Easy Homemade Beef Jerky

by Ann Marie Michaels on August 9, 2008

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beef jerky

This is beef jerky I made in my dehydrator. I actually made it from bison from Lindner’s Bison at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.

It’s so easy to make — and it makes an extremely healthy and nutritious portable snack.

This is a very basic, all-purpose recipe. If you like your jerky sweeter or hotter, try adding various ingredients like maple syrup or honey or hot sauce or ground chili pepper powder.

Easy Homemade Beef Jerky

Equipment:

Dehydrator or an oven
1 gallon size Ziploc bag (you can also use a large glass baking dish)

Ingredients:

Grass-fed beef or bison, not ground beef (1-2 pounds) — I think I used top round because that was all they had that day — but I think you could use rump roast or other cuts as well. Ask your farmer or butcher what he or she recommends for making jerky.
Worcestershire sauce (1/3 cup) — I got some organic sauce from Whole Foods; avoid the regular kind as it is probably genetically modified and it has high fructose corn syrup
Naturally fermented soy sauce (1/3 cup) — I use Eden brand
Freshly ground black pepper (1 tsp)
Onion powder (2 tsp) — I used an organic brand from Whole Foods

Directions:

1. Slice the meat very thinly, with the grain (so it doesn’t fall apart).

2. Put the pieces of meat into a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients, close the bag, and mix well by moving the meat around with your hands.

4. Let the meat marinate for at least 8 hours. I forgot about mine and it marinated for over 24 hours — still came out great.

5. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.

6. Line your dehydrator trays with parchment paper. If you are using an oven, put some foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drips.

7. Set your dehydrator to 150 degrees for 8 hours. If you are using the oven, set it to the lowest setting (this is often 170 degrees) and crack the door open a bit.

Beef Jerky
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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie August 9, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Do you cook the meat first?

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cheeseslave August 9, 2008 at 12:46 PM

No.

I was wondering that myself — but nope.

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tomorrowtomorrow August 9, 2008 at 1:24 PM

Ann Marie, this was DELICIOUS! I fed Cara some on the way home, too, and she was begging for more!

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cheeseslave August 9, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Thanks!

It’s not a cheap snack I guess, but it is a highly nutritious one. Something you can carry in a backpack and give to cranky children when they are hungry!

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tomorrowtomorrow August 9, 2008 at 4:34 PM

If it’s the cure for cranky children, I don’t care how much it costs. LOL.

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Noe August 10, 2008 at 2:49 AM

This looks yum!

Another dried meat snack you’d love is Biltong. Like jerky but more moist and because of that IMO tastier than regular jerky. Is thicker and can be used in stews and savoury muffins even so quite versatile. There’s a huge South African population here and am lucky enough to have access to some of the best biltong outside of ZA. I think I’ve even seen directions online on how to make your own biltong maker.

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Terence Kendrick September 17, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Just saw this post. I use to eat this in South Africa. I absolutely loved it!!!!

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cheeseslave August 10, 2008 at 6:00 AM

Very interesting! I guess you can dry it in a dehydrator or oven, right?

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Noe August 10, 2008 at 3:26 PM

No, because its thicker it requires to be hanged while drying. The biltong makers I’ve seen online are basically boxes with a super low heat source (usually a light bulb) with a compartment above with a railing to hang your meat off of hooks from it. I am contemplating making my own as it seems easy. Along with the drying method, the marinating and seasoning methods are different to jerky.

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iheartjerky August 11, 2008 at 6:09 PM

I made my own jerky this past weekend… and it was AWESOME! The good thing about making your own, is you can tweak the recipe to your liking. I made this Sweet & Sour Beef Jerky and I like it sweeter than most…so i could add more pineapple juice to make it as sweet as i want. This is my second batch and it gets better every time.

Here is the recipe:

http://beefjerkyrecipes.com/meat-type/beef-jerky/sweet-sour-jerky-recipe/

I’d like to try Biltong…ive been hearing so much about it. What makes it different than jerky?

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Christiaan April 17, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Biltong is cured in vinegar and coriander (and other flavors, we have made it spicy too) for a 1-3 days. That is the cooking process. Then we hang it up in the garage and put a fan on it for a week or so depending on how dry you want it. You can eat it pretty soft, even while it is slightly red, but generally we leave it until it is mostly dry but still pliable in the center.

