How to Make Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is popular in my family. Unfortunately it’s pricey, and when you have teenagers that eat it like candy it can set you back a few bucks.

Dried Peppered Beef Jerky Cut in Strips

I’ve experimented with making my own beef jerky and was really pleased with the results. I tried using two different methods i.e. the oven and a food dehydrator.

Let me save you some trouble by telling you up front that the food dehydrator did a superior job.

Yes, you can use the oven with success, but it’s messier and more time consuming.

Either way, it’s a fun thing to do and well worth the potential savings. An added benefit is the ability to play around with flavorings to develop one you like best.

Here are the steps:

1. Purchase a large roast (a cheap cut with very little fat marbling such as eye of round or flank steak). Partially freeze (until crystals are formed) the roast to make thin slicing easier.

2. Using a meat slicer or sharp knife, slice the roast across the grain into long thin strips of approximately 1/8 inch thickness.

3. Prepare a marinade, using packaged beef jerky spice mixes (available at hunting/fishing type stores) or a homemade mixture. Sample recipe for 1 pound of beef: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 3/4 tsp hot sauce, 1/2 tsp hickory salt.

4. Dip each slice of meat into the marinate, then place in a shallow dish. Pour remaining marinate over beef and leave in fridge over night.

5. Set the oven on lowest temperature, and leave door slightly ajar. Use bamboo skewers to hang each strip of jerky in the oven.

Place a tray below to catch drippings. Alternately, arrange the meat in single layers between several sheets of paper towels.

Roll flat with a rolling pin, remove from paper towels and place the meat directly on the oven racks.

Bake for 8-10 hours until beef is dry.

If using a food dehydrator, the strips of beef are laid flat in single layers on the dehydrating trays. I like to add coarse black pepper on top.

The drying time will depend upon your machine, but will likely be significantly less.

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

47 thoughts on “How to Make Beef Jerky”

  1. I have always wanted to make jerky, but never had the money for a dehydrator. The better high end models can be a bit pricey. This seems very easy and simple to prepare. I imagine it can also be used for a variety of meats also like turkey or deer. I have friends who hunt that make deer jerky in large quantities every year and give it out every Christmas as gifts and it would be nice to be able to return the favor. I will have to play with the marinade a bit. I love my jerky to have that hint of sweet. Do you think a bit of honey added would add enough sweet to fix my craving?

    • I haven’t tried making my own beef jerky but I think adding teriyaki sauce or any sweetened Japanese sauce can do the trick. It’s a good flavor with a hint of sweet BBQ sauce. I’ve also heard adding a bit of corn syrup helps add some sweetness.

      Thanks for sharing the recipe, I might actually try this.

  2. I have a food dehydrator and I have only used it for fruit. I like the recipe and I will try it out. I recently sampled a store bought brand and I thought that it was too salty. With making it at home, we can adjust the salt content.

  3. I ‘ve never eaten beef jerky before only heard of it…looking at the presentation though, something is going on in my mouth…doesn’t look difficult to make, i guess a trip to the meat store will suffice…then i can try out the delicious recipe 🙂

  4. I have only ever eaten beef jerky once before, it was far too seasoned and I assumed it was trying to hide the musky flavor. I am aware that other countries are a lot more liberal in eating it, so I am sure that it is an acquired taste. Thanks for shedding some light on how it is made.

  5. I love beef jerky. The problem is the sodium content. Some years ago I was headed to celebrate my aunts 101 birthday out of town. Stopping in the store I purchased a pack and began to eat it. Before we even got out of town the sodium had caused me to swell so much I was uncomfortable. My sister had to stop the car and I got out and tried to walk it down and drink lots of water. Still took some time before the swelling subsided. I haven’t had any since.

    So question: What is the sodium content in yours?

