When making homemade jerky it is really important to follow strict food safety precautions to prevent any foodborne illnesses. The most common bacteria growths in poorly made jerky are Salmonella and E. Coli. These can be deadly, making food safety extremely important when making jerky.
By following these steps, you will prevent bacteria growth and have plenty of safe jerky for everyone to enjoy!
How to make safe jerky
1. Clean your kitchen, utensils, bowls, and all other equipment with water and bleach. Also wash your hands with soap before handling any raw meat.
2. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature to prevent bacteria growth. I see many people put meat on the counter and leave it for hours. This is NOT safe and should NOT be done. Leave yourself ample time to thaw your meat in the refrigerator.
3. Marinate the meat at a temperature between 36-40°F (2°C-4°C). Do not marinate at room temperature. Keep meat in the fridge while you mix your marinade together. Bacteria can grow fast on raw meat left out at room temperature. After marinating, do not save and re-use a marinade.
4. At the beginning of dehydrating, heat the jerky to 160°F (71°C) to kill dangerous bacteria. For jerky to be safe, it should be heated to 160°F for beef and 165°F for turkey or chicken jerky BEFORE you dry your strips.
Heating the jerky after dehydrating might not kill all bacteria due to it becoming more heat resistant during the drying process. This is why bringing your jerky to 160ºF at the start of your jerky making process is recommended by the USDA.
If you have a dehydrator that will heat jerky to this temperature, you can bypass this initial heating stage. See my page on Dehydrator Reviews for more information.
If your dehydrator does not heat the jerky to 160°F, pre-heat the meat in an oven after it has finished marinating. As an extra precaution; I ALWAYS pre-heat any turkey or chicken jerky I make, as well as use curing salt, to make sure it is safe to eat. I like being as safe as possible when using fowl.
Pre-heat ¼″ slices of beef to 160°F, it takes about 10 minutes in a 300°F (149°C) oven. To pre-heat ¼″ slices of turkey to 165°F, about 8 minutes at 300°F (149°C) does the job. Not all oven are the same, so wrapping one strip around an oven thermometer while baking is the best way to determine when the jerky strips reach the desired temperature.
5. Use curing salt to help prevent bacteria from growing. In this age where the craze is only eating Organic Foods, curing salt might not be in your recipes. While I do understand the 'staying away from preservatives', be extra careful when not using them when making jerky!
When the right amount of curing salt is used, there are no harmful effects that many believe come from using these salts. If you decide not to use curing salts, make sure that you follow the other safety precautions closely. Especially heating the meat to 160ºF to kill any bacteria and eat the jerky within a couple of days.
With that said, I DO recommend using cure when making ground meat jerky because the meat has been handled and processed making it more susceptible to having bacteria. I also recommend using curing salt when making turkey or chicken jerky due to salmonella.
Better to be safe than sorry! So in short… No jerky recipe NEEDS cure as long as beef is heated to 160°F and fowl to 165°F. But it is another line of defense to kill bacteria and allows your jerky to last longer.
6. Store jerky in a cool dry place for up to a week or vacuum seal and freeze for up to 6 months.
That's it folks! Making jerky is both fun and VERY rewarding. Just make sure to keep in mind these tips on how to keep you and your loved ones safe when making and eating homemade jerky.
For more information, visit the USDA Webpage on Jerky and Food Safety.
flash gordon, m.d. says
i was recently given good sized batch of "no preservative" pork jerky. it recommends eating it within 3 days of opening. i realize i could heat it to >160 in the oven and then keep in the fridge, but if you've had experience with any other ways to extend its life after the fact.
i'd also like to know if you've tired epsilon-polylysine, a natural preservative in making jerky.
thanks in advance!
More than likely the pork jerky is preserved naturally from salt and celery juice powder. This acts just like curing salt. Anytime you buy “uncured or natural” jerky (or bacon), it’s normally followed by an * stating celery as the preservative.
Almost all jerky you buy recommends to eat it within 3 days of opening. The best way to extend that is keeping it in the fridge. If you bought a big bag of jerky, you can vacuum seal some and keep in fridge as well for a month or so.
All commercial jerky is required to be heated to 160F, so no need to reheat it.
I have not used epsilon-polylysine before. But will definitely be checking into it. Thanks for the heads up.
Hello, if I decide to forgo curing salt for chicken jerky, but I heat it to 165 degrees like you say and store it vacuum seal in refrigerator, could I get 2 weeks of shelf life out of it?
Thanks for the recipes!
Hey Jake! If you vacuum seal and keep in fridge, I would expect it to stay good between 1-2 weeks. It’s hard to say, because I always use curing salt when making chicken or turkey jerky.
Hi. I’m enjoying your website! Another question about safety. I make jerky at least yearly at Christmas. This year, I used ¼ slices top round, I did a pre-heat in approx. 300 degree oven for maybe 10 min. Then reduced the oven to about 140 degrees and finished the process. It did seem to change the texture somewhat, and I’ve read your comments where you’ve seen that too. I also read comments about using a post-heat cycle but not quite as effective from a safety standpoint. Question - does a “post heat cycle” tend to change the texture similar to a pre heat cycle? My jerky is usually eaten within a couple days!
The post heat treatment will not change the texture as much as the preheat. Sounds like a great holiday tradition!
When using curing salt #1 should you cut back on other salts like soy sauce?
It is such a small amount, it should not make that much of a difference leaving the other salt ingredients as is. If you use 1/4 tsp of curing salt, you can reduce other salt by 1/4tsp if you like. You do not have to do this though.
How much curing salt for 5lbs of meet (beef)
Check the package of your curing salt, but normally it is 1tsp per 5lbs of meat.
What do you mean by "eat the jerky within a couple of days" if not using curing salt? Is there ANY way to keep it longer safely - say two weeks or so - maybe in the fridge? I just made a batch of venison jerky and, well, forgot to put the curing salt in the marinade.
What did people do with dried meats before curing salts and refrigerators?
Keeping in the fridge will definitely prolong the life of the jerky. If not in the fridge, leave it out of the sun in a dry dark place like a cabinet. Check out my page on Storing Beef Jerky for more information. They use to dry the hell out of it getting out almost all of the moisture. Extremely tough jerky, but will last longer without curing salt.
Micah Mravik says
When using curing salt, do you put that in the marinade, or do you just sprinkle that on dry? I'm looking forward to making my first batch using 1.5 lb of top round in my new Nesco dehydrator and I want it to have a nice pink color and that distinct jerky taste.
Hey Micah! Yes, you put the curing salt in the marinade. It should give it that redish color and jerky flavor. Let me know how your jerky turns out!
Micah Mravik says
It was delicious! One more question, I've made two batches, one where I was in a hurry and put the jerky right from the dehydrator into the fridge in a Tupperware container, and one where I let it cool for half an hour before storing it. Honestly, I liked the moisture that came with letting it cool in the fridge, if I use the proper amount of curing salt, is this safe? If it was vacuum sealed like this would it have a shelf life without needing refrigeration even if there is still some moisture in it? Thanks Will!
You really don't want to have that moisture in it when you vacuum seal it. It will shorten the life of the jerky and create conditions for mold growth. If using curing salt it will help it last longer with the moisture, but I am not sure for how long. If you vacuum seal, you do not need to refrigerate. Just make sure to leave it out of the sun and in a cool dark place.
Made some goose jerky. Cured/marinated it for 24 hours with kosher and sea salts. Soy sauce and stuff. Threw it in my electric smoker which only reaches about 130-140°f for 7 hours. Its dry, snappy. Tastes good. Didn't make me feel bad. But I'm worried about it still (first time jerky maker). Does the kosher salt/sea salt cure prevent bacteria growth enough for it to be safe when dried? Or should I make another batch and precook the meat.
To be 100% sure it's safe, it's best to either pre-heat the meat or post-heat the jerky to an internal temp of 165F for goose. If you pre-heat, it will change the texture of the jerky, so keep that in mind.
