Making Your Own Beef Jerky
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated October 26, 2020)
If you are going to go on a long road trip, a camping and hiking trip, or simply would love to have a tasty meaty snack around the house you can't really go wrong with beef jerky. Considering how expensive beef jerky is, you may want to make your own. Frankly, making your own beef jerky is remarkably affordable and easy, particularly if you follow the recipe outlined here. Best of all, this recipe will give you a great starting point for making your own unique blends that you can enjoy and share.
- Lean cut of beef, your choice (sirloin, top round, eye round, London broil, etc.)
- 1 cup of marinade (your choice, use one cup per pound of beef)
- 1-1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of beef
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper per pound of beef
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder per pound of beef
- Other seasonings are optional, but should follow the same formula as listed above (1/2 teaspoon to 1-1/2 teaspoon per pound of beef)
- Get the right meat. One of the most important parts of making your own beef jerky is to choose the right kind of meat. Ideally, you will want to use a lean cut of beef. Some of the best cuts to use are sirloin, top round, eye round, or London broil. Each of these cuts has a decent amount of meat, and relatively low amounts of fat.
- Trim the meat. Take a look at your cut of beef, and trim off any fat that you see along on the exterior of the meat. The reason for this is that fat can actually end up causing your beef jerky to spoil if you don't remove it. Once you have removed the fat, place the beef into a freezer bag, and freeze it solid, which should only take about five hours to accomplish. Once it is frozen, cut it into thin strips that are no more than 1/20 of an inch thick. Another way that you can do this is to also have your local butcher cut the meat for you, though that can run you an extra charge.
- Marinade well. Once you have the meat sliced, it's time to begin flavoring it. Use your favorite style of marinade, such as teriyaki sauce, or some other fun flavor along with the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder and pour it into a large sealable freezer bag, and put the meat into it as well. You may need to use more than one bag in order to marinade all of your meat. Slowly turn the bag(s) over in your hand a couple of times to ensure that you completely cover the meat, and then place it in the refrigerator to sit. Allow the meat to marinade for a