How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (2023)

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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 in 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.

Jump to:
  • 🎥 Watch how to make beef jerky
  • 🐄 Choosing the best cut of meat
  • 🧾 Where to buy meat - Free Sam's Club Membership
  • 🥩 How to slice the meat
  • 🧂 How to make the marinade
  • ⏲️ Drying the jerky
  • 🌡️ How to tell when it's finished drying
  • 💭 FAQ
  • 👨🏽‍🍳 Old Pro Tips:
  • How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator

🎥 Watch how to make beef jerky

🐄 Choosing the best cut of meat

Step 1 - Start with a lean piece of meat. The goal is to find a piece of meat that has as little fat as possible.

Best Meat:

  • Eye of Round Roast
  • Top & Bottom Round Roasts
  • Flank Steak
  • Sirloin Tip
  • Ground Beef (10% fat or less)

I used a 2lb Beef Eye of Round for this beef jerky recipe.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (1)

🧾 Where to buy meat - Free Sam's Club Membership

Big box stores tend to have the best prices when it comes to meat for beef jerky. These include the main two, Sam's Club and Costco. If you like purchasing local, great! Local butchers have great cuts of meat, they just tend to be more expensive. However, you are supporting local businesses.

Unfortunately, I do not have any good butchers locally and so I shop at Sam's Club. Right now there is a promotion for Sam's Club where you can buy their membership for $45 and then receive a Sam's Gift Card the same day in store for $45. So basically, the membership is free. We tested the offer on 3-16-21 and it works as advertised. Free Membership Valid until 4-30-2021.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (2)

Why get this membership?

Great prices! I found that locally the price of USDA Choice Beef Eye of Round Roast (one of the best cuts for jerky) at Sam's was $4.68. This is compared to $6.99 a pound at the local chain grocery store, that's a 33% savings!

Not to mention savings on just about everything else; ground meat, salmon, tuna, Prime brisket, paper towels, seasonings, etc...

How to get the free membership?

Click here for the $45 gift card with sign up. (Jerkyholic is in no way associated with this deal. We do not get anything from Sam's or you for you signing up; just passing along a great deal!)

It will give you a coupon code when filling out information. Make sure to copy that code down and give it to the person at the membership table at Sam's. The lady we dealt with already had it, but make sure to write it down just to be sure.

🥩 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.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (3)

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 ⅛"-¼" thick for an easier chew or with the grain for a more chewier beef jerky.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (4)

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.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (5)
(Video) How to Make Beef Jerky with a DEHYDRATOR

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 Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (6)

🧂 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. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag and stir well. Since this recipe doesn't have any whole peppers, a blender is NOT needed.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (7)

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.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (9)

⏲️ 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.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (10)

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 a safe 160° as per guidelines from the USDA. 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 Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (11)

🌡️ 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.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (12)

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.

💭 FAQ

What is the best dehydrator to use when making beef jerky?

(Video) How To Make The Worlds Best Beef Jerky In A Dehydrator!

The Excalibur Dehydrator is my favorite. There are others that will work great as well. Check out this post where I have tested and reviewed the top selling dehydrators for jerky.

Do I have to use a dehydrator when making beef jerky?

No. Using an Oven or Smoker is another great way to make jerky.

Where can I find more Beef Jerky Recipes?

Right here on Jerkyholic, we have over 100 great tasting recipes and marinades for making all types of jerky.

👨🏽‍🍳 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.
How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (13)

Other recipes and information

  • Beef Jerky Recipes (75+ Homemade Jerky Recipes)
  • The Best Dehydrator for Making Beef Jerky [2021]
  • How to Make Ground Beef Jerky

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (17)

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator

Making jerky in a dehydrator is the easiest and best way to make homemade jerky. They are relatively inexpensive and here I will show you how easy it is to make great tasting beef jerky!

4.8 from 27 votes

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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 6 hours

(Video) HOW TO MAKE THE WORLDS BEST BEEF JERKY!