Bill Stockton says
Hi Will. Can the meat be put in a micro to kill the bacteria as apposed to the oven. I never use my oven and when I do it sets off my smoke detector. What about a toster oven? I'm going to try soy sauce, duck sauce and hot mustard for one batch.
Hi Will, I want to make biltong and have read that I must freeze the meat for at least two weeks before dehydrating. Heating beforehand seems much easier and quicker, and my dehydrator can heat to 70'C.
Can I please confirm, do I leave it at that high temperature for the entire period of dehydrating, or just say for the first couple hours? When you say "preheat" it just sounds like getting it up to that temperature briefly but is unclear how much time it must spend at that temp to completely and reliably denature the pathogens.
Huge thanks! 🙂
Nice! When preheating the meat just needs to reach 160F and it is safe. No need to maintain that heat for any amount of time.
Hello, I bought some pork loin that i intend to thinly slice, marinade with curing salts, and dehydrate. I was wondering if that would be enough to keep my family safe or is there additional steps I should take.
That should be enough, just make sure to heat to 160f when dehydrating and it should turn out safe and tasty!
Hey there, I’m using curing salt for my beef jerky. I mixed it with gloves by hand then then put it into a ziplock bag and put in the fridge.
When I pull it out to put the meat into my marinade, should I rinse it off first or just put the meat into the marinade?? I’m thinking I shouldn’t rinse it, but just wanted to make sure.
I'm not entirely following what you are doing here. Are you putting the sliced beef in a bag with the cure for a while and then putting into the marinade? You can just put the curing salt into the marinade and then place the sliced beef into the marinade for 6-24 hours. Then pull out of marinade and dehydrate. You do not need to cure the meat separately before marinating.
If you have already cured the meat separately; don't rinse it and simply put it into the marinade for 6-24 hours. Everything will turn out just fine, but from now on just cure the meat and marinate at the same time, it's easier. Hope that helps Cody! Let me know how your jerky turns out!
I want to share my jerky with my pet, is curing salt safe for dogs?
Jerky with all the spices and salt is not the best for dogs. A little jerky every once in a while is okay, but if you want it as a regular treat for them, try making our Dog Jerky. It's made out of ground meat and has dog healthy seasonings.
Is it ok to use sugar substitutes instead of real sugar? I’m trying to stay low carb
Yeah, that should be fine.
Melissa McCalip says
I use ground beef to make my jerky and I use pre-packaged seasoning that comes with a packet of cure. My question is about what happens to my jerky AFTER I dry it ..... I put some in a sandwich bag to eat during the week and I use vacuum sealed bags to store the rest. The batch that we eat during the first week tastes fine, but when we pull some out of the sealed bag for the next week it tastes saltier and sometimes looks like it has a fine white powder on it. Each time we take more out it is even saltier. Is there a way to keep this from happening?
Hey Melissa! That is the salt and sugar coming to the surface of the meat. The seasonings must have a lot of salt and sugar in them, sounds like salt since it gets saltier with time. There really isn't anything you can do to prevent it, other than lessen the amount of salt or sugar. Depending on the company that makes the seasoning, the cure might be different. If it's 6% sodium nitrite, the packet would be 1 tsp per 5lbs of meat. If there is more in the cure packet than 1tsp for 5lbs of meat, then they have changed the ratio of table salt to nitrite. So.... If the packet is more than 1tsp per 5lbs, you can buy sodium nitrite online and use your own cure packet. This will cut down on salt. If there isn't more than 1tsp per 5lbs of meat, try a different brand. We at Jerkyholic are going to be selling seasoning packets here in the next month or so, April 2021, so give us a try! I'm smoking and dehydrating the final test sample right now!
Kevin Bond says
Is it safe to just dehydrate 1/8” slices at 165 for two hours?
I would assume that would heat the jerky to 160F internal being that they are sliced so thin. I am not sure as to whether the jerky will be finished drying though. Might take 3+ hours to dehydrate.
Donald Moore says
Thanks for the response. So the ideal temperature should be 160 while dehydrating the meat?
The meat doesn't need to be 160F the whole time it is drying, it just needs to reach 160F to kill any potential bacteria. It is best if it reaches 160F towards the beginning of drying, first 2 hours or so, and then the dehydrator/oven/smoker temperature can be turned down for the remainder of the drying. Just maintain an internal temperature of at least 145F for the remainder of the drying.
Donald Moore says
With curing salt #1 how long should I expect the jerky to last at room temperature or refrigeration ? Will the length be the same for preheating the jerky before dehydrating? Do you recommend using vacuum sealed bags for longer storage?
Curing salt will make it last longer than pre heating alone. Check out my page Last.
Donald Moore says
Will, I read the thread just need clarification. If using Curing salt #1 in my recipe do I still need to preheat the meat to 160 degrees (275 for 10 minutes). Or is it one or the other?
I do not pre-heat when I use curing salt. I do make sure the jerky reaches 160f while dehydrating though.
Question. I make my jerky from venison . The meat is ground then stored in the freezer at -0° for three months before I turn it into jerky. I am told that three months in the freezer at -0° kills any bacteria or parasites. I don’t want to use preservatives, you say ground meat shouldn’t be turned into jerky without preservatives. What is your opinion because I’m leaving it in the freezer for three months should it be safe or not.
Freezing wild game does help kill any bacteria that is specific to some wild game. This is a good practice to freeze the meat for several months. However, during the processing, slicing, marinating, and handling of the meat before it hoes in the dehydrator, there is a chance that new bacteria can be introduced. That’s why I still recommend using cute when making ground jerky.
Jim Bob says
What's the difference between table salt and curing salt?
Table salt is just salt. Curing salt is made up of about 94% salt and 6% sodium nitrite and colored red (in the USA, might be white in Canada). Curing salt will give the jerky that classic jerky flavor, a more red color, and prevent the growth of bacteria which will also prolong the shelf life of the finished jerky.
Joseph wheeler says
Thank you for this article. I have one question regarding curing salt. If I precook chicken before dehydrating, and I plan on making enough to last a week, therefore either freezing or refrigerating finished product, do I need to use curing salt?
You do not HAVE to use curing salt. The jerky will last a week without going bad without curing salt. I like to use it as an extra step for safety, but if pre-heating the meat first killing off bacteria, the jerky will be safe.
This is my first time working with curing salts. I will follow the instructions (1tsp per 5lbs of ground turkey), but it still makes me nervous using the salt as I’ve read that too much can cause health Toxicity issues. Should I be concerned about this?
My plan is to use a dry rub to season the meat and then add a little bit of marinade as well. I was going to put the curing salt into the marinade to ensure that it covers the meat more effectively.
My main concern is that I may accidentally add to much curing salt.
You don't need to worry about it if you use the recommended about as you mentioned, 1tsp per 5lbs of meat. Mixing it into the marinade and then into the meat is the correct way to add it as it is incorporated into the meat better. You are doing everything right!
Devin Carpentier says
So I am new to this jerky making, I get that I need to marinade and then heat meat in the oven until it reaches 160 for beef. However, if I wanted to dehydrate the meat in the oven as well, can I just leave the meat in the oven turning oven temp to the lowest setting? Thanks in advance.
Yep, you can do the initial pre-heat and then turn the oven down to the lowest setting to finish it off.
Hi! I have the Nesco American Harvest FD-61. The dial goes up to 160 degrees and I just temped the empty dehydrator- it gets to right bout 170 degrees.
Does this mean I can use the dehydrator alone for making pork jerky? Or do I still need to cook it in the oven before/after dehydrating?
It should be enough to get the pork up to temperature. If you have a small thermometer, try to check the internal temperature of the pork jerky and make sure it is 160F. Using curing salt would be a good idea to make sure the jerky is safe as well. However, you should be good to go though without pre or post heating.
