How to Make Beef Jerky With a Dehydrator

Updated on March 10, 2020
Turtlewoman profile image

Kim is a board-certified holistic health coach, healthy living and cleanse consultant, and studied under Dr. Andrew Weil and Walter Willet.


Beef Jerky Recipe using a Dehydrator

One of our favorite snacks to take on hikes or camping is usually granola bars or beef jerky. Commercially made beef jerky tends to be expensive, high in sodium, and there's such a small amount in each bag. I prefer to make my own beef jerky as it's really easy and cost-effective.

Beef jerky is a convenient, high-protein snack to have on hand all the time. If you don't like beef or are trying to cut back on red meat, you can make turkey jerky or deer jerky in your dehydrator.

If you want to learn how to make beef jerky using a dehydrator, this article includes a step-by-step tutorial. I am also sharing with you two of my favorite recipes.

Why Use a Dehydrator?

People have been drying food since the beginning of time. People preserved different types of food out of necessity. The only two elements that were available were the sun and salt.

Flash forward thousands of years later, technology has given us the dehydrator. We can now dry meat and make delicious jerky right in our kitchen. A dehydrator is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. Not only do I use it to dry fruits, but I often make beef jerky with it. If you have pets, you can also make healthy turkey jerky for them.

The following reasons to use a dehydrator to make beef jerky

  • Less expensive: It cost less electricity to run the dehydrator than using the oven.
  • Healthier: Drying food preserves nutrients
  • It's easy!

Looks like "Slim Jim's"!


How to Make Beef Jerky With Ground Beef

When it comes to choosing meat for my beef jerky, I prefer ground beef. The result is usually a chewier and less tough jerky. I do not like to bite into a hard piece of jerky. It's also a lot quicker to make compared to other cuts of beef, since you don't need to do any slicing. Trust me, slicing beef is so time-consuming! You also don't need to let the meat marinade for hours.

If you do decide to slice flank steak and marinate it, simply leave it the refrigerator for 1–2 days to allow the flavors to marry and really seep through the meat.

The Essential Equipment for Making Beef Jerky

There are only two pieces of equipment that will make your jerky life much easier. Buy a dehydrator and a beef jerky gun! The dehydrator is such a great investment. You can find one for roughly under $40 on Amazon. The beef jerky gun that I use is only $15 and it holds up to 1 pound of meat.

Of course, there is the old fashion way of drying out your meat which is to use your oven. However, you will be spending more on the electricity bill in the long run.

Recipe #1: Basic, but Yum Beef Jerky

**For 2 pounds of meat**

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Tips for Beef Jerky Marinade


  • Throw in some red pepper flakes if you like spice!
  • 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer if you are using London broil, or any other cuts besides ground beef.

Recipe #2: Teriyaki Beef Jerky

  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Instructions for Beef Jerky Using a Dehydrator

  1. Throw all your seasoning in the ground beef and use your hands to mix it well. Yes, use your hands. Mix, mix, mix! **The preservative packets that come with the Nesco jerky gun taste alright too. However, I don't use it because of all the MSG.
  2. Use a big spoon and scoop all the meat into the tube of the jerky gun. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the meat so pack it in there tight!
  3. Using your beef jerky gun, place the slices on the racks. Set your dehydrator temperature to 165 degrees F. I usually check the meat periodically for 2 reasons. One, I get anxious and can't wait for them to be finished. It's an odd habit. Two, different dehydrators have different power so the drying time can vary. The size of the cuts of meat can also make a difference in drying time. It can take from 2 hours to 12 hours to dehydrate, depending on the thickness of the beef and your dehydrator. It's finished when the meat has turned very dark and is pliable.


  • Your beef jerky will be done when it is no longer moist. If you leave it in too long it will become very dry and will crack when you try bending it.


