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!
How To Make Beef Jerky | 1-Minute Video
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.)
Transfer the strips of steak to a large ziplock bag*.
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.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.
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.
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.
This post contains affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. :)
When you say “refigerate for up to 1 month”, do you mean it stays in the fridge for a month before you eat it, or you can keep it in the firdge for up to a month before you have to throw it away?
It can be kept in the fridge for up to a month before you need to pitch it. At our house, it would never last a month! lol
Hey there! This recipe is the same one that my late mother used for years. She wrote in her recipe that she fou d it in the FT Worth paper 1964. She did hers in the oven but I really hate the mess. Could this be done on a gas grill at lowest temp? I don’t know why not but looking for input! ThK you!
I was skeptical it only took 8 hours since when we do herbs it takes all day. But spot on 8 hours worked and tasted great. For those seasoning I would recommend cinnamon
I can’t find liquid smoke but I do have a smoker… could I actually smoke the meat some before slicing and marinating?
If you have a smoker use that after the marinade and instead of the dehydrator .
I wouldn’t since that does actually begin to “cook” the meat. You want to marinate while in the raw form. Look for liquid smoke at Walmart, that’s where I buy mine
the cooking times here are way off. I use a thicker cut top round and they are large piece and it finishes in about 5 hours, and I use the same exact model dehydrator. The first time I left it for 8 hours and it came out like meat potato chips.
I’m following these cooking steps as we speak and I’m on 7.5 hours, should be done in about 30/40 mins! Author did note that she liked it extra crispy, and I am in agreement! Hope this helps!
First time making jerky and am so glad I used this recipe! Cut the liquid smoke in half and used flank – this won’t last long! Delicious!
Great results. I have made this a couple of times now. I love it. I add a couple teaspoons of scotch bonnet pepper sauce. And a tablespoon of honey. My Kids love it.. 5 hours at 160 in a dehydrator. Slice as thin as i can get it with a meat slicer..
Do u rinse before outting in dehydrator!?
No. If you want you can pat it dry, but dont rinse the meat before drying.
No! The marinade is the source of the flavor!
Very helpful thanks
This is the BEST jerky! I have tried other recipes since I bought my dehydrater, but always come back to this one. It’s definitely a fav in my house. Added some honey and red pepper flakes, but kept everything else the same.
We wanted to make a beef jerky that I often reminisced about. My father had a friend who made it from home and it was so incredible I never forgot how good it was. My father passed away a couple decades ago way too early in his life so I cannot ask him to get the recipe for me. After searching, we have found this one. FANTASTIC! We did not add the liquid smoke because we actually smoked the jerky on our traeger for about five hours and we are so incredibly happy with the results! Thank you for your post :)
Did you cook at 175 for 5 hours in your smoker?
This is my favorite jerky base and similar to what I was using previously, but nice to have recipe n ratios on ingredients easy to look up on my phone ;) . This recipe allows a beginner to do it or an expert to have the base ready and add the hot sauce du jour, and maybe maple syrup or whiskey or wherever else is laying around to make awesome jerky, thanks for the recipe, kudos for keeping it simple and tasty.
I just started making beef jerky again after decades of not making it. I came across so many great sounding marinade recipes on line. I thought I’d try this one first. And I just can’t seem to try any of the others as this one really nails it. This is the awesome beef jerky we all grew up on. I’ve made it several times and I absolutely love it.
I’ve made this same recipe minus the liquid smoke for years off and on. The biggest problem with this recipe as I see it,is that, if there’s anyone else in the house,you are lucky if you get 1/4 of it finished and into a container. It smells so wonderful drying and the flavor is so great that it all gets filched out of the oven long before it’s done no matter how much I make to start
Easy and great taste…im.gonna makenit wholesale
It was absolutely delicious. Lots more to come
Could you use this with ground beef?
I want to know also!!
I’ve done it with 96% lean ground beef and a jerky gun. Mixed and then marinated for 24 hours. Takes 6-8 hours in my dehydrator. Everyone loved it.
I use the oven and shis-ka-bob skewers and let it hang from top rack not touching the foiled rack on the bottom. This allows you to make large amounts!
