Looking to learn how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator? Look no further! Here you will learn everything you need to about making amazing tasting beef jerky for you, your friends, and family using a home dehydrator. Trust me, your friends and family will find out that you are making jerky…
I like the Nesco model because it dries evenly and does not require me to rotate the trays throughout the dehydration process. The Excalibur works good too, but does require moving the trays half way through.
I have reviewed 4 of the top dehydrators currently on the market to see which ones REALLY work the best. So if you are looking for a dehydrator, take advantage of these Dehydrator Reviews!
The recipe I am using to show how to use a dehydrator is Cajun Beef Jerky, but you can find Dozens of recipes on my Beef Jerky Recipes page.
I have added a VIDEO showing how to make jerky to the end of this post!
How to Make Jerky:
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. Fat will spoil and limit the shelf life of your jerky. You can even use ground meat and a jerky gun. I used a 2lb Beef Eye of Round for this recipe.
2 – Trim off the fat cap and other visible fat from the meat.
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. 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 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.
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 Cajun Beef Jerky. Here is a link to ALL of my Recipes. Pick one and mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag.
5 – Add the beef strips and shake the container so all the meat is evenly covered with the marinade. I marinated my beef in the fridge for 18 hours. Anywhere between 6 to 24 hours is a long enough time to have great tasting jerky. The longer the better.
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.
7- It’s time for the easy part! As I mentioned above, I used my Nesco 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 slices allows the air to better circulate and dry the meat.
8 – Turn the dehydrator to 160° and let it run for about 4 hours. You want the internal temperature of your jerky to reach 160°. This jerky took 5 hours to dry. Depending on how thick your slices are will determine how long it will take to finish dehydrating.
9 – Make sure you check your 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. If it’s done, let it sit on the rack and cool for a couple hours.
10 – Now it’s time to either store it in ziplock bags, vacuum sealed bags, glass jars, or my favorite; your stomach! The 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 jerky for further information.
- 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.
As I mentioned above, here is a video I put together of How to Make Jerky. It’s not the best video quality, but it is great as a teaching tool.
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.