  6. My first time eating homemade jerky was actually made out of deer. I remember eating it and chewing it and chewing it forever then I gave it to a neighbor dog. (Not sure that was a safe thing to do, but I was little at the time.) My parents own a dehydrator machine and hoping to get it. (They recently got divorced so they are going through stuff.)

    This recipe looks super easy and looks like it would be fun to make even with the kids. I would love to experiment with different spices any suggestions?

  7. My 12 year old would live off of beef jerky if I let him, but it costs way too much and it’s filled with things I can’t pronounce. I tried making jerky in my dehydrator, but it used ground beef and a jerky gun, and I just wasn’t fond of the results. This- I am definitely going to try.

    Who can pass up being a 12 year old’s favorite person for making him a whole bag of beef jerky all to himself? Not me!

  8. I cannot believe that I never thought about trying to make my own beef jerky. I love the stuff and the only reason I don’t indulge on it too often is because of the price. This seems like a fun little recipe to work on. I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I don’t have a food dehydrator though, what other uses are there for one and are there any that you recommend?

  9. This has been on my to-do list for so long. It seems like a lot of fun and of course delicious! I think I’ll follow your directions as they seem less scary than the advanced ones I’ve seen.

    • I agree, this recipe is way less scary than others I have seen. I love that she walks us through each step and provides pictures. The pictures alone make me want to try each and every recipe she posts!

  10. I’ve never made my own beef jerky but your photos make me want to try. I enjoy eating it but, like you said, it can cost a pretty penny so I usually pass over it in the store. It looks as though you can save a lot by making your own. It would be fun to play around with different marinade types.

    Beef jerky would be a good little snack to throw in with work lunches or eat on the go in a pinch. Definitely going to try making some. I hope I don’t mess it up! 🙂

  11. I salivated all the way through this recipe! I love beef jerky, and would love to make my own. Everyone I know loves it too, and I’d feel quite proud of myself if I could hand around my own homemade jerky next time I have a gathering. It would make a lovely Christmas gift or an addition to a hamper too.

    I would definitely go down the dehydrator route; having tried various drying projects in my oven, and with limited success, I’ll take the easier option of using my dehydrator.

    Thanks for these great instructions.

  12. I love beef jerky, alway have and always will. You are right that it can be expensive. I only buy it when I find it on sale but making my own would be much easier. My mom used to make beef jerky but the dehydrator broke and she never replaced it.

    Deer jerky is really popular in my area, but I’m not a big fan of it. If i can find a good dehydrator on sale I’ll try and make my own. The picture that you posted looks super yummy and I want some jerky of me own now. Thanks for the recipe, everything always looks so great.

  13. Beef jerky is an excellent snack and source of protein, however, the sodium content is fairly high.

    Alternative, lower sodium marinades might be more healthy, though it might make the jerky more perishable. I might suggest using teriyaki sauce instead of soy sauce, and using a smaller pinch of sea/kosher salt. This should still impart a hearty amount of flavor to the beef.

  14. My husband loves beef jerky, I think I could save some money by buying me a food dehydrator and making my own. I am going to give this a try when I get one.

  15. My son and I love beef jerky. Yes it is crazy expensive so it’s a treat when we do get to chew on it. I have never tried the dehydrator for making jerky. I actually thought about buying my son one. Then I thought to myself he’ll never use it.

    I tried a recipe once where the meat was actually dried in the oven for several hours on low heat. It wasn’t bad my son really liked it. I on the other hand wasn’t so impressed with it. I think a dehydrator would make much better jerky.

  16. I am planning to make my husband a couple of different kinds of beef jerky for Christmas because he absolutely loves it and the store bought kind is ridiculously expensive. I think I am going to make him some Teriyaki flavored and some pepper flavored.

  17. Beef jerky is one of my all-time favorite road trip snacks! We go to Alabama a lot to visit family (about a five hour car ride one-way) and my Uncle Scott makes the best jerky you’ve ever tasted. From what I gather, he uses a recipe very similar to yours but he won’t tell anyone because he said it’s the only thing he’s good for! 😛 In any case, I really want to purchase a dehydrator so I can experiment to see if I can imitate his jerky..but I have no clue what to look for in a dehydrator. Can you recommend some brands?

