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how to make jerky in a food dehydrator


How to Make Jerky in a Food Dehydrator


Preparing your own homemade jerky can be a rewarding and delicious experience. Using a food dehydrator is a simple and effective method to create mouthwatering jerky with the perfect texture and flavor. This article will guide you through the step-by-step process of making jerky in a food dehydrator, ensuring that you achieve amazing results every time.

Choosing the Right Cut of Meat

To make the best jerky, it's essential to start with the right cut of meat. Look for lean cuts that have minimal fat content, such as beef round, flank steak, or top sirloin. Lean cuts are preferable because they are easier to slice and will result in a better texture once dehydrated. Trim off any visible fat before proceeding with the preparation.

Preparing the Meat

Before slicing the meat, it's helpful to put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will slightly firm up the meat, making it easier to achieve thin, even slices. Once the meat has firmed up, use a sharp knife to slice it against the grain. Aim for slices that are 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick for optimal jerky texture. Thicker slices will take longer to dehydrate.

Marinating for Flavor

One of the keys to mouthwatering jerky is a flavorful marinade. A good marinade not only adds taste but also tenderizes the meat. There are countless marinade recipes to choose from, whether you prefer sweet, spicy, or savory flavors. Popular options include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, garlic, onion powder, liquid smoke, and various spices. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag, then add the sliced meat. Make sure to coat the meat thoroughly and evenly, allowing it to marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Optimizing the Dehydration Process

Now that your meat is marinated and ready to go, it's time to set up your food dehydrator. Start by laying out the marinated meat slices on the dehydrator trays, making sure they don't overlap for even drying. Set the dehydrator to a temperature range of 145 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (63 to 71 degrees Celsius). It's crucial to ensure that the dehydrator operates at a high enough temperature to effectively dry out the meat while minimizing the risk of bacterial growth.

Monitoring and Rotating

While the dehydrator is doing its magic, it's crucial to check on the jerky periodically. Throughout the drying process, the jerky will gradually reduce in size and become dry and leathery. Depending on the thickness of your slices, the drying time can vary from 4 to 12 hours. At regular intervals, rotate the trays to ensure uniform drying. If you notice any fat spots or beads of moisture, blot them gently with a paper towel to aid in the drying process.

Testing for Doneness

To determine if your jerky is ready, give it the bend test. Take a cooled-down piece of jerky and twist it; it should bend without breaking but not be too soft or rubbery. If it snaps or breaks, it's over-dried. Similarly, if it feels soft or pliable, it needs more drying time. Remember that the jerky will continue to dry slightly after removing it from the dehydrator, so aim to achieve the desired texture during the drying process itself.

Storing and Enjoying Jerky

Once your jerky is perfectly dry, allow it to cool completely before storing. Proper storage is essential to keep your jerky fresh and delicious. Ideally, use airtight containers, such as glass jars or ziplock bags, to store the jerky in a cool, dark place. When stored correctly, homemade jerky can last up to several weeks. However, it rarely lasts that long due to its irresistible taste!


Making homemade jerky in a food dehydrator is a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to create personalized snacks packed with flavor. By selecting the right meat cut, marinating it to perfection, and ensuring adequate drying time, you can produce outstanding jerky right in your own kitchen. Experiment with different flavors, spices, and cuts of meat to find your favorite jerky combination. With a little practice, you'll be able to make delicious jerky that will impress your family and friends. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your food dehydrator and start making some scrumptious homemade jerky today!


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