The BEST Beef Jerky

Seriously The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe -- easy to make at home, nice and savory and peppery, and SO delicious! | gimmesomeoven.com

Do you remember what was on your Christmas list back in 1998?

Back then, I’m pretty sure that all of my girlfriends were asking for Abercrombie jeans, or the first-ever Harry Potter book, or the VHS of Titanic, or the latest Jewel or Matchbox 20 or Destiny’s Child or Spice Girls albums for Christmas.  But me?  I had one very important request of Santa that year, and I’m happy to say he (literally) delivered me my very first…

…DEHYDRATOR!!!

Ahhhhh, I mean, what 16-year-old girl doesn’t dream of having her very own dehydrator, right?!  😉

Well, having been an enormous fan of homemade beef jerky ever since I was little, I had been dreaming about having a dehydrator to make some of my own for years.  It all began thanks to my great aunt Chris, who generously made batches upon batches of her famous beef jerky for our huge family holiday gatherings each year.  And all thirteen of my cousins would scramble to the kitchen to see who could get the biggest handful for themselves to munch on, because her beef jerky was heavenly.  And actually, I had no idea how good it was until I tried some of the store-bought stuff from a gas station years later, and could hardly believe that those weirdly sweet, sticky, and artificial-tasting strips of “beef” were the same thing.  (Actually, I still feel the same way…)

So even as a teenager, I realized that if I wanted amazing beef jerky like Aunt Chris’ year-round, I was going to have to learn how to make it myself.  So I called her and asked for the recipe.  And 17 years, 2 dehydrators, and dozens upon dozens upon dozens of batches later, I’m still making her beef jerky recipe.

So today, I thought it was about dang time I shared about it with you too.

Because it truly is the best.  💛

Seriously The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe -- easy to make at home, nice and savory and peppery, and SO delicious! | gimmesomeoven.com

Ok, my heart is seriously pounding as I’m writing this post because I get so dang excited giving people tips on making killer beef jerky!  (<– So weird, I know, but don’t forget I’m also the girl who begged Santa for a dehydrator.  #Perspective.)  Here are some of my tips and answers to frequently-asked questions from friends:

Beef: The biggest question is probably what cut of beef to buy.  I’ve made beef jerky with all different kinds, but my favorite the past few years has undoubtedly been flank steak.  It’s definitely one of the priciest options, but it’s one of the leanest cuts and I love how it makes nice thin strips of beef jerky.  Other great options are eye of round, top or bottom round, or London broil.  Generally, I just recommend going as lean as possible, and trimming off any extra large sections of fat that you see.

When it comes to slicing the meat, I recommend slicing it about as thin as possible (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick).  And then if you want a chewier jerky (which I weirdly like), slice the meat with the grain.  And if you want a more tender jerky, slice the meat against the grain.  You’re welcome to do this yourself at home (just pop the steak in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before slicing to help firm it up a bit).  OR, chances are, the butcher behind the meat counter of your local grocery store would be happy to do it for you too.  (<– Probably for free!)

Marinade: So, my biggest gripe with most store-bought beef jerky is that it is waaaayyyyy too sweet.  I love my beef jerky nice and peppery and savory.  So my marinade consists simply of soy sauce, worcestershire, black pepper, liquid smoke, onion powder, seasoned salt, and garlic powder.  And then for those of you who love pepper as much as I do, I highly recommend cracking some extra black pepper on top of the strips once you have laid them out to cook.  The pepperier, the better if you ask me.

If you do happen to like sweeter beef jerky, just add 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the marinade.  And if you like a spicier beef jerky, I recommend sprinkling some crushed red pepper flakes on top of the jerky as it cooks.

Dehydrator vs. Oven: Probably the main question I hear from friends is how to make beef jerky without a dehydrator.  It’s totally possible in the oven.  But in order for it to cook evenly, I recommend laying the jerky out on wire racks that are placed on top of foil-covered baking sheets.  I know that some people like to just lay the jerky out directly on the oven racks themselves, and then place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch the dripping juices, but I’ve tried it and — heads up — it’s messy.  So instead, I recommend the wire rack method.