Total Time: 7 hours

Course: Beef Jerky, Snack

Cuisine: American

Type: Beef Jerky

Flavor: Savory, Spicy

Servings: 5

Calories: 151kcal

Author: Will

Ingredients

Lean Beef

  • 1 lb eye of round

Marinade

  • ¼ cup worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional

Instructions

  • Pick a lean cut of beef. Trim the fat cap and other visible fat. After trimmed, place the meat in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until partially frozen. This will allow for more uniform slices when cutting your beef.

  • In a plastic container that has a tight fitting lid or ziplock bag, add the marinade ingredients and mix well.

  • Remove the meat from the freezer and slice ¼" strips against the grain for an easy chew. Cut with the grain for a more chewy jerky.

  • Add the sliced meat to the marinade and shake well until all slices are covered evenly. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 6-24 hours. Shake the container/bag two or three times while marinating.

  • After marinating, dry slices with paper towels to remove any excess marinade.

  • Place strips on your dehydrator drying racks with plenty of spaces in between for easy air flow.

  • Dry for 3 hours at 165 degrees allowing the internal temperature to reach 160 degrees and then turn down to 145F. Check the meat after 4 hours and keep drying until the jerky bends and cracks, but does not break in half.

  • Allow jerky to cool for several hours before storing.

Pro Tips

  • Trim all fat from the meat before marinating for longer lasting jerky once it's finished drying
  • Use curing salt or celery juice powder to extend the life of the jerky
  • Marinate closer to 24 hours for the most intense flavor

Nutrition

Serving: 70g | Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 1310mg | Potassium: 451mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 3mg

Environmental Information

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

(Video) Easy beef jerky in a dehydrator

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator (21)

FAQs

How long does beef jerky take in a dehydrator? ›

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 a safe 160° as per guidelines from the USDA.

Do you cook beef jerky before dehydrating? ›

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat.

Does a dehydrator make good jerky? ›

Pros of Using a Dehydrator

The biggest pro is that a dehydrator was made for just that, dehydrating! Having a fan for circulation results in drying everything evenly, which creates better quality jerky. Another great thing about a dehydrator is that most of them allow you to dry out a large amount of jerky at once.

What cut of meat is best for beef jerky? ›

When making beef jerky, it's important to start with a well-trimmed, lean cut of meat, as fat does not dry out and accelerates spoilage. An eye of round roast is ideal; it's affordable, accessible, lean, and easy to trim.

Should I flip my beef jerky in the dehydrator? ›

You do not need to rotate the trays very often if you are using a Weston Dehydrators, but it doesn't hurt to move them around. Round dehydrators definitely require tray rotation.

Can you overcook jerky in a dehydrator? ›

Today, using dehydrators or ovens are recommended safe drying methods and are ideal to sufficiently heat and dry the meat strips without overcooking them.

Do you put raw meat in dehydrator? ›

The temperatures of dehydrators and oven dehydrating are not high enough to destroy harmful microorganisms that are typically present in raw meat. Even though fully dried jerky may appear done, it is not safe to eat unless it goes through an additional heat treatment.

Can you leave jerky in dehydrator overnight? ›

It is not recommended to leave jerky in the dehydrator for longer than 5 hours. If you follow the instructions above, the sweet spot for dehydrating beef jerky in the dehydrator should be 4 hours or 5 hours if your raw meat was exceptionally succulent.

How Long Will homemade jerky last? ›

Homemade beef jerky, on the other hand, should last one to two months if you store it in an airtight container after making it. If you store beef jerky in a Ziplock bag in your pantry, it'll last about a week. And, if you store your beef jerky in the fridge, you can expect it to last one to two weeks.

Is it cheaper to make or buy beef jerky? ›

Making your own beef jerky at home is not only incredibly simple, but it is also much much cheaper than buying store-bought jerky. Plus, you'll be able to control all the ingredients that go into making it; no weird stabilizers or unpronounceable additives.

What is the best meat to dehydrate for jerky? ›

The best cuts of meat for beef jerky are Top Round, Bottom Round, Lifter and Pectoral, but a variety of cuts can be used such as Flank Steak and Skirt Steak. These cuts of beef check all the boxes for beef jerky—economical, lean, and full of flavor.

What temperature do you cook jerky in a dehydrator? ›

155°F. Record the temperature once it has stabilized. In order to safely dry meat at home, your oven or dehydrator must be able to maintain a temperature of at least 145° to 155°F (see below).

