How Long Does Deer Jerky Last?

It might not be the hunting season yet, but you are craving a protein-rich snack. You could run to the store and buy some jerky. But are you wondering how long deer jerky lasts and if it freezes well? We've inquired from experts, and they gave us informative answers.

Homemade deer jerky could last from a few weeks to a year, depending on how you keep it. Commercially processed jerky could stay longer if unopened. But it's better to eat jerky before its sell-by date.

If you are intrigued and curious, keep reading to find out why there are different time frames for deer or venison jerky.

Portion of spices beef jerky pieces isolated on a white background - How Long Does Deer Jerky Last

The Shelf Life Of Deer & Venison Jerky

How Long Does Deer Jerky Last

Hunters and deer meat lovers love well-seasoned and fresh jerky at any time. But for the jerky to taste well, you need to store it properly.

You'll realize that jerky doesn't always need to be refrigerated. However, it does has a shelf-life.


The best part about homemade deer or venison jerky is that you can make it with an array of spices that you prefer. But storage matters if you want to enjoy it at a later date.

When you place the jerky in Ziplock bags and put it in your pantry, it will last for a week. In the fridge, it will last a bit longer, two weeks.

To make it last as long as six months, you should store it in an air-tight container in the fridge once you have made it.

Commercially Made

Store-bought deer or venison jerky has a sell-by date. However, this doesn't mean it's spoiled if consumed after the indicated date.

Consume store-bought jerky within six months to enjoy its flavor and premium texture. When you open commercially sealed jerky, eat it within a week.

Both homemade and store-bought deer or venison jerky can last up to a year in the freezer.

Portion of spices beef jerky pieces isolated on a white background

Storage Tips For Deer Jerky

After going to a lot of trouble to prepare the best deer or venison jerky, you need to store it well and enjoy it longer. The storage should be void of oxygen to prolong the jerky's shelf-life. Use these simple but effective storage tips to store the jerky well:

  1. Use good quality air-tight containers to prevent your jerky from getting freezer burn.
  2. Blot out any excess oil on the jerky before storage.
  3. Wrap it using heavy-duty freezer-safe bags.
  4. You could purchase a vacuum sealer and vacuum package your homemade deer or venison jerky.
  5. Let your jerky cool completely before you pop it in any bags to avoid condensation and moisture collecting in the bags.

Check out this vacuum sealer on Amazon.

Ensure that you have been handling the deer or venison jerky with clean hands. All surfaces and containers that come in contact with the jerky should always be sterile.

Best Packaging For Homemade Jerky

Packaging helps get more life out of foods, and jerky is no exception. The exact containers and packs will give you different time frames for your jerky.

The more moisture you extract from your jerky, the better that is because mold won't grow on it when it's stored.

Use a Mylar bag, mason jar, or a stand-up pouch for short-term storage. Add desiccants to the moisture out of non-hermetical storage. You will get one to three months of properly stored deer or venison jerky.

Vacuum sealed bags and air-tight food-safe containers are other effective storage alternatives. Add an oxygen absorber to preserve your jerky for up to 12 months. The jerky will remain soft and moist but won't go bad.

Have a look at these oxygen absorbers on Amazon.

You could, of course, use Ziploc lock bags. Wrap the jerky with butcher paper, aluminum foil, or wax paper before putting it in the Ziploc bag.

Your jerky will stay fresh for a week in the pantry or for two weeks in the fridge. Remember to mark your containers and packages.

Other Factors That Make Jerky Last Longer

The deer or venison meat for jerky should be high quality. Whether store-bought or game meat, ensure that you make jerky from meat that's:

  • Cured- Bacteria stays clear of cured meat. Therefore use sodium nitrite, celery powder, or Prague powder. However, you don't have to cure the jerky if you aren't planning on keeping it for long.
  • Dried- Ensure that the jerky is thoroughly dry before you refrigerate it. Leave it out in a cool dark place away from sunlight for two days, then freeze it.
  • Lean meat- You don't want any fat on your meat. Fat makes the meat go rancid fast. The lean meat is the best because fat never dries completely.