James Zielinski says
I NEED TO KNOW IF MY MARINATE JERKY RECIPE CALLS FOR A TEASPOON OF REGULAR SALT DO I ADD THE REGULAR SALT PLUS THE CURING SALT TOO OR JUST THE CURING SALT?? THX
If it is one of my recipes, add the curing salt plus the amount of regular salt the recipe calls for.
Phillip Davis says
I've tried this recipe a couple of times with ground deer meat. Using an Air Fryer Toaster oven combo with dehydrate function, it comes out too dry. I am dehydrating at 160F. First batch was done for three hours and hard as a rock. Second batch done for 1.5 hours and still dry. Any tips? I used your Original Ground Beef jerky recipe. Thanks
I have never used an Air Fryer Toaster oven combo before and would think that is what is making the jerky dry. Have you tried another recipe to see if it does the same thing to another recipe? I have NEVER had jerky finished in 1.5 hours. That is extremely fast to make jerky dry or even close to being finished at all.
When you're about to dehydrate things like beef for jerky or chicken breast for doggy jerky you don't want to completely thaw your meat. A semi-frozen breast or cut of meat will slice so much easier and uniformly without slipping or sliding. Keep it safe and in the fridge for thawing but don't wait too long.
Laurie L says
I love your site, which I just found this last week. I have a question about using curing salt (#1). Does this add a salty taste? Yes, I know it's salt. Do you just add to the recipes, or must you make a brine and pre-soak the strips? If so, how long? And what about using it with ground meats? Sorry, but I am new to jerky making and have autoimmune issues, so I don't want to mess this up.
Thanks for all your time and trouble and for sharing all your knowledge.
It will not make it any more salty than adding the same amount of table salt because as you mentioned, it's about 93% regular salt. It will give the meat that red color and that distinct 'jerky' flavor. I add the curing salt with all the other ingredients making a marinade/brine and soak the meat for 6-24 hours. Curing salt #1 is fact acting unlike curing salt #2 which is used in bacon and breakfast sausage. If making a ground jerky recipe that does not have any liquid ingredients, mix the curing salt with 1-2 tbsp of water and then massage into the meat with the other ingredients. You want to dissolve the salt in some liquid so it's incorporated fully throughout the meat. Thanks for stopping by and let me know how your jerky turns out!
Trisha P says
I make chicken jerky for my dog and wanted to mail some to my son but need to get the facts straight on safety before i do so. I marinade the chicken in the fridge and then dry it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 3 hours. The slices are approx 1/4". For my dog, i let it cool then put in a ziplock bag in the fridge. My question is, cooking the jerky at this temp for this period of time and then vacuum sealing it, is that enough to not have to refrigerate it ? After vacuum sealing i wanted to then mail some to my son but do not want to kill him.
Thank you for all of the great jerky making tips.
If you are going to mail it, maybe do beef jerky. When making turkey or chicken, marinade it like usual but also add curing salt. Then before drying it on 200F in the oven, increase that temperature to around 300F and basically cook the meat to an internal temperature of 165F, then lower the oven temp and dehydrate. This will change the consistency of the jerky by pre-heating it. This will however make it safe and kill any potential bacteria. The curing salt will also help it last longer when vacuum sealed. Hope that helps Trisha.
This is the 3rd time I’ve posted my question and it shows up on your site but disappears after several days, unanswered. To keep from typing a bunch of kudos since this will also probably disappear without an answer, I’ll only ask my question: Do I simply add the Prague Powder #1 to the other ingredients in the marinade for whole muscle jerky and to the other ingredients for ground beef jerky?
I just answered your question a second ago Bob, (going through all my unseen comments) sorry again about the delay. It shows up for a little while and goes away because every comment requires me to approve it in order for it to stay on the site permanently. Sometimes people on here can be very rude and mean to other people on here, me as well sometimes. I try to keep it as friendly as possible by personally seeing and approving every comment. I'll answer your question again however on this thread/page. Since most whole muscle recipes have liquid ingredients, simply add it to the jerky recipe ingredients. The liquid will dissolve it and allow it to coat all of the meat. For ground jerky that does not have ANY liquid ingredients, first dissolve the curing salt in 1 tbsp of water and then add it to the rest of the ingredients. Thanks again for coming by!
I'm new to your site and fairly new to making jerky. You've got a great site full of great information and advice. After reading through the questions, most deal with using curing salt and the 160 degree bacteria kill point. So does my question... When using the cure #1 salt, do I simply add it to the other dry ingredients for whole meat marinade and the flavor mixture for ground beef jerky? You also did a great job of clarifying how to check for doneness. In the past, I've dried my jerky so that it's hard to tell the difference between jerky and my dog's rawhide chews. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, experience and recipes.
I am making jerky for my dog and don’t want to use any salt will it be ok to bring it up to 160 for 6 hours for him and if so how long will it keep in the fridge thanks rick.
Salt is definitely a huge part of why jerky will last such a long time. If you are going to just cook/dry the meat, I would say make small batches that will only last a week or so. Storing in airtight containers will also help it last longer.
Hey Will, absolutely love this site and your amazing recipes. I literally make jerky all the time now for friends and family, I give all the credit to you and this amazing site. Quick question, I have had an awful time with my Weston jerky slicer. Sometimes it works great and sometimes it’s just awful. I was looking into and electric slicer. Do you have any to recommend? Thanks so much.
Glad you have been making some great jerky Derrick! I do not have an electric slicer and have heard of many problems with them slicing raw meat. So I don't have any to recommend, sorry. I have had my Weston slicer give me some problems before, but I have found it's normally because the metal guides that hang down inside the slicer go down too far. If you pull those up a little bit while slicing the meat you will find it works better. If that's the problem you are also having...
Danielle Goldberg says
Hi Will, I love the site. I’m looking for a little clarification on your recommended drying time for chicken breast. I follow your instruction and cooked the chicken in the oven at 300 for 10mins. However, I’m unclear how long to dry for after than when using chicken and not beef. I did also use curing salt to be on the safe side as I’m not using a high salt marinade.
Hey Danielle! You really have to go on how it feels and when it reaches the consistency that you like. I would start with around 3 hours and then take a piece out of the dehydrator, let it cool for 5 minutes or so, and test it. Does is feel dried? Bend and crack? That will tell you it's finished. If not, put it back in the dehydrator for another 30 minutes to an hour and test again.
Steve Hubler says
I use ground beef to make my jerky. I use a spice and cure mixture. I have never preheated it to 160. If I did preheat it, would it not start to cook it and wouldn't it be more difficult to use with a jerky gun? Would it also affect my cooking time I'm used to?
The pre-heat step is AFTER you load the jerky gun and shoot your strips. Pre-heat before you start drying. It might shorten your drying time, so check the meat earlier than you normally do. I start checking after 3 hours.
How can i do this naturally?
and can i use pepper instead of salt?
The salt helps preserve the meat. You can make jerky without salt, but it won't last as long. You can also use celery juice powder if you want to preserve the meat but use natural ingredients.
I have been making jerky for 10 years, using lean beef &/or venison. I have never heated it to 160 (which is basically cooking it), nor have I ever used curing salt, which is the crap that is linked to cancer and is largely what makes commercial cured meat so unhealthy. Salt in adequate proportions is a sufficient preservative as is drying. I have never had a batch spoil, nor have we ever gotten ill. It's not a question of mere economy for most of us, considering the cost of our labor far exceeds the savings of making our own. Nor is it the "organic" aspect, since I've never used organic beef (too expensive), at least for me. It's simply the best quality, meat the way I want it, cheaper (if I ignore labor costs) and most importantly for me, absent saltpeter, Prague powder, nitrates, phosphates, etc. Why would I go to all that trouble just to replicate the stuff I can buy in the store? I am not wigged out using raw meat, but then again, I have been known to stand at the counter eating chunks of raw steak with garlic salt, pre-Mad Cow days, of course. Ignorance was bliss, I guess.
