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Hamburger vs Sliced Beef Jerky, The Winner Is…

Cabelas Original Jerky 5


There are two usual materials used for beef jerky, extra lean ground beef and slices of lean cuts of beef.

I have made both and each has its merits. I tend towards sliced beef but I always wondered if it was the seasonings or that particular smoke.

I was recently in Spokane, Washington to watch a hockey game and went to the local Cabela’s. They had a variety pack of jerky seasonings on sale so I decided to give it a try. There were original, teriyaki and pepper blends. This post is made with the original blend.

My second decision was to split a batch in half with half done with ground beef and half with slices of bottom round.

I put 2 1/2 pounds bottom round in the freezer for two hours to make it easier to slice.

While it was chilling, I mixed 2 1/2 pounds of extra lean ground beef, 1/2 the seasoning packet, 1/2 of the cure packet and 1/4 cup of cold water. I mixed it thoroughly by hand for 4 minutes.

Cabelas Original Jerky 1



I put 1/4 of the beef on a sheet of wax paper and covered it with another sheet of wax paper. I used a rolling pin to roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. I removed the top piece of wax paper and cut it into serving size pieces. I put the rack of my dehydrator on the beef and turned it all over. I peeled the last of the wax paper off. I repeated for the remaining ground beef.

Cabelas Original Jerky 2


You can do the jerky to completion in a food dehydrator or your oven set to 180 F. Alternatively, you can dry the jerky in a smoker set to 180 F.

I like some smoke but not a lot on my jerky. So, I put it in my dehydrator for one hour to set it up. Then, I put it in my Bradley Smoker set at 180 F with hickory pucks. I smoked it for one hour and then back into the dehydrator to finish. I checked it every hour and removed pieces as the dried to a leathery consistency.

While the ground beef jerky was drying, I sliced the chilled bottom round to about 1/8 inch thick. I mixed it thoroughly with the remaining cure, seasonings and 1/4 cup water. I put the beef in the fridge overnight to cure.

Cabelas Original Jerky


The next day, I put it in the dehydrator for an hour. Then the Bradley Smoker at 180 F over hickory smoke for an hour and then back into the dehydrator. Again, I tested every hour.

Cabelas Original Jerky 4

The Verdict

First, I will comment on the Cabela’s Original Jerky Seasonings. This is a good quality product. It has a nice spice mix without burning and isn’t too salty. I have had better jerky but this is very good and is so convenient that I will buy it again.

As for the battle between ground beef and slices, ground beef has a good chew but isn’t as chewy as the slices. I really like the leathery texture of the slices. On the other hand, extra lean ground beef is a lot cheaper.

For quality, I prefer the slices. The cheap old guy in me prefers the price of the ground beef.

The Old Fat Guy.

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14 Responses

    1. If it is anything like our home, your husband will do whatever makes you happy! Happy wife, happy life.

      The Old Fat Guy

  1. I have come to the same conclusion. BUT I also believe its all about the slice of the meat, with the grain, cross cut or on an angle. Personally I like the angle cut. I also like mine smoked gently for only about 2 hours, then dehydrated completely dry.

    But if everyone liked it the same, there would be a load of manufactrurers out of business!

    Great looking jerky.

    1. Thanks, Foamheart. I have become much more ambivalent about the direction of the slice. Most ends up as cross grain just because it is what I usually do when slicing a hunk of beef but I have done some with the grain and you have to love that chew.

      I have just been given several pounds of moose and will be trying some moose jerky. Wish me luck.

      The Old Fat Guy

  2. Good post.
    You are probably an old pro at this. But I see from your pics that you use metal mix bowls. Of the two brands of kit instructions I have used they both warn against using metal mixing bowls. Probably some kind of chemical reaction with the curing salts.

    1. You should not use any kind of reactive metal bowls when curing. However, stainless steel is not reactive and won’t give you any problems. You can not use iron or aluminium.

  3. Hi,

    I appreciate your review but I have a question about the cure packet. My jerky doesn’t last more than a week after made, is the cure packet a must, regardless? Also, I’ve used both Cabela’s prime rib and teriyaki packets and they both seem extremely salty. I didn’t use 5 pounds of beef with either as I was testing it. Both I used roughly 2.5pounds and used the entire mix, would this cause the final product to be over-salty? Thanks for your time.

    1. The cure package does give a different taste and texture. I would not recommend omitting it. I find many commercial mixes quite salty but it really depends on your own tastes. Try making some from scratch so you can control your salt levels.

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