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. :)
Omg!!!! Thank you for this recipe, absolutely Marvelous! Never made it before, and it turned out perfectly never buy another bag of jerky ever!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hmm. Almost. The two ingredients lists are very close to being identical.
With one CRUCIAL difference which is why I use this recipe. I HATE sweet jerky which is why teriyaki is my least favorite flavor. Ali also dislikes sweet jerky, as explained in the article. Brown uses honey whereas Ali doesn’t use any additional sweeteners (other than what’s in the Worcestershire sauce, e.g. a bit of molasses). That makes all the difference to me. I don’t even want fruit juice in my jerky.
As for the similarities, all beef jerky recipes have the same base ingredients so I’m not sure why you’re calling it Alton Brown’s recipe. My friend’s grandfather pretty much also used the same ingredients with the addition of apple juice.
OMG…it is exactly like Alton Brown’s recipe! Well except that Alton uses 4x as much worsterchire, and uses honey, and red pepper flakes. And this recipe uses garlic powder and seasoned salt. But hey, they both do use beef!
Why refrigerate after being dehydrated?
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.
What is the shelf life for this Jerky?
any jerky that is not cured has a shelf life of about 2 to 6 months with proper containment (vacuum sealed, refrigerated, freezer stored (about 18 months with freezing), or in a packet with silica packs 20cc or more for 2 to 4 ounce bags).
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.
In order to make the meat shelf stabile it requires more steps and ingredients…I think the extra steps is to remove any and all fat and you’ll need to use a curing salt in your mix to make the jerky more “shelf stable”
that is correct, John. The best jerky (IMHO) is one that doesn’t have the curing ingredients. If you are looking to make your jerky shelf life longer, I would suggest getting silica packs (20cc or more), a vacuum sealer, and a spot in the fridge (for up to 9 months) or freeze it (for up to 18 months).
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!
Thank you and I can’t wait to try this… I’ll let you know when I do. Thanks again.
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!!!
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.?
jerky only “requires” a curing agent if you are prepping and want to prolong the life of your jerky. Also, “jerky” was introduced by the native Americans, and was called “Jerqui” The word comes from a combination of the Native American word which is “charqui” (which actually means “burnt meat”) and the pronunciation from the settlers “jerky”. They used salt and dried it mostly on hot rocks heated by fire pits. It’s the salt that kept any germs from incubating during month(s) long trips.
I can tell you that not using the curing ingredients makes a better tasting jerky…and to be perfectly honest, who the hell makes jerky just to put it on the shelf for years at a time? The jerky I make is gone within a week, and it is hardly “cooked, dried out steak”.
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?
I made this in the oven bc I didn’t have a dehydrator yet….it was quite messy and took a lot longer but came out great!!!
I made this for my granddaughters, ages 6 & 8 they absolutely loved it. They took the entire batch home with them. I have this feeling I will be making a lot of this. Thank you for the recipe.
REALLY good!! The smell, texture & flavor are amazing. Just a few notes for when I make it next time – freeze the meat overnight and use the SMALLEST possible setting on the mandolin. I used the second smallest (1/8 inch) and it was a little too thick. DEFINITELY use low sodium soy sauce per the recipe, and maybe even omit the seasoned salt – I used regular soy sauce and it’s super salty. Rotate your trays & flip your beef or it will take longer than 4 hours.
It’s really really good! I will definitely be making this again
I never leave comments on recipes, and I like to experiment with new things so I usually don’t try the same recipe multiple times, but I have to make an exception for this. I will warn you though: this stuff is ADDICTIVE, though you certainly get a bang for your buck, seeing how expensive your typical bag of beef jerky is. My tweaks: top round instead of flank (which the recipe does mention as a substitute), 2 Tbsp pineapple juice, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, pinch of cayenne, and 1/2 tsp MSG. Don’t believe the slander, MSG does NOT make you sick or give you headaches, and it will absolutely make this even more addictive than it already is. Enjoy!
Absolutely delicious! I don’t know why the commercial brands always have so much sugar in them. This reminds me of the stuff that my dad used to make. Thanks for the recipe!
