A top Texas butcher shares how to make proper beef jerky at home

Shawn Knowles is a self-described “old-school butcher” and owner of Old Town Market in Lewisville, Texas. He began working at the shop when his father first opened the market back in 1977.

Last year, Knowles was named the finalist from the Dallas/Fort Worth regional competition of the Texas Beef Council’s Beef Loving Texans’ search for the Best Butcher in Texas. He’s fast, efficient, and knows his stuff.

Knowles takes pride in learning how to butcher “the old-fashioned way,” and he sees a lot of meat come through his shop. Requests for cuts vary, but he sees a lot of people who want to make to their own beef jerky. (It’s very paleo.) Here are his tips for buying the best jerky meat, plus his own recipe.


Don’t be intimidated by the butcher counter, Knowles says. “We cut a lot of different beef specifically for jerky and can answer many of your questions. Depending on what method you plan to use, we can cut the beef to an appropriate thickness to make sure it dries out appropriately.”


Though many people have their own cut preferences for jerky, Knowles says he personally recommends the eye of round. “The muscle is quite lean and it holds up well during the drying out process,” he says. “It’s also easy to slice.”


Use tamari in your recipe, rather than soy. “I like it because it’s suitable for those who have gluten allergies and sensitivities,” he says.


Don’t rush it, Knowles says. “The goal is to dry the beef out, not cook it. If you cook it faster, then you’re not really making a true jerky. It will be worth the wait, trust me.”



1 pound of eye of round beef, sliced

3 ounces soy sauce or tamari

6 ounces water

2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Whisk marinade ingredients in a large bowl.

Place cut beef strips in a large bag or container and pour marinade over them, ensuring all strips are covered in the marinade.

Seal the bag or cover the container and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, preheat the oven to 175 degrees Fahreinheit.

Cover a baking pan/sheet with foil and place strips of beef in a single layer on the foil.

Dry the beef for 12-15 hours in the oven at this temperature. (If you are going to be home, you can do this overnight.)

When the beef is dry to the touch (there should be no rebound, but the beef should not be brittle or burned), the jerky is ready to come out.

Refrigerate jerky in a sealed container for up to two weeks.

SOURCE: Shawn Knowles, Old Town Market, Lewsiville


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