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. :)
That’s just stupid good!!
I’ve been making jerky for 30+ years. I use round steak. Freeze a bit, slice into square long pieces, toothpick through the top, dangle off the rank with toothpick holding onto the rack. Cook at 175 for 4-5 hours. Good to go for a weekend outing with no refrigeration or stove. Way better than anything you buy in a plastic wrap.
Hiya, as you know so much about making jerky i wonder if you may have ever encountered this? I made some jerky with various meats for my dog and they turned out well. Some really dry and some with a slight bend. I was worried any left over moisture might cause problems. I put the batch in 2 different jars. One jar i thought would be perfect (completely dry and fat free) the other that showed a bit of shine from fat on the meat not drying fully. I was surprised to find that the jar i thought would be perfect (so i used that last meaning it was on the counter longer) grew white mouldy patches on it. I had to throw it all away. This is the 2nd time my jerky has grown mould. I even put one of those pouches in that absorbs moisture to be sure. Any ideas? I dont flavour my jerky at all as its for the dog. I wonder if the salt etc preserves it? Where do you store yours? It shouldnt need to be refrigerated should it?
The last sentence of Step 6 in the instructions above is “Refrigerate for up to a month”.
If your not averse, you can use a little cure to lengthen the shelf life.
If you are not going to salt it, you must dry it ‘completely’. With no salt to preserve it, and then sealing it in jars, you’re also asking for another while suite of problems than just mould.
So good I bought something from the affiliate links just because I felt the need to give back. Thanks very much Ali. Made exactly as the recipe states.
Excellent recipe! I double the batch and use 4lbs of pre-sliced beef milanesa from Walmart. Only change is adding a bit of Texas Pete to give it a mild kick. We’ve made two batches in 5 days. Cannot. Stop. Eating. This.
I just got a smoker Davy Crockett smoked strips with barbecue sauce brown sugar white sugar pepper salt smoked 4 hrs 165 • turned out great will try yours next time thanks
I’ve made this with both flank steak and ground beef and both are excellent.
If your doing ground beef(i used 93/7), I had to use 3# of ground meat and a jerky gun onto my dehydrator racks otherwise the meat was too wet to hold its shape because of all the moisture in the marinade that usually gets thrown away in the cut meat version.
Great quick recipe, I prep it and my ninja foodi did the rest.
How much liquid smoke?
It’s in the recipe.
One of the best jerky recipes I’ve tried. Just got an air fryer/dehydrator so this is only the 4th recipe I’ve tried, but I already have my second batch marinating right now. Love it!!!!
Just left a review and saw yours was basically the same! Haha this recipe is brilliant!
This is the 3rd recipe I tried and its easily the best! Only thing I added was a little apple cider vinegar. Grest recipe!
I’ve made this recipe twice. The first time I didn’t have all the ingredients listed, low sodium soy sauce and the cracked black pepper. So I use regular soy sauce and regular pepper. It came out good but I felt it was really salty and spicy. So I made it again this time with all the ingredients listed. I feel it came out kind of bland. I think it’s a good recipe but I think from my taste I need to tweak it maybe it needs to be a mix of the low sodium and regular sodium soy sauce. I’m not sure but I’m gonna keep trying because this is a good bass recipe.
You can try regular soy sauce, but don’t add any additional salt
Really solid recipe that’s delicious as is or easy to add your own spin. Gave me the confidence to try it once, and now I’m going back in for my fifth batch. Definitely agree with recommendation to use flank steak, but that’s obviously very much personal preference. But yea, this is a great guide to creating your very own gourmet, homemade beef jerky, perfect for sharing or (in my case) hiding it from the kids. thank you!
Hi! I just made this; the flavor is amazing! I do have a question though. I used a very lean flank steak but my strips still seem to be pretty greasy. In your pictures it looks like your pre-dehydrated meat is more fatty than mine was, but in your finished jerky pic it looks like there isn’t any fat at all left. Should the fat “cook” out? I can still see the fat in my strips; should I keep cooking it… will that even help? I have the same dehydrator and cooked on med for 8.5h. Again, tastes amazing, but it’s greasy- I’ve been blotting with paper towels too.
Would london broil work in place of flank steak? Want to make this weekend and have the london broil in the freezer!
refrigerate up to one month, lol, mine lasted 2 days!
great recipe, use it all the time!
I just did this recipe & it kicks a$$
Thank-you so much!
First beef jerky turned out absolutely amazing!
I used this as a quick guide. I’m made 100s of pounds of jerky. I always use Prague #1 in my jerkys for further safety. If I’m the only one eating I add datil, habanero or ghost pepper flakes. My go-to cut is eye of round. Remove the little fat on one side and it is ready for the slicer
I could live off this stuff! Of course, I can’t afford flank steak all the time but London broil works just fine!
I added a bit of sesame seed oil. Very good!
Marinated 9 lbs of outside round with this recipe, quadrupled the ingredients because of the weight of meat ( added 4 oz of maple syrup ) for 2 batches in my 12 drawer dehydrator and it is by far the best jerky I have ever made. Thank you very much. Cheers
I’m doing this with a London and not adding liquid smoke because I’m gonna try this propane smoker and I used jalapeño garlic generously lol and no season salt because the jalapeño stuff is kinda salty and added a little jalapeño hot sauce so not the same but your recipe is my base and definitely gonna pepper it up after marinade I think its gonna be awesome thank you for the guidance
My husband purchased me a dehydrator for my birthday and it can in early. My local butcher wasn’t open yesterday, so off to Walmart I went. All I could find was Eye of Round, pre-cut thin steaks. I sliced each steak into smaller strips. Mixed up the marinade as instructed and let it do its thing in the fridge for approx 12 hours. My house has smelt amazing all morning and it’s finally done. This is absolutely the best jerky I’ve ever eaten. Thank you for sharing!
