How to Make Beef Jerky In a Dehydrator

Making beef jerky at home isn’t as difficult as you might think. All it takes is time and a good dehydrator. Let go step by step through the process of making your own jerky.

Beef Jerky With a Dehydrator. Step by Step

Choose the right meat.

Choose the right meatMeat choice is very important in making jerky that you will love. Depending on the cut of meat, it will be tender, or it will be chewy.

If you have the opportunity, definitely consult with a local butcher and get some advice. If you let them know exactly how you are making your jerky, they can give you their expert opinion on what cut of meat would be best.

Some popular options are an eye of round cut or sirloin tips. The biggest thing to remember is lean meat is better. Fat and making jerky do not mix. Another thing to keep in mind when buying meat for jerky is the weight reduction of dehydrating it. If you want to make one pound of jerky, it will take three pounds of raw meat. 

Trim the meat

After you have your meat selected now, it’s time to do the prep work. You will need to trim any fat off of your meat. Fat on meat is the first thing to go rancid and will go bad even after dehydration much quicker than the lean meat. It also extends the time it takes to fully dehydrate your jerky. This is why it is so important to choose a lean cut of meat to reduce the amount of time you are prepping it. 

Freeze the meat

Freeze the meatThe next step is to freeze the meat. This will make the meat firm for the dehydrating process. Wrap your meat tightly in plastic and place it in the freezer.

You will want to keep it in there for at least an hour and a half then periodically check one it for firmness. You want it to be firm all the way through but not frozen solid. 

Cut the meat

While the meat is still firm, you will want to cut it into strips of your desired length. Always cut with the grain of the meat if you can to help with tenderness. I recommend you keep them around a quarter of an inch thick, so the dehydrating process doesn’t take too long. This is also a great opportunity to cut off any remaining fat that you missed from before. 


The marinade is very personal to the flavors that you like. There are tons of different recipes out there, and you should definitely experiment a bit. The easiest is a simple salt brine that is perfect for your first batch. Place your cut meat into a large zip lock bag. To make the salt brine, simply mix one teaspoon of salt with each cup of water you use.

If you toss in a little ground black pepper, it will give it an extra kick as well. Pour this mix directly into the bag with your meat and seal it, taking care to leave as little air as possible. Refrigerate this for 4 to 10 hours, depending on how strong of a flavor you want.

Layout the meat

After marinating, you will need to put your meat through a strainer to get the excess liquid off. Layout, each strip on a paper towel, covered tray, and leave it to dry out. You will know it is ready to go into the dehydrator when you can touch it, and it’s dry. 


The last and easiest part is placing it in the dehydrator. Make sure they are all separated on the tray before putting them in. The recommended heat for dehydrating beef is around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for about four hours. This may need to be adjusted depending on the meat used. 


What is the best meat for beef jerky?

There is no one cut of meat that is best since it is based on taste and consistency preference. Lean meats will always be better than fatty meats. If you know exactly how you want your jerky to taste, consult with your butcher to see which cuts will get you there. 

How do you know when beef jerky is done dehydrating?

You will know that your beef jerky is completely done dehydrating when it feels leathery to the touch. You don’t want it too crunchy, but it also can’t be too pliable. 

Is it cheaper to make your own jerky?

It is cheaper to make your own homemade jerky than it is to buy the store-bought all the time. An added benefit of making it yourself is you get to flavor it however you like. Homemade jerky will also be healthier.

How should you store homemade beef jerky?

Beef jerky can be stored at room temperature in a sealed food-safe container for up to a month without spoiling. You can stretch that out to two months if you use silicon-oxygen absorbers in the container with it.