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Making Beef Jerky: A Guide to Homemade Goodness

Beef jerky is a beloved snack that’s both delicious and nutritious. Making it at home allows you to control the ingredients and flavors. Here's how you can make beef jerky using two different methods.

Best Cuts for Beef Jerky

The ideal cuts for beef jerky are:

  • Flank steak

  • Sirloin tip

  • Round steak

How to Slice:

  • Freeze the meat slightly to make slicing easier.

  • Slice against the grain for tender jerky, or with the grain for a chewier texture.

  • Aim for slices that are 1/4-inch thick.

Basic Marinade Recipe


  • 1 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

  2. Marinade the sliced beef for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Dehydrator Method


  1. Marinade the beef slices.

  2. Place them on dehydrator trays without overlapping.

  3. Set the dehydrator to 155°F (68°C).

  4. Dehydrate for 4-8 hours, checking periodically.

Oven Method


  1. Marinade the beef slices.

  2. Place them on oven-safe racks, with a tray underneath to catch drips.

  3. Set the oven to its lowest setting, ideally 175°F (80°C) or lower.

  4. Prop the oven door open slightly to allow for airflow.

  5. Dehydrate for 4-8 hours, checking periodically.

How to Know It's Done

Your beef jerky is done when it's leathery and chewable, but not brittle.

There you have it! Homemade beef jerky using either a dehydrator or an oven. Happy snacking!

Health Benefits and Precautions

Health Benefits

Beef jerky offers a range of health benefits. It's a great source of protein, which is essential for muscle repair and growth. The snack is also low in fat and carbohydrates, making it a good option for those watching their weight. Additionally, jerky is portable and requires no refrigeration, making it a convenient option for on-the-go snacking.

What to Watch Out For

While homemade beef jerky can be a healthy option, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Salt Content: Marinades often contain soy sauce or other salty ingredients. High sodium intake can be a concern for people with hypertension or heart issues.

  2. Sugar: Some recipes include sugar or sweeteners. Be mindful if you're watching your sugar intake.

  3. Allergens: Ingredients like soy sauce may contain gluten or other allergens. Always read labels and be aware of your dietary restrictions.

  4. Food Safety: Incorrectly prepared or stored jerky can grow bacteria or mold. Always adhere to recommended drying times and temperatures, and consume or refrigerate the jerky promptly.

By understanding the health benefits and risks, you can enjoy your homemade beef jerky responsibly.


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