But that said, I still think cooking beef jerky in the dehydrator yields the most consistent and best results.  I’ve owned 2 different dehydrators, and will say that the technology has improved significantly over the years.  For between $35-75, you can purchase an awesome dehydrator nowadays that will cook the jerky evenly and quickly.  And of course, you can also use the dehydrator to make all kinds of fruit and veggie and kale chips, and all sorts of other good stuff.  So if you happen to love beef jerky as much as I do, I would totally recommend the Cuisinart dehydrator that I currently own.

Anyway, go with whatever cooking method works best for you!  I’ve included instructions for oven and dehydrator beef jerky in the recipe below.

Seriously The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe -- easy to make at home, nice and savory and peppery, and SO delicious! | gimmesomeoven.com

So all that said, to make your beef jerky, just toss the sliced beef and the marinade together in a large ziplock bag until the beef is evenly coated.  Then pop the bag in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day to let those flavors sink in.

Seriously The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe -- easy to make at home, nice and savory and peppery, and SO delicious! | gimmesomeoven.com

Then lay the strips out in an even layer on your dehydrator trays, or your wire-rack trays in the oven, and cook according to the instructions below.  (Fair warning — this is going to absolutely fill your home with the most irresistible smell of jerky ever!)

Seriously The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe -- easy to make at home, nice and savory and peppery, and SO delicious! | gimmesomeoven.com

And then once the jerky reaches your desired level of dryness (I like mine really dry, but as long as it is cooked and dark and just slightly pliable, it should be good to go) — the BEST batch of beef jerky will be yours to enjoy and share!

Well, props to you if you make it to the sharing, because I tend to want to hoard this stuff.  ;)  But I am convinced this beef jerky makes the world a better place, so be generous if you can.

Enjoy, everyone!!

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The BEST Beef Jerky

This truly is the BEST beef jerky recipe! It’s full of awesome savory flavors, includes no added sweeteners, and it’s irresistibly delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds flank steak (or eye or round or top round steak)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Thinly-slice the steak into 1/8-inch thick strips, either with the grain (which will result in a chewier beef jerky) or against the grain (which will be more tender).  I recommend popping the steak in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before slicing so that it is easier to cut.  (Or the butchers working behind the meat counters at most grocery stores will also do this for you if you ask.)
  2. Transfer the strips of steak to a large ziplock bag*.
  3. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until combined.  Pour the mixture into the ziplock bag with the steak, seal the bag, and toss until the steak is evenly coated.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.
  5. If you’re making the jerky in a dehydrator, lay the strips out in a single layer on the trays of your dehydrator.  Then follow the dehydrator’s instructions to cook the beef jerky until it is dry and firm, yet still a little bit pliable.  (With my dehydrator, that meant cooking the jerky on medium heat for about 8 hours.  But cooking times will vary based on the thickness of your meat, and the heat/brand of your dehydrator.)  Remove jerky and transfer to a sealed container.  Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
  6. If you’re making the jerky in the oven, heat oven to 175°F.  Adjust the racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.  Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil, and place wire cooling racks on top of each sheet.  Lay the strips out in a single layer on the wire racks.  Bake until the beef jerky until it is dry and firm, yet still a little bit pliable, about 4 hours, flipping the beef jerky once about halfway through.  (Cooking times will vary based on the thickness of your meat.)  Remove jerky and transfer to a sealed container.  Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

*Or you can also mix the beef and seasoning sauce together in a large mixing bowl.

**Cooking time does not include the amount of time needed to marinate the beef, which can be between 30 minutes to 24 hours.  Also, the recipe yield was hard to gauge.  With 2 pounds of beef, I usually yield around 50 individual pieces of beef jerky.  But that will totally depend on how thick the beef is sliced, and what size of strips you have.

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56 comments on “The BEST Beef Jerky”

  1. Your story made me smile! I don’t own a dehydrator, but I did work fulltime as a waitress one summer to be able to buy a foodprocessor…
    My favourite lunchroom has a dehydrator and they always do such fun things with it. All their dishes have a special touch!
    If I ever get one I’ll remember this recipe. And I love that you added an oven-option too :) Have a great week!

    • Oh man, yes, a food processor is just as awesome! And yes, you can totally try this in the oven (and you should if you can)! We hope you have a great week as well! :D

  2. Oh my goodness! An elderly man I knew bought me a deydrator when I was ten. I was a drying fool! Need to buy a new one to make rosehip tea for my blog.  You are not alone!