Larry Bradshaw says
Thank you Will !
Larry Bradshaw says
Great web site!
After reading most of your info, I am still confused regarding prague powder. If using a dry rub how do you use the cure?
Dilute the prague powder in 1-2 tbsp of cold water and rub over the meat.
Josh Fowler says
I am interested in buying the 8 rack harvest fiesta dehydrator available on amazon due to its stainless Steel racks and lack of plastic on the inside . It also gets up to 175 degree and has a internal real time temperature readout . 5 year warranty , 800 watts and 99 hour timer were all great features too . Of course priced at almost 600 bucks you would expect nice features however there is no reviews on amazon . Do you have any experience with this dehydrator or company ? If I set it at 170-175 how long would I need to leave it at that temp to kill bacteria . Will it affect the taste /texture If i leave it at that 170-175 temp the whole dehydration time ? Is it better for flavor / texture to oven cook to a internal temp of 165 and then dehydrate at a bit lower like 155 or so ? Your thoughts ? I had a plastic dehydrator about 20 years ago but I want to start making jerky just spent 4 hours researching dehydrators talk about a rabbit hole ...
I have not used that dehydrator, $600 is a lot! How long to leave it at 175F depends on how thick you slice your jerky strips. When first using that dehydrator you should use a thermometer that is wrapped by a thin piece of jerky to see how long it takes for it to reach 165F. I would assume it would take about 2.5 hours to reach an internal temp of 160F if the strips are 1/4" thick. Once it reaches that internal temperature, you can turn it down to 145F to finish it off. I think lowering the temperature helps keep the jerky less brittle. There are a lot of dehydrators on the market, definitely can go down the rabbit hole researching them! Haha.
Justin Anderson says
So I have been making my own beef jerky for a few years, with my own marinade of 3 cups teriyaki sauce, 1/4 soy sauce, and 1 cup brown sugar (sometimes I add 1/4 cup worsesterchire sauce) for 4-5lbs of meat. Should I be using salt or curing salt? I have no idea if my meat is reaching the right temp other than I bought a Nesco FD-80 square dehydrator based on your review of the round one being #1.
Granted no one that has eaten my jerky has been ill from it so I never thought about it until I just read this page. The only problem I have with my jerky is my damn teeth hate my guts.
The teriyaki and soy sauce will have a lot of salt in them already, so adding more might not be necessary. Curing salt is always good to add to help eliminate any potential sickness from bacteria. I have not used the square dehydrator, so I would recommend slicing a really thin piece of meat and folding it over a thermometer. This way you will know how long it takes for the meat to reach 160F, or if it does at all. It's always good to be safe, especially when sharing jerky with others. My teeth feel like they are going to fall out of my mouth sometimes, I feel your pain. LOL.
Hi Will - great site! If I preheat my beef jerky in the oven to 160, should I still dehydrate it in the NESCO at 160 or can I do a lower/slower temp? Thanks!
Hey Jonathan! If you pre-heat the meat you can dry it at 145F instead of 160F.
Thanks, Will. Looks like it's done! Thanks for the hand-holding!
Ok, brought beef strips to 160, used cure, now dehydrating at 145 as you suggested. Only been in dehydrator for 2 hours and it looks done. Is that long enough?
If you pre-heated in the oven and are now dehydrating, it is very possible for it to be done after 2 hours. Pull a piece out, let it cool, and bend it. It should bend and crack but not break in half. You should also be able to see white fibers. It might be done and ready to eat!
Glad I found your site, thank you for all the great info! New at making beef jerky, using Nesco Gardenmaster and the Nesco seasoning/cure packet to start. Super afraid of making anyone sick so I will marinate my London broil beef strips overnight then bring to 160 in oven at 300 degrees. Should I then dehydrate at 160, or at a lower temp? Thanks!
You can lower it down and dehydrate at 145F if you pre-heat the meat. Let me know how your jerky turns out, and when you get comfortable be sure to check out the recipes on the site!
Thanks! I will definitely use your recipes!
Hi Will. I'm new to making jerky and your site has been really helpful. About how much curing salt do you use per pound of beef?
Make sure to check your curing salt label, but it is mostly 1tsp per 5lbs of meat. Thanks for checking out the site Annie!
Ken Colley says
Any thoughts on using a sous vide to heat the beef up past 160?
I have never tried it or even thought about it. I think it might be a great way of heating the meat to 160F and keeping the moisture in the meat to then dehydrate without worry of over drying. I'm going to buy one and give it a try. Great thinking Ken! Thanks for the heads up...
I just made my first batches of jerky today with 4 of your recipes and the Nesco snackmaster I bought a meat thermometer but it never got higher than 120. It looks to me like its done (7 hours) because it doesn't bend easily and cracks when I bend it. It seems to me that because the meat was so thin, there was not alot of room to stick the probe thingy into to get a read. How do I know it's safe? Other than eating it..haha. Just ate some...feel ok so far! Any tips of getting a proper read with the probe on thin slices? I took the piece out of the hydrator then stuck the probe in. Is that right? Help! Thank you!
Hi again Will! Don't worry about answering my last question. I think it answers itself. I dont think It got to 160. I popped my loads in the oven after 7 hours in the snackmaster, at 275F for 10 minutes and got them up to 160. At a few pieces prior and not sick yet! The Nesco only registers 145 at the most when I have the thermometer right inside without the meat. I think I will just pre cook in oven next time, each time, just to be safe. Your recipes turned out awesome! I l think my fav is the Jamaican Jerk! So good! Thank you so much for all your knowledge! Happy holidays!
No problem Melody. To answer your question though, a great way to test the internal temperature of those thin pieces is wrap a piece of meat around the thermometer and then put it in the dehydrator. I use one of those thermometers where the probe is separate from the thermometer, you can check it out here on amazon.
Thanks Will! Yes I bought one where the probe is separate. Still only registers 145 inside my Nesco snackmaster I just bought off Amazon. A little disappointing that it doesn't reach 160 for the jerky as that's what I bought it for after reading your guide. I guess I will just have to put it in the oven either before or after drying. Made 7 pounds of it over the weekend with your recipes, brought it to work for the guys (as I am still unclear on how to store it and how long it will last..reading many different things, and knew I would not eat 7 pounds worth in a week by myself! LOL) and it was gone in about oh...30 minutes?! Needless to say...your recipes rock! Thanks again so much..I can't wait to try your other recipes! 🙂
I had another reader mention about a month ago that their snackmaster didn't reach 160F either. Nesco reached out to me and are going to send me their new Snackmaster (digital model) when it comes out to test. I will test that to make sure it reaches 160F. Did you just lay the probe inside the dehydrator? If so, I don't think it will reach 160F that way. Try it again with either a piece of meat wrapped around it or have it laying in a shallow dish of water. You have to be careful bringing jerky to work Melody, you will become VERY popular and will now get asked constantly to bring more... Ha.
Will, I love visiting the site for info. Can you clarify for me preheating to 160. I’m doing thin ground beef strips and can’t get a temp read on something that thin (1/8). How do I know when I reach temp of 160?
It can be hard Matt. I would take some extra ground meat and put a thin layer around a thermometer. With 1/8", it can't take long at all. That's really thin and hard to measure. I wish I had a better answer for you.
How about using apple cider vinegar at 50% solution, with chopped garlic, soy, Himalayan pink salt, raw sugar as the curing base and skipping oven pre-heat?
I have done this for beef, with a vacuum seal marinade container for years with no issues. Marinade 12-24 hours. Interested in your feedback.
When using a cure the jerky is pretty much going to be safe. However, the USDA always recommends heating beef to 160F. If I am using one of my dehydrators that I know heats the meat to 160F, I skip the pre-heat in the oven. I wish I could tell you that using vinegar and salt is foolproof, but lab tests have shown that some bacteria can still survive.