Adequately prepared and stored deer and venison jerky can last for a long time!

How To Make Deer Jerky

Mixing a batch of meat marinading for jerky.

Each cook always has their recipe which they swear by. The same goes for jerky makers. The spices may differ depending on whether you like your jerky more tangy or salty.

Some prefer making their jerky using traditional ovens, while others prefer modern dehydrators. Whichever the case may be, the basic steps are standard:

  1. Start by preparing the meat and then slicing it into 1/8 inch slices. Freeze or partially freeze the meat to make it firm when cutting.
  2. Prepare the marinade according to taste. Put it in a glass container or Ziploc bag.
  3. Place the meat in the marinade and leave it overnight for the best results.
  4. Heat the oven or start the dehydrator to the desired temperature (recommended temperature is 275 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the slices in the oven or dehydrator for three to five hours. Most experts advise preparing deer jerky at an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Check on the jerky from time to time, and remove ready slices.

Here is a short video on how to make some delicious deer jerky:

Which Cut Of Venison Makes The Best Jerky?

Deer meat is very subtle, and most of it is ideal for jerky. Jerky meat should always have less muscle to reduce the chewiness.

The best part of game meat for jerky is the rump roast and the eye round, the muscle fibers parallel to the meat.

Cut neither too thin nor too thick slices for the jerky. Meat experts advise cutting 1/8 inch thick slices. Freeze the meat partially to get the uniform slices if you aren't an expert.

deer jerky

The Best Wood Chips For Smoking Venison Jerky

Dried deer meat. Thin planks with curled edges, shaped like a pyramid, and a plume of smoke emanating upward from the pieces in the form of flames, isolated on a black background vertically.

Wood experts will tell you that when you smoke meats, the scent from the wood adds to the flavor. The type of wood chips that you use could make your jerky have either intense or subtle flavor.

Mesquite gives an intense and stronger flavor. Pick apple and cedar wood chips for a much sweeter-tasting jerky. Oak, pecan, and hickory wood pellets give the jerky a subtle taste without overpowering the marinade flavors.

Here are a variety of wood chips on Amazon.

The Best Temperature For Smoking Deer Jerky

Smoke your meat at the right temperature for the best results. Experts say you get the best results when the smoker stays between 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alternative Drying Methods

Closeup of dried spiced deer jerky slices on a dehydrator.

If you don't own a smoker, you could use the oven or a dehydrator. Set the oven temperature to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for at least six hours. The oven door should stay open a few inches.

A dehydrator gives wonderful results if you don't own a smoker.

Check out this dehydrator on Amazon.

First, simmer the meat at 160 degrees Fahrenheit then lower the temperature to 140 degrees to completely dry the strips. The process could take five to six hours.

Does Frozen Jerky Taste Different?

Freezing foods can alter taste and texture ever so slightly. The longer your jerky stays in the freezer, the more it changes the taste. If you eat your jerky slowly, make small batches to avoid storing it for long periods.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Jerky?

Jerky is packed with protein, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. It also has vitamin B12 and manganese. Deer jerky is an ideal and convenient snack for anyone on the go.

Can You Eat Deer Or Venison Jerky While Pregnant?

Doctors caution pregnant women about consuming jerky. Although jerky is somewhat prepared, it isn't cooked meat in the real sense. It is just dried meat. Therefore, eating dried meat could compromise the baby's safety during pregnancy.

Moreover, the immune system of the mother is compromised during pregnancy.

It might be a tasty snack packed with vitamins and protein, but it could harbor E. coli. The bacteria might be in small doses but very dangerous for the unborn fetus.

The Bottomline

Deer jerky can stay for a week to a year. Use airtight containers and store them in a cool dark place. Freeze your jerky to get a longer lifespan.

Prepare the deer or venison jerky on sterile and clean surfaces. Handle your food with clean hands or gloves at all times. You could try making jerky from chicken or turkey!

Before you go, check out these other posts:

How To Put Dry Chicken Or Meat [Inc. Without Paper Towels]

How Long Does Cayenne Pepper Last [With Tips On Proper Storage!]

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