Looking to learn how to make homemade beef jerky? Look no further, here you will learn step by step instructions on how to make beef jerky in a dehydrator. This includes everything from choosing which meat to use, slicing said meat, marinating with a great recipe, dehydrating the jerky, and testing for when it's finished.
🎥 Watch how to make beef jerky
🐄 Choosing the best cut of meat
Step 1 - Start with a lean piece of meat. The goal is to find a piece of meat that has as little fat as possible.
- Eye of Round Roast
- Top & Bottom Round Roasts
- Flank Steak
- Sirloin Tip
- Ground Beef (10% fat or less)
I used a 2lb Beef Eye of Round for this beef jerky recipe.
🧾 Where to buy meat - Free Sam's Club Membership
Big box stores tend to have the best prices when it comes to meat for beef jerky. These include the main two, Sam's Club and Costco. If you like purchasing local, great! Local butchers have great cuts of meat, they just tend to be more expensive. However, you are supporting local businesses.
Unfortunately, I do not have any good butchers locally and so I shop at Sam's Club. Right now there is a promotion for Sam's Club where you can buy their membership for $45 and then receive a Sam's Gift Card the same day in store for $45. So basically, the membership is free. We tested the offer on 3-16-21 and it works as advertised. Free Membership Valid until 4-30-2021.
Why get this membership?
Great prices! I found that locally the price of USDA Choice Beef Eye of Round Roast (one of the best cuts for jerky) at Sam's was $4.68. This is compared to $6.99 a pound at the local chain grocery store, that's a 33% savings!
Not to mention savings on just about everything else; ground meat, salmon, tuna, Prime brisket, paper towels, seasonings, etc...
How to get the free membership?
Click here for the $45 gift card with sign up. (Jerkyholic is in no way associated with this deal. We do not get anything from Sam's or you for you signing up; just passing along a great deal!)
It will give you a coupon code when filling out information. Make sure to copy that code down and give it to the person at the membership table at Sam's. The lady we dealt with already had it, but make sure to write it down just to be sure.
🥩 How to slice the meat
Step 2 - Trim off the fat cap and other visible fat from the meat. Fat will make meat spoil faster, so removing as much fat as possible now will extend the shelf life of your finished beef jerky.
Step 3 - Place the beef in the freezer for 1-2 hours to partially freeze for easier uniform slices. Your meat should be hard to the touch but not fully frozen.
This is one of the most important steps when learning how to make beef jerky. Slice the meat against the grain of the meat around 1/8"-1/4" thick for an easier chew or with the grain for a more chewier beef jerky.
The way you slice the meat has a big impact on the final texture and whether you will have a tough or soft beef jerky. If you need more information on slicing meat, visit my slicing meat for beef jerky page.
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 beef jerky, if you are only making small batches every once in a while it is not as important.
🧂 How to make the marinade
Step 4 - Finish slicing all of your meat and set aside. Now it's time to get the marinade ready. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag and stir well. Since this recipe doesn't have any whole peppers, a blender is NOT needed.
Step 5 - Add the beef strips and shake the container so all the meat is evenly covered with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator anywhere from 6 to 24 hours for great flavor, the longer the better. This beef was marinated in the fridge for 18 hours.
Step 6 - After marinating, drain and pat dry the jerky strips to remove any excess marinade before dehydrating. This helps in speeding up the dehydration process.
⏲️ Drying the jerky
Step 7- It's time for the easy part! As I mentioned above, I used my Excalibur Dehydrator for this batch. Place the beef strips on the racks making sure that they are not touching or overlapping.
Leaving space in between the beef jerky slices allows the air to better circulate and dry the meat.
Step 8 - Beef jerky takes around 4-5 hours to dry when dehydrating. Turn the dehydrator to 165° and let it run for about 4 hours until the internal temperature of the jerky reaches a safe 160° as per guidelines from the USDA. Depending on how thick your slices are will determine how long it will take to finish dehydrating, this beef jerky took 5 hours to dry.
🌡️ How to tell when it's finished drying
Step 9 - Make sure you check your beef jerky throughout the drying process to avoid over drying. The jerky will be done when it bends and cracks but does not break in half. You will also see white fibers within the meat. If it's done, let it sit on the rack and cool for a couple hours.
Step 10 - Now it's time to either store the beef jerky in ziplock bags, vacuum sealed bags, glass jars, or my favorite; your stomach! Beef jerky will stay good for 7-10 days if kept in ziplock bags. For longer storage, using vacuum sealed bags will allow the jerky to last 1-2 months. Please visit my page on storing beef jerky for further information.
That's it! Those are the 10 easy to follow steps when learning how to make beef jerky at home.
The Excalibur Dehydrator is my favorite. There are others that will work great as well. Check out this post where I have tested and reviewed the top selling dehydrators for jerky.
Right here on Jerkyholic, we have over 100 great tasting recipes and marinades for making all types of jerky.
👨🏽🍳 Old Pro Tips:
- Use a sharp knife or partially freeze the meat before slicing. Here is my Slicing Meat Page for more information.
- Using a ziplock bag allows you to use less ingredients, saving money on marinades. Put meat in the ziplock bag and roll it up expelling all of the air inside. This allows all the meat to be covered by a relatively small amount of marinade.
- The longer you marinate, the more flavor the jerky will have. If I have time, 18 hours in the minimum I marinate my meat.
- Take jerky strips out of dehydrator and allow to cool for 5 minutes before checking to see if it's finished. It should bend and crack but not break when finished. You should also see white fibers in the meat when bent.
Other recipes and information
- 1 lb eye of round
- 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp Curing Salt (Prague Powder #1)
- Pick a lean cut of beef. Trim the fat cap and other visible fat. After trimmed, place the meat in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until partially frozen. This will allow for more uniform slices when cutting your beef.
- In a plastic container that has a tight fitting lid or ziplock bag, add the marinade ingredients and mix well.
- Remove the meat from the freezer and slice ¼" strips against the grain for an easy chew. Cut with the grain for a more chewy jerky.
- Add the sliced meat to the marinade and shake well until all slices are covered evenly. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 6-24 hours. Shake the container/bag two or three times while marinating.
- After marinating, dry slices with paper towels to remove any excess marinade.
- Place strips on your dehydrator drying racks with plenty of spaces in between for easy air flow.
- Dry for 3 hours at 165 degrees allowing the internal temperature to reach 160 degrees and then turn down to 145F. Check the meat after 4 hours and keep drying until the jerky bends and cracks, but does not break in half.
- Allow jerky to cool for several hours before storing.
- Trim all fat from the meat before marinating for longer lasting jerky once it's finished drying
- Use curing salt or celery juice powder to extend the life of the jerky
- Marinate closer to 24 hours for the most intense flavor