How To Make Beef Jerky

Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson September 20, 2016 12:38

How To Make Beef Jerky

Jerky is becoming increasingly popular in today’s market. Several years ago when people thought of jerky, the first thing that came to mind were the cheap packaged tubes of processed meat. They were fatty, salty, and low quality. Recently, jerky has been trending as a health food and is slowly getting rid of its bad reputation. It’s possible to find jerky of all types now; exotic ones such as alligator or ostrich, and even meatless types.

As with most health foods, beef jerky does not avoid the higher prices. Making it homemade keeps costs down without sacrificing quality. Also, despite popular belief that a dehydrator needs to be purchased, there is no need for fancy equipment—simply use an oven set at the lowest temperature and make delicious, beef jerky without spending health food store prices.

#1 Step

The first step to making homemade jerky is to mix together a marinade. There are many types of marinades that will work well, but this particular recipe is for honey teriyaki. Whisk together a half cup of soy sauce, a heaping tablespoon of honey, a half teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon or more of hot sauce, depending on level of spiciness desired. Unlike marinades used for grilling or baking, no oil is used—the addition fat makes it more difficult for the meat to dehydrate.1

#2 Step

Next, choose a one to two pound lean steak—sirloin, top round, eye round, or London broil will all work well. There should not be too much excess fat on these cuts of meat, but if there is any still visible be sure to trim it off. Then, slice against the grain (pictured) and make slices less than a quarter inch thick.2

#3 Step

Once all of the steak is sliced, place the marinade and the beef slices in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight.3

#4 Step

After the beef is done marinating, place on paper towels and dry off any excess moisture leftover. Discard any remaining marinade, then preheat the oven to the lowest possible temperature it can go. Make sure it is at least above 140°F in order to kill off any potential bacterial growth.


#5 Step

Meanwhile, remove one of the wire racks from the oven or use a metal cooling rack. If concerned about the beef sticking, it can be very lightly oiled. Then, evenly space out the strips of marinated beef onto the wires.5

#6 Step

When oven has heated, place the rack with the beef on one of the top spots. Then, place a baking sheet lined with foil on the rack below it to catch the drippings.6

#7 Step

Keep the oven door open an inch or two in order to help with heat circulation. Be sure to use something wooden or metal—plastic will melt! Allow beef to dehydrate anywhere from one to four hours, depending on the type of meat being used.7

#8 Step

Once beef has reached a dry and leathery texture, it is ready to be taken out of the oven, cooled and kept at room temperature, then enjoyed!8

Related: How To Make Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food

The honey teriyaki recipe featured is one of many possible flavors that can be made—simply choose any favorite marinade and omit the oil in order to make it into a jerky.

For a quick barbeque flavored jerky, simply marinade the meat in any barbeque sauce of choice.

Different types of protein can be used as well, including lean turkey breast.

If feeling adventurous, venison or bison meat will also make a great jerky.

In addition to being able to make different flavors that may not be found in a store, it’s also possible to choose to make lower sodium options. For example, a low-sodium soy sauce may be used if salt intake is a concern.

Beef Jerky can be stored or taken anywhere very easily, making it a perfect snack to travel with. High in protein, beef jerky is a delicious way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The best way to store it is in a vacuum sealed mylar bag, in a cool dark place like the pantry, away from the stove or other appliances and sunlight. For even longer storage you can freeze your beef, turkey or pork jerky until ready to use. And because of its up to 6 month shelf-life it can be a great survival food to at to your stockpiles.

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Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson September 20, 2016 12:38
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  1. Catryna September 21, 01:26

    Call this what you want, I have been making jerky for over 40 years and this is not how you make jerky or dried meat. 140 degrees? That is not drying, that is cooking. The only way to dry meats, fruit, vegetables, etc, properly, is in a dehydrator or in the heat of the sun. And not over 110-15 degrees.

    Reply to this comment
    • Rick September 21, 16:43

      Maybe that’s why they are saying to keep the over door open some to vent off the heat. I’m just sayin maybe?

      Reply to this comment
    • Hoss September 21, 17:18

      Thank you. I thought that was a little high.

      Reply to this comment
      • Govtgirl July 2, 08:54

        So glad to see this article. The price of store-bought jerky has gone out of sight so it’s time to make some again. I usually buy steak that has already been cut into very thin slices for fajitas, etc so just need to cut into strips. Use an old Waring dehydrator bought back in the day and put it on a stool out in the garage overnight and then some, usually takes about 16 hours. Have tried a lot of different marinades including various barbecue sauces. Many of the BBQ sauces are too thick and need watering down to be a great marinade, but have yet to hit on the perfect savory sweet sauce. Agree that fatty meats do not do well so leaner the better. And have never had to worry about how to keep it as it goes really fast. I like the 3 spice post as most of mine have been too duded up so will probably try that next then modify a little. Best of all, homemade jerky is SO forgiving. Yum.

        Reply to this comment
    • Gettin Old December 22, 03:17

      Admire your experience. Can pork loin be used for jerky? Or can it be smoked, for the long term. I’m new at this game; need all the help I can get. Also wondered how long in the Texas summer sun will it take to dry a rack of jerk.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Lucy April 7, 16:48

    What a well done article! Everything is so clear: What to use, how to use it, pictures are very clear (and worth a thousand words!) that show you how to make it! I’ve been wanting to make venison jerky for at least 10 years, but felt so uncertain, didn’t want to put all that labor into something and then have it be inedible for whatever reason, didn’t want so much salt, and really didn’t want to use the jerky marinade I had bought at the grocery store that is full of MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and a lot of intimidating-sounding chemicals, things I would normally never buy.

