Cuts of Meat for Pork Jerky

Pig meat cutting chart. Black pig shape with cuts labled like ham, loin, bacon, etc., for pork jerky.

The Best Cuts of a Pig or Boar for Pork Jerky

Choosing the proper cut of pork is essential to ensure a flavorful and tender result when making pork jerky. While pork jerky is often made from lean cuts, it’s crucial to consider the fat content and the overall texture of the meat. Some cuts are higher in fat, which I’ll explain below.

All of the cuts of meat and information found on this page can be applied to a hog, pig, or wild boar. They all fall under the category of Swine.

Here are some recommended cuts of meat for pork jerky

  1. Pork Loin
    • Advantages: Lean and offers a good balance of tenderness and flavor. This is a top choice for homemade jerky creators. Loin has a consistent texture.
    • Considerations: It may be a bit thicker, so proper slicing is crucial for even drying.
  2. Pork Tenderloin
    • Advantages: Very lean and tender, making it an excellent choice for jerky. This is leaner than the loin, yet similar and an excellent option for jerky.
    • Considerations: Slightly higher cost compared to other cuts.
  3. Pork Sirloin
    • Advantages: Lean and reasonably tender, making it suitable for jerky.
    • Considerations: Pay attention to slicing thickness for consistent drying.
  4. Pork Leg (Ham)
    • Advantages: Lean with a distinct pork flavor. This is raw meat, not the ham you buy at the deli.
    • Considerations: Slightly tougher than other cuts, but proper slicing and marinating can enhance tenderness.
  5. Pork Shoulder (Butt or Boston Butt)
    • Advantages: Rich in flavor and can be pretty tender if sliced thinly and marinated correctly.
    • Considerations: Higher fat content than other cuts; trim excess fat for leaner jerky.
  6. Pork Belly (Bacon)
    • Advantages: Offers a rich and fatty flavor. (See note below)
    • Considerations: Higher fat content may not be as traditionally lean as other cuts, but the marbling can add flavor.

A Note on Pork Belly or Bacon for Jerky

The main difference between pork belly and bacon is bacon is cured, a process to help preserve it. Pork belly is uncured meat. It all comes from the belly of the pig, hog, or boar. It is the slab of meat just below the ribs.

When I had my jerky shop, we sold a ton of bacon jerky. It was very popular, and it’s not something you just find anywhere. If I remember correctly, we had four or five flavors. It was outrageous.

Two of my favorites were the bourbon bacon and maple brown sugar bacon jerky. I don’t like bourbon, but in this recipe it gave the meat a sweet flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. And who can go wrong with anything made with maple brown sugar?

Making Pork Jerky

When selecting a cut, consider your preference for lean or slightly fatty jerky. At the same time, lean cuts are often preferred as a healthier option. A bit of fat can add flavor and moisture to the jerky. If you choose a cut with more fat, be sure to trim excess fat before slicing and marinating.

Also, consider your storage options. The higher the fat content, the more prone it is to storage. For longer storage options, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.

In terms of slicing, it’s crucial to cut the pork into thin, even strips to ensure consistent drying. Aim for slices that are approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. This helps the jerky dry properly and results in a desirable texture.

Experimenting with different cuts and marinades allows you to find the perfect combination that suits your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a lean, tender jerky or a slightly more marbled and flavorful option, pork provides a versatile canvas for creating delicious homemade pork jerky.

Links Related to Pork Jerky

Recipes for Pork Jerky

Ingredients for Pork Jerky

More Recipes for Pork Jerky coming soon…