Though beef jerky is one of my favorite things to eat, and I intend to make this for my family, I feel it important to point out that, NOTHING made out of cattle makes the world a better place.
This is unusual ! Kind of like ” ill eat it but i dont want to talk about it ” .
Hehe that’s why I make mine with wild game
I love this recipe! All of our beef is bred, born, and raised on our ranch. We control every aspect from conception to butcher. I recently purchased a commercial dehydrator to do beef jerky and snack sticks in for our family. I may eventually look into having a certified kitchen for value add products.
Best beef jerky I’ve ever made
After I make this can I seal it and how long will it keep
previous comment: any jerky that is not cured has a shelf life of about 2 to 6 months with proper containment (vacuum sealed, refrigerated, freezer stored (about 18 months with freezing), or in a packet with silica packs 20cc or more for 2 to 4 ounce bags).
Im going to try this i dont like beef jerky but my dogs love it and a treat and it cost so much wish me luck in my gas stove thanks
Nothing in this recipe except the beef is okay for dogs.
good job. thanks.
I did a batch of 4lbs with moose meat. Huge hit with family and friends at the Saturday night get together with a couple cold ones. I used 2 tsp of black pepper as I don’t have the crack pepper. Awesome taste.
Made this today and it came out perfectly following the recipe as written! I added different seasonings (molasses, honey, BBQ and maple syrup)to one tray to experiment and those came out great as well. I almost went out to buy a dehydrator and so glad I didn’t waste the money! I just put baking racks over foil and it worked like a charm. I will make this again for certain.
If you are doing this in a smoker should you skip the liquid smoke??
Been making jerky for years with my smoker and I’ve never added the liquid smoke to any recipes, well maybe a couple, but it’s not needed in my opinion. Keep in mind that different wood species are stronger than others and will give the meat a different flavor. Keep the temp low on your smoker, your in essence curing the meat not cooking it. Hope this was helpful.
I use this recipe all the time and love the result. Try different types of beef and different size slicese to figure out what suits your preference. I usually wait until there is a good sale on meat at the store. I like that the ingredients are natural compared to what you get when you buy jerky.
Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I literally bought a dehydrator just so I can make jerky and your marinade was the first I found and the easiest recipe to follow. I’ve made so many batches now and it never lasts long. Here’s me thinking we’ll have jerky for a couple of weeks … YEAH RIGHT! I’m lucky if there’s any left after a few days. The country I live in is not familiar with jerky, except seeing cowboys munch on it in the movies so now that some have tried the jerky I make, they are constantly begging for me.
I’m off to marinade my beef which means the dehydrator will be on for most of the day tomorrow.
I am making tbe jerky in the oven at 170 degrees – it says to leave oven door open a crack..I did…it has been 3 hrs, the oven is not hot nor is tbe beef drying..we’re talking just open a crack. Just shut the oven door after 3 hrs – it showed it was less than 25 degrees…if I leave it closed it will cook and not dry – what to do. I am at almost 4 hrs – not drying!!!
Are you sure your oven is only 25F? That’s colder than a refrigerator. In fact, it’s freezing. That would be impossible in any home because you’d be dead if your home was that temperature. Perhaps you meant 25C? That’s 77F, which is room temperature. If that’s the case, it means that the oven never turned on. That could be the case if you have an electric oven. Many electric ovens won’t turn on unless the door is shut for safety reasons. If that’s the case, see if you can find a switch that the door hits when closed. You need to close the switch, usually with a piece of tape, to fool the oven thinking that the door was closed. Make sure to remove the tape after you’re done.
But no, 170F will not necessarily cook the beef. 170F would be the air temperature in the oven but the meat would be much cooler. Similarly, even though you roast a chicken at 350F, the chicken itself won’t even reach 165F for about an hour. If you must keep the door closed, just lower the temperature to maybe to 120F-140F or so and the beef will probably never exceed 110F, even after hours.
My daughter uses this recipe, and now so do I, to make deer jerky, and it’s AMAZING! Here’s my question, is it possible to make jerky from ground meat?
