Jerky has been a popular meat staple since around the 1500's when native South and North Americans preserved their meat by sun drying and smoking their kill. Today it remain a popular protein packed snack primarily because of its portability and long storage time. However, pre-packaged beef jerky is extremely expensive for the small amount you get. Not to mention pre-packed beef jerky is filled with all kinds of unneeded extra preservatives.

Homemade beef jerky is simple to make and tastes much better than the store brands. Even during these hard economic times when meat like beef is rising drastically in price, it is still cheaper to make your own beef jerky. It tastes better and you can make a whole lot more of it.

beef jerky meat


I learned my first jerky recipes during hunting season when my father got bits and pieces of his friends kill to turn into jerky. His jerky was so popular that we almost never went a hunting season without a deer to dry up. However, since I have since moved and no longer have a source of venison to make jerky from I have changed these recipes to beef. Though if you do have the choice to use venison, do so! Venison, while considered very oily, is very lean and a fantastic meat for jerky. In my opinion, venison only really shines in sausage and jerky.

Any bit off the cow will work. The great thing about jerky is that you do not need to go out and buy top cuts of beef to make it. You can take the toughest, cheapest, least desired bits of meats and make fantastic jerky.

For my recipes, I almost always us a rump roast. This is a cut from the "butt" of the cow where there is a lot of lean, tough meat. People do not consider this good steak meat so it is often the cheapest bit. When looking for a cut of meat for jerky, you should always try to find the leanest meat you can find as the fat will make the jerky unchewable.

On my rump roast, I trim off any large areas of fat before slicing. You do not need to get all the fat off of it, so do not worry about trimming that last bit away just remove the bulk.

Try to slice your rump roast as thin as you possibly can. The thicker they are, the longer they will take to dry. I would recommend never cutting them more that 4 cm thick.

Since the rump roast is so tough, it should always be marinated overnight. Honestly, no matter what the cut, I still recommend marinating overnight. It imbues a strong and savory flavor to the meat, as well as tenderizing it.


All these recipes are sized for one average sized rump roast.

The Classic Jerky Recipe

1 bottle of Worcestershire Sauce
1 bottle of soy sauce
1/2 cup of minced onion OR 1 tablespoon of onion powder (I prefer fresh)
1 tablespoon of garlic salt
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
If you want some spicier jerky, add a tablespoon of Tabasco
If you want Teriyaki style jerky, replace Soy Sauce with Teriyaki marinade

Hawaiian Jerky

1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 cup of pineapple juice
1 cup of soy sauce

Chinese Jerky

1 cup of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of sherry
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1/2 cup of minced ginger
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of pepper

These are just the recipes I have used. Do you have your own? Feel free to share in the comments!

drying beef jerky


There are two safe methods to making jerky. You can dry them on an oven in low heat or use a food dehydrator. I so much prefer using a dehydrator, but I will discuss both methods.

Using a food dehydrator is the simplest method and you can buy a decent one for about $30 dollars. All you have to do is lay the marinated strips of beef on the dehydrators' drying racks so that they are not touching one another and turn it on. Drying thin slices of meat should only take about six hours. If it is your first time using a dehydrator, you do not want to do this overnight or when you are not home. It IS possible to over dry your jerky. You want it so that it is firm to the touch but not hard or crumbly.

Watching for over dryness matters for both the dehydrator method and the oven method.

About every two hours, you want to rotate the drying racks on the dehydrator. The heat comes from the bottom, so if you do not rotate them the bottom rack will dry super fast.

For the oven method you will either need a broiling pan or some kind of oven save slotted rack with a drip pan. The slotted is important as the heat needs to reach all sides of the meat and the drip pan is necessary because the meat will drip and make a mess in your oven without it.

Lay your marinated meat over the slotted rack and preheat your oven to 160 degrees. Leave your meat in the oven at this temperature for 6 to 8 hours with the oven door cracked for air circulation. The aim is to dry the meat and not cook it. Your meat, like on the dehydrator, should be firm to the touch, mut not overly hard or crumbly.

Ronco FD1005WHGEN 5-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
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Exact dehydrator I use, as pictured above.
beef jerky


Your jerky should be stored in a sealed plastic baggie or a piece of sealed tupperware. It will keep for months in these containers without refrigeration. I have never been able to keep jerky around the house for months at a time so I cannot really vouch for this. I have a bad habit of mindlessly snacking on jerky until it is all gone.