  3. I have an oven with a dehydrator setting, how would you recommend i make it using that setting?

  4. Love this post, as I LOVE jerky! I need a dehydrator. Pls share some other tips & tricks for dehydrated yummies so my buy decision is easy peasy. :)

  5. Aaaaaahhh!! I LOVE beef jerky!! I grew up in Michigan, eating homemade venison jerky…and will admit to also enjoying certain store bought varieties. I’m apprehensive, since I don’t currently own a dehydrator, but once it cools down a bit more out here in California, I’m definitely trying the oven method! Thank you! :)

    • Yes, definitely try the oven method — it’s still very good! :) We hope you enjoy!

  6. I used to make beef jerky 25 years ago, my two son’s just loved it.  It seemed like we had the dehydrator going all the time for years  making it.   I found  out later my son’s were selling it at school for half the cost of making it.
    I lost my recipe when I moved 18 years ago and stopped making it.  I am tired of paying $22.00 a pound for beef jerky so I am going to try it again.   Plus  my two son’s are now married with children of their own.  love your recipes, even if I don’t make them I love to read them and dream of what it would be like to taste them.

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Sheila! And yes, it’s so expensive to buy it, we hope you can give this recipe a try!

  7. Don’t know if I can relate to your 16 year old bad self seeing I’m a gym teacher man in my 30’s but boy do I live, dream, sleep dehydrators and beef jerky. I’m a big hunter (please no hate mail) and love my fresh and organic deer meat and really want to make jerky myself, I kept my wife up very late last night discussing this. Sorry wife! I’m ready to do this. 

  8. This is why I like you! Dehydrator at 16! LOL love it! I got a pastry blender, apron, and a pie book sometime around then!

  9. I can totally relate. And in my family, people put in requests for my husband’s homemade venison jerky as Christmas gifts! I’m thinking this recipe using venison would be a perfect one to add to our repertoire!

  10. I may just have to try making my own beef jerkey because this looks too delicious to pass up

  11. I managed a Meat Department for about 2 years at Whole Foods and please, PLEASE if you have your butcher do this for you, call ahead.  We like to use the slicer and a good butcher will make sure the slicer is freshly cleaned for you, which takes time. 

    Annnddddd top round is the best cut too – quality vs. price for jerky at least in all of our option.  

    Sorry – super off topic!  AND this jerky looks amazing.  I’ll be making this.  

  12. I usually use the convection setting on my oven. Seems to cook everything more even. What temp and time would you recommend for that?

  13. Thank you for posting this.  I bought a large dehydrator, I think because I wanted to dehydrate whey (which hasn’t worked for me at all).  I’ve mostly used it for making “sun-dried” tomatoes and for drying mesquite pods for making mesquite flour.  My dehydrator book has instructions for jerky, but I prefer using a recipe from someone whose taste I trust.  Jerky tends to be ridiculously expensive and not that good tasting, so it makes sense to make it at home.

  14. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this! Since going high-protein my dehydrator is humming all the time! I’ve been wanting to try my own version of jerky, but always thought you needed to add a ‘cure’ to the meat.

  15. thanks for sharing this, I love the home-made stuff too, I’d always wanted to make jerky so thanks for the very detailed recipe!

  16. Gosh, I love this story, Ali and this beef jerky looks amazing! I do love dehydrating all kinds of foods – so much fun!

  17. Love it when people are generous enough to share family recipes like this… thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

  18. This looks awesome! How do you store the jerkey? And how long will it last?

  19. SHUT UP. I asked for a dehydrator for my 16th bday. LOL.

  20. Ali,

    Just wanted to say I just made your beef jerky recipe.  I have never ever found any beef jerky that I liked.  I think partly because being a type 2 diabetic most if not all  are way too sweet and not good for by blood sugar.  When I saw your recipe and it had no sweet component, I knew I had to try it. Fortunately for me my son gave me a dehydrator for my birthday.  I just finished my first batch.  It won’t be the last!  A great snack for someone fighting diabetes.

    Bill Hawkes

  21. Thanks so much for this recipe!! We made a batch of jerky with it and it turned out DELICIOUS! We didn’t use a dehydrator or the oven–just a desk fan, and it worked great (thanks, YouTube)! Would you mind if I linked your marinade recipe to my blog post?

