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can you use a food dehydrator to make jerky


Food Dehydrator: Unlocking the Magic of Homemade Jerky


The art of making jerky has been around for centuries. This savory, protein-rich snack has stood the test of time, satisfying taste buds around the world. Traditionally, jerky was made by air drying or smoking meat to preserve it. However, with the advent of modern technology, a new method has emerged — using a food dehydrator. In this article, we will delve into the world of jerky making and explore whether a food dehydrator can be the secret weapon in your kitchen for creating delicious homemade jerky.

Understanding the Basics

Jerky is essentially dried meat that has been seasoned to perfection. By removing the moisture content, the meat is transformed into a flavorful and chewy snack that can last for months without refrigeration. Traditionally made by slicing meat into thin strips and marinating it overnight, jerky has evolved into an art form with countless variations.

1. The Role of a Food Dehydrator

One might wonder — can a food dehydrator really deliver when it comes to making authentic jerky? The answer is a resounding yes! A food dehydrator is designed to gently remove moisture from food items, making it an excellent tool for drying meat. Unlike ovens or air drying, a dehydrator uses low, consistent temperatures, which is crucial for ensuring the meat is evenly dried without losing its flavor and texture.

2. Choosing the Right Meat

When it comes to making jerky, the type of meat you choose is vital. While beef is the most popular choice, other meats such as chicken, turkey, and even exotic game meats like venison can be used. It is important to select lean cuts of meat with minimal fat content. Fat tends to go rancid quickly, shortening the shelf life of your jerky. Remove any visible fat before slicing the meat into thin strips for optimal drying.

3. Marinating the Meat

Marinating plays a crucial role in the flavor profile of your jerky. A good marinade not only imparts delicious tastes but also tenderizes the meat. Popular ingredients used in marinades include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, and a variety of spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find your favorite jerky recipe.

4. The Art of Drying

Once the meat has been marinated, it is time to load up the food dehydrator trays and start the drying process. Arrange the meat strips in a single layer, ensuring that they do not overlap. This will promote even drying and prevent any sticking. Set the dehydrator to the recommended temperature for jerky-making, which is usually around 160°F (71°C). Leave it to work its magic for several hours, rotating the trays occasionally for uniform drying.

5. Determining Doneness

The drying time will vary depending on the type and thickness of the meat, as well as personal preference regarding the jerky's texture. Thicker cuts will naturally take longer to dry. It is essential to monitor the drying process and check the jerky regularly for doneness. To determine if the jerky is ready, take a strip and allow it to cool. It should be firm yet pliable, with no signs of moisture. If the jerky snaps or breaks easily, it is over-dried.


In conclusion, a food dehydrator can indeed be used to make jerky. With its precise temperature control and ability to evenly dry the meat, a dehydrator is a fantastic addition to any jerky enthusiast's kitchen. From choosing the right meat to experimenting with unique marinades, making homemade jerky can be a fun and rewarding experience. So, why not unlock the magic of your food dehydrator and create delicious, shelf-stable jerky that will leave your taste buds craving for more? Happy jerky making!


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