The Perfect Recipe for Making Dehydrated Beef Jerky at 165°F

Beef jerky is one of the most popular and delicious high-protein snacks around. Making your own homemade beef jerky is easy and rewarding. The secret is getting the temperature and timing just right to make tender, flavorful jerky every time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make the perfect batch of beef jerky by dehydrating it at 165°F.

What is Beef Jerky?

Beef jerky is thinly sliced strips of beef that have been dried or dehydrated to remove moisture. This preservation technique allows the jerky to be stored for months without spoiling. The low moisture content keeps microorganisms from growing.

Traditionally jerky was made by sun drying strips of meat. Today most jerky is dried in a dehydrator or oven using low, even heat. The meat is flavored with spices and seasonings before or during the drying process.

Jerky makes an ideal high-protein, low-fat snack. A one ounce serving contains around 9 grams of protein but only 1 gram of fat. The meat’s nutrients become concentrated as the moisture evaporates away.

Benefits of Making Homemade Beef Jerky

There are many good reasons to make DIY beef jerky at home

  • Control ingredients. When you make it yourself, you can choose lean cuts of beef and healthier ingredients. Commercial jerky often contains preservatives, tenderizers, and excessive sodium.

  • Customize flavors. Homemade allows you to experiment with different seasonings and spices to create your own signature flavors.

  • Save money. Buying jerky from the store can get expensive. Making it at home costs a fraction of the price.

  • Long shelf life. Homemade jerky stored in airtight containers will keep for months without refrigeration. It’s the perfect snack to have on hand.

  • High protein. Jerky is a convenient source of protein for athletes, hikers, and busy people on the go. It can help boost energy and satisfy hunger.

  • Enjoy the process. Making jerky at home smells amazing and is deeply satisfying. It’s a fun weekend project for the whole family.

Step 1: Selecting the Right Meat for Jerky

The first step is choosing high-quality beef for making your jerky. Here are some tips:

  • Pick lean cuts. Look for beef cuts with little visible fat, like eye of round, bottom round, top round, or flank steak. Excess fat can cause the jerky to taste rancid.

  • Get uniformly thick slices. Slices around 1/4 inch thick will dry most evenly. If the slices are uneven, the thinner parts will dry too quickly.

  • Partially freeze the meat. Pop the meat in the freezer for 30-60 minutes until slightly firm but not rock solid. This makes slicing much easier.

  • Slice with the grain. Cutting slices with the grain helps the jerky hold together better during dehydration.

  • Trim off fat. Any thick sections of visible fat should be trimmed off to prevent the fat from turning rancid.

Step 2: Preparing the Jerky Marinade

A flavorful marinade is key for infusing your jerky with delicious taste. Here are some marinating tips:

  • Use acidic ingredients. Acidic components like vinegar, lemon juice, or soy sauce help tenderize the meat.

  • Employ umami flavors. Umami ingredients like soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or liquid smoke impart savory depth.

  • Splash in some hot sauce. A teaspoon or two of hot sauce provides a touch of spicy flavor.

  • Sweeten slightly. A bit of honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup balances out the other flavors.

  • Salt to taste. A teaspoon or two of kosher salt enhances the overall taste.

  • Add black pepper. Fresh cracked black pepper provides a bite of heat.

  • Use garlic and onion powder. These dried versions allow the flavor to penetrate the meat.

  • Hydrate with water. The marinade should have enough water or oil to moisten the jerky slices.

  • Marinate 1-2 days. Letting the meat sit in the sauce for a day or two ensures the best flavor.

Step 3: Dehydrating the Jerky

Now comes the most critical step – properly dehydrating the marinated jerky. Follow these guidelines for success:

  • Pat meat dry first. Gently pat off excess marinade before dehydrating. Too much moisture on the surface slows drying.

  • Set dehydrator to 165°F. This temperature dries the jerky thoroughly without cooking it. Higher temps cook the meat.

  • Rotate trays midway. Rotate the trays and shuffle the jerky pieces so they dry evenly.

  • Dry until done. Depending on thickness, jerky normally takes 5-8 hours to fully dehydrate at 165°F.

  • Look for dryness. Properly dried jerky is leathery and stiffness with no moist spots.

