexican-style jerky) at home for his own pleasure. He would take some to work and sell it to co-workers. He was selling so much of it, that he bought more dehydrators. Before he knew it, he was producing jerky all day and night. And thus became, Jerky by Art.
This Hot & Spicy Teriyaki variety is marketed as "a sweet taste that just might bite ya back!".
Joe's Wicked Good Beef Jerky is a brand owned by Joe's Wicked Good Jerky Corporation, based out of Redding, CA. It was started by the husband and wife duo of Joe Nixt and Traci Nixt, who launched the brand in October 2014.
At the time, Joe had been making his own jerky for over 20 years. He's shared it with friends and co-workers from his contracting business. When Traci lost her secretarial position, the couple decided to make a go at running a jerky company.
This "Peppered" is described by the company as simply, "...sweet with a peppery taste..."
Grandpa's Beef Jerky is a brand started by Jacob Piercy, based out of Fishers, Indiana. Piercy remembers being a kid and watching his grandfather hanging deer meat for jerky. Eventually, his grandfather handed down the recipe and process.
Today, Piercy sells packages of Grandpa's Beef Jerky at farmers markets across Indiana and online too, allowing jerky fans across the USA to enjoy a family legacy.
This "Blueberry Habanero" is described as "Seasonal blueberries are picked then added to Grandpa's spiciest jerky. Enough said."
I'm Steve Johnson, and I've been in the Internet marketing and publishing business since 1997. I've been a life-long fan of beef jerky and decided to merge my profession with my snack food of choice, and gave birth to Best Beef Jerky.
I review beef jerky, turkey jerky, bison jerky, pretty much any meat jerky, even vegan jerky. I review meat sticks, biltong, cecina, carne seca, it's all fair game as long as it's meat, it's dried, and it's a snack.