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How to Make Beef Jerky With a Dehydrator

Are you looking for an easy-to-make survival food or just simply craving for a healthy snack? Beef jerky is the perfect food for you!

This wonder-food provides the convenience of a snack with no cooking needed. 

Protein and nutrient-filled, beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks to take whenever I go camping. I also love adding it to salads, soups, omelets, and baked casseroles.

Since commercially made beef jerky is usually expensive (not to mention high in sodium), I prefer to make my own beef jerky as it’s cheap and easy. I’m happy to share with you a step-by-step tutorial on how you can make beef jerky using a dehydrator.

How to Make Beef Jerky With a Dehydrator

Why Use a Dehydrator to Make Beef Jerky

Before, people used only the sun and salt to preserve or make different types of food. Good thing, dehydrators are now available to make the process as easy as 1-2-3. I love using a dehydrator in drying fruits, but I also use it whenever I make beef jerky.

Based on my experience, a home dehydrator is the perfect piece of equipment to transform lean slices of beef into beef jerky.

Aside from the ease it provides, a dehydrator is a safer option when drying food. Unlike the sun, a dehydrator allows me to apply steady temperature and airflow in a controlled environment. This is important for proper food safety.

To boot, a top-quality food dehydrator uses less electricity than an oven. It’s essential that you find the best type for seamless dehydrating.


Step 1 - Choose lean meats for the best beef jerky

I prefer lean meats as they are best for long-term storage. I make sure to find meat that has as little fat as possible. Fat does not dry completely, making the beef jerky spoil more quickly.

If you can’t find lean meats, you can also make jerky from ground meats.

At times, this is even easier to use because it doesn’t require marinating. Some people prefer this because they don’t like to bite into a hard piece of jerky. When using ground beef, the result is usually a chewier and less tough jerky.

Step 2 – Freeze the meat (optional)

After choosing the type of meat, place the beef in the freezer for 1-2 hours. I do this for uniform slices. I know the meat is ready for slicing when it is hard to the touch but not completely frozen.

Be that as it may, you can skip the freezing part and slice your jerky using a jerky slicer. By using a slicer, the meat strips will have the same width. This will allow the beef strips to dry evenly.

Step 3 – Prepare the Ingredients

For the best beef jerky recipe I use the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of beef
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • A few dashes of Tabasco (optional)
  • A few drops of Liquid Smoke flavoring (optional)

Step 4 – Marinate the Beef Strips

Marinades bring in the flavor. Additionally, they help tenderize the meat. I personally use the ingredients above to create the ideal marinade. However, you can marinate the beef strips in your chosen marinade.

If you can't marinate the strips overnight, you can do it for at least 5 hours. Personally, I marinate the beef strips in the fridge for 18 hours.

After marinating, pat dry the beef jerky strips. This helps remove any excess marinade. Doing so speeds up the dehydration process.

Remember to skip the marinating step if you’re making jerky from ground meats. However, adding in other ingredients and seasonings is still necessary.

Step 5 – Drying the Jerky

When laying out the beef in the dehydrator, make sure that the strips do not touch or overlap. The space in between the slices is necessary for the air to circulate better. This will dry the meat easily.

I personally set the dehydrator temperature to 165 degrees F and let it run for about 4-6 hours.

Times can vary a lot, depending on different factors. These include the thickness of the meat, the moisture content, the temperatures in the house, and more. Additionally, different types of dehydrators have different power, so the drying time can vary. Some meats take about 12 hours to dehydrate.

It's best if you check on the meat periodically. Checking the meat many times during the drying process will help blot off any fats or liquids that surface from the strips. I use a paper towel to dab the slices dry and continue dehydrating them.

You know it’s finished dehydrating when the meat has turned very dark. It’s dehydrated when it bends like a willow without breaking. To preserve it for the next weeks or months, you may store the beef jerky in the refrigerator in Ziploc bags or jars.

You may also like recipe for bacon jerky with dehydrator.