Great site Will thanks for putting all this info together, What I was wondering if there is a time frame to get the strips of meat to IT of 160 degrees if my dehydrator heats to 160 degrees and the meat takes 1 hour or longer to get to 160 IT is it still safe. I have seen this 160 degree IT on a lot of web sites but never a time frame to reach it.
Hey Randy! That is a great question. As you mentioned, I do not have a specific time frame either as to when the jerky should reach that internal temperature. I try to get the meat there within a couple of hours and have never had a problem.
Mt Mama says
I love your website! I look forward to reading all of it.
I am new to making jerky. I have my first batch in the dehydrator right now! I have a few questions:
1. I live at 9000 ft in Colorado. Are there any special considerations in making jerky at this altitude?
2. My dehydrator's top temp is 165F. Is that better/worse than 160 as a starting temp?
3. Your thoughts on celery powder as a curing agent. I've been dehydrating lots of celery for winter soups (and emergency prep).
Hey Mt. Mama! Thanks for the kind words! I live just outside Denver, about 5,500ft or so and haven't seen anything different in making jerky. The dehydrator going to 165F is a good thing, put it at the 165F while drying the jerky. When it comes to the celery powder vs. regular cure, I am currently running an experiment on which works better. Made some jerky with each and seeing which one lasts longer. To my knowledge though, it is celery juice powder, not just celery powder that makes it a curing agent. I bought some online and it came as a hard paste (it will do this if kept in hot weather when shipping), much different than celery powder. I would look into it a little more if you are making your own. I will post on the site which one works best when I am done running my tests!
Mt Mama says
I wasn't aware that it is celery "juice" powder. I could make that myself too. But straight celery juice would be much easier and probably work just as well if not better (I would think). I'll do some research.
I will be VERY interested in your experiment with it.
BTW, you have some awesome recipe ideas! Thanks for those!
Thanks for all the info will. Very helpful.
Just to make sure I have understood correctly... When making BEEF jerky...
So because my dehydrator does go to 160*, I don't need to heat it in the oven before or after? and I don't need to use curing salt?
I was thinking about using the curing salt to make it last longer, but I'd rather not use the oven, because I like my jerky more tender.?.
Any advice is appreciated. Thanks
I have tested my dehydrators and know that they heat the jerky to 160f and therefore do not preheat my beef. I do like to use curing salt to help last longer but make about half without it. the USDA recommends preheating in the oven all the time to ensure minimal possibility of bacteria, but it’s up to you.
Hey Will, I enjoyed reading through this page and it's comments. Like a few other people here, I am looking to make jerky into a business venture. The out-dated fda guideline about air dehydrators only reaching 140-150 complicates the process. I am currently using an air dehydrator that can reach up to 165 degrees (confirmed with a thermometer through the top during operation). Can I consider this to be safe method of heating to kill bacteria? I also intend to vacuum seal it with anti air/moisture packets.
The real question is what the FDA considers safe I suppose. Boiling and cooking the meat prior to dehydration changes the flavor and texture of the meat. But is it necessary if you dehydrate it for some time at 165 degrees? Lets say 4 hours @165 and 4 hours @150 (If it helps for visuals).
I do not make jerky commercially, but know that the FDA regulations require the jerky to reach 160F. I am not sure if there is a time frame on how fast the jerky needs to reach that temperature. You need to contact a food inspector on what the regulations are for the FDA when making jerky. I am sure you will also need an FDA inspected kitchen as well (probably will not be able to use your own kitchen). I have had this question several times. I will also try to contact the FDA and see what all the regulations are. If I find something out I will put up a post about it on the site. Good Luck!!!
Hey Will, since last here I sent an email to a few of the wrong people but eventually got to the right place. I got an extended email back with many good links for small plant jerky production which I probably cant post here?
The email started like this:
"USDA-FSIS regulations are based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) (9 CFR 417). Under HACCP, federal establishments producing meat and poultry products have a great deal of leeway to innovate and design production procedures as long as they are scientifically supported and documented."
Basically this is saying that if you can scientifically prove that your method is safe then you can use it. I was unable to find any actual scientific research on air dehydrating, bacteria inoculated meat under conditions of 160+ degrees. The risk with the process is that the moisture on the outside of the meat absorbs most of the dry heat in the air, therefore the internal temperature does not reach your dehydrators temperature until hours afterwards. This allows the bacteria to build up a heat resistant layer... (think of an egg and when heat is applied, the coating strengthens).
I was able to find many research articles on additives that you can add to your marinade to help kill bacteria. If anyone wants to start climbing down that rabbit hole, you can look up how biltong is made and start pondering the safety of that process. (Brine,vinegar, and days at room temperature)
It is still possible that a 160+ degree dehydrator can kill these bacteria despite the heat resistance... 160 degrees is a safe temperature that all bacteria is meant to have died. They begin dying off before this temperature. More scientific research is required if air dehydration only is going to be considered commercially safe.
For enthusiasts, just know that there is a small risk that making jerky using only your air dehydrator will make someone sick (temp 130-165). It is a very small risk that is dependent upon your meat source (cow&butcher), the cleanliness of your process, and freshness of your meat. Until some research is released on the viability of air dehydrators on killing salmonella, and e-coli; it cannot be considered a safe cooking method.
I hope this information helps all parties interested in jerky, be business or not. Hopefully it spurs some college student to do their capstone research project on it. 🙂
Hey will crazy about your site!!! youve so helpfull, i was wondering, sometimes the inside of my jerky will be a bit on the pink side while the outside will be perfectly done. my question is, is that safe as long as it reaches an internal temp of 160
Thanks! As long as the internal temperature reaches 160F it should be good to go.
I just found this website after I made a bunch of ground beef/ ground lamb jerky. I used the Nesco and had at 160 from start to finish. It was in there for at least 12 hours. I did not use a cure, but added the following to the meat prior to dehydration: various herbs/spices, tamari, Real Salt, and ume plum vinegar (very salty). I didn’t use the cure packet that came with the Nesco because I thought nitrates we’re bad. I wish I read this post sooner! I didn’t know what I was doing, but then got nervous about food safety and started googling. From what I’ve read on your site it sounds like it should be okay to eat even though I didn’t use the cure, is that correct? I might be paranoid, but Im supposed to go camping tomorrow and was planning to take the jerky and I definitely don’t want to get sick on the trip. Thanks for your help and your website!!!
I try to always use cure when making ground jerky just because it has more of a possibility of bacteria surviving. I have made ground jerky without pre-heating and have been fine. The Nesco does a good job at getting it to 160F in a couple of hours as well. I have never made lamb jerky and am not sure whether it would be okay though. The ground beef will probably be okay, but it's up to you on whether you want to take the risk....
So, for the sake of clarity, heating to 160 should be done after marinating? Also, if you use the oven should the temp be right at 160 (beef) or slightly higher, and how long would you need to heat the meat? No site I’ve seen seems to answer that. Thanks!
Read section 4 above, it has all of that information. Yes, heat in the oven after it has finished marinating and right before you are ready to dry it. (I updated #4 to include the bit about heating after marinating. Thanks for the heads up on needing a little more information there)
Brian Q says
Hello will I was wondering if you can marinate ground beef in a liquid then dry it in a dehydrator? Thank you!
You can add a little bit of wet marinade to ground jerky and dry it, but I would not recommend placing a pound of meat in a 1/2 gallon of marinade and then try to dry it. Check out my page on making ground jerky.
Have you ever cooked the meat and then dehydrated? If so, does it taste a lot different? How’s the texture?
Yes. Heating the jerky to 160F in the oven is cooking it before drying it. The taste is the same and as long as you don't over cook the jerky, the texture is about the same. Cooking is a great way to kill bacteria and keeping the jerky safe.