Yes, you can but the texture is entirely different. It’s extremely tender because the meat fibers (aka grain) have been ground up. Basically, it’s like a hamburger vs a steak. Ground beef jerky will break up if you bend it. I’ve never made ground beef jerky but you’d basically use the same recipe, with no real need to marinate. That’s because there’s no need for the flavoring to penetrate the meat, or to tenderize the meat. You basically mix the meat as if you’re making meat loaf. You might need to adjust the wet ingredients because if the meat is too wet, it’ll be hard to mold. You then have to mold the meat into strips and dehydrate. Many people use a pastry bag to squeeze out strips of meat. You can get very inexpensive beef jerky kits on ebay which include a device for pumping out ground meat strips.
Finally, a recipe without any additional sugar (or honey, maple, syrup, pineapple juice or any other source of sweetness). The bit of sweetness in the Worcestershire sauce is good enough for me. In fact, my least favorite flavor of beef jerky is teriyaki so this recipe is perfect (except for the smoke, which I’ve omitted because no one likes it around here). We made it in our oven size air fryer, which has a dehydrator function and 4 racks. The process took only 3-4 hours because air fryers have a powerful fan. Perfect.
I love jerky, and it is a way for me to get protein into my diet. I have problems with it getting in my teeth though. Is there a secret to make it where it does not do that so bad? Is my cut wrong? Am I cooking it too long?
This sounds delicious! I would like to make some to send to a US base over seas. I see it needs to be refrigerated but I also see your response about silica packets. Can the packets be used in place of refrigerating? If not, do you have any suggestions on making it safe for shipping? Thanks!
Tried it with 2 pounds of eye of round and it was so good, so next day I did 6lb. Love it.
This is very good with venison
Thank you SO much for the recipe. I have made it at least 4 times since September. I like that it’s not a sweet recipe, being a diabetic, but have used either extra garlic powder or extra black pepper. Can’t get enough.
I made this jerky in my dehydrator. It takes a little time but is REALLY GOOD. I used tri tip because it was what I had. I marinated for 4hrs.
Other people that tried it said it was tasty. My Mom asked if I really made it? I’m making it again…
I have to say this was by far the best beef jerky ive ever eaten and it didnt even last a day in my house!
Thanks for sharing such a fantastic and delicious recipe!!
LOVED this recipe! Just one question: Where can I find the nutritional info for it?
I made this yesterday without any substitutions and all four of my picky teens (and myself) loved it! I did not make any substitutions. 140 F in my Ninja Foodi XL for four hours on dehydrate function. First time making beef jerky because I’ve been so nervous about it and now I need to look no further. Yes, the pieces are small, but who cares? Tastes just the same!
I’m going to try it 👍😊 sounds awesome and I really am a Jerky fan. Living in Mexico and it seems like the Jerky here is too dry. I like your recipe. Thank you.
I have made this recipe many times. I use high-quality soy sauce, and leave out the salt. I make anywhere from 12 to 20 pounds of jerky at a time. I have a state of the art smoker. My process starts with air drying the jerky to acquire a proper Pellicle. It usually takes me about five hours of cooking time.
I also sprinkle the jerky with extra pepper before smoking!
I like this recipe, because it has little to no sugars.
I know you said I can just cover my wrack with foil and put the meat on the foil lol but that sounds scary to me. Doesn’t the juice ever sprawl out and off of the rack down below and cause a smoke-fest?!
Can I put it on a baking sheet or no?
This looks sooooo yummy in my tummy!
I had to send my sister a screen shot of this blog because I was literally 16 in 1998 and asking my mom for a Ronco food dehydrator!!! I felt like I was reading my own story. After years of making jerkey with my old dehydrator it was time to go in the can. I didn’t buy a new one until recently and was looking for a recipe. I am excited to try this one. It sounds great. Thanks for sharing it.
This recipe is the best Beef Jerkey I have ever made! Using a dehydrator is your best bet. I suggest marinating over night for best texture and flavor. 1 1/2 lbs. of flank steak is what I used. Flank Steak is lean and really absorbed the marinade. Dehydrator on medium setting for 8 to 10 hours for best results.
How much corn should I add to the marinade?
I made this today and used my ninja oven dehydrator. It was done at like 5 hours and didn’t want them to be too dry so I took them out and yummy. Will never buy jerky anywhere else.