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How to Make Beef Jerky


Want to know how to make beef jerky?

We did, too. We decided to make a homemade beef jerky recipe to see just how easy or difficult it was. We were curious to see how our homemade version compared with what you could buy in stores. The result? A rich, salty, high protein snack that tastes delicious, far better than most all we purchased. We were surprised and excited to learn that jerky could be made simply at home, and that no expensive tools, ingredients or equipment was required.

We love being able to flavor our jerky any way we choose, the combinations of flavors you have available are as limitless as your imagination.

What is beef jerky, anyway?

Jerky is essentially strips of lean meat that have marinated and dried. Dried meat has been an important staple for ages.  We are starting to understand just why. You can choose how you want to flavor it, by selecting different ingredients for a marinade. This means you can add fresh garlic, herbs, ginger, flavored vinegars, basically play with what you might have in your pantry. You also get to choose what type of meat you want to use, and you will find you have a variety of good choices, including venison and other game you might hunt.

The processed meat you buy in the gas station checkout line has little to do with a batch of homemade jerky. This type of jerky you buy is often loaded with fillers and preservatives. Homemade jerky uses whole muscle meat with none of that, no unwanted additives. Sure, you can buy this type of jerky from small purveyors, but the cost is exorbitant.

Jerky is one of the healthier foods you can eat as a snack if it is not full of salt and preservatives, due to its high protein content and relatively low calorie count. This is a snack that packs well, travels well, and can be kept for at least a year if properly stored.

Is it hard to make homemade beef jerky?

No. You can use ingredients you already have in your kitchen, so all you should need is meat and a block of time when you will be at home. The process of making jerky requires many hours of time, but most of that is just the time it takes for the meat to dry out. All you do is slice your meat up, add some marinade to it, leave it to sit overnight, then starting drying it. You can spend your time doing other things or just relax while you wait for it to be finished.

Pretty simple, and well worth the effort. There is also a very primal sense of accomplishment you get when you make your own beef jerky.

Do I need a dehydrator to make beef jerky?

Not really. It depends most on how long you plan to keep the jerky you make. If you want it to have the longest shelf life possible, you should use a dehydrator. If not, the oven works great, and is what we recommend. Oven made is the easiest, and even die hard jerky connoisseur. Many think the oven version tastes best.

Why not try both and see what you think? It is easy. We promise.

Do I need other special equipment for homemade jerky?

No. Just meat, marinade, a sharp knife and a way to cook and dry your jerky.

Make Homemade Beef Jerky | Recipes and Marinades

  • Meat (you can use wild game, strip steak, round steak, any lean meat of your choice)
  • Ingredients for marinade (choose one below)
  • A large ziploc type plastic bag
  • A sharp knife

Beef Jerky Instructions

Follow these simple steps, and you can easily make beef jerky of your own.

Step 1: Select Meat for Beef Jerky

You will need to use lean meat for your jerky. It is the fat in meat that contains oils which will go rancid. The less fat, the better. By no means do you need to use steak, though. There are plenty of lean cuts of meat which are not as tender as steak, and they work perfectly for jerky.

We tried a few different meats when we made jerky, just so we could tell you about the results. We used top eye of round, which our butcher kindly trimmed for us when we purchased, venison backstrap and bottom round. Strip steak, flank steak and skirt steak will also work well.

TIP: Tell your butcher what you are doing, making jerky. We were thrilled to find that the butcher was excited about our project and had made jerky himself. He gave us his best recommendations and then proceeded to trim the meat per our specifications.

How To Make Beef Jerky


Step 2: Trim Fat

Trim of any large portions of visible fat. You will be starting with a lean cut, but you may need to trim the edges.You do not want your jerky to have any fat you can easily trim off.

How To Make Homemade Beef Jerky

How to Choose Meat For Beef Jerky

Step 3: Partially Freeze Meat

Place your meat in the freezer for a few minutes. This will makes the meat easier to slice.

Step 4: Slice Meat into Strips

Whichever meat you choose, you will need to slice it into strips. It is good to know here how thick you want your jerky. I had the help of my butcher on this one- he asked how big I wanted my jerky to be when he trimmed the meat. The jerky will shrink as it dehydrates, so you start with pieces much larger than you might think. The finished jerky ends up being about 1/3 the size of what you started with. I will show you pictures of the finished jerky below, using these sizes of strips, so you can better understand exactly what you will get.

Beef Jerky Marinades

This is my top round, sliced into large pieces by my butcher. The jerky will get smaller as it cooks, making it about 1/3 this size.

Beef Jerky Recipes

This is my venison backstrap. It has no visible fat to trim, which is great. I made large strips that look like this.

Homemade Beef Jerky

Step 5: Mix your Marinade

This is the fun part. Decide what kind of jerky you want. You can use our recipes or make your own. Try ours, and add your own flair. Modify at will.