My recipe did not call for curing salt? I just happen to get on your site and seen the importance of adding it? The deer meat has been marinating for about 2 days already? Can I add the salt to it now? Or should I add it? Your site has been very helpfull. Never knew the proper way of stroing the jerky either. Thanks
I might be a little late answering your question, but yes you can add the curing salt now and mix the jerky well in the bag. However, you do not NEED curing salt when making jerky. It will help kill bacteria and make the jerky last longer, but is not needed. If you do not use cure, make sure that the jerky is pre-heated to 160F to kill any bacteria.
If using curing salt, do I need to bring the temp to 160? Also, is there any benefit in dehydrating at a lower temp for longer times?
Curing salt will greatly decrease any chances of bacteria even if you do not bring the temp to 160F. With that said, I still recommend bringing the temp to 160F to make sure the jerky is safe to eat. I've had food poisoning once (not from jerky) and don't want to relive that.... If you are dehydrating for long times (+6 hours) having a lower temp can help prevent the outside of the jerky from becoming brittle. A lot of times I will lower the temp to 145F after it has reached 160F, but most of my jerky only takes 4 hours to be finished so it doesn't make too much of a difference.
Having had e.coli before- always leads me to rinsing. I immediately pat the meat dry with paper towels; mix the marinade, slice, and soak in brine refrigerated overnight. My oven automatically shuts off if the temperature gets under 170- so guess I don't have to worry about not getting heat up to 160........ 😉
I still feel better even if it cooks dry; racks are hot when I handle them or the
meat. Rinsing in vinegar sounds like a winner.
Hi Will, greetings from Austin! thanks so much for putting your jerky knowledge out there for all of us...I'm just getting started (Masterbuilt smoker for Christmas) and follwing your advice for 300 degrees/10 minutes ended up with a cookie sheet full of liquid. didnt think anything of it, but then the jerky had almost no flavor. it was just a dry rub experiment, and I'm guessing it all got left in the pan with the juices. any thoughts on a work around for this?
I would buy some cooling racks (cookie cooling racks) and place the jerky on that on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. It might take a little longer for the jerky to reach 160F, but all the juice and water will drip below and the jerky won't be sitting in it. Also, when using a dry rub it tends to take more because the seasoning is only on the outside and doesn't soak into the meat like a wet marinade does.
good idea, thanks!
Cindy Bowman says
Ant tips on heating ground jerky strips before dehydrating? Is it the same oven method as traditional jerky?
It's the same as traditional jerky.
What is your opinion of smoking the meat at 165-180 degrees without heating the meat to 160 degrees first? What is the minimum time the internal temp must reach 160 degrees? Thanks
Great question Kenny. In all the research and reading that I have done, a time is never specified. It is only said "towards the beginning of drying". I like to get it to 160F within about 2 hours of starting drying. The sooner the better though....
Thanks for the article! The package on the curing salt says "mix with cold water," but doesn't specify the amount of water. What do you recommend?
You only need enough water for the salt to dissolve and will be able to mix easily into ground meat, 1-2 tbsp or so. If you are using cure in a marinade that has liquid ingredients, you don't have to put it in water first. Simply add it to the liquid marinade.
I am using ground beef. I made first batch with season and cure pack from nesco dehydrator first time. The next time I used 1 pound chuck hamburger meat, 1 teas onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tbls mesquite smoke ,1 tbls mandarin terraki saucse and 3 teaspoons of just kosher salt . salt doesnt say cureing salt on it . All i did was mix all ingredients and put in dehydrator at 160 and 12 hrs . I did no preheat because its hamburger and will put it jerkey gun... any info if this will work
It will come out just fine. The Nesco dehydrator is pretty good at getting it to 160F pretty quick though. If not using curing salt I do like to pre-heat it to make sure and kill any bacteria. Shoot the strips on a cooling rack and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300F and then transfer to dehydrator. You can also turn the heat down in the oven, open the door, and finish it off that way.
What is the correct way to preheat the meat in oven, after marinating then transfer to dehydrator or before marinating? Should it be placed on racks or on a cooking sheet in the oven?
When I pre-heat in the oven, I do it after it has finished marinating and use racks to keep it off an oven pan. Once it's finished pre-heating, put it straight in the dehydrator or lower the temp on the oven and prop the door open!
I use the dehydrator and plugged it in at 6:45 am and my son in a hurry unplugged it early at 10:30 am and left the meat in a zip lock on the counter. It will be sitting over 24 hours there. Is it going to be trash or can I put it back in dehydrator to finish the job ?
It should be fine. After 3+ hours it should have reached 160f. Just keep drying to your liking.
brian masden says
Im getting a white fuzzy mold on my jerky after about three weeks. Is there any other preservative i can use to prevent that? And whats causing that?
I would check out my page on Storing Beef Jerky. It will answer your questions.
Hi Will. Based on your review, and a few others, I purchased the Nesco 75A for dehydrating jerky and other assorted items. I have made 2 batches of ground beef jerky at this point but I have not been able to get the jerky to 160 in the dehydrator. Both batches were dehydrated for at least 8 hours (which was probably much too long) to try and reach the 160 threshold. I was only able to get the temp of the jerky to 145. I was curious how you measured the temps in the dehydrators you tested? I used a Thermoworks Thermapen and measures the internal temp of the jerky and I also stuck the probe in the vent hole on the bottom of the unit and let it sit for several minutes. Neither temp went above 145. Could my unit be defective? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Hey Jon. I think it's great that you are double checking your unit. The way that I checked can be seen on my dehydrator review page. I too ran the wire through the bottom vent hole and put the probe of my polder thermometer in the middle of a folded over 1/4" piece of beef. Another way to test would be to put the thermometer in shallow bowl of water inside the dehydrator. It took about 3 hours for my test strip of jerky to reach 160F. I would assume your ground jerky would have reached 160F even faster than a whole muscle piece of jerky. I would make sure not to make the strips too thick, about 1/4" is just right. If the unit still cannot reach the 160F mark, I would contact Nesco and try to get a new unit.
When heating the beef to 160(oven temp 300) for 10 minutes does the beef need to lay flat on a baking sheet or can it be hung from the racks like it is during the drying process?
You can heat it while it is hanging, but it might take longer than 10 minutes. I have found that when I use a rack (meat off of the baking tray), it takes longer to heat. I would give it a couple extra minutes to make sure. Using a thermometer would be the best, that way you know when it reaches the 160F.
Do you cure the meat with Prague before or after marinating (I usually use worcester, soy, peppers, those sorts of things), or just put it in with your marinade? Thanks! I have been making homemade jerky that tastes great but am having some trouble with storing it, so want to try curing.
Just add the Prague Powder along with your other ingredients of your marinade before adding the meat. The curing salt will definitely help make your jerky last longer!
Luis Vazquez says
what would be the amount of curing for 2 lbs?
Always check the cure that you are using for directions, but it is normally 1 tsp per 5lbs of meat. So just under `1/2 tsp for 2lbs of meat.
Will, thanks for the informative site and the reviews of the dehydrators. In my research now, I see that Nesco has an updated model: Nesco FD-77DT Digital Food Dehydrator which now has both the timer and on/off switch.
According to their spec sheet, the FD-77DT model retains the capability to reach the over 160F temps eliminating the need for pre-treating the meats.
Just curious about your thoughts on this updated unit, thanks.
Hey James, I have not used the 77DT Nesco model before so can't give you a first hand account on it. I did notice that it only comes with 4 trays instead of the 5 with the the 75A. It also has 500 watts instead of the 600 watt fan on the 75A. However, it does have the timer. The 4 trays would allow you to make about 2lbs pre weight of jerky meat. You can always buy more trays though. It looks like the 75A is a better deal, you just don't have the luxury of a timer. If you do decide to go with 77DT, please let me know how you like it!
Could Morton's tender Quick be used for curing in a dehydrator?