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cheeseslave August 11, 2008 at 6:48 PM

Hi, your recipe looks good. I would use rapadura or maple syrup instead of brown sugar. And I like the idea of juice — if freshly squeezed.

Scroll up to the comments about biltong — there is a link to the Wikipedia page about biltong — that explains the differences.

Ann Marie

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Sarah August 12, 2008 at 5:59 PM

How did you slice your meat?

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cheeseslave August 12, 2008 at 6:12 PM

I sliced it thinly with the grain. That was what I was told to do.

Ask your butcher or farmer; they will show you how to slice it with the grain.

Although I have read online that half the people will tell you to slice it with the grain and half will say against the grain.

People have said that it’s easier to chew if you slice it against the grain. (And for those of us who have bad teeth from eating a SAD diet for years… that’s a good thing.)

So just try it. See what works for you.

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Sarah August 13, 2008 at 4:16 AM

I’ve heard both arguments on for/against the grain as well. Since my 3 year old loves the stuff, I prefer it as easy to chew as possible.

Do you use a knife or meat slicer to slice it? And how thick do you slice it? Did you have it partially frozen when you cut it?

So far we’ve used a knife and had it partially frozen. But it takes forever and our hands get really tired. Plus it’s very uneven as far as how thick or thin it is.

Someone from the NT Yahoo group said she uses a mandolin slicer-but it did not work for us. It could have been because ours is cheap.

We would make beef jerky more often except the slicing is soo much work. Short of buying a really big, expensive meat slicer-we just can not seem to find a good way to cut our meat in a uniform way.

I’m always trying to find out what methods others use.

Thanks, and I really enjoy your blog.

Sarah

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cheeseslave August 13, 2008 at 5:58 AM

I just used a knife and it was not partially frozen — it was thawed.

How much did you cut up? Maybe it would be easier to slice it when it’s thawed. It was easy for me. I was able to get the slices thin enough.

What cut did you use?

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iheartjerky August 13, 2008 at 1:55 PM

I have my butcher cut up all of my meat when i buy it. He is a pretty friendly guy…but won’t most butchers do that? I’d try it for sure. It makes your job a WHOLE lot easier.

Hmmmmm…Maple Syrup, huh? Thats a good idea! That would probably make it a little easier to mix together. Now i want to make another Sweet Jerky Recipe so i can try it out. Any suggestions? Or back to http://beefjerkyrecipes.com/jerky/flavor/sweet-jerky/ with me?

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Scott Grzybek September 5, 2008 at 2:45 PM

It’s that easy? I think I’ll try some tonight. One question – does this still keep the beef cool enough to avoid breaking down the raw enzymes, and if it does, do you know of any way to do it at cooler temps?

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cheeseslave September 5, 2008 at 2:54 PM

My dehydrator guide said to set it between 145-155.

The enzymes are deactivated at 150.

So you could set it at 145 I suppose.

HOWEVER… upon further study, I have read that in order to kill pathogens, you should heat the dehydrator up to 160 for a period of time, then reduce the temp to 130-150.

If your dehydrator does not go up to 160, you could do this step in the oven.

“Illnesses due to Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 from homemade jerky raise questions about the safety of traditional drying methods for making beef and venison jerky. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline’s current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat. But most dehydrator instructions do not include this step, and a dehydrator may not reach temperatures high enough to heat meat to 160 F.

After heating to 160 F, maintaining a constant dehydrator temperature of 130 to 140 F during the drying process is important because:

* the process must be fast enough to dry food before it spoils; and
* it must remove enough water that microorganisms are unable to grow.”

http://www.hoptechno.com/bookjerky.htm

Thank you Scott for raising this question. I suppose it is a trade-off between enzyme and pathogens.

I am guessing it would be smarter to go the safe route and lose some of the enzymes.

What do you think?

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Scott Grzybek September 5, 2008 at 4:02 PM

I think it all depends on where you get your meat from. I get a completely pasture raised and privately slaughtered 1/2 cow every year from a farmer I know very well. We eat his beef raw all the time, and we’ve never had any issues. However, if I bought the meat at a store, I’d probably do the cautious higher-heating as well.
I’ve just been reading this really cool site that talks about the place of raw meat in the paleolithic diet – http://www.rawpaleodiet.com.