  18. I will have to try making Jerky this weekend. I have looked at trying using the oven method but it seemed quite complicated. It is well laid out in this post we makes me more confident to try it. I have been considering purchasing a food dehydrator, but I am concerned that it will become unused such as my breadmaker did. Thanks for the great post.

  19. Beef jerky is one of my all time favorite snacks. Great tip on using the oven instead of getting a dehydrator. Will definitely try out this recipe when I have access to an oven. Will report back with results!

  20. Beef jerky is awesome, although its is particularly high in sodium. It’s not really for everyday consumption and I consider it as a treat like ice cream and pudding. It can be a bit expensive, but doing it yourself seems to save you a couple of extra bucks.

  21. What a brilliant idea this is! I have not heard of beef jerky being made like this to be honest, but I love the recipe for marinade! Some great tips, especially about partially freezing before roasting too, this works really well when working with beef! I am going to try this tomorrow and will post the results!

  22. My daughter loves Beef Jerky, but I can’t stand the stuff. Maybe this will turn round my opinion. She seems to like it, so I think I’ll stick with this recipe. It’s much cheaper than the stuff from the store.

  23. So I am going to make some friends with this recipe. I moved to Europe a few years ago and there is no jerky here. They have an OK assortment of meat snacks in different areas, but the real thing is lacking. I brought a bag of it over here for my brother-in-law once and he still talks about it. Maybe it is going to be the next big thing here in Sweden.

  24. Huh, I’ve always loved beef jerky, but as you said, it can quickly become very expensive. Although you said the dehydrator was superior to the oven method, was there a noticeable quality difference, or was it merely a time issue, with the oven taking significantly longer? I don’t own a dehydrator, and can’t think of anything I would use it for other than jerky if I were to buy one, so I don’t know if I’m ready to invest in one yet. I’d be willing to deal with the added time and mess of the oven if it produces a similar end result without having to invest in a new piece of equipment.

  25. Yes!!!
    A way to make one of my favorite protein-packed snacks. Beef is always tasty and I’m pretty sure this method can be used to dehydrate other meats as well, I’ll have to play around a bit to be sure. I know I’ll have fun with the seasonings too. Thanks for sharing!

  26. I didn’t know you could make beef jerky at home! This is so simple too. I’m definitely going to try this because my husband loves it. He’d love it even more if I just made it at home instead of buying it. Thanks for sharing.

  27. This was a great finding, I never thought of making my own beef jerky. I´m also always complaining they’re too expensive and they’re so addictive that they last less than a minute around my house. Please help me out with something I didn’t get. Where should I hang the skewers? In the door of the oven or on the oven racks? I really want to make this, I would really appreciate if you could answer.

  28. This is definitely something that I will be doing very soon! The tips are very helpful and concise also. I am obsessed with beef jerky! So much protein and taste that lasts a long time. There truly is nothing like it. Thank you for this post!

  29. Prepacked beef jerky can be quite expensive, not to mention not very tasty… I never thought that preparing it is so easy! I’m gonna add a lot of black pepper, thanks for the tip 🙂
    BTW, I’m always in love with the way you take photos! So clear and professional 🙂

  30. Like a few posters above me, I have never had the money for a decent dehydrator. In any case, this recipe sounds very tasty. I would probably test around with different spices since I like my jerky to be hot.

  31. This is such a great idea! I never even knew you could make it at home. I’d, too, eat this like candy. These tips are so helpful.

  32. I will for sure try this! I have always wanted to make Beef Jerky. I have had a food dehydrator, and never had a reason to use it until now!!! I can’t wait to try it out.

