Paleo, gluten-free, and Keto-friendly, a 2-oz serving of beef jerky has less than 200 calories, but 25 grams of protein. If you need a quick, portable, and nutritious bite, this is a wonderful option.
Beef makes a great base for jerky as it absorbs flavor really well and is hearty and chewy, but you can use any other meat like elk, deer, turkey, goose, or bison. Always use good cuts of meat, the better the initial ingredient the better the jerky. For outstanding jerky, go with low-fat cuts like sirloin, flank steak, eye round, or top round. Usually, you obtain a third of jerky of the initial meat weight (3:1), so although our recipe has the measurements for 3 pounds of meat (1 pound of jerky), you can scale it up or down if you're making smaller or bigger batches.
Jerky needs to marinate. Start with this teriyaki marinade and then try other variations at the end. This dry rub is a standard mix, but feel free to add other spices like cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, or nutmeg to create different flavor profiles. There is no one perfect flavor for the marinade or dry rub.
- 3 pounds meat (any low-fat cut of your meat of choice), frozen for one hour prior to slicing
- For the Teriyaki Marinade:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- For the Dry Rub:
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Optional: 1/2 cup brown sugar
Gather the ingredients.
Trim all of the fat off of the meat. Fat does not dehydrate well, will create an unpleasant texture if left on the meat, and can cause faster decay.
With a very sharp knife, slice the beef with or against the grain depending on your preferred texture. Cut it thinly, at least 1/4-inch thick, if not thinner. Freezing the meet for one hour prior to slicing will make this process much easier.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.
Place the slices of meat in the bowl. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate the meat for 10 hours in the fridge. Toss the meat around once or twice during the process.
Once the marinating time is over, place the meat in a colander and drain off the liquid.
Mix all of the dry rub ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Once the meat is drained, dip both sides of each slice of meat into the dry rub.
Follow the instructions for oven or dehydrator method, depending on which appliance you will be using.
Dehydrating in Oven
Preheat the oven to 165 F.
Cover a big baking tray with parchment paper. Place a wire rack on top of the tray, then place the strips of beef jerky on the wire rack. Allow the excess moisture from the marinade to drip off first.
The jerky will take 2 to 3 hours to dehydrate in the oven depending on how much moisture the meat had at the beginning. If there are spots in your oven that are hotter, turn the trays around halfway through the process. About 3/4 through on the drying time, take a piece of jerky and bend it. If there is any visible moisture, the jerky needs the remaining drying time. Check again at the end of the dehydration process and add more oven time if needed.
Dehydrating in Dehydrator
Heat up your dehydrator to 165 F. Once hot, lower the temperature to 150 F.
Place the meat slices onto greased dehydrator trays.
Leave the meat for 8 to 10 hours. However, check your jerky about 3/4 through on the drying time, take a piece of jerky and bend it. If there is any visible moisture, the jerky needs the remaining drying time. Check again at the end of the dehydration process and add more dehydrator time if needed.
Because the homemade jerky has no additives or preservatives, it's best to keep it in the fridge if you're not eating it right away. For safe storage, place the meat in resealable bags or an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Vacuum seal it for ultimate freshness. With a good vacuum seal, it can keep in the fridge for 3 months.
Other Types of Marinade for Your Jerky
No matter the marinade you choose for your jerky, always start with 2 tablespoons of salt and 1/4 cup of white vinegar, adding one of these mixes:
- Honey Pepper: Add 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
- Hawaiian: Add 1/2 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup soy sauce.
- Sweet and Spicy Bourbon: Add 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1/4 cup bourbon, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon of hot sauce.