How much jerky will 5lbs of meat make? ›

The short answer to this question that we here at Flying G Jerky know is 5 pounds of beef will make roughly 2 pounds of beef jerky. That is a ratio of about 2.5 pounds of meat to 1 pound of finished jerky.

How much jerky does a pound of beef make? ›

YIELD OF DRIED MEAT

Four pounds of fresh, trimmed meat will yield 1 pound of jerky, a lightweight dried meat product. Suggested cuts include lean beef round, flank, chuck, rump, or brisket.

How long should you marinate beef jerky? ›

Place the whole bag into the fridge to thoroughly marinate for up to 24 hours, but no fewer than 4 hours. The longer you marinate, the deeper your flavor and tenderizing action. The most convenient process is to simply refrigerate overnight and start your next step, the drying process, on the following day.

Can you dehydrate jerky too long? ›

Don't leave the jerky too long as it can turn mushy. To prevent excessive moisture transfer and possible mold, we recommend keeping the jerky in the refrigerator for both options.

Is curing salt necessary for jerky? ›

Is a cure necessary when making jerky? For safety, yes. Using a jerky cure will inhibit bacteria growth and prevent botulism or other foodborne illnesses, as jerky is dried at low temps, not cooked. Cured jerky will also lengthen the shelf-life of your product.

How can you tell if jerky is done? ›

Beef jerky is done when the meat has a dry, leathery appearance. The finished product should bend when you apply light pressure, without tearing or cracking. If you think the jerky is nearly done based on its appearance, take a bite. It should be pleasantly chewy, not overly tough.

Can I stop dehydrator and restart later? ›

You can stop and restart a dehydrator much later as long as you keep tabs on how much time is left to complete the drying process for the specific food item in it. An alternative to stopping and restarting a dehydrator out of necessity is to install an outlet timer.

How long does it take to dehydrate 2 pounds of jerky? ›

Remove beef strips from the bowl and place between two pieces of plastic wrap; pound to 1/8-inch thickness. Arrange pounded beef strips in a single layer on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at the dehydrator's highest setting until jerky is done to your liking, at least 4 hours.

Why is my dehydrated food not crispy? ›

If your dehydrated food feels soft, spongy, or sticky it's probably not dehydrated enough. Put the product back in for additional time. Hard and crunchy or breakable pieces are done. Yes, items can be over-dried and as a result are more difficult to rehydrate.

Do you have to freeze meat before dehydrating? ›

To treat the meat, freeze a portion that is 6 inches or less thick at 5°F or below for at least 20 days. Freezing will not eliminate bacteria from the meat.

How long should meat cure before dehydrating? ›

Recommended curing time is 24 hours for stripped meat and 12 hours for ground meat. Letting it cure too long will make it too salty as well. If done correctly, you can cut the cure down by ½ tsp per pound of meat. The meat should still come out pink in the middle when it is finished cooking.

Do you lose nutrients when dehydrating meat? ›

The dehydrating process retains a food's original nutritional value.

Do dehydrators use a lot of electricity? ›

Running a 1,000-watt food dehydrator for an hour costs 13 cents. A 750-watt one would cost 9.7 cents per hour. A 500-watt food air-dryer costs 6.5 cents per hour, and one that uses 300 watts would be 3.9 cents per hour.

What temp kills bacteria in jerky? ›

Making Jerky from Ground Meat

Be sure to follow the dehydrator manufacturer's directions when heating the product at the end of drying time. Again, an internal temperature of 160ºF is necessary to eliminate disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, if present.

Are dehydrators expensive to run? ›

Q: Are dehydrators expensive to run? A: No. All electric dehydrators have a fan and a heating element but please don't make the mistake of using their power rating as a guide to electricity consumption.

What is the white stuff on beef jerky? ›

White spots on beef jerky can be mold, fat, or salt. Proper identification is key. Fat and salt particles on the outside of beef jerky are perfectly safe to eat, but jerky that shows any signs of mold should be discarded.

How do you keep homemade jerky from molding? ›

Storing jerky for short term, anywhere between 1 to 3 months, will require an air tight container such as a stand-up pouch, Mylar bag or mason jar. Depending on the consistency you wish to retain adding a food-grade desiccant will allow your jerky to maintain a constant level of moisture.