  • Test doneness. Jerky is fully dried when you can bend a piece completely in half but it doesn’t break.

  • Troubleshoot sticking. If jerky sticks to the trays, lightly grease the trays first or use silicone mats.

  • Dry to desire. For tender jerky, dry just to pliable. For brittle jerky, dry until hard.

Helpful Tips for Dehydrating Beef Jerky

Follow these handy tips and tricks for getting the best results when making jerky:

  • Use non-reactive trays like stainless steel or silicone mats. Acidic marinades can react with plastic or aluminum.

  • Rotate the jerky occasionally within the dehydrator for even drying.

  • Start checking doneness after about 5 hours. Jerky normally takes 5-8 hours.

  • Consider cracking the door or using lower heat for the last hour. This prevents over-drying.

  • When in doubt, slightly under-dry jerky rather than over-dry. It continues to dry during cooling.

  • Cool completely before storing. Warm jerky will sweat if sealed.

  • Use paper towels to blot off any condensation from cooling before storing.

  • Store jerky in sealable bags or airtight containers, refrigerated or frozen for max shelf life.

Troubleshooting Homemade Beef Jerky

If you’re running into issues with your homemade jerky, here are some tips to help troubleshoot:

  • Dry or brittle jerky – This happens when jerky is over-dried. Try using slightly lower dehydrator temp (160°F) and checking doneness earlier.

  • Hard to chew jerky – Letting jerky marinate 1-2 days allows acidic ingredients to tenderize. Cutting against the grain also yields more tender pieces.

  • Bland tasting jerky – Make sure to use plenty of seasoning. Salt and umami flavors are especially important. Marinating longer helps too.

  • Moldy jerky – This occurs if jerky wasn’t fully dehydrated and still has moisture. Dry until no moist spots and jerky bends without breaking.

  • Sticking to trays – Lightly oil trays first. Using silicone mats also prevents sticking. Rotate trays periodically for even drying.

  • Unpleasant flavors – Trim all visible fat before marinating to prevent rancid taste. Discard marinade after using to avoid contamination.

  • Curled or warped jerky – Thinner cuts around 1/4 inch dry most evenly. Marinating too long can also cause curling.

Storing Your Homemade Beef Jerky

Proper storage keeps your jerky tasting great for months:

  • Cool completely before storing. Seal only after jerky has cooled to room temp.

  • Use paper towels to absorb moisture. Blot off any condensation that develops while cooling.

  • Store in sealable bags or airtight containers. Blocking out air prevents moisture absorption.

  • Refrigerate or freeze for max shelf life. Kept cool or frozen, jerky lasts for several months.

  • Enjoy room temp for best texture. Take out portions to enjoy the optimal chewy texture.

  • Watch for mold. Discard any jerky that develops mold, which indicates spoilage.

  • Use within 2 weeks once opened. After opening, moisture can be reintroduced. Eat within 2 weeks.

  • Freeze for long term storage. For storage over 2-3 months, freeze jerky for best preservation.

  • Remember the 3-2-1 rule. Jerky keeps for 3 months sealed at room temp, 2 months in the fridge, 1 month open at room temp.

With the proper technique, making fantastic homemade beef jerky isn’t hard. Drying lean beef at 165°F until properly dehydrated, around 5-8 hours, yields the perfect chewy jerky. Follow these tips and soon you’ll be hooked on making your own personalized flavors.

When ls Jerky Done-Ronco Dehydrator


Can you make jerky at 160 degrees?

To make jerky safely at home, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline recommends that consumers cook all meat to 160 °F and all poultry to 165 °F (73.9 °C), before they begin the dehydrating process. This cooking step ensures that any bacteria present will be destroyed.

How to tell if beef jerky is done in a dehydrator?

The jerky should bend and eventually break, but not snap off. If you’re unable to break the jerky into two pieces, and it’s still rubbery, that means it needs more time. If the jerky snaps into two pieces with bending, it’s most likely over-dried. Pro Tip: Finished jerky should be like a green tree branch.

Can you dehydrate jerky at 175?

It’s recommended to dehydrate jerky in the oven at a low temperature, around 160°F to 175°F (about 70°C to 80°C). The duration can vary, but it typically takes around 4-6 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat slices.

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