You can use Morton tender quick, but it requires more than the Prague powder, so be careful with the saltiness. It will had a lot of salt flavor.
Hi Will I have a quick question about heating the jerky up to 160 F in the oven before transferring to the dehydrator....if I'm using a wet marinade and leave overnight...before I pre heat in oven do i pat dry the meat before putting in the oven to remove extra moisture or after removing from the oven and transferring to my dehydrator ..ty so much...trying this tomorrow morning
Hey Kay! You can pat them dry after you put them in the oven. I have found that 12-15 minutes at 300F will bring the strips up to 160F.
James Smith says
4th point is considerable. I never followed such safety tips but always worried about bacteria. Thanks Will for providing these safety tips.
No problem man.
Hi Will, Thank you very much, your web is very helpful for making beef jerky well. i have some questions
1. If i produce commercial jerky, what regulation stand for How about USDA
2. If i use table salt and vacuum bag for commercial, how long can i keep the jerky safer.
thanks a lot.
Hey Bob! I don't make commercial jerky and you would have to get all the regulations from the USDA. I would assume they would require that the jerky is heated to 160F, use a licensed inspected kitchen (can't use your home kitchen), certified beef.... I am sure there are A LOT of regulations. As per the table salt and vacuum bag, you see many jerky manufacturers NOT using curing salt and still having their product last a while. However, they use celery powder/celery seed instead which has nitrites just like curing salt. So if you are not using curing salt, I would assume celery powder/seed would be an important ingredient to extend the lifespan of the jerky. I just don't know how much celery to add as an equivalent to curing salt. Vacuum packing will definitely help, or a packaging that is flushed with nitrogen to expel all oxygen from the package. Oxygen absorbers also help. I hope that helps a little, but you are probably going to have to do a lot of research on commercial jerky making.
I've read that the amount of nitrates in celery varies considerably and one is safer using Pink Salt/Prague Salt where the amount of nitrate is standardized.
I have been using an air fryer... what are your thoughts on this?
I figured I would respond to this comment separate from your other comment. I have never used an air fryer nor have I heard of anyone making jerky in one. Have you been making jerky this way? Does it turn out pretty good?
If making the jerky in an oven should I add a pan of water in the oven? I don't have a dehydrator and want to be safe and end up with a good product. Thank you
If you marinate your jerky in a "wet" marinade and not a dry rub, you do NOT have to put a pan in the oven. If you used a dry rub, it's good to put a pan of water in the bottom for the first 1.5hrs.
Thank you much! My first time making it and I don't want to get anyone sick. Your page is very helpful. I feel like I sliced my pieces to thick. I am going on 4.5 hours and they are just now starting to shrink up.
Hey Will. I just started making jerky a week or so ago. Im a little confused as to the best way to ensure my jerky is safe. I heated my first 2 batches in the oven after drying at 275 F. I've heard conflicting opinions about that method. I just tried boiling my jerky in its marinade, but that just seemed like it cooked it too much. We'll see how it turns out. I have the same Nesco dehydrator that you have, and it heats to 160, but I've read that the meat needs to be 160 BEFORE it starts drying. Idk, Im just a little confused on the whole subject. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Hey Jonathan, welcome to the jerky world! You want to heat your jerky to 160F at the beginning of the drying process, not after. The Nesco will heat the meat to 160F, but does take a while. If you are not using a cure, I would heat the jerky in the oven at 275F for 10 minutes (or until the meat reaches 160F), then dehydrate in the nesco.
I have one quick question do you after its finished in the dehydrator to you put yours in the oven afterwards for about ten minutes, thank,
No I do not. I make sure that the strips are either heated in the oven BEFORE drying or that my dehydrator heats my jerky to 160F towards the beginning of the drying process. You want to heat the jerky to an internal temp of 160F at the beginning, not after your jerky is finished.
I followed your instructions for chili lime jerky in the oven, but it took 2 hours for my test strip to reach 160 degrees. Will this batch be safe to eat? At this point it has been in with oven set at 175 degrees for 3 1/2 hours and seems about to the right dryness, but I am concerned about the safety. This is my first attempt at making jerky. It will be eaten within a week and I could refrigerate it if that would help. Thank you for any guidance you can give.
It should be good to eat. Keeping it in the fridge will definitely help keep the jerky safer and for longer. Enjoy!
Barbeque Jim says
if you guys love jerky try my recipe you will love it.one bottle of teriki sauce purple top lachoy 1 cup honey 1 cup br sugar 7 garlic cut up 1 tb red pepper flakes 1/4 c water tsp cure per 5 lbs meat.heat it just a little to thin out the honey pour it over your meat rest in fridge 2-3 days.pull let rest on racks until glazed over in smoker 130 2 hrs 150 2 hrs 170 until it hits 152 or you can go to 160 again if you want I stop at 152 never got sick because of the cure.enjoy my friends.before you put your meat into the marinade take a taste it will open your eyes its the best
Barbeque Jim says
iv maid a lot of jerky but this time I forgot the cure #1 damit.i have 3 3# batches of deer jerky 1''x1'' can I just heat it in its marinade on med heat until it hits 160 then put it in the smoker with no smoke at 145-170 and be safe to eat.thanks.some people say not to use the old marinade make new but can I just heat the old that I made it with.need to know soon thanks.
You can use the marinade it's been marinating in, no need to make a new marinade. I would go ahead and heat it; but make sure the jerky strips internally reach 160F, not just the marinade itself. So the marinade will be hotter than 160F. Many meat and jerky books recommend bringing the marinade to a boil. Hope that helps and I hope it turns out great! I'm about to process a deer I harvested a couple days ago. Can't wait to make some deer jerky!
If I'm not keeping the jerky around for long can I skip using a cure? The batches I've made so far haven't lasted more than three days due to being eaten or thrown out because I managed to shoe-leather it. I'm still very new at this.
Any comments on using a 'wet' marinade. I made some teriyaki jerky using World Harbors marinade overnight and it came out great.
You can see my take on using cure under . The jerky will get better the more you make it! Almost all of my recipes are "Wet" marinades, just pat dry before dehydrating.
Love the site and am excited to try some of the recipes I see. I have the presto basic dehydrator... the one that the review says does not get it to the 160 degree temp. My question is about using the oven to kill the bacteria before the dehydrator. I believe I place the jerky on a cookie sheet and put in oven. My oven only goes down to 170 so how long should I leave it in the oven just to kill the bacteria before putting it in the dehydrator? Thank you
Hey Eric! If you are only going to use the oven to do the initial heating phase, turn the heat up. I would put it at 300F for about 10 minutes. To make sure they get to an internal temp of 160F, wrap one strip around an oven safe thermostat and pull them out when it reaches 160F. Like I said, 10 minutes should do it. After they reach 160F, pull them out and put them in the dehydrator to dry them.
You replied to me with this same response on the recipe page and asked that I follow up on the results. So I am doing so here instead.
Well, I was able to get my hands on some cure so I skipped the 300F for 10 minutes step. Sorry, but I endorse your advice on min temp for safety and intended to follow until got the cure salt.
The problem came from when I added 1 tsp of cure to the ziplock with liquid and spices. I sprinkled it in and I had 2-3 lbs of deer STEAK. It came out safe but very salty, but yet edible. Ideally with a cold drink.
Lesson gleaned: Know your cure to meat ratio or risk serious salt. I think i used 5lb recipe amount for 2-3lbs.
next up here: Deer Roast cut jerky. Thinking nuggets. Your Maple Syrup recipe is calling to me.
My name is Neil and I'm a jerkyholic.
tom brady says
Will, is it recommended to either precook (boil for 5 minutes in the marinate) prior to putting in the dehydrator or heat after for 10 minutes in the oven? Is that what I am reading in step #4 above? Just trying to get it rights as this is the first time making jerky
If your dehydrator recommends those steps, I would follow them. I would however boil in the marinade or heat in the oven BEFORE dehydrating. Heating after the drying stage is shown to not be nearly as effective in killing bacteria as preheating. You can't be too careful when making jerky and reaching an internal temp of 160F at the beginning of the drying process is one of the most important.
