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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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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.
Maybe that’s why they are saying to keep the over door open some to vent off the heat. I’m just sayin maybe?
Thank you. I thought that was a little high.
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.
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.
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?
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.
GOOD LUCK, AND GO BY YOUR INSTINCTS.
Has anyone tried using beef heart?
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.
SERIOUS QUESTION: Can pork loin be used for jerky? Or can it be smoked, for the long term.
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!
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!
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.
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
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)
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.
The way I made a very good Jerky is by using my Barbque grill.
I marinaded the meat using the following recipe.
I used Dry Italian dressing with some, garlic, hot pepper(went light on this), black pepper and salt to taste and added vegetable oil. I marinaded it overnite. It had a small bite to it when eat.
I made half beef and half deer jerky that time put on seperate places on the grill. My grill was 55 gal drum made into a grill.
I cut the meat into about 1/4 thick inch strips.
I setup my grill and grilled steaks then let the coal burn down to where the temp was not cooking the meat probably around 150 degrees. Then I put the meat on spread out and let it stay on grill untill grill got cold. When I took up the jerky it was completely dired out.
My family loved it but my two daughters and wife would not eat the deer jerky which was fine with me left me a lot of jerky 😁 so we marked it what is was. After a few weeks of it being moved around to get what kind they wanted the markings wore off. Now I could easily tell which was which by looking at the meat. but they could not. One day I came in and my daughters was eating jerky and I noticed it was deer jerky. I asked them how they liked the jerky and they said great. So I told them it was deer jerky they were eating and showed them the difference. A couple weeks later there was no jerky left.
Since then my old grill has bit the dirt 😂 so now I use a smoker, and I have used just the oven a time or two. I do not think which every method of drying it out matters as much as the marinade and the thickness of the cut. Thicker it is the longer it take to make.