How long will dehydrated meat last if vacuum sealed? ›

Shelf Life of Dehydrated Foods

When stored properly and kept in a cool, dry place your foods can last up to 30 years or longer depending on the item. To maximize shelf life it is important to dehydrate thoroughly, vacuum seal in a vacuum bag with oxygen packs, then “double bag” in a heat-sealed Mylar bag.

Can you dehydrate jerky for too long? ›

Any longer will dehydrate the jerky completely making it hard and brittle. If a bend test results in a complete break of the jerky then you have left it for too long. Keep this in mind when using your dehydrator: 1/4 inch thick beef strips.

What temperature do I set my dehydrator for beef jerky? ›

The dehydrator must reach a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to safely be used for making jerky.

How long does it take to dehydrate 2 pounds of jerky? ›

Remove beef strips from the bowl and place between two pieces of plastic wrap; pound to 1/8-inch thickness. Arrange pounded beef strips in a single layer on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at the dehydrator's highest setting until jerky is done to your liking, at least 4 hours.

How long do you dehydrate meat in a dehydrator? ›

Place the meat strips in a single layer on dehydrator trays, ensuring that no two pieces are touching. Dehydrate at 165F for 4 to 6 hours. Check the strips after 4 hours and turn the pieces over on the dehydrator trays to ensure that the meat is drying evenly.

Why is my homemade beef jerky so chewy? ›

Beef jerky is dried meat that has a pliable leathery texture. The most common reason for it being chewy is starting with the wrong cut of meat and cooking it too long.

How do you add flavor to jerky after dehydrating? ›

Brush the Jerky with a Liquid

You can use any liquid. Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable, beef, or chicken broth, liquid smoke, and water all work wonders. We recommend matching whatever liquid was used in the original recipe.

Can I leave my dehydrator on overnight? ›

The good news is electrical food dehydrators are safe to leave on overnight and unattended. Just ensure they are in a ventilated area, show no signs of damage and aren't covered by any tea-towels etc.

How do you know when beef jerky is done dehydrating? ›

Beef jerky is done when the meat has a dry, leathery appearance. The finished product should bend when you apply light pressure, without tearing or cracking. If you think the jerky is nearly done based on its appearance, take a bite. It should be pleasantly chewy, not overly tough.

How long should you marinate beef jerky? ›

Place the whole bag into the fridge to thoroughly marinate for up to 24 hours, but no fewer than 4 hours. The longer you marinate, the deeper your flavor and tenderizing action. The most convenient process is to simply refrigerate overnight and start your next step, the drying process, on the following day.

What should my dehydrator be set at? ›

Place on dehydrator trays without overlapping and dry at 125 F. Tomatoes and onions are the exception and are best dried at 145 F. Drying times will range from 4 to 10 hours depending on the vegetable and size of your pieces.

How much jerky will 5lbs of meat make? ›

The short answer to this question that we here at Flying G Jerky know is 5 pounds of beef will make roughly 2 pounds of beef jerky. That is a ratio of about 2.5 pounds of meat to 1 pound of finished jerky.

Is it cheaper to make your own beef jerky? ›

Making your own beef jerky at home is not only incredibly simple, but it is also much much cheaper than buying store-bought jerky. Plus, you'll be able to control all the ingredients that go into making it; no weird stabilizers or unpronounceable additives.

How much does a pound of meat make in jerky? ›

Four pounds of fresh, trimmed meat will yield 1 pound of jerky, a lightweight dried meat product. Suggested cuts include lean beef round, flank, chuck, rump, or brisket.

What is the best temperature for dehydrating meat? ›

After heating meat to 160 °F (71.1 °C) and poultry to 165 °F (73.9 °C), maintain a constant dehydrator temperature of 130 to 140 °F (54.4 TO 60 °C) during the drying process.

What happens if you over dehydrate meat? ›

When the meal is exposed to higher temperatures for too long, it will become un-edible. The meal will over dehydrate when you leave it in the dehydrator much more than you should. That is why it is so important to check the recipe and be careful when you make it.

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