    I have a dehydrator, so I assume that will be just fine, and I could use that. My question is, how would it work in the convection oven? The first time I used it was Thanksgiving ten years back, and the 25 pound turkey was perfectly done after an hour and a half. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in two installments that year…

    So how long to dry it in the dehydrator?

    Reply to this comment
    • Older prepper April 10, 04:25

      Hi LUCY. I’ve been making beef jerky for a few years now too. I always use my dehydrator. I just dry it, till it is ‘DRY’.
      I normally put it on, late afternoon, after having soaked it in my marinade. Then I go to bed. The next morning, it is done. Probably a bit too dry, but, you would have to start very early in the day, and then be around about 10 hours to watch the beef jerky dry. It is important you do not leave on any fat, at all. I use London broil, that looks real lean. And, I only buy it when it is on sale. My grand son, just loves his grannie’s jerky! Last Easter, I gave him an Easter basket, toys, hardly any candy, and a stash of beef jerky. He looked through all the stuff, then asked. “Grannie did you pack me some beef jerky?” He was not concerned about the toys or the candy,,he wanted his BEEF JERKY! Yes, I packed some, but his dad normally eats his son’s stash.
      My daughter does not really cook and will give him,nuts, yogurt to appease his hunger. The boy wants MEAT! This he can keep in his pocket, and munch, when he feels like it.
      He is 7 now. They keep growing up. ♥
      Oh, I have no recipe. I put in some red wine, soy, ginger, garlic, a bit of red flakes, some brown sugar. Sometimes, I take out the bigger slabs of meat and make me a rice bowl with cooked, london broil. DO NOT USE YOUR CONVECTION OVEN. SLOW DRYING IS THE KEY.

      Reply to this comment
      • Curious Georgina July 27, 18:10

        Has anyone tried using beef heart?

        Reply to this comment
        • Govtgirl July 27, 19:20

          No, but that is a great idea. Very familiar with it as used to feed it to our beloved golden retriever Ronald and ate many a piece while cutting it up. Wonderful smooth texture, slices great and good price. As an organ meat It is awfully rich, but then we’re talking about jerky here, not kale chips. If you try it, let us know how it comes out.

          Reply to this comment
  3. Gettin Old December 22, 03:09

    SERIOUS QUESTION: Can pork loin be used for jerky? Or can it be smoked, for the long term.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bluebird May 8, 08:24

      I had read an article not to long ago and it was about make jurkey. It said that you can use any type of meat. Just make sure it reaches the temperture it needs to be! Good luck!

      Reply to this comment
  4. Dove September 20, 20:10

    I have made beef jerky by placing it right on a non-stick, foil lined cookie sheet. Yes, at the low temperature with oven door slightly ajar. Takes several hours depending on how thick the slices are. Drain off any drippings; and pat them to remove excess moisture. Better than any purchased, bagged, in stores!

    Reply to this comment
  5. emmer September 21, 01:12

    may i suggest using cake cooling racks to put the jerky on rather than oven racks, as these cooling racks have smaller spaces between metal wires.
    also, cooking at 140 degrees produces a product safe to keep for months–in part because it renders the fat, which might otherwise get rancid. 140 is considered high enough to kill most microbes
    . if you really like jerky, and whenever you make it, it disappears fast, you may not need to think about that.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Midwest transplant October 30, 13:24

    I’ve made my jerky from vension that has been ground add what ever ingredients you like ( nothing is lost as all of the liquid is absorbed} then let it set in the refrigerator as long as you like remove then I use some 1/4 shims place some waxed paper on a cutting board then I roll it out to a uniform thickness and place in my dehydrator,I’m constantly moving the trays around to ensure that the meat is dried.The only problem is it doesn’t last long.By the way I cut the raw jerky into strips before dehydrating

    Reply to this comment
  7. Digger October 8, 01:04

    Came across a old miner in his cabin in alaska he had a whole caribou jerked and hung over a lot of string across the ceiling all he used was SALT PEPPER GARLIC POWDER cut up a big bowl of meat strips add plenty of the 3 spices stir and knead it all good and hang..fairbanks has near 0 humidity summer or winter..over nite the meats at the nibble it stage . 24 hours you start eating it 48hr its done. a week its hard..ive done this a lot . its great..all dry cheap prepper spices..tryed this in the Philippine its so humid the meat turned blue. dogs got it..this way no liquids no electric no ageing no soaking no stove(if no humidity)

    Reply to this comment
  8. KE July 28, 14:46

    I used this recipe with some modifications. Instead of putting the strips of steak I ended up using a large round pizza pan with holes in it. My strips were short and fell off the rack. My husband said I wouldn’t need to keep the oven door open bc a newer oven circulates and vents the air inside. It turned out wonderful!!!
    We vacuum sealed it and can store it for 6+ mos in the freezer. Perhaps dehydration will preserve it longer?
    But, for us, for now, this recipe was quick and easy.
    Thank you!!

    Reply to this comment
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