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cheeseslave September 5, 2008 at 4:06 PM

Interesting — I was thinking pretty much the same thing.

I’ve been reading a lot about E. coli O157:H7 and it seems to be caused by cows that are fed grain, not grass.

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Scott Grzybek September 5, 2008 at 4:34 PM

What I’ve read is that the cow’s digestive system can’t handle large amounts of grain, and that the grains (esp. corn) actually decrease the pH of their stomach acid to a level much closer to our own. That means that any bacteria that comes from their intestinal system has a much higher tolerance of acidic conditions than they should have – hence, the bacteria from cows force-fed grains can easily adopt to our own biology and get us sick. Just one more way our factory farming system has made us so much healthier -

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susan January 16, 2010 at 2:46 PM

i’m looking for a jerkey recipe not using soy or any sweetener-is that possible? can’t seem to find any online. also, i’m wondering if either flank or skirt are good cuts to use (grass fed of course!). thanks susan

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cheeseslave January 16, 2010 at 11:25 PM

Susan – I think you could use flank or skirt. As far as not using sweetener, try it! You can use salt instead of soy sauce. Please try and report back.

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frankifries May 25, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Re: the biltong, We make ours in this http://www.traditionaltx.us/images/JerkyDrierInstructions.pdf

I think it cost $15 but its worth every penny and it breaks down and goes away easily

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Jill August 27, 2010 at 5:51 PM

I bought a food dehydrator a couple weeks ago and am looking for recipes for homemade jerky. Thanks for this one. I will try it next time!
.-= Jill´s last blog ..Adventures in Food Dehydrating =-.

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Kylie Thomas May 17, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Everybody here is slicing their own meat. I buy schnitzel for this recipe- which is already thinly sliced, ready to go. All you then have to do is cut it into bite size strips. Much easier!

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Jill C May 24, 2011 at 7:51 AM

I like to use pineapple juice for about 1/3 of the liquid. Also, I use the liquid ingredients to soak the meat, then I use more spices and sprinkle the wet meat with the spices just before I put it in the dryer. Cayenne pepper is good too, if your family likes spicy things. I love the pineapple and cayenne pepper combination because I like the sweet/spicy combination.
Also, regarding bacteria – you could probably count on the high salt content of the soy sauce to help with any pesky bacteria, and I’ve never tried it, but I wonder how adding some whey to the liquid would work?

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LeahS July 11, 2011 at 8:55 PM

I’ve always wanted to try making this!

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sewpretty13 July 13, 2011 at 6:56 AM

I Love all these comments! I found a blog somewhere talking about making jerky from hamburger. I tried it and really like it, since I didn’t have to slice it. Basically just smashing a bit of hamburger on the dehydrator tray.

I get my meat from a farmer and choose to keep the temp low.
Becky

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Michele H August 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

OMG that looks heavenly…I have some grass and forage fed roast in the freezer…guess what I will be doing this weekend! We buy our beef from our local farmer and have a couple of roast left from our last 1/4 that we need to use up before our next one arrives in a couple of weeks. Yee-haw! Thanks for the recipe!

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Dana February 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM

I’m new to your blog and very excited about this recipe. I just bought my first dehydrator, a 9-tray Excalibur, and use it so frequently it barely gets put away. I may actually have to find it a user-friendly home in my house somewhere. Anyway, thanks for posting this recipe as I’ve been searching and searching and I like your recipe the best. Plus, I actually have all those ingredients.

Also, frankifries, that is a super-cool homemade dehydrator. If my husband had seen that before I bought mine, I’m sure he would have made it. Now I am trying to rig up a similar meat dryer by taking all the trays out of my dehdrator, skewering the meat on fondue sticks and placing them over some glass jars, I think. Anyway, experimenting soon…

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kate April 19, 2013 at 6:20 PM

OK. I feel stupid asking this, but how long in the dehydrator and how long in the oven. Thanks!

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Ann Marie Michaels April 19, 2013 at 8:43 PM

It’s not a stupid question!

It really depends though, on how dry it is where you live. Just let it run until it’s dry like jerky.

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Stephanie May 8, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Does it keep unrefrigerated? Other recipes I’ve read elsewhere say to store in the the refrigerator, but I need to make jerky so my daughter can pack on a trip to Africa. It will get hot.

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Laureen September 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM

What about using coconut amino acids in place of soy sauce?

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