I do the skewers and hang as well, works great! As far as the mess goes, the kids know that cleaning it up is the price they pay for me making it, lol
Very good recipe latest everybody likes jerky
This tastes amazing! I used eye of round and left out the liquid smoke. It only took six hours on my Magic Chef dehydrator. Will certainly be making this recipe again – even my 1-yr-old was gobbling it up.
I made it today for the first time, warm setting (175) on my oven. Was surprised that it was ready in only 3 hours, used the multitrack convection setting. Kids can’t get enough.
I can’t wait to taste the delicious jerky sensation.
(For jerky in a dehydrater it’s 155 f and 68 c )
We are finishing 6lbs of jerky. This recipe is delicious! Being from New Mexico, we made 2lbs with Hatch red chile powder, 2lbs with Hatch green chile powder, and 2lbs plain. We can’t stop eating it! Thank you for this recipe!
You left out the BEST method for making jerky…a SMOKER!
there is liquid smoke so thats good enough
I’m sure she meant refrigerate up to a month, while you are eating it. In our house we simply put in zip lock bags, not refrigerated & it doesn’t usually last longer then 1 week… because we love jerky snacks!
Worked out perfectly and the family loves the flavour…. thank you
Super good recipe! The only thing I did different was the cooking process. I put one oven rack to the top position and the other on the lowest position. Put foul on lower rack to catch any drips. I use toothpicks and weave through one end of the meat strip and hang the meat on the upper rack. Eliminates turning the meat. I have a dehydrator and prefer the oven method
Wow, that’s such a great idea! Native Americans used that same method, hanging meat/fish strips over an open fire, to preserve their harvest.
Got my first dehydrator at age 48. Ready to make things but the manual doesn’t have any recipes in it. Any suggestion or web site to look for help? I have a game winner dehydrator 6 tray.
Use the higest setting for meat. Just follow the recipe, slap it on your dehydrator and turn it on. Check on it after 3 hours, keep checking till its a dryness/texture you enjoy. Turn off dehydrator and enjoy your jerky.
There is no limit as what you can do with a dehydrator. We use ours mainly for making jerky, but they’re great for dehydrating fruits too such as sliced bananas, pineapple, apples, strawberries, etc. With apples, after slicing dip them in lemon or lime juice for a few seconds to keep the pieces from turning brown. Afterwards just store the pieces in a ziplock bag and use for snacking, trips, etc.
Oh, ours has a plastic liner for one shelf to be used for dehydrating apple sauce or fruit puree, but we’ve never used it. That would be home-made fruit roll-up type snacks.
I hope this helps you!
Really really good. Everyone loves the results
It was a very taste jerky, and the directions was very easy to follow. I used my stack-oven that had a dehydrator feature and set it at 150 degrees. It finished cooking in 5 hrs. I did a
4 lb.rump roast Thank you for this recipe.
Is it possible to use a smoker?
I usually prepare 3lbs and adjust the recipe as necessary. I recommend replacing the season salt with meat tenderizer, it has enough salt for the recipe and make a tender jerky. Replace regular soy sauce with Braggs liquid aminos as it has lower sodium. I micro plane fresh onion and garlic into the recipe but the dry will work. Use a plastic freezer bag to marinade and remove as much air as possible. The marinade will draw into the meat better.
You are making nasty tenderize commercial jerky with that method. Also, maybe you missed low sodium soy sauce.
I think I discovered your recipe maybe 2 years ago, and I have to say this is THE BEST jerky ever! My husband and I both love jerky, and we love to experiment with different recipes and flavors (he really likes teriyaki), but I keep coming back to this one. I only do one thing differently with mine, after patting the meat dry and before placing in the dehydrator I sprinkle it with more black pepper. I love pepper. OmG this is so good. I am actually making a batch right now and just wanted to pop in and say thanks!
