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.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s dig into the article.
Slicing Meat For Beef Jerky
You’ll need to start choosing and slicing your beef jerky. Here are the steps:
- Start by selecting the right cuts of meat for your jerky. Most people use lean beef, such as top round or eye of round steak that has been trimmed to remove all fat and gristle.
- Place the meat in a freezer until it is almost frozen solid (about 30 minutes). This will make slicing easier and help keep bacteria away from exposed surfaces while you work with them later during preparation steps.
- Cut thin strips about 1/4 inch thick using either a sharp knife or electric slicer if you have that available. If slices appear too thick, adjust settings accordingly. Make sure each slice is an even thickness, so they dry at the same rate when making jerky. Discard any pieces off-cuts left over from the trimming process earlier, which may contain excess fat, sinew, etc.
- Arrange prepared cut meats onto dehydrator trays lined with nonstick mats leaving space between pieces for air circulation around edges before placing them into the drying unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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 homemade 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
Dehydrators are specifically designed for making beef jerky and other dried foods.
The low-temperature setting in a dehydrator is perfect for preserving the flavor of the meat while still removing all moisture, resulting in an end product with less fat content than oven-dried beef jerky.
Dehydrating also helps reduce food waste because it uses much less energy than an oven. Additionally, many dehydrators come with adjustable settings that allow you to customize your desired texture and control how quickly or slowly your ingredients dry out – something you can’t do when utilizing an oven!
How to Make Beef Jerky (Two Recipes)
Before we get started on making your own beef jerky meat, 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!
Oven Beef 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.
Dehydrator 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.
Beef jerky should be stored in an airtight container or bag, preferably made of glass or plastic. It is best to store it at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.
The refrigerator can also be used for storing beef jerky, but only if the package indicates that it is suitable for refrigeration. The colder the temperature, the long your beef jerky will last, as you can see by the bullet points below.
- 2 weeks at room temperature
- 3 to 6 months if refrigerated
- Up to 1 year if frozen
Making jerky with an oven or dehydrator can be a fun and rewarding experience. Not only is it easy to make, but you get the satisfaction of enjoying something that tastes great!
With all these tips and tricks for making your own delicious homemade jerky using either method, you’re sure to have a successful experiment in no time at all.
So grab some meat from your local store or butcher shop today, choose which cooking technique works best for you – whether it’s the oven-dried approach or employing a food dehydrator –and start creating flavorful snacks everyone will love!
Also be sure to check out some of our other articles, if you liked this one: