In This Article
In this article, I will explain exactly how to make your own beef jerky and the benefits of doing so.
Beef jerky is rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and folate. It also has a long shelf life and is compact, making it an excellent choice for on-the-go.
Furthermore, beef jerky has a long shelf life and is very compact, making it an excellent choice for travel, backpacking, and other circumstances where you have limited access to fresh food and need a protein boost.
While beef jerky is a healthy snack, it should be eaten in moderation.
It contains a lot of sodium, with a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving to supply about 22% of your daily sodium allowance, which is set at 2,300 mg per day.
Excess sodium consumption like in soy sauce or in the marinades can be harmful to your health in a variety of ways, including heart health, blood pressure, and stroke risk.
Beef jerky is also highly processed. Numerous studies have found a connection between diets high in processed and cured red meats, such as beef jerky, and an increased risk of cancers, including gastrointestinal cancers.
While beef jerky is a nutritious snack, it should be eaten in moderation. The majority of your diet should consist of whole, unprocessed foods.
Slicing Meat For Beef Jerky
Once you’ve decided on your beef, you’ll need to cut the jerky into thin slices. If you want to slice your own meat, I suggest freezing it for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing.
The chilled roast will be firmer, and the results will be much higher, with more even thin slices. If you don’t want to slice your own meat, find a decent butcher slice and buy your roast from them. They would gladly do the slicing for you! I usually tell the butcher behind the counter that I’m going to make jerky and that I’ll need my slices at about a “2” setting on their slicer.
This is a point of contention for jerky manufacturers. Jerky is sliced against the grain. This, in my experience, makes the jerky easier to chew and consume.
Some people like cutting with the grain because it results in nice long strands of jerky that you can break off and work with until it’s dry. What matters is that you make jerky that you enjoy eating. The taste of this peppered beef jerky will be the same if you eat it with or against the grain, so you decide!
The most important question is which cut of beef to purchase. Many people have made beef jerky from various cuts, but flank steak has been my personal favorite for the past few years.
It’s one of the more expensive choices, but it’s also one of the leanest cuts, and I love how it makes nice thin strips of beef jerky. Other excellent choices include eye of round, top or bottom round, and London broil. In general, I suggest staying as lean as possible and trimming any extra-large sections of fat that you find.
Dehydrator vs Oven
The most common question I get is how to make beef jerky without a dehydrator. You can easily make beef jerky at home without a dehydrator by using an oven. However, to ensure even cooking, I suggest arranging the jerky on wire racks set on top of foil-lined baking sheets.
I know some people choose to put the jerky directly on the oven racks and then place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch the dripping juices, but I’ve tried it and it’s messy. As a result, I suggest the wire rack approach instead.
How to Make Beef Jerky (Two Recipes)
Before we get started on making your own beef jerky, let’s talk about choosing the right meat to turn into jerky. This is a critical move. You want to find the right meat so that your jerky turns out the way you want it to.
When choosing meat for beef jerky, I look for a good roast with very little fat marbling. My first preference is a roast eye of round. Following that, I believe a top round, sirloin roast, or rump roast will fit well.
These cuts do have a little more fat/gristle, but the price is usually reasonable, so I don’t mind. This recipe also works well with venison, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit!
First Jerky Recipe
Here is a great video that will tech you exactly how to make jerky with an oven:
What You Need
- A quarter cup Worcestershire sauce
- A quarter cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp honey (or more to taste)
- 2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp onions powder
- 2 pounds thinly sliced beef top round
In a mixing bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, paprika, sugar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and onion powder. Rotate the pounds of beef in the bowl to coat fully. Refrigerate the bowl for 3 hours overnight, covered with plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.
Transfer the beef to a plate lined with paper towels to dry. Remove the marinade, black pepper, and soy sauce from the pan. Arrange the beef slices in a single layer on the baking sheet’s prepared wire rack.
Bake beef in the preheated oven until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces.
Second Jerky Recipe
Here si a decent video that walks you right through a similar process:
For the second jerky recipe, we are first going to make the marinade. An essential component in producing delicious beef jerky is the marinade (Although this marinade doesn’t include soy sauce like the previous recipe).
This marinade blends all of the main ingredients to help add flavor and tenderness to your final jerky product. There are salt, sweet, acidity, and bold seasonings to ensure that you get a mouthful of flavor with every taste.
There are a few optional and extra components to this marinade that I wanted to cover here so that you get the best results possible.
- Brown Sugar: I like to temper the saltiness of my jerky with a touch of sweetness. The amount specified in the jerky recipe will not result in a sweet jerky, but it will help to balance out the savory and black pepper flavors. You can break the sugar in half if you want to. However, I do not advocate doing away with it entirely.
- Beer: Since I understand that not everybody enjoys cooking with beer, feel free to substitute beef stock for the beer. This will increase the saltiness of the jerky, so don’t let it marinate for more than 8 hours if you use this replacement.
- Curing Salts: The cure functions as an extra preservative for the jerky. If you use curing salt, the jerky will be shelf-stable for many weeks and healthy to eat at room temperature. If you leave out the curing salt, your jerky will still be partially preserved by the smoke/dehydration, but I suggest keeping it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
Prepare the meat by marinating it. In a big zip-top jar, combine all marinade ingredients. Add the sliced meat to the marinade and flip or rub the bag gently to cover both sides of the meat evenly. Refrigerate the marinating meat for 8-24 hours.
Get ready to dehydrate. Place the meat strips on paper towels after removing them from the container. Using another paper towel, pat dry. Preheat your smoker, oven (with the door open), or dehydrator to 170°F.
Season the top of the jerky with additional pepper and place it on the grill grates, jerky rack, or cooling rack (this is optional if you want extra pepper flavor). Make sure that they are on a single layer and not stacked on top of each other.
Prepare the beef jerky. For 2-3 hours, smoke/cook/dehydrate the jerky. This time can vary depending on the thickness of the jerky slices. Thicker pieces can take up to 4-5 hours to cook, so prepare ahead of time. After the first hour, start testing your jerky. You want strong jerky that is still pliable. If you bend it and it splits, you’ve overcooked it.
Keep in a safe place and enjoy. While the dehydrated beef jerky is still warm, place it in a fresh zip-top container, but do not completely seal the bag. Allow the jerky to steam for a few minutes in the bag (this locks in moisture and makes your jerky oh-so-good). If you add curing salt to your marinade, this jerky will keep it for a few weeks on the counter. Refrigerate the jerky if it is not seasoned.
Your homemade beef jerky can be kept at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen after it has been wrapped in a sealed jar. Mark and date the zipper-lock bags or containers so you know when the best time to eat the jerky is depending on the storage system you chose.
- 2 weeks at room temperature
- 3 to 6 months if refrigerated
- Up to 1 year if frozen
Now that you have learned how to make Jerky, you have just increase your knowledge, thus you have improved yourself.
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