Beef Jerky

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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!

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 in my experience…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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Beef Jerky

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 20 -24 servings 1x

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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.


Notes

*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.

This post contains affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. :)

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Recipe rating

347 comments on “Beef Jerky”

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  1. Omg!!!! Thank you for this recipe, absolutely Marvelous! Never made it before, and it turned out perfectly never buy another bag of jerky ever!

  2. I just put some beef in the marinate and this is the 3rd batch that I’ve made with this recipe.I used full strength soy sauce and didn’t add the salt.I use pink salt(1/8th tsp per #).Sodium Nitrite makes it possible to take jerky on long road trips or hikes without worry that its going to mold. I marinate at least 12 hours before drying it. Love the fact that it has no sugar. Chef’s Store has Special Cuts of beef for just a bit more than $3 per #.If you buy untrimmed meat there will be some waste.Top round is on sale for $2.88 right now but if you lose 20% to fat there goes the savings. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Yeah, I followed this recipe to the T but the end result was NOWHERE near that translucent candied goodness in the original picture. Plus it took an extra 2 hours of dryinng because if you didn’t eat the whole 2 pounds in a day you’re at the risk of a day on the toilet. The heavy fresh ground pepper is gangbusters! Don’t skimp that. I added about a Tbs of chipotle powder for a kick but it actually needed more liquid smoke. After all of my bitching, I’ll still make this again with notes taken. It’s got seriously good bones.

  4. Do you neee to cook the beef a bit before dehydrating

    • No don’t cook it at all. You just need to dry it after marinade. You can use a oven on the lowest setting . Leave the door cracked. It must dry slow so it drys from the inside out. I even put it on racks above my wood stove. Dehidrater works best. Watch the color of meat when it looses its red color try it . Add salt so it can be out of refrigerator for a few hours on trips.

  5. This is literally just Alton Brown’s recipe.

    • Um, not at all. I just compared the two and they are completely different. Our family loves your recipe, Ali.

  6. I also recommend US Foods. They have round steak cut into 1/8 strips so everything gets done the same time. I paid $4.45 lb. and it comes ultra trimmed. All I needed to do was separate the strips and put them in the zip lock bag. I left out the liquid smoke due to me using my Green Mountain Smoker. I smoked/dried it for 5 hours at 160 degrees. I use cherry or apple wood.

  7. What is the shelf life for this Jerky?

  8. I’m new to the dehydrator and beef jerky and your recipe sounds delicious but why is your beef jerky not shelf stable? I thought dehydrating was to eliminate the need for refrigeration.

  9. i’ve been living in southern mexico for 15 years and could never figure out why they cut the beef so thin. who cares? i just figured out what to do with it…..Jerky!! never mind the dehydrator, the oven at 170 for 4 hours and perfect jerky better than they sell at 7-11. thanks for the tips!

  10. Thank you and I can’t wait to try this… I’ll let you know when I do. Thanks again.

  11. I just put my jerky in the oven…when I made the marinade for a lil extra kik I added some A-1 and and used steak seasoning instead of the salt…Cant wait to try…kitchen smells sooo good!!!

  12. 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

  13. Jerky requires a curing agent or it isn’t jerky and possibly not safe to eat. Curing salt, 6% sodium nitrite, 94% salt is a must for safety, taste, appearance. So called uncured jerky uses celery powder, which is actually sodium nitrate, which converts to sodium nitrite, but at unknown concentrations. The nitrate is highly undesirable so it’s best to go to nitrite by using curing salt Prague powder #1 or similar product. Without the cure all you have is cooked, dried out steak.

    • Jack, just stop. All you need is to make sure the meat gets up to 160 degrees (beef) to kill off harmful bacteria and make it safe for consumption. The cure is there to add a little more safety and a longer shelf life. Dried meat is jerky, adding things to it doesn’t make it more jerky. I’m pretty sure the natives didn’t have nitrite you melon.

    • I don’t know about nitrites and nitrates and all that stuff – but the recipe looks yummy! So lucky me, not only do I have a recipe for jerky to try, thanks to Nunya and Jack Frost, I have a new name for my husband who will be the first to test the the absence or presence of nitrites or nitrates.😂

  14. I love this recipe and I’ve made it multiple times. I’m planning to try making Turkey Jerky, and most of the recipes I’ve seen are pretty similar, so I was just going to use this for turkey. Any tips on making turkey jerky? Have you tried it with this recipe?