How To Make Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is the perfect snack for any occasion. It is easy to make and a great source of protein. You can take it with you on hikes, road trips or even to the office. Making beef jerky at home is not only a fun experience but also a convenient one. You get to choose the flavors you like and control the ingredients you use. This article will guide you on how to make beef jerky at home, step by step, and provide answers to frequently asked questions about making jerky.


Before we start making jerky, let’s check the essential ingredients that you will need.

– Beef – Any lean cuts of beef, like sirloin or flank steak, work well for making jerky. Fatty cuts of meat won’t work because the fat can turn rancid quickly.
– Jerky Seasoning – You can use pre-made seasoning mixtures or make your own. There are many recipes available online for making different types of seasoning blends.
– Salt – Use kosher salt if possible as it helps to cure the meat and retain flavor. The amount depends on the recipe you use.
– Sugar – Just like salt, sugar is also used to add flavor to the meat. Use light brown sugar or honey.
– Liquid smoke – It is an optional ingredient that gives the jerky a smoky flavor.
– Soy sauce – It adds saltiness to the jerky, and you can use low sodium soy sauce if you are watching your sodium intake.
– Black pepper – It adds a mild spice that works well with most jerky flavors
– Worcestershire sauce – It adds a unique flavor.

Tools and Equipments:

– Sharp knife or meat slicer
– Airtight container for marinating
– Dehydrator or oven

Instructions for making beef jerky:

1. Choose the meat: Select lean cuts of beef like top round, sirloin or flank steak. Remove any visible fat.

2. Cut the meat into thin strips: Slice the beef across the grain with a sharp knife or use a meat slicer. The thickness should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Keeping the thickness uniform ensures the jerky will dry evenly.

3. Marinate the meat: Combine the seasoning with salt, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and liquid smoke in a bowl. Add the meat strips to the marinade and coat them evenly. Place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor.

4. Dry the meat: Remove the meat strips from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. You can use either a dehydrator or an oven to dry the jerky.

If using a dehydrator:

Arrange the meat strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays, making sure they don’t overlap. Set the temperature at 160°F and let it dry for 4 to 8 hours. The drying time depends on the thickness of the meat, humidity, and temperature.

If using an oven:

Preheat the oven to 160°F. Cover the oven racks with aluminum foil and place the meat strips on top, leaving space between each strip. Place the racks in the oven and prop the door open to let air circulate. Dry the jerky for 4 to 8 hours.

5. Test for doneness: To ensure the jerky is fully dry, bend the meat strip. It should bend and crack slightly, and no moisture should be evident.

6. Store the jerky: When the jerky is done, let it cool down completely before storing it in airtight containers. If you’re not going to eat the jerky immediately, store it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life.


1. Can I make jerky with any type of meat?

Jerky can be made with any lean cuts of meat, including beef, pork, turkey, venison, or even buffalo. However, not all meats are created equal when it comes to jerky. Choose lean cuts with little to no fat. Fat can go rancid quickly, and that can affect the flavor and texture of the jerky.

2. Can I make jerky without a dehydrator?

Yes, you can make jerky in an oven. Preheat the oven to 160°F and follow the same instructions as for the dehydrator. The only difference is you need to prop the oven door open a bit to let air circulate.

3. How long does jerky last?

It depends on how it’s stored. Store the jerky in airtight containers in a cool, dry place, and it should last for several weeks to a few months. Keeping it in the fridge will extend its shelf life. Always check for signs of spoilage before eating the jerky.

4. How do I know if the jerky is done?

The jerky should be dry but not brittle. It should bend without breaking, and you should see no moisture. If moisture or stickiness is evident, it needs more drying time.

5. Do I need a dehydrator to make jerky?

No, you can use an oven for making jerky. However, a dehydrator is more efficient than an oven and often produces better results.


Making beef jerky at home is a straightforward and rewarding process. It allows you to customize the flavors and control the ingredients you use. The key is to choose lean cuts of meat and marinate them in seasoning overnight. You can use a dehydrator or an oven to dry the jerky. Once done, store the jerky in airtight containers, and it will be ready for snacking whenever you want. With some practice, you will find your favorite flavor and be able to make jerky that rivals even the best store-bought varieties.

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