How to Store Homemade Beef Jerky

If you plan on eating the beef jerky immediately or within 5–7 days, you can store it in a sealed bag or tightly sealed container on your counter. If you store it in the refrigerator, it can last up to a few weeks. I would store the rest of the beef jerky in a tight Ziploc freezer bags and store in the freezer. The drier the meat, the longer it will last.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Kim Lam


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      • profile image


        4 months ago

        @Wendy I don't have a jerky gun either. Just made mine grinding the meat more, after adding all the ingredients and making the meat clump-less. Then I used a piping bag with a round mouth. It's still in the dehydrator but it kinda looks like snacks for pets.

      • profile image


        4 months ago

        I don’t have a jerky gun. Never heard of them here in New Zealand.

        Is there another way I could do it

      • profile image


        19 months ago

        Hello #KimLam So after I let my meat marinate And I put it in my dehydrator. How long. Does it take for the meat to cook?

      • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

        Kim Lam 

        21 months ago from California

        Keep the vents closed. I'm not sure which dehydrator you have, but ideally, you want to keep the temperature low. :-)

      • profile image

        Teresa walsh 

        21 months ago

        Do I open the vents while cooking with my dehydrator. Also mine doesn’t have a temperature setting. Do I assume it’s 160.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        Is there a secret to keeping the trays which the meat sits on clean , and ways to making cleaning easier ?

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        I recently needed burger, did not have any, had a frozen steak, thawed it, put in Ninja, awesome burger!....then I could go on to make the "burger" jerky! Thanks for the great looking recipe and a use for my dehydrator...I never use.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        I also found the meat to be very slimy and hard to work with. Way too much liquid for 2lbs of meat.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        For storage, I use my food sealer...can keep fresh for months!!!

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        Hi love this recipe thanks. I'm in the UK. Missing the States. Going to get a dehydrator can this be used for SOS? Hubby Vietnam Vet. Loves is SOS. Thanks again. Looking forward to my new dehydrator to come.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        What type of curing salt do you use in your recipes?

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        I used the recipe for Teriyaki Beef Jerky today. The jerky is currently in the dehydrator and smells great. However there was WAY too much moisture in the meat so much It was difficult to use the jerky press. The meat came out in "Splats" rather than nice uniform strips. Next time I will use only half the recommended amounts of fluids.

      • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

        Kim Lam 

        6 years ago from California

        It's so useful! I also use it to make jerky for the dogs and dried fruits for myself too. Enjoy! Thanks for the note.

      • B. Leekley profile image

        Brian Leekley 

        6 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

        My wife and I are on the fence whether to get a food dehydrator. This hub may decide the question in favor of giving one a try.

      • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

        Kim Lam 

        7 years ago from California

        Hi Deerwhisperer, thanks for dropping by. That would be a great idea...there are so many things you can make with a dehydrator. Have fun with it! Take care!

      • Deerwhisperer profile image

        Brenda K Krupnow 

        7 years ago from Ravenden, AR

        I really like jerky and so does our dog, but it's sooo expensive. After reading your hub I plan to go out and buy a dehydrator, or better yet, maybe someone will give me one for Christmas. Nice well written hub. I voted up, useful, and interesting.

      • Turtlewoman profile imageAUTHOR

        Kim Lam 

        7 years ago from California

        Hi Kitty- I only use liquid smoke in jerky and BBQ sauce. Thanks for visiting- hope you like it!

        Nettlemere-That's interesting! It's time you introduce everyone in the UK to homemade beef jerky!:-)

      • Nettlemere profile image


        7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

        Beef jerky isn't much eaten in the UK as far as I know, we seem to go in for smoking rather than drying. Don't know why. But this does sound like a handy way of preserving meat for camping expeditions.

      • kittyjj profile image

        Ann Leung 

        7 years ago from San Jose, California

        I don't like MSG either, so I prefer to cook at home. Thank you for sharing this useful hub. I think I will give it a try. I have never used liquid smoke, but I will look it up.

        Voted up and useful!


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