    • hanks for sharing, Kate — we’re so happy you enjoyed it! And yes, of course you can share the recipe on your blog (just be sure to attribute credit and link back, please) — thank you so much, we really appreciate it! :)

  22. Ali:
    Thanks so much for sharing the the jerky process and your Aunt Chris’s recipe! I am a homemade jerky newbie, and I trusted your recipe, after looking at many. And boy, am I glad I did. Just what I was looking for, even though I didn’t know what I was looking for. This jerky making is truly a labor of love, with some steps, but certainly worth it! My first batch passed the test of my son, his friend, and his friend’s dad. But went too fast. Am making a double batch now, with some sweet in the second part.
    Just like you said, I bought some commercial jerky after my first batch, and was very proud. The jerky I bought did not even taste like real meat. I love your soysauce, worcesthireshire, and peppery taste. It is truly the bomb. Thanks for not keeping the recipe to yourself.

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Tom — we’re so happy to hear you guys enjoyed the recipe! :)

  23. Yoshidas teriyaki sauce is also a good marinade for jerky great all by itself. 

  24. Does this have to be refrigerated? Thanks

  25. You answered a comment here that says this doesn’t have to be refrigerated but at the bottom of the recipe it says “refridgerate for up to 1 month”. Could you please tell me which is correct? Thanks :)

    • Oops, my mistake, CK — sorry for the confusion! Yes, you should refrigerate this jerky for it to last longer.

  26. Love your recipe. Have been loving and eating jerky since I lived on a farm with my grandfather as a child. That was sixty odd years ago and still love it. I now use an electric smoker and it really inhances the flavor. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you recipe.

  27. Hi Ali,
    do you recommend patting the meat dry after removing from the marinade and before putting into the dehydrator?
    Thank you

  28. OMG. This recipe. Is. The. BEST! THANK YOU for sharing your jerky knowledge with the world!

    About 4 years ago I inherited my mom’s Nesco Snackmaster from her early 90’s experiments with homemade fruit rollups. After doing kale chips, I tried making beef jerky – and failed miserably. It was a recipe with ‘good reviews’, and it was WAY too salty. Even after washing it off. It was so bad my dogs had ZERO interest in it, they usually sniff around when food is being made (no interest in dried meat is a major bad sign). This recipe has been on my radar for a little while because I love chewy, peppery, savory jerky and I finally tried it this weekend, popping my flank steak in the fridge to marinate overnight. I just tasted a piece, and it is PERFECT. Absolutely PERFECT! Thank you so much for sharing this incredible family recipe. I’ll be making this for years to come!

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Glynis — we’re so happy you loved the jerky!

  29. I’ve got my beef marinating in the fridge right now! This will be my first ever batch and your marinade recipe sounds SO DELISH! Question though… I got a little over 2 lbs and when I sliced it I came out with A LOT of strips (YAY!) but I only have 4 trays for my dehydrator so I think I might need to do two batches.. I’m going to start tomorrow since its a little late today and mine doesn’t have a timer – do you happen to know: will the beef (if it doesn’t all fit) be okay marinating an additional day?

    • Awesome, Ashley — we hope you love this! :) Hmmm, we haven’t tried marinating the beef an additional day, so we aren’t really sure. We want to say that would be okay and that it would just be more flavorful, but we really don’t know. It does sound like you’ll want to do two batches though. Let us know how this goes!

  30. I just wanted you to know that when I was 4, yes 4 years old, I asked Santa for Tupperware containers. You aren’t alone. I read your recipe today and I already have meat marinating for my dehydrator for tomorrow. I can’t wait to try it.

    Xoxo,
    Kelly Henry
    Mommy and Public Safety and Security Expert (Chicago, IL)

  31. Holy beef jerky. I might eat this all in one sitting. If I didn’t make it myself I’d swear this stuff has crack in it!

  32. So glad I found this recipe! I love beef jerky, but can’t stand the sweet. AT ALL! I can’t believe that it is possible, but the second batch was better than the first! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Rating: 5
  33. While I love this recipe it isn’t truly gluten free with the soy sauce. Maybe gluten intolerant folks can substitute the soy sauce with liquid aminos.

    Rating: 4.5
    • Hi Sharon! We’re glad you enjoyed the beef jerky! You’re right, and liquid aminos would be a good substitute.

  34. Awesome recipe !! All my friends were so amazingly surprised about the great taste and texture. Cannot believed I’ve made it. Thanks you so much and a big kiss from France !

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks, Olivier, we’re so glad you and your friends enjoyed it — we appreciate you giving the recipe a try! :D