TIPS FOR CUSTOM MARINADES: If you make your own, we suggest adding something with salt, you will want about a tablespoon of salt in any marinade. Worcestershire is always a good choice for jerky meat. Add sugar if you want sweeter jerky, and spices according to what flavor(s) you are going for. We like to add a vinegar or citrus to any marinade. This helps to tenderize the meat.

Here are the recipes we came up with:

Beef Jerky Recipes | Marinades  for Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky Marinade Recipe #1:

Original Beef Jerky Marinade:

  • 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed (you may substitute 1 tablespoon of dried, we just love fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt or seasoned meat tenderizer (this will have salt)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Beef Jerky Marinade Recipe #2:

Teriyaki  Jerky Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped, or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 serrano peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt or seasoned meat tenderizer (this will have salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Beef Jerky Marinade Recipe #3:

Spicy Southwestern Jerky Marinade:

  • juice of one lime
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 serrano peppers, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula, Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can adjust the spiciness and leave this or the peppers out)
  •  2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt or seasoned meat tenderizer (this will have salt)

These are the Ingredients for Beef Jerky Marinade #1:

Original Beef Jerky Recipe:

Jerky Recipes

These are the Ingredients for Beef Jerky Marinade #2:

Teriyaki  Jerky:

Beef Jerky Marinade Recipe

These are the Ingredients for Beef Jerky Marinade #3:

Spicy Southwestern Jerky:

Making Beef Jerky

Here are the steps for Beef Jerky Marinade #1

Original Beef Jerky Recipe Marinade:

Make Beef Jerky

Instructions for Making Beef Jerky

Instructions for Making Jerky

Jerky Instructions

Recipes for Jerky

Best Beef Jerky


Here are the steps for Beef Jerky Marinade #2

Teriyaki Beef Jerky Recipe Marinade:


Best Beef Jerky Recipe

Best Jerky Recipe

Making Beef Jerky

Using A Dehydrator to Make Beef Jerky

How To Make Beef Jerky in The Oven


How To Make Beef Jerky At Home

Beef Jerky Recipe Instructions

Here are the steps for Beef Jerky Marinade #3

Spicy Southwestern Jerky Recipe Marinade:

Beef Jerky How To

Beef Jerky Tutorial

How To Make Beef Jerky Step by Step

Beef Jerky Step by Step

Make Jerky

Beef Jerky How To Make

Making Beef Jerky At Home



Step 6: Marinade meat in resealable bag

No matter which marinade you choose, one of ours, or one of your own, you will want to let your meat sit in it to absorb the flavors.

Marinade your meat in a ziploc type bag. We recommend leaving the meat in the marinade, refrigerating it overnight.

You can leave it less time, but shoot for at least 4 hours.

You do not want to leave your meat in the marinade for longer than one day.

Best Jerky Recipes

Step 7: Line Oven With Foil

Beef Jerky Recipe and Instructions

Step 8: Arrange Strips on Oven Rack

Starting with a clean oven rack, place your meat strips so that they do not touch one another. We recommend taking the oven rack out and putting it over your sink.

How To Make Homemade Jerky


Step 9: Choose a cooking method

You can choose to prepare your jerky using only the oven, or you can use a dehydrator. You need to decide which you prefer. Oven jerky will not be quite as dry. Some feel it tastes the best. Dehydrated jerky will store longer.


Choose Method A or B:

Method A:


How to Make Jerky In An Oven


• Set your oven to 200 degrees.

• Put meat in oven.

Place the meat in the oven, directly on the racks.

Vent the door just a little bit, if you can. This will allow moisture to escape.

 • Cook for 7 hours.

Start cooking your jerky.

Your jerky will take at least 7 hours to cook.

It is important to make sure you have succeeded in removing the moisture from the meat.

• Check Doneness

You will check the doneness at the 7 hour point, but need to keep cooking until your jerky bends like a green twig. You can dry it more, if you like, but you must get it this dry, or it will not store properly. The more dry your meat is, the longer it will store.

This being said, if you are going for a chewy jerky, one that you intend to eat in couple of months, you do not want to over dry it. Jerky left with some chewiness like this will store well for a few months. We keep ours in the freezer for optimal freshness.



Method B

If you wish to dry your jerky for optimal long term storage, you will need a dehydrator. Your meat will still need to be cooked a bit, though, just to get the temperature to a high enough point.


Set your oven to 200 degrees.

Place the meat in the oven, directly on the racks. Vent the door just a little bit, if you can. This will allow moisture to escape. Start cooking your jerky.

• Cook at 200 degrees for one hour.



• Remove from oven

• Place meat in dehydrator and turn on

• Dry for at least 10 hours.

The drying time will depend on the thickness of the meat.

Thicker slices of meat will take 12 hours or more.




Step 11: Remove and Cool

Let your jerky cool for at least an hour before you package it. We like to set ours on paper towels to dry and cool.

Allow your jerky to cool for an hour.


Step 12: Package and Seal

You will need to package your meat in an airtight container. A ziploc bag or an airtight resealable plastic container will work well. If you wish to preserve your meat as long as possible, we recommend using a vacuum food sealer.


Place the open end in the vacuum sealer.



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