Three Ways of Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker

Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker

Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker is the best way to create fantastic jerky. The reason the Big Chief Smoker is perfect for smoking jerky is the temperature.

You want a reasonably low temperature when smoking jerky, around 170 degrees is perfect. The Big Chief Smoker has an electric element that burns the wood chips and heats the smoker to an average temperature of 165 degrees.

The process is much faster than using a dehydrator and adds natural smoked flavor. Usually, those types of kitchen gadgets take 24 hours or more to dry out the meat, whereas the Big Chief Smoker will only take 6-8 hours.

First, in this article, we are going to talk about the Big Chief Smoker in detail. Then we will cover Three Ways of Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker. Along the way, we will give some tips and some recommended accessories. So, let’s get started!

Note: most links in this article are Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.

Big chief smoker
Big Chief smoker

What is a Big Chief Smoker?

A Big Chief Smoker comes in two styles, either a top-loading or side loading. The smoker is easy to use, with five-wire food racks, a drip pan, a heating element, and a pan that holds the wood chips.

The machine is electric, uses wood chips, and is only able to be used at one temperature, 165 degrees. Since it is only able to reach temperatures of 165 degrees, it means that it may take longer to smoke foods.

You can place the box over the smoker as an insulator to raise the temperature or buy a manufactured insulator blanket if you require a higher temperature. If you plan on cooking a chicken, a roast, or turkey pieces, you will need a higher temperature or a different smoker.

The Big Chief Smoker has its big strengths. This smoker can pump out more smoke than almost any smoker at such a low temperature. The resulting strength makes the Big Chief Smoker a perfect choice for smoking fish or jerky.

Finally, this smoker is beginner-friendly in price and ease of use. The Big Chief Smoker comes in at the low end in pricing, making it great for beginners. Using the smoker could not be easier, plug it in and fill it with wood chips.  

Click here to see our Review of The Big Chief Smoker

Getting started

Since the cooking process is the same, you will follow this method for every jerky recipe below. Before you start anything else, it is always a good idea to make sure all your smoker racks and accessories are clean and ready to use.

You can use many different cuts of meat, but we use top round or bottom round roast, the more fat content, the better. It is easier to cut the meat straight if you freeze it for about 30 minutes, this will firm the meat up so you can cut it straighter.

Some people will say you cut the meat with the grain, and others will say you cut against the grain, but we like the best of both worlds by cutting at a 45-degree angle from the grain with a slight slope. The result of cutting your meat this way is jerky that holds together and can still be torn apart.

cutting at a 45-degree angle from the grain
cutting at a 45-degree angle from the grain

We like to cut the meat just under a quarter-inch thick. The thinner the meat is, the less time it will need in the smoker. The shape is a personal preference and does not affect the smoking process. We tend to cut square pieces when using roast and strips when using steaks.

Product Tip:

Grill Mats
Grill Mats

Grill mats are a great way to smoke meats. They are easy to move, easy to clean, and they can be cut to fit any smoker or grill tray.

Click here to see the Grill Mats in (left)

Click here to see the Grill Mats in (right)


The process of curing is salting foods to remove moister through the process of osmosis. Curing your jerky will increase your shelf life from a few weeks in the refrigerator to six months. The primary downside to curing is the salt content, and you will taste the salt in cured foods. We always recommend adding smoking or cooking your meat after curing to ensure food safety.

If you are going to cure your meat, consider adding your flavoring at the same time by adding your salt to your marinade or rub.

Curing salt

If you plan on curing often and want to take your food safety to the next level curing salt is a must. Curing salts are dyed pink to keep people from accidentally consuming them because they contain sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. Both of these chemicals are great when you what to kill harmful bacteria but not so great for you to eat on your french fries.

Also known as Prague powder, curing salt comes in two formulas, #1 and #2. Formula #1 is for fast or wet cures and formula #2 is for slow dry cures, such as pepperonis, salamis, and some dry hung hams.

