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How To Make Beef Jerky in a Food Dehydrator

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Making Homemade Beef Jerky in the dehydrator is a fun and interactive project with delicious results. Our whole family loves it when we have a batch of homemade jerky in the food dehydrator. My homemade recipe checks off all the flavor boxes: it’s salty, smokey, and a little sweet. 

A piece of homemade beef jerky made the dehydrator with more jerky behind it.

Don’t have a dehydrator? Scroll down to find other ways to make it at home!

Thin and lean slices of beef are marinated and then dried in a food dehydrator for a healthy homemade snack everyone loves to munch on.

Beef Jerky is one of my favorite snacks, but the store-bought version is feeling less than healthy — so I set out to create my own recipe that I could feel good about eating. 

It’s a nice grab-and-go snack that is full of protein and will leave you feeling satisfied. My version doesn’t contain any weird or too-difficult-to-say ingredients.

Everything you need for the beef jerky recipe. Beef, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and honey.

How to Store Homemade beef jerky

Since you’re not using curing salts or any other preservatives it’s important to remember that homemade jerky isn’t shelf stable.

Even if you use a vacuum sealer to vacuum pack it you can’t leave it out at room temperature in the pantry or on the counter.

It MUST be stored either in the fridge or in the freezer. It’s best if it’s stored in an air-tight container. And it will last for several days in the fridge.

WHAT cut of BEEF IS BEST FOR BEEF JERKY? 

There are a variety of lean cuts of beef to use. London Broil and Bottom Round are the best cuts to use, but a flank steak is also a good option.

The most important thing is making sure to choose a cut that is lean and not fatty. If you see lots of fat when you slice the meat, be sure to trim that off with a sharp knife. 

Thinly sliced beef ready to be mixed with the spices for homemade beef jerky.

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE This Homemade BEEF JERKY Recipe?

The only special equipment you’ll need for this beef jerky recipe is:

  • Food Dehydrator-for this recipe I used the Excalibur Food Dehydratoruse what you have and see below about drying times and temperatures
  • good sharp knife for slicing the beef
  • a cutting board
  • a frying pan for taste testing
Sliced beef and the beef jerky recipe spices.

What’s in Homemade beef jerky?

– A Lean Cut of Beef, lean cuts include London broil, flank steak, or bottom round roast

– Soy Sauce 

– Honey 

– Liquid Smoke (optional) 

– Onion Powder 

– Garlic Powder 

-Salt 

– Pepper

*optional ingredients* cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

Tips for making this Homemade Jerky Recipe:

  • Partially freeze the lean cut of beef to make it easier to slice
  • sharpen your knife well before starting to cut
  • slice the meat across the grain, so no long stringy pieces
  • be sure to cut it as thinly as possible for best the beef jerky

What’s The Best Temperature for dehydrating Jerky

You should set your dehydrator to 155° for making jerky. This way you know it’s cooked through and through which is important since you’re not using any curing salts or preservatives.

Don't crowd the trays of your dehydrator, lay the pieces far enough apart for the air to circulate around the trays.

How long does beef jerky take to dry in the dehydrator?

When you set the dehydrator to 155° it can take ANYWHERE from 3-4 hours to 7-8 hours depending on the model and brand of the dehydrator.

If you have a unit that dries from the bottom up you will need to rotate racks to keep things drying evenly. And that can mean your beef jerky will take longer to dry properly.

If you FILL your dehydrator it can ALSO take longer to finish drying.

So my tip here is to make beef jerky in a food dehydrator when you have time to babysit it. It needs looking after, checking in on, and possible rearranging. And you won’t know HOW LONG to dry it until you do it once or twice.

My OTHER Beef Jerky Recipes

I have a couple of other beef jerky recipes you can try too!

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer. I use a big dehydrator with a fan at back rather than underneath the trays to make sure things dry evenly.

You can also make beef jerky using ground beef!  This is one of the more fun beef jerky recipes because you use ground beef and a ground beef jerky gun that extrudes the ground beef into sheets to make jerky.

Yield: 10 servings

Homemade Beef Jerky in a Food Dehydrator

A piece of homemade beef jerky made the dehydrator with more jerky behind it.

A fun and easy kitchen project, homemade beef jerky is also the perfect snack!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean beef
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoke flavor (optional)

Instructions

  1. slice the beef thin, freeze it for a little bit if you want it to be easier to slice
  2. place sliced beef in a mixing bowl
  3. mix the soy sauce and honey and add spices, you can add red pepper flakes of cayenne if you like it spicy
  4. mix HALF the seasoning mixture into the beef to check for flavor
  5. to check for flavor heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook a small piece fo beef
  6. if you like the flavor don't add any more of the seasoning mix
  7. if you think it needs MORE flavor add the remaining seasoning mix
  8. mix the meat thoroughly, cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours
  9. to dehydrate jerky: set dehydrator to 155°
  10. lay meat on trays, pat dry with paper towels
  11. put trays in dehydrator and close it up
  12. dehydrate for 2-4 hours or until the meat is dry and flexible
  13. store air tight in the refrigerator

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Nutrition Information

Yield

10

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 225Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 81mgSodium 313mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 0gSugar 3gProtein 26g

This nutrition information was calculated using a computer program, results may vary.

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