The BEST 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 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!!

Print

The BEST Beef Jerky

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

Description

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


Scale

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

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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109 comments on “The BEST Beef Jerky”

  1. 5 stars
    I am on my second round! So freaking easy! I have had a dehydrator for a while {years} but tucked it away. My kids reminded me of it two weeks ago when they were constantly whining about being hungry and just non-stop eating. My brain lit up and I remembered jerky! Hungry kids? Feed them steak! We tried this recipe first and it turned out perfectly. I am on round two and will just keep making and stocking up. Bonus: no sugar! I also love things that you can toss in your bag/purse and not have the hassle about lugging ice packs and cooler bags. Need a boost, reach in your bag and voila!
    Thank you for this! best share and mom wins!

  2. Absolutely delicious!!! Very easy to make. (And very tasty to eat!) I bought thin-sliced sirloin tips and used diet ginger ale. And I ended up marinating for three days because I didn’t have time to cook them. I’m definitely going to make this again, and next time I’ll make a bigger batch!

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutly delicious Cant wait to make more ,the whole family enjoyed it !! Definitly more then a 5 star rating :)

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious!! Soo good & so easy!! Mm mm mm I can not get enough

  5. 5 stars
    i think this will be a lot of help for me thank you

  6. 5 stars
    Tried this and love it! Thank you for the recipe ❤️

  7. 5 stars
    Thank You so much for sharing your family recipe. I have been using my dehydrator for 3 years and have tried many jerky recipes. Your’s is by far our family’s favorite. For Christmas my family asked for lots to take back home. I will soon begin the process. 35 pounds of eye of the round will be converted to jerky. Last year I got a Food Saver. Sealer from my family for my birthday so the jerky lasts for two months when kept in a proper cooler dark room. In winter our garage stays at 40-50 degrees which. Is perfect.

  8. a little cayenne if you like it hotter, mmmnnn

  9. I’m dying to try this using my smoker, would I eliminate the liquid smoke?

  10. 5 stars
    This is a great, recipe for peppered jerky. I omitted the liquid smoke and used apple chips in my smoker with a maintained temperature average of 162 for 3 hours. turned off heat and let it come to temp for two hours.
    Also, I used London Broil and a rub instead of seasoned salt. Extra cracked pepper is always food.

  11. 5 stars
    Just tried this Jerky recipe with venison yesterday and my husband loves it! He says it’s the best jerky he has ever had! Thank you!

  12. I enjoyed reading your post..I also got a food dehydrator for Christmas around 16..it was one of the few gifts my Dad ever went out and purchased for me on his own ( my Mom does all the shopping). This recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it but I mostly wanted to say thanks for reviving that precious memory! Have a blessed day!

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is bang on great thank you for sharing it’s amazing hands down the best beef jerky I’ve ever had in would give more stars if there was room for more AAAAA+ jerky 😊😋😋

  14. 5 stars
    Seriously the best recipe! I make it about once a month for my family. Venison jerky made with this recipe is amazing! I also added some NM red Chile powder & Chipotle powder to give it a bit more spice.

  15. This was great! So, I had to make some changes to this. I had tamari soy sauce (fermented, no wheat) that was full salt, so I used 1/4 c. and replaced the rest with maple syrup. I tried it once without replacing the second 1/4 c., and there wasn’t enough liquid. Also, I brought the pepper down to a 1/2 tsp. because I was making it for small children, too. I know the whole point of this recipe is that it’s spicy and not at all sweet, but I thought this comment might be helpful.

  16. 5 stars
    Made kangaroo jerky and tastes awesome! Thank you for sharing this treasure!

  17. 5 stars
    Super yummy! I used to make it just as is and loved it…
    My son suggested putting Maple syrup in it and a tsp of red chilli powder and about 1/8tsp Chipotle powder and it is seriously the best! Also, I marinate it over night, then freeze it, thaw it and then dehydrate. Freezing it causes crystals to form and breaks down the meat a bit, making it more tender.

  18. 5 stars
    I made this today. I added more coarse ground pepper since my family loves it spicy. It was a huge hit at our house and my sister in law’s house. It is the best jerky any of us have tasted. Yup, way better than store bought. The fresh ground pepper tasted superb along with the combination of ingredients. Great texture and flavor. I would recommend this recipe as it is extremely easy to make and comes out perfect.

  19. 5 stars
    So I got a dehydrator for Christmas and this was the first recipe I used to make jerky. Afterall, it said it was the best. Now that I have tried several other recipes including this one I have to agree this is right up there with best! It’s the only recipe I use now pretty much but have to make both variants as some like it sweet and some don’t. Kudos to Aunt Chris and to you Ali for sharing it, its truly delicious.

  20. 5 stars
    Made this! Smoked it in bullet smoker with applewood chunks at about 185 degrees for 2 hours cut to 1/4 inch slices instead of 1/8th. Came out awesome!

  21. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing! My girlfriend and I had been pining for a dehydrator specifically to make Jerky, and here we are following your recipe! Your Recipe seemed (on paper at least) to be very similar to Riley’s Beef Jerky which is my favorite.

    Currently have 2 lbs of meat dehydrating, followed the recipe to a T – but left out the liquid smoke, as we’re going to let the marinade do the work.

    So excited to try this jerky!

  22. I misread your recipe and used two tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper. It was awesome! ’cause I love black pepper. This is a great recipe that produces delicious jerky.

  23. 5 stars
    So good! I’ve recommended this recipe to friends and family and am prepping to make it again right now. Everyone loved it last time I made it!
    I also love that there is no sugar in the recipe!

  24. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! My daughter requested that I make beef jerky so I found your recipe online. It looked amazing so I immediately went out to Costco and purchased flank steak. I made this on Tuesday and needless to say it’s all gone. I ran out last night to get more flank steak and started marinating right away. I am baking this new batch as I write. My daughter will be coming home from university tonight so this has to be done by then. She’s been waiting for this and she won’t be disappointed. It’s outstanding!

  25. 5 stars
    Making this for the third time! I love it! Thank you again for sharing!

  26. New at making jerky, so I tried a few different recipes out. Found this one, liked the ingredients, and now I can’t get enough! I’ve shared my jerky using this recipe with coworkers and now they think I’m a jerky pro. I’ve made it my own and now add a little brown sugar, about 2 rounded teaspoons, and some dried and ground red pepper from back home, about a tablespoon. I use London broil and let me tell you that this is some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever had. Thank you so much for sharing! This is an absolute must-try for any jerky fan!

  27. Not only fantatic taste, but easy to do as well!! I’m addicted!! Thank you!

  28. This is my first time making jerky. I got a pound of London Broil and a pound of Flank, both carved against the grain, 1/4 inch thick, and cooked in the oven. The flavors are really yummy, but I think I might have made two mistakes. The first was that I did the marinade for 20 hours (that wasn’t the mistake, that was good), which left about 2 tablespoons of marinade and I coated the pieces after laying them out with the left over marinade. I think that led to too much steam, which caused my second mistake: After 2 hours I got worried about the steam since the meat was supposed to be dehydrating, and wiped up the drippings. They took about 5 hours. They turned out a bit “chalky” so next time I won’t add more liquid or remove the liquid that comes out of the meat. Not like we won’t eat these because the flavor is just what I was hoping for! Thank you for the recipe!

    • I’ve found that letting the beef dry before putting it in the oven/dehydrator/smoker and form a shinny finish produces the best results. This is called pellicle, I picked this up from smoking salmon and found it works on any meat.