As for me I only have Prague powder #1 in my kitchen. To be honest I use more of it in my fishing bait cure and egg cure than I do in my jerky. I like the large plastic jar with the screw top lid for easy use, click here to see on

Check out our article Big Chief Smoker vs. Little Chief Smoker

Marinades and Rubs

The difference between marinades and rubs is simple, a marinade is wet, and a rub is dry. The results between the two are night and day, but making the two can be almost identical.

When you make a rub, you put your spices in a bowl, mix them up and rub them on your meat. If you add salt, you now have a flavored cure, look what I did there. Now add liquid to your rub, and you have a marinade. If you add salt, you have a curing brine, what.

When using a rub, the meat will smoke fast and can form a bark (crust). The cook time for a marinade can be double for most meats because your meats will start wet. You can reduce the time by letting it dry overnight on the racks in your refrigerator.

Additionally, a marinade can make your meat sticky but can be a great way to prepare an easy teriyaki jerky.


After you have prepared your meat for smoking, It is time to preheat your smoker with a quarter cup of wood chips in the pan. Load the trays of meat with the larger and thicker pieces near the top of the holder.

The smoking process should take about 6 hours. For the first four hours, keep the lid on to retain as much smoke and heat as possible. Plan on loading three pans of wood chips, one each hour.

When you are checking your jerky, if you think it might be done, then it is done. Allow the jerky to dry and cool completely on your kitchen counter before storing it in a Ziplock or vacuum seal bag in your refrigerator.

 Sweet and Hot Beef Jerky

This mixture of ingredients helps to elevate the flavors of this jerky. The recipe has been modeled after General Tso chicken style, so the flavors are powerful. The perfect combo of sweet and hot without being too hot or too sweet.


  • 3 pounds of top sirloin, cut into strips

For the dry rub:

  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. Salt(omit if cured)

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup Soy sauce
  • 1 cup Pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp. Liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce


Mix the meat with the marinade and place it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Season the meat strips with the dry rub and place it in the smoker. Smoke the jerky accordingly.

smoker racks with peppered and sweet n hot prepped
smoker racks with peppered and sweet n hot prepped

Peppered Steak Jerky

In this recipe, you are going to want to cure the meat before rubbing it down to create a base. Once the base is created, cover it in the wet drub and then coat with the dry rub. This recipe will create one of the best peppered jerkies you have ever had.


  • 1-pound top round or choice, cut into 1/8-inch strips

For the wet rub:

  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Soy sauce

For the dry rub:

  • 2 tbsp. Whole peppercorns freshly ground
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes(omit for mild)
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion powder
  • ¼ cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Salt(omit if cured)

Teriyaki Jerky

For this type of jerky, all you will need to do is marinate it overnight or for at least two days. The longer you marinate the beef, the stronger the flavor of teriyaki will be. Once you remove it from the marinade, pat the beef dry and smoke accordingly.


  • 2 pounds skirt steak or flank steak, cut into strips

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. Liquid smoke
  • 3 tbsp. Honey
  • ½ cup Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. Molasses
  • 1 tsp. Salt(omit if cured)
  • 1 tbsp. Black pepper

Final Thoughts

I hope our Three Ways of Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker help you to make great jerky at home. Keep in mind that you can always adjust these recipes to add your favorite spices.


Click here for our Review of The Little Chief Smoker

11 Big Chief Smoker Tips - Pioneer Smoke House - February 1, 2022

[…] suited for low and slow smoking at 160 to 170 degrees. This temperature range is best suited for jerky, sausage, and fatty […]

Everything You Need to Know About Smoked Deer Meat - Pioneer Smoke House - February 10, 2022

[…] is no more classic use for deer meat other than jerky. You can add any seasoning you like and in heavy amounts because of the strong, gamey flavor of […]

Big Chief Smoker Accessories and Must Have Add-Ons - Pioneer Smoke House - February 11, 2022

[…] simply making jerky or smoking a flavorful, 5-star restaurant-worthy fish, here’s what you’ll need to take your […]

Comments are closed