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 using 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.
***Updated on October, 10th 2020 with new pictures and information***
Here is a video I put together on how to make beef jerky. It's not the best video quality, but it is great as a teaching tool.
🐄 How to Make Beef Jerky in 10 Easy Steps:
Step 1 - Start with a lean piece of meat. You can use Flank Steak, Bottom Round, Top Round, Eye of Round, Sirlion Tip, etc.... The goal is to find a piece of meat that has as little fat as possible. You can even use ground meat and a jerky gun. I used a 2lb Beef Eye of Round for this beef jerky recipe.
🥩 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. As I mentioned earlier, the recipe used here is Rig Hand Beef Jerky.
If this recipe doesn't call your name, you can check out The Ultimate Beef Jerky Recipe or over 100 of my homemade beef jerky recipes and marinades. Pick one and mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag.
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 160°. 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.
👨🏽🍳 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.
Check out my Best Dehydrator for Making Beef Jerky page for dehydrator reviews and a breakdown of the top selling dehydrators currently on the market.