Probably more like 4 and a half stars! An amazing traditional base jerky recipe! I’ve made 4 or 5 different batches with different recipes trying to find a basic recipe to build upon and this is it! Kids love it! I made the 3 times recipe with 7.5 lbs of top roast sliced 1/4 thick. Came out well seasoned and tender, 8 hrs at 160 for beef on my dehydrator. Only complaint is amount marinade vs lbs meat (my fault, should have adjusted). Only recommendation is marinade time. I’d recommend 24 hrs marinade time massaging half way to ensure evenness. About to start my next batch! Thanks to you and you family for the recipe!
I use about two parts Worcestershire sauce to one part soy sauce. I add about a tablespoon of brown sugar to mix along with some pepper, garlic powder, and a small amount of liquid smoke. Do not use the concentrated liquid smoke, it is too strong. Marinate your meat for about 12 hours, halfway through, stir around and add some more pepper. Dehydrate for 3 to 5 hours at about 140 degrees. I sprinkle some more pepper on meat before i put in dehydrator. Should turn out perfect. Enjoy.
Pretty close but you need to get rid of the liquid smoke it’s not good for you .add garlic powder,oregano and a little ginger. I have made 1000 pounds or more? but still a good recipe
This is exactly how Jerky should taste. No honey or brown sugar. We like it peppery. Making a batch this year with Carolina Reapers! I can’t wait!
Well this is the first time ever used a recipe and different cut of meat. Now I’m hooked. I usually use ground beef. And the jerky spice that comes with the brand of the dehydrator.. thanks for sharing. I’m definitely gonna be doing this often. My only regret was I didn’t make enough. Hahahaha. But I will next time.
Didn’t have any liquid smoke so I used smoked paprika. Turned out great.
This is awesome jerky! A butcher cut the beef very thin, I marinaded it overnight, added more pepper as suggested and it took about 6.5 hours in the dehydrator. It really is peppery and my son should love this Christmas gift!
I’ve used your recipe many times and have loved it every time! I am guilty of using a little bit of extra liquid smoke and garlic and sometimes a little extra pepper to, but every time it’s fabulous!
Pleasant to read and easy to follow. Happy Christmas Eve from Southern Cali! I’m excited to finally have time to make beef jerky in a dehydrator that I got for my birthday in October! Really quick! I don’t have low sodium soy sauce so should I let the beef marinate sit in frig for under 1hr? I’m afraid the jerky will be too salty now that I’m thinking about it and thinking about my next step. Wash some off?? Oh dear! This could be a disaster. LOL. Congrats about your baby bump!!!!! U have 2 hearts and that is soooo special!!
I just had to come here and say that this truly is an amazing beef jerky recipe! My husband’s family had a favorite recipe that was lost over the years…he always talks about how much he loved it, so when I got an air fryer with a dehydrator feature, I knew I had to try to recreate that beloved jerky. I followed the marinade recipe exactly, used 2 pounds eye of round marinated overnight and then brought to room temperature. Added lots of fresh cracked black pepper and then cooked in my air fryer on dehydrate (160*) for 5 hours and it came out perfect. This is a keeper for sure, my husband loved it….already planning to make more. Thank you!
I just brought home my dad’s dehydrator (probably circa 1990s, hoping it works.) My 16 year old son argued with me that we couldn’t make jerky unless we ground and formed the meat. I was sooooo confused because I had never seen it made that way!! Pre dehydrator, my dad made it in the oven on toothpicks with venison and I ate pounds of it as a child after not so patiently waiting. Sadly, I don’t remember the recipe but yours looks close. So I will be teaching my son this week how to make **real** jerky like his Pappy did.
Just wondering if you can use chicken breast
I just tried this recipe, had it cooking all day and did it smell great in the house! The jerky was delicious! Thank you!
Making this for the first time . Can’t wait to taste it. I’ll let you know how we liked it .
Old Fashioned beef jerky is the ONLY the only kind that should be produced… period. <–
This simply amazing recipe is basically the foundation of any real OF Jerky which can be so easily tweaked a million different ways – from sweet to savory to down right Hot AF.
Thanks for confirming what I had dreamed as being the Original BJ recipe was so very close…
Seasoned salt… I absolutely love the stuff but never thought it could be that 1 missing ingredient needed for…
Original Jerky Bliss