Do you need a dehydrator or a smoker to make beef jerky? No, so don't go running out and buying expensive appliances. Start with an appliance everyone already has, an oven! Using the oven to make beef jerky is a very easy, simple, and cost effective way to make great tasting jerky.
🥩 Choosing and slicing the meat
1 - Start by buying a lean piece of meat, I am using flank steak for this recipe. Flank steak is not my favorite cut of meat to use, mainly because it produces less tender jerky. The flank steak I have access to here in Austin has a little more marbling than I like and is also about twice as expensive as my favorite cut; eye of round.
2 - Trim any visible fat from the meat. Fat will make your jerky spoil, so cut off as much as possible.
3 - Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 1-2 hours to partially freeze. Freezing is not mandatory, but does make slicing the meat at a consistent width easier. Slice against the grain at around 1/8″-1/4″ thick. When using flank steak, I have found that wider slices allow the jerky pieces to stay together better and produce better jerky.
You can also skip the freezing stage and slice your jerky using a jerky slicer. I use a Weston Jerky Slicer. It makes sure all your strips are the same width which allows them to dry evenly. Having a slicer is great when making a lot of jerky.
🧂 Marinating the meat
4 - Place the slices of beef to the side and assemble your jerky marinade. As I mentioned earlier, I am using my Chili Lime recipe for this batch, but you can find dozens of jerky marinades on my beef jerky recipe page.
Once you have made your marinade, place the beef slices in your marinade and make sure they are covered evenly. Marinate the jerky in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.
5 - Cover the bottom rack of the oven with aluminum foil to avoid drippings during the drying process. It will make a mess if you do not put a layer of protection down. If you are like me, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cleaning your oven because you skipped a 30 second step in the process!
⏲️ Drying the jerky
6 - Dry the strips on paper towels to soak up any excess marinade and either lay the jerky pieces across the metal rack or use toothpicks and hang the strips. I have decided to use toothpicks to hang my strips. After drying the strips with paper towels, I slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each piece of jerky.
7 - Take the metal rack out of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 300°F. Hang the strips on the metal rack while its outside the oven. You can also place the strips laying flat on a baking rack and leave the ovens metal rack in the oven while pre-heating.
8 - Once pre-heated, put the oven rack of jerky in the oven on the highest rack position, being careful not to allow the strips to fall. Bake in the oven with the door closed for 10 minutes. This will heat the jerky to an internal temperature of 160°F killing potential bacteria.
9 - After 10 minutes, turn your oven down to 160° or as low as it will go and prop the door open. My oven will only go as low as 170°. Prop the door open with a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape and air to circulate during the drying process.
How to determine when it's finished drying
10 - It should take between 3-8 hours to dry in the oven depending on the thickness of the jerky. Check after 3 hours, and continue as needed. The jerky will be done when it bends and cracks but does not break in half. It took 4 hours to dry this jerky to my liking.
That's all there is to making great tasting beef jerky in an oven. It's a great way to get started in making jerky without having to buy any fancy and expensive equipment.
Let me know if you have any questions or share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!