Beef Jerky on Oil Drum BBQ Smoker

The oil drum bbq smoker has surprising benefits when you prefer to cook your food in it

Choose the vertical oil drum bbq smoker if you want to cook the perfect beef jerky. The secret to making great beef jerky on an oil drum bbq smoker is to start with a small, controlled fire, because slow burn makes the best smoked meats. Normally the beef jerky will be ready roughly around 2-3 hours under optimal conditions, meaning, you add charcoal as needed in order to keep the fire at the right size and temperature. If it got too big or too hot, then you’ll burn the meat and get a bad taste. It isn’t like cooking on a teppanyaki grill at your house where you can move your meat around your plate a lot.

oil drum bbq


2 lbs beef
1 tsp agave syrup
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp course ground pepper
4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup Tamari
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Additional Materials:

Wood for smoking
12 skewers

You’d need to marinate the meat for at least 8 hours to get the best flavor desired, but just to be sure do through the whole night. The meat will be suspended on metal skewers over the oil drum bbq grill so that it will only be smoked by the heat that the fuel chamber creates and not be placed directly on the fire itself. After an hour and a half the meat is transferred onto the grates to let the fats and water evaporate completely from them.

Chop the fresh garlic and combine it with the ingredients for the marinade and use an immersion blender or a stick blender to mix them thoroughly. Then slice the beef into a quarter of its original length and remove all the fat. Cut it further into smaller pieces roughly 5 x 4 inches in size, then put the ingredients of the marinade into a large (1 gallon size) zip lock bag and add the slices of meat and leave it in the refrigerator all night.

After removing from the fridge:
Slide the meat into the skewers and secure them tightly as you will be hanging these from the oil drum bbq grill first before you’ll place them horizontally on the grates later. Give enough room to separate each meat slice by at least half an inch between them and about 4 inches at the edges of the skewers. Now for the charcoal fuel on the oil drum bbq smoker don’t fill up the fuel chamber, instead only fill charcoal up to ½ or ¾ of the way. Rake the charcoal to one side of the fuel chamber leaving the other side almost empty and then hang your skewers on the rods suspending your jerky above the unlit/indirect side of the charcoal. You can add wood chips or pellets to the ember to enhance the fire and smoke.

The best thing about the beef jerky smoked in an oil drum bbq grill is that a few pounds of beef will last for a long time if you keep it refrigerated

Allow the beef jerky to be smoked for 1 and ½ – 2 hours with the lid closed while you observe it regularly to avoid any mishaps. Rotate the skewers from the grates every 10 minutes so they don’t overcook. Once the flames diminishes roughly 20-30% of their normal size, then add charcoal briquettes to keep the flames burning to the intended amount without letting burn too hot or too big.

oil drum bbq

After 2 hours or so, you may notice some jerky have cooked pretty well while others may still have wet spots or have not yet fully dehydrated from the heat. What you’ll need to do this time is to remove the meat from the skewers and the rods where they hang from and replace it with the grill grates. Lay the undehydrated jerky on the grates to smoke it further until it dries up. This should take about 30 minutes and once they’re dry and well cooked, then you may serve them.

Store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness- the jerky will last a few weeks. Enjoy!

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