Classic Brined Beef Jerky

Classic Brined Beef Jerky in a bowl

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 hrs
Total: 10 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Yield: 3 pounds
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
104 Calories
4g Fat
2g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 104
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 420mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 158mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

With a few high-quality ingredients and some patience, you can make classic beef jerky at home.

Real beef jerky can and should be a delicious gourmet treat not the cheap, dried-out processed meat products sold at gas stations and grocery store checkout lines masquerading as jerky. 

When it comes to making homemade jerky, there are two primary factors that impact the jerky's texture: the meat fiber and moisture content.

In this jerky recipe, brining not only tenderizes but also adds flavor to beef jerky. With a little patience and time, it is easy to customize your own beef jerky by making it at home.


  • 1 quart water

  • 1/2 cup pickling salt

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (5-pound) beef round steak, cut in 2-inch-thick pieces, fat trimmed

  • Spice rub

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Brined Beef Jerky ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Place water, salt, molasses, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper into a large, gallon-sized ziptop bag. Seal and squish the contents until thoroughly combined.

    Water, salt, molasses, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper in a plastic bag

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Place trimmed beef in the brine, squeeze out the air, and seal. Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

    Trimmed beef in a plastic bag with brine in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  4. After marinating, remove steak and pat dry. Discard brine.

    Marinated beef on a wooden cutting board, with a paper towel

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Place steak on a tray and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes until ice crystals just begin to form. Meat should be firm, but not frozen solid.

    Marinated beef in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  6. Slice into strips 1/4-inch thick. Season with your favorite spice rub.

    Spiced beef slices on a cutting board, spice rub in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  7. Follow dehydrator's manufacturer directions to dry until stiff, but still pliable (see Note below about oven-drying). When finished, jerky should be dry to the touch. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

    Classic Brined Beef Jerky in a dehydrator

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


Note: If you do not own or prefer not to use a dehydrator, this brined beef jerky also can be dried on racks over trays in the oven at the lowest possible setting with the oven door slightly open.

Ingredients Notes

  • What's great about this recipe is that it is highly customizable, and you can use just about any spice rub of your choice.

  • But if you're new to making jerky or simply don't know where to start, you can always pick up a premixed spice blend at the grocery store. If you do, just be wary of sodium content, as the brine in this recipe imparts quite a bit of salty goodness already.

  • If you're wanting to go at the spice rub on your own, even plain old cracked black pepper is a tasty, classic choice.

A Little Jerky History

Beef jerky has been popular in the Americas since the time of the Inca Empire. Throughout history, jerky allowed humans in a pre-electricity and pre-refrigeration world a way to store high-protein meals for long periods of time, allowing nothing to go to waste. 

In fact, people have made jerky from just about every kind of meat and game from Indigenous peoples' buffalo jerky to pioneer settlers making jerky from small, wild game and even wild turkey and goose.