How to Make Beef Jerky (With A Dehydrator)

How to Make Beef Jerky (With A Dehydrator)

This article will focus on the process of making jerky in a dehydrator.

I will include my Hot N Sweet Jerky Recipe but that really isn’t the point of this article.

Hot N Sweet Jerky Recipe

This recipe will be enough for 1-2 lbs of meat. If you are making more, adjust as needed.

Ingredient Amount
Worcestershire Sauce 15 oz
Apple Juice 15 oz
Garlic Powder 1 tbsp
Onion Powder 1 tbsp
Fresh Ground Pepper 2 tbsp
Honey 5 drops
Hot Pepper Extract 2-5 drops
Liquid Smoke 5 oz

1 Million Scoville Pepper Extract This is the Hot Pepper Extract that I use. It is seriously hot. It is not a hot sauce. It is an extract. You really only need to put 2-5 drops in. This bottle will last you a LONG time.

I’m serious…2-5 drops!

It might even be a good idea to grab one of these eye droppers to make sure you don’t over do it.


Fresh Ground Pepper

I’m pretty particular about my spices and seasonings. When I say “fresh ground pepper”, it doesn’t mean buy a shaker that says “Fresh Ground Pepper” at the grocery store. It means buy some quality peppercorns like this and grind them out.

The same goes for all other spices and seasonings. Buy quality stuff. There is a big difference in potency compared to the stuff that’s been sitting on the shelf at your local grocery store for 6 months.

stirred marinade

Put all of the marinade ingredients into a container and stir vigorously to dissolve as much of our ingredients as possible.

Preparing The Jerky Meat

What’s the best meat for jerky?

You can make jerky out of pretty much any lean type of meat. The most popular(or at least my favorite) cuts are probably flank steak and top round.

untrimmed flank steak

Here is the flank steak I picked up to make this tutorial. It’s a little over 1.5 lbs. We need to trim as much fat as possible. Fat will turn rancid and make your jerky spoil much quicker.

trimmed flank steak

With as much fat trimmed as possible, we are ready to cut the meat into what will become jerky.

cut flank steak

The direction you cut your jerky is really important.

Cut against the grain if you want tender jerky. Cut with the grain if you want stringy chewier jerky.

I prefer jerky cut against the grain. It’s very easy to eat, so I blast through it much quicker!

For this batch I chose to cut my jerky into 12” strips and then into 1-2” chunks.

Feel free to experiment with different thicknesses until you find something you like. Everyone has a different preference.

If you have a real butcher nearby, they will probably slice it for you upon request.

Make sure you ask what slicer thickness setting they used so you can request it next time if you liked it.

If you didnt like it, tell them the setting they used last time and let them know if you want to go thicker or thinner.

cut flank steak in marinade

Place your jerky meat into the container with the marinade.

Mix it around to coat all of the pieces and get everything submerged.

Place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

I like to stir it up a bit at the half way mark just to make sure the flavor is consistent from piece to piece.

marinated cut flank steak after being drained

Pull the jerky meat out of the refrigerator when you are done marinating.

I always give it one last stir to make sure all of the jerky meat gets some seasoning on it. Otherwise the seasonings will just stay at the bottom of your marinade container.

Drain the marinade from the bowl so you are left with just the meat.

Dehydrating Jerky

This is the food dehydrator that I personally use. I’ve owned it for over 3 years and I’ve never had a problem with it. “It just works.”

You can even get extra food dehydrator trays for it. Nesco says that you can use up to 20 trays at a time.

raw jerky meat on dehydrator tray

Place your jerky strips evenly on the dehydrator trays.

raw jerky meat on dehydrator tray with extra brown sugar

For the Hot N Sweet Jerky Recipe, I like to sprinkle a little brown sugar onto the meat as I move from rack to rack.

Brown sugar gets kind of clumpy but dont worry about that. The meat is still pretty wet at this stage so they will dissolve.

raw jerky meat with seasoning

All of this seasoning was just hanging out at the bottom of the container until I stirred it around before draining.

dehydrator temperature

After you fill your dehydrator trays, it’s time to turn the dehydrator on!

Set the temperature to 160ยบ. That is the max temperature setting on my Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator.

dehydrator time

Setting the time is not as easy. Dehydration time will depend on how large the pieces are. I like to start at 4 hours and 30 minutes and then add more time as needed.

Check on it at that time and decide for yourself. If the jerky is still visibly moist, add more time.

This particular batch was done at 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Pay attention to the thickness and cook time. If you keep it consistent, you will know how much time is needed and you won’t need to check on it with your next batch.

untrimmed flank steak

There you have it. Enjoy the jerky!

Definitely play around with the amount of seasonings, thickness, cut direction and dehydration time. They all make a big difference.

If there is one thing I’ve learned making jerky over the years, it’s that here is no “best jerky recipe”.

Everyone likes their jerky a different way. That doesnt just mean flavor. Thickness and texture play a big part.

You aren’t going to please everyone. If you like it, who cares?