Hi Will. I made Jerky in my dehydrator for the first time today using one of your recipes, and it tasted fantastic. I put it the finished jerky in a ziplock bag and kept it on the counter, as my family and I plan on consuming all of it within a few days. I noticed after a few hours condensation was forming on the inside of the ziplock bag. I dehydrated for 4.5 hours at 160F, so not sure where the moisture is coming from.
Hey Rob, thanks for stopping by! So, reasons condensation could happen would be storing in the ziplock bag very soon after finishing dehydrating. Make sure to leave the jerky out at room temperature for a couple hours before storing in a ziplock to allow the jerky to cool to room temperature. If you did allow it to cool and condensation still formed on the inside of a ziplock bag, it means you need to dry the jerky a little longer. Also make sure to keep the bag of jerky out of direct sunlight; either store in your fridge or a cabinet. Drying times vary due to several factors and 4.5 hours could have just not been long enough for your batch of jerky. When in doubt, keep drying for another 30 minutes and check it again. Glad you are enjoying the recipes!
Sebastian Leon says
I am making jerky since a while ago. First I heat the beef strips at internal temperature of 160º F in my kitchen oven with a pan of water to keep the relative humidity up to 90%, and then I put them in my Excalibur Dehydrator at 150º F between 4 and 5 hours.
My question is, if I use a Smoker (Masterbuilt), how can I preheat the meat with 90% of Relative Humidity? I could put a pan of water as well but, what about the drying procces? I am a little confused. I really need some help.
By the way, I am from Peru and I'm thinking of make it commercial.
You can still heat in your oven first and then smoke the jerky. The jerky will dry in a smoker if you leave the vents open and allow air to flow through the smoker. This page goes in more detail about making beef jerky with a dehydrator. How to Make Beef Jerky in a Smoker.
Sebastian Leon says
Awesome, thank you very much.
That's exactly what I'm gonna do with my new Masterbuild.
So, you say not to put water in the pan when making jerky. And what about that USDA step when they say to heat the meat at 160ºF with 90% of relative humidity? I am confused.
And, can I use the Masterbuild Smoker indoor with an air extractor? That is because I'm setting a small plant to make jerky indoors.
If the jerky has been marinated in a wet marinade, you will have plenty of humidity if heating the jerky to 160F in the smoker. When I make jerky in my smoker, the strips of jerky will be "sweating" out a lot of liquid when first heating to 160F. The inside of the smoker will have water droplets on the walls and door (plenty humid enough). After that first heating, I open the wood tray on the bottom slightly and the vent fully on top which then allows the humidity to escape the smoker and the jerky to dry. As for setting one up indoors with an air extractor, I have no idea. I have never thought about having to use a smoker inside before! Let me know how everything goes and good luck with your jerky plant!
Sebastian Leon says
Thank you Will, thank you very much.
What I mean having the smoker inside is that, if I want to produce commercial jerky in a small plant, I would have to smoke it inside, as the factories do. I guess they use an air extractor right?
Thanks for your help.
Phil Osborn says
Traeger Grill will work fine.
David Hoehn says
Ever heard of anyone doing jerky in a Traeger grill? I know that it smokes a lot so I don't want to smoke it too much or maybe use a milder wood?...But that's all i got...
Also there is only one smoke setting for around 160-180 I believe.
Should I just use a dehydrator with liquid smoke smoke or kick the smoke flavor altogether?
Hey David! I haven't heard of anyone doing it entirely on a grill but I am sure there are plenty of people that do. You do want to be careful of using to much smoke, it will ruin the jerky. I do know that a lot of people will use a smoker first for an hour or so to get that real smoke flavor and then finish the jerky off in a dehydrator. Liquid smoke & a dehydrator is great, but it will never replace real wood smoke. I would try a combo of both as mentioned earlier! Let me know how it turns out..
I just finished making (and mostly eating) my first batch if jerky on the Traeger grill. It was terrific! 4 - 4 1/2 hrs on the smoke setting. Not to much smoke at all. I used the gourmet blend of pellets. I used the basic jerky recipe on the Traeger app. No issues what so ever. The smoke temp is around 130 to 150, so you may want to preheat to 180 at first. Hope this helps!
Nice! I need to get a Traeger.
Ron Maylott says
Hello David, I do use a Treager 075 and currently produce 11-20 lb a week. I have changed my thermostat with one that allows you to easlie change the "P " rate and currently hover at 165 -180 with outside temps at 92 amb ( we live in Florida ) and I do the whole process on the grill.
Lee H. says
Thank you for your quick response, that cleared up a lot of questions for me. Thanks again Lee
Lee H. says
Mr. Will, I am making my first batch of jerky and I am following your rig hand recipe. I have 5 lbs. of beef marinating as I am typing and just seen this page on your site and asking for a little clarification on the 160 degree, do mean to have the dehydrator (nesco professional food and jerky dehydrator) temperature set on 160 setting and start it from the beginning and dry until it reaches that temperature. Or do you pre heat the dehydrator or meat as referred to as the above by Mr. Barkley? I am a little confused, going to dry tomorrow so hopefully I will hear back from you if not I will just go with laying out the meat and start drying at 160 degree setting. PS. I did follow recipe and multiplied it by 5. When it comes the curing salt, on your recipes when you say salt, is that the curing salt or table salt? Thanks Lee
Hey Lee! Thanks for stopping by the site. The Nesco dehydrator will heat the jerky to 160F. Put your strips on the trays and then start the dehydrator with the setting on 160F. Dry the jerky for at least the first couple hours at the 160F setting. If you were planning on dehydrating jerky at a lower temperature (say 145F), you would need to heat the jerky to 160F first to kill any potential bacteria. If I am reading your questions correctly, Jerky is not finished when it reaches 160F. The 160F is only to kill bacteria, the prolonged heat and air flow dries the jerky out which in turn will determine when the jerky is finished. (You just want to make sure the jerky reaches an internal temperature of 160F towards the beginning of the drying process) Jerky is finished when it bends and cracks, but does not break in half. As for the salt... My recipes will say "Prague Powder #1 (curing salt)" if I am telling you to use curing salt. If the recipe mentions just "salt", that is table salt. Rig Hand Jerky calls for table salt. I hope that answers your question. That was kind of a long answer... Ha.
If I have one quarter inch thick slices and I keep my meat at 160F for the first 2 hours what should I set my dehydrator to after i start the dehydrating process of my beef jerky and how long roughly? If I was to appreciate it at the 160 F in my oven would I leave it in the oven at that for 2 hours?
You can lower it down to 145F for the remainder of the time. Most of my jerky takes around 4-5 hours to be completely finished.
Daniel S Lane says
On the subject of curing salts when adding to your recipes that don't already contain them should I sub it in for an equal amount of salt or is it added on top of the existing ingredients?
Great question. Just sub it for the equal amount of salt.
Gordon E. Hamley says
Hey Will. Read your safety tips on your site. Thanks for the heads up on curing salts(store bought?). And the preheat to 160 degrees.
First time with dehydrator. Sounds like fun for the tum.
Gordon in Albuquerque
No problem Gordon, gotta make sure that jerky is made safe! The curing salt I use is bought from Amazon, here is a link to it. Curing salt is hard to find in local stores, a butcher would be your best bet at finding it. I haven't had any luck finding it here in Austin. The ones I buy online last me a REALLY long time, so I have stopped looking for it locally. Happy Jerky Making!
You can find curing salt at the Fiesta Mart @ 35 and 38th street
David Nuessly says
Does sodium nitrate serve as a preservative for beef jerky? If so, how long does it allow the jerky to not be refrigerated question?
Check out my post on storing jerky.