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can you make beef jerky in a food dehydrator


Beef Jerky in a Food Dehydrator: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Delicious Dried Meat at Home


Beef jerky is a popular snack among meat lovers. Its delicious taste, high protein content, and long shelf life make it an ideal choice for those who are always on the go. While there are many ways to make beef jerky, using a food dehydrator is one of the easiest and most effective methods. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating mouthwatering beef jerky using a food dehydrator. So, get ready to satisfy your cravings and impress your friends with your homemade jerky!

I. Choosing the Right Meat:

The key to making great beef jerky lies in selecting the right cut of meat. While you can use virtually any lean meat, such as venison or turkey, beef is the most popular choice. When choosing your meat, opt for a lean cut with minimal fat content. Some of the best cuts for making beef jerky include top round, eye of round, and bottom round. Make sure to trim off any visible fat, as it can lead to spoilage and affect the overall texture of your jerky.

II. Preparing the Marinade:

The marinade is where the magic happens! A flavorful and well-balanced marinade will elevate the taste of your beef jerky to new heights. There are countless marinade recipes available, but a classic soy sauce-based marinade tends to be a favorite for many jerky enthusiasts. To make the marinade, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and any other desired seasonings in a bowl. Mix well to ensure all the flavors are evenly distributed. For a spicy kick, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.

III. Slicing the Meat:

Once you have your meat and marinade ready, it's time to slice the meat into thin, uniform strips. The thickness of the slices will determine the overall texture of your jerky. If you prefer a more tender and chewy jerky, slice the meat into thicker strips. On the other hand, if you prefer a crispier jerky, opt for thinner slices. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat against the grain to ensure a more tender texture. Aim for slices that are around 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

IV. Marinating the Meat:

Now that the meat is sliced, it's time to marinate it. Place the meat strips in a large resealable plastic bag or a shallow glass dish. Pour the marinade over the meat, making sure each strip is fully coated. Seal the bag tightly or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or ideally overnight. Marinating the meat for an extended period allows the flavors to penetrate the meat and results in a more flavorful jerky.

V. Preparing the Food Dehydrator:

While the meat is marinating, prepare your food dehydrator. Start by lining the trays with non-stick drying sheets or parchment paper. This will prevent the meat from sticking to the trays and make the cleaning process easier. Next, arrange the marinated meat strips on the trays in a single layer, ensuring they don't overlap. Leave some space between the strips to allow for proper air circulation during the drying process.

VI. Drying Process:

Once your food dehydrator is prepared, it's time to start the drying process. Set the dehydrator to a temperature between 130 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit (54-71 degrees Celsius). The exact temperature will depend on your dehydrator model, so consult its user manual for specific instructions. It's important to dry the meat at a low temperature to prevent the growth of bacteria while preserving its flavor and nutritional value.

VII. Monitoring the Drying Time:

The drying time can vary depending on various factors such as the thickness of the meat slices, humidity levels, and the desired texture. Typically, beef jerky takes anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to fully dry. Throughout the process, periodically check the meat for dryness. The jerky should be firm, dry to the touch, and no longer pliable. To test for doneness, bend a piece of jerky; it should crack but not break. If it still bends easily, it needs more time to dry.

VIII. Storing and Enjoying Your Homemade Beef Jerky:

Once your beef jerky is perfectly dried, remove it from the food dehydrator and let it cool completely. While the jerky might still feel slightly soft when warm, it will further harden as it cools down. Store the jerky in airtight containers or sealable bags to maintain its freshness. If properly stored, homemade beef jerky can last up to 2 months at room temperature. However, we doubt it will last that long once you taste its irresistible flavors!


Making beef jerky in a food dehydrator is a rewarding and enjoyable process that allows you to create a healthy and delicious snack right in your own kitchen. By following these simple steps, you'll be able to produce mouthwatering beef jerky that surpasses any store-bought version. Experiment with different marinades, spices, and meat cuts to personalize your jerky according to your taste preferences. So, fire up your food dehydrator, stock up on quality meat, and get ready to indulge in your homemade masterpiece!


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