My Beef Jerky Recipe

I think I’ve finally perfected my beef jerky recipe. I started with a recipe I saw somewhere many years ago but never thought it was perfect. So over the years I’ve doctored it and tweaked it and such and now I think it is great! And if the speed with which the kids gobble each batch up is any indication, I’m not the only one!

Beef jerky is essentially meat that has been both cured in a flavorful brine-like marinade (although it isn’t technically a brine, it has a high salt and sugar content like most brines along with other flavorings, so it cures and flavors the meat in a similar way) and then dried. The drying process of making this beef jerky recipe is easiest if you have a food dehydrator. They are pretty inexpensive and easy to use, so if you don’t have one I highly recommend getting one. They can be used to dry other things as well including fruits and vegetables, herbs, etc.

If you don’t have a food dehydrator and don’t plan to get one, there are a couple other options. Some people do it in their oven, turning it down to as low a setting as you can to dry out the jerky. If your oven can’t get a really low temperature though, this risks cooking them or burning them. Alternatively, I’ve seen some people advocate using a “poor man’s” dehydrator to make beef jerky, consisting of two cellulose disposable air conditioner air filters. You put the marinated beef between them, tie them together and then tie them onto the front of a large house fan and turn the fan on blowing out a window to dry the beef. I can’t personally vouch for this last method since I’ve never tried it but I’ve seen others talk about it and supossedly it works pretty well.

Beef Jerky Recipe Ingredients:

  • About 1 pound beef: You want a cut that is very lean with little or no fat and marbling running through the meat. I’ve primarily used flank steak but many people use sirloin or eye of round or other very lean cuts.
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce (or tamari if you prefer gluten-free) plus 2 tsp more
  • 2/3 cup worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (I’ve used the hickory one most but mesquite should be fine too)
  • 1 tsp unseasoned meat tenderizer or papain (optional but it makes the beef jerky a bit more tender)
  • A food dehydrator with enough trays to fit all the slices of beef

How to make beef jerky:

  1. Trim off any fat or sinew from the surface of the meat. Slice the flank steak into 1/4” strips going perpendicular to the grain. This is easiest if you first put the meat in the freezer for a while until it gets firm but is not yet fully frozen. If there are any large internal pieces of fat, trim those out if possible as beef fat isn’t ideal for drying.
  2. Pound each strip of beef several times with a meat tenderizer mallet. Thin pieces of meat may almost be pounded into pieces, but this is ok. Pounding it really helps tenderize the meat nicely so it is not hard to chew.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix until the honey and sugar have fully dissolved.
  4. Add the marinade/cure to a ziploc bag and add the beef. Mix around thoroughly so that all pieces of meat are fully submerged and coated on all surfaces with the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and seal tightly.
  5. Let the meat sit on the counter for 1 hour at room temperature. This allows the meat tenderizer to work a bit to start softening the meat.
  6. Put the bag in the refrigerator and marinated overnight, 15 to 24 hours or so.
  7. The next day, let each strip drip off excess marinade but do not rinse or wipe it off. Place each strip on a tray of your food dehydrator.
  8. Turn on your food dehydrator and set at high heat setting. Each dehydrator is different but mine has 145 labelled as the top setting. Leave this beef jerky recipe to dehydrate for about 4-8 hours, depending on the size of your pieces, ambient humidity, etc. Start checking after about 4 hours. When done there should be no moisture and it should feel firm and stiff.

That’s it! Put them out and watch them disappear!

I hope you enjoy this beef jerky recipe!

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