RESOURCES FOR JERKY MAKERS
I have had several people ask me lately about what equipment I use when making beef jerky. So, I have decided to make a page that has information about the tools used when making jerky. All of these are not necessary to have, they are just some of the gadgets I love using when I am in the kitchen. I hope this helps y'all when making decisions on what you need to start becoming a jerky making machine!
Disclaimer – Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. All links I provide on this site will be products that I have personally used and can recommend. I will not recommend any products or services that I do not use or trust.
Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator - Excalibur makes several great food dehydrators. I personally use the 3926 model for several reasons. This model has 9 trays and 15 square feet of drying space. Depending on how you slice your jerky, that means you can dehydrate anywhere from 4-6lbs of jerky at one time. This model has a timer so you can "set it, and forget it!" The fan is in the back and after testing the temperature difference between the front of the unit and the back, it is necessary to turn or rotate the trays while running the unit. The temperature setting ranges from 95°F to 155°F to allow the dehydration of jerky as well as fruits and vegetables. Though more expensive than the Nesco, I really do love this dehydrator.
Nesco Snackmaster Pro - A dehydrator is a great way to make beef jerky. You do not need to break the bank when purchasing a dehydrator. This Nesco is a very popular model that I personally use all the time. Not is it only great for making beef jerky, but it also has the potential to dry vegetables, fruit, and fruit rolls. The description says there is no need to rotate trays, and in my experience, this holds true. I have tested the temperature of a top tray compared to a bottom tray and it only varies about 2 degrees. The air flow is great, clean up is easy, and the temperature control is a must. This unit makes fantastic jerky and is a great deal at a reasonable cost!
Masterbuilt Smoker - This electric smoker is easy to use and churns out a great product. No hovering over your charcoal smoker trying to keep the temperature just right, this digital electric smoker will keep it locked in at your desired temp. More of a set it and forget it aspect of smoking jerky; perfect for smoking jerky while watching the game. This 30inch has plenty of room whether you want to smoke 1lb or 10lbs of jerky strips. If you have ever wanted to take your jerky skills to the next level, a smoker is a great way to do it. You also get to smoke ALL types of goodies in this bad boy! Ribs, chicken, turkey, sausage, snack sticks....... The possibilities are endless!
FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealer - After using curing salt in your recipes, vacuum sealing your beef jerky is the best way to have it keep longer. When I make several batches of beef jerky for a hunting, fishing, or hiking trip; vacuum sealing it for freshness is a must. This model of food saver is not the most expensive, but does a great job at keeping your jerky fresh at least 5 times longer than if not vacuum sealed. It allows you to make any size bag for different sizes or batches of food being sealed. It will vacuum and seal in about 10 seconds and is very easy to use. I LOVE this FoodSaver, it's one of my favorite jerky toys!
LEM Jerky Cannon - Great for making formed jerky, this cannon will make your job A LOT easier! Whole meat jerky has a special place in my heart and stomach, but every so often I do make formed jerky. Formed jerky is made from seasoned ground meat that can be placed in this gun and squeezed out making perfect jerky strips. This gun comes with 1 single jerky nozzle as well as a double nozzle for when you are making large batches of jerky. Even though I don't make a lot of formed jerky, I LOVE making snack sticks... Yes, this gun is excellent when making snack sticks! LEM makes great products that last, even after extensive use. I highly recommend this jerky cannon over the plastic ones commonly found.
Meat Thermometer - Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe is very important, and this little gadget can help you do that. All jerky should be heated to an internal temperature of 160° F to eliminate the possibility of food borne illness. I have used this thermometer to check the temperature of my jerky in the oven, dehydrator, and smoker. I love using this when cooking dinner as well. No more guessing when cooking chicken or steaks, this thing will tell you as soon as you reach the desired internal temp. I LOVE this thing!
Prague Powder #1 (Curing Salt) - Have you ever wondered why smoked and dried meat has that red color and a recognizable taste? The reason is because these meats have been cured using a salt cure such as this one. This curing salt prevents food poisoning by inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms. This is very important when using low cooking temperatures seen in such processes as making beef jerky. If you decide not to use curing salt, always make sure to heat your jerky meat to 160° at the beginning of the cooking process to kill bacteria. Curing salt can be hard to find in local grocery stores; I would recommend buying online or try your local butcher.