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how to dehydrate jerky food dehydrator


How to Dehydrate Jerky Using a Food Dehydrator


Dehydrated jerky is a popular snack that is not only delicious but also portable and long-lasting. Making your own jerky at home can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy this tasty treat. With the help of a food dehydrator, you can easily preserve meat, poultry, or even fish into flavorful jerky strips. This article will guide you step by step on how to dehydrate jerky using a food dehydrator.

Choosing the Right Meat

To make great homemade jerky, it's essential to start with the right cut of meat. Lean cuts like beef round, flank steak, or venison work best for jerky. It's crucial to trim off any excess fat as it can become rancid during the drying process. By selecting lean cuts, you enhance the jerky's flavor and reduce the chances of spoilage.

Preparing the Marinade

Marinating the meat is an essential step that adds flavor and tenderness to your jerky. There are countless marinade recipes available, but a basic marinade usually consists of a mixture of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and a touch of sweetness from brown sugar or honey. You can experiment with different marinade variations to suit your taste.

Slicing the Meat

To achieve a chewy and uniform texture in your jerky, it's important to slice the meat against the grain. This helps break down the tough muscle fibers, resulting in tender and easily edible jerky. Begin by placing the meat in the freezer for about an hour to partially freeze it. This makes it easier to slice thin, even strips using a sharp knife. Aim for a thickness of around 1/8 to 1/4 inch for optimal results.

Loading the Dehydrator

Once your meat is marinated and sliced, it's time to load it into the food dehydrator. Remove any excess marinade from the slices by patting them dry with paper towels. Arrange the meat on the dehydrator trays, making sure to leave some space between each piece for proper air circulation. Overcrowding can lead to uneven drying. It's recommended to follow the specific instructions provided by your dehydrator manufacturer regarding tray placement and spacing.

Dehydrating the Jerky

Set the temperature and time according to your dehydrator's guidelines and turn it on. The optimal drying temperature for jerky is around 145-160°F (63-71°C). Keep in mind that the drying time may vary depending on the thickness of the meat, humidity levels, and the dehydrator model you are using. It usually takes anywhere from 4 to 12 hours for jerky to fully dehydrate. Throughout the process, periodically rotate the trays for even drying.

Testing for Doneness

To ensure your jerky is fully dehydrated and safe to consume, check for its doneness. The jerky should be firm and dry, with no visible moisture. It should bend without breaking, but not feel spongy or moist in any way. Additionally, you can perform a safety test by cutting a piece of jerky in half. The meat should appear the same color throughout, with no signs of pinkness or redness. If properly dried, the jerky can be stored for long periods without refrigeration.


Dehydrating jerky using a food dehydrator is a simple and enjoyable process that allows you to create your own mouthwatering snacks. By selecting high-quality meat, preparing a flavorful marinade, and correctly dehydrating the jerky, you can have a ready-to-eat protein-rich treat that is perfect for outdoor activities or as a quick on-the-go snack. Get creative with seasonings, try different meats, and enjoy the satisfaction of making your own delicious jerky at home.


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