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How to Make Beef Jerky: The Complete Guide for Beginners

If you’re craving a delicious, protein-packed snack, it’s time to learn how to make beef jerky! Preparing beef jerky slices is an opportunity to learn, experiment and save. 

But even if you’re new to the process, you can be a jerky master in no time. This exhaustive guide has everything you need to break into the beef jerky world. Get your taste buds ready- once you get started, you won’t be able to make enough.

Understand Every Beef Jerky Variety

Beef jerky is a popular dried meat snack made from lean cuts of beef. Their chewy and flavorful taste comes from marinating thin beef strips in a seasoned mixture before drying them out. And with the rich flavor, you can enjoy a sufficient protein supply from every bite.

Exploring dedicated stores like can offer you a range of flavors and variety. Each with authentic taste and uniqueness to be a favorite.

Traditional, gourmet, or smoking beef jerky are popular choices. Many also love the Asian-inspired teriyaki variety that has sweetness in it. Or a spicy beef jerky incorporating red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for a fiery kick.

Choose Your Flavor

Preference for a flavor is vital before making your own. It will help decide how you want your beef delicacy to turn out. While meat serves as the primary substance of this snack, the combination of spices does the magic.

In the meantime, we choose the traditional beef jerky recipe.

Prepare Your Ingredients

Ensure your beef jerky’s quality and characteristics from the start. Here are the main ingredients that you will need. You can find or buy these from any local supermart.

  • 2 pounds of lean beef
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Two tablespoons of liquid smoke
  • Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • Two teaspoons of garlic powder
  • Two teaspoons of onion powder
  • One teaspoon of black pepper
  • One teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

After the right ingredients, we need to secure the necessary equipment. A sharp knife and a good cutting board will be essential to slice the meat. Prepare also some ziplock or airtight containers for the marinating process.

And finally, prepare your baking sheets, wire racks, and a dehydrator or oven to dry beef strips.

Follow Simple Steps to Make Beef Jerky

The process for making jerky beef will be simple as follows: 

1. Slice the Beef Correctly

The first essential step is selecting the proper beef and preparing it properly. Choose lean cuts of meat like flank steak or sirloin, as excess fat can lead to spoilage. Trim any noticeable fat off the meat if necessary.

Place the beef in the freezer to partially freeze it for 1-2 hours. This will make it easier to slice into sizes you may desire.

Once frozen, remove the beef from the freezer and begin slicing it with a sharp knife. Cut against the grain into about eight or quarter of an inch thick strips. Thinner slices will allow it to dry faster.

2. Prepare the Marinade

Combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Then add garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt. Mix properly to ensure all the ingredients are fully incorporated. 

The varying combination of spices is the key to the taste of seasoning for beef jerky.

3. Combine the Marinade and the Meat Strips

The marinating process tenderizes the beef and enhances the overall taste of the stips. Choose and set aside containers to marinate the beef. Ensure they are large enough to accommodate the meats and the marinade.

Place each beef strip into a large ziplock bag or airtight container. Pour the marinade into every container, ensuring it soaks every part of the meat.
Seal the container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. This will cause the flavors to penetrate the meat.

4. Dry the Beef Strips

Remove the beef strips from the containers and shake off any excess marinade. If desired, pat the strips gently with a paper towel to remove any additional moisture.

If you’ll use a dehydrator, check out the manufacturer’s instructions. Different models may have other drying times and temperatures requirement. Clean and test its condition first before using.

Lay the beef strips on the drying trays, ensuring they are spread out in a single layer and not overlapping. This allows for proper air circulation during drying.

Set the dehydrator temperature to around 160°F (70°C). Then set a 4-6 hours drying time. These are typical settings but may vary depending on the thickness of the strips and personal preference.

For oven users, preheat your oven to the lowest setting of around 150°F/65°C). Place your wire rack on top of the baking sheet. Arrange the beef slices on the wire rack, leaving spaces between the strips.

Slightly open the oven door to allow moisture to escape. Depending on the thickness of the strips and your desired texture, the drying process can take 3-6 hours. Flip the beef strips halfway through for even drying.

5. Test Until Perfect

Remove a piece from the oven or dehydrator and let it cool for a few minutes. Try tasting it to see if it’s already done. It should be chewy and pliable without any moisture. If it’s still moist or soft, continue drying.

But once it is good, you may bring all the beef strips out to cool down. 

6. Seal and Store 

Store your homemade beef jerky slices in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture. Please put it in airtight containers or resealable bags to keep air and water out, which helps maintain its texture and flavor.

Label the containers when you made the jerky to know when it was prepared. If you live in a hot or humid area or want to keep the jerky fresh for longer, you can store it in the refrigerator.

Evaluate to Improve

Taste your finished beef jerky and assess its flavor profile. Consider factors such as the balance of saltiness, sweetness, spiciness, and any other desired flavors. However your first product may turn out, it is crucial to evaluate it for improvement. 

Beef up Your Snack Anytime

Learn to make beef jerky, and you’ll enjoy it whenever you want. It empowers you to create a snack that suits your preferences while providing a rewarding kitchen experience.

Begin with one variety at a time. And later on, you will master preparing all types of beef jerky. So start now.

Whether you’re a starter or a seasoned pro, read more of our kitchen tips!

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