For what it s worth, I put a small fan near the oven. Blowing away from the oven. It fan on very low. Just my thought. I dry other food items this way. Just my. $.02.
This recipe is great.
Thanks for posting this. Truly a great and simple recipe, that yields great jerky! Making it for about the 5th time (in the month since I first read this!), my kids and I devour this as fast as it’s ready. Bought the Cuisinart dryer you suggested, although Walmart happened to be way below Amazon this time around. A couple suggestions others might find useful:
1. I split the very into two bags of marinade, one ‘too spicy’ as my youngest girls complain, with heavy cracked pepper and a dash of hot paprika. Then, another bag that’s mild, sometimes even adding a bit of brown sugar and maple syrup to the marinade for more delicate pallets. On the front of the drying tray, I take a dry erase and label it S for spicy and M for mild. This is helpful to keep track as we shuffle trays around during drying. Wipes off easily if it doesn’t wash off in the dishwasher when done.
2. Slicing the meat. I have tried freezing to firm it up then slicing at home, and have asked my butcher to cut as narrow strips as possible. The first resulted in a sliced finger, the 2nd left strips about 4 times bigger than extra thick bacon. My solution: kitchen shears. You don’t have to worry about freezing the meat, Just get flank steak (or your preference) and from the thinnest strip they will cut you at the butcher shop you can very easily narrow the raw jerky strips to suit your preference.
I have also switched around from Hickory to Mesquite to Applewood smoke. While they are all tasty, we like to use a tablespoon (or more) instead of a teaspoon per 2 pound marinade
Thanks again for sharing, and hope you might have some other uses to share for our new drier!
This is a great recipe!!! For variation I added crushed red pepper and brown sugar for a spicy tangy version.
This is sooooo good! Thank you for your recipe! I cut the liquid smoke for smoked paprika and then I also add a tsp of dried thyme. The original is great, but I like trying new things!
This was a great marinade recipe. It tastes as good as it smells while cooking. Thank you so much.
This is the best jerky I’ve ever had! If you like good old jerky with a taste of pepper this is it. Oh yeah!
Love it! Thank you for sharing.
For everyone talking cuts of meat, I use the largest, least expensive roast I can find that looks lean and I slice it very thin. It works beautifully. DONT need steak!!!
Absolutely the best. Just tried it last weekend. Awesome.
i made this recipe in the air-fryer. it came out really tasty. next time I’ll try not to forget the liquid smoke.
Hi I am going to do about 3 kg’s of jerky at once so that works out around 6.6 pounds, do I multiply your recipe by 6 in that case ?
by about 3.5
Personally, I prefer using the oven (170 degrees) for dehydrating… It’s just as easy and certainly more convenient than having a “dehydrator” sitting on the shelf taking up additional space.
Me and my son used this recipe to make jerky for the very first time. It was super easy, and it turned out so delicious! We did a second batch that we added more pepper to as well as some ground red pepper for a little extra kick. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Trying it today for my very first jerky Thanks
If you post a recipe, I do not need your history or any other fluff, just the recipe. If you want to creatively write,?try poetry and stop wasting time.
There is a link at the top that says “Jump to Recipe”. No need to take stars off because you don’t like reading the story when there is a super easy option to *not* read it.
She can write how she wishes, it was well worth the read as well! (At least for me)
The food was delicious. Also if you REALLY don’t want to read the whole thing, just click the “Skip to recipe” button when you first see the image. Good luck!
Wow why not just use the “Jump to Recipe” button at the beginning instead of being so negative. So unnecessary. I feel sorry for you.
Tried lots of different recipes since buyinga dehydrator made this before Christmas best ever had to hide from son as going down at a fast rate of knots.
Making again today only recipe I will use now delish
this is a really good recipe thanks
This is the best beef jerky recipe ever! Luckily I came across this one after just one batch of another recipe that wasn’t bad, but not even close to this one.
As the author I couldn’t stand how sweet industrial jerky is, the likes of Jack Link’s, Old Trapper, and so. I like my jerky spicy and savory.
After making a dozen batches without changing the original recipe, I started to add my own “touches”, like some paprika, sometimes when I feel like it I add thyme to the marinate, or sprinkling some hot sauce on the strips before they are dehydrated.
But make no mistake, even if you don’t add any personal tweak this recipe is killer. I am so thankful to the author for sharing it. You are really awesome!
This is the best I’ve had ever little to much pepper for me but besides that amazing I’m glad I found this recipe
Best. Beef. Jerky. Ever.
Great jerky ?
This is the BEST recipe that I’ve found and I have been looking for years!
Amazing recipe…… made my first batch last week, Everyone loved it….and have two new batches marinating overnight, one I have added a bit of chilli powder and some maple syrup, the other is original ?
Thanks for giving me the confidence to make the plunge, wanted to do jerky for years and have been researching for weeks, after reading this i ordered your particular model and used your amazing information as a basis, first batch goes in tomorrow,after marinating overnight. Fingers crossed, thanks.
My first 2 batches turned out amazing, thanks again for the recipe and the information you shared.
The most useless piece of information in the post is that it will last for upto a month in the fridge. This is possibly the worst thing to happen to my health and wallet as I’m clearly going to make and eat batch after batch.
I used this recipe and included Flank steak, sea salt and 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup. It is delicious. Thanks for sharing. Charles Wilson
Have you ever made this jerky with venison?
What is your seasoned salt?
Got a batch in the dehydrator now. Let you know tomorrow how it turns out