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How to Make Beef Jerky With a Dehydrator

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Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.


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!
Reminds me of Slim Jims.

Reminds me of Slim Jims.

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 marinate for hours.

If you do decide to slice flank steak and marinate it, simply leave it in 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

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 tight Ziploc freezer bags and store in the freezer. The drier the meat, the longer it will last.

© 2012 Kim Lam