  33. Wow, it is pleasing to know that using a food dehydrator is more efficient and easy to use, I thought making beef jerky was a process that could not be done at home, especially since it is easier with a food dehydrator.
    But should I only use coarse black pepper or can I use other spices on the beef strips?

  34. The whole family loves this! I remember as a kid, my mom would often stop by at a Chinese deli store and would purchase about three packs of this. The flavor is sweet, salty and spicy and my brothers and I would eat them as a side dish with rice or as a sandwich sometimes but normally, we just had to open the pack and our parents would watch fight over them. Anyway, reading the recipe guide, there are a few things that we don’t have so maybe if I decide to dry meat, I’d just do it the old fashioned way.

  35. I used to buy a pack of jerky sticks every time I’d go into town when I was a kid. At that time, the price was .25 cents for a package of about four sticks. That was my favorite treat, even better than candy and it was something that my parents didn’t complain about. The price now for the same package is closer to a couple dollars so I no longer buy it, but this article gave me the thought that perhaps I could make my own, and it could be made from pretty much any kind of meat I choose too. Might be worth the price of the slab of meat to give this a shot.

  36. That beef jerky seems divine…I still haven’t tried it 🙁 But as soon as I’m able to, I’ll turn to this recipe for guidance!

  37. I cant get on with beef jerky. I’ve tried it a few times, in the hope I might develop a liking for it, but it’s just not happening. I do really enjoy beef, but I don’t like the taste or the texture of it when it’s been ‘jerkied’!

  38. I really enjoy eating beef jerky as well. I never gave any thought as to whether or not I would make it myself since I don’t have a dehydrator at home. I like to buy beef jerky as a treat since it is so expense to buy on a regular basis.

  39. Here in Europe beef jerky is not popular at all, in Romania I’ve never seen anyone have it at a restaurant/grocery store. I haven’t got to try it out yet, but beef jerky seems like a good snack as well, not only a meal.

  40. I’ve made jerky from both beef and venison, and I’ve always made it in the oven because I don’t have a dehydrator. I’ve had good results with drying it in the oven and I thought it tasted wonderful. I’ve experimented with various seasonings and sauces, but my favorite blend was simple. I used soy sauce and pepper. Instead of placing the meat directly on the oven racks, I placed each strip on the top of a broiler pan and the grease conveniently dripped into the bottom of the pan. It’s been a few years since I’ve made jerky, but after reading this post, I think I may have to make some real soon.

  41. I have always wanted to try this because the cost savings would be great. I didn’t have the know how though. This article explains things nicely and I may give it a go now. It still won’t be cheap, but it will cost less than the tiny prepackaged amounts you can buy at a store. Heck, I live near the home of Oberto (major beef jerky brand name ) which sells it direct cheaper to locals from an outlet sore and it is still expensive compared to doing it yourself.

  42. I really love Beef Jerky, it has a really unique taste that when it comes to me, it’s just perfect for a snack.
    I haven’t actually tried to make my own at home, but my uncle makes his own, but the difference is that he makes his own sauce, I’m also not really sure about the exact ingredients, but it has a this acidic but spicy taste on it, they end up tasting so good!
    Sometimes things just taste better when they are homemade, and at least, you’re sure of what are you eating, lol.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  43. I got my father-in-law coming over tomorrow for a week and was looking for something special to prepare for him. I read this and thought “Well, I don’t have a food dehydrator, but I’ll take a look.” Super glad you ended up putting in the oven instructions as well. Thought I was out of luck on this one. Hopefully he enjoys it!

  44. I am not the kind of person that likes looking around for beef, but this definitely looks like the beef I really would get into. It looks absolutely delicious, I’d like to try this soon. Thank you for sharing this.

  45. I’ve seen a ton of beef jerky recipes floating around lately. Since I dont have a food dehydrator, it’s a bit more difficult for me to master it. The last recipe I tried, I apparently cooked it too long, as per the directions, and it came out very dry, and too tough to even eat. I will try this one as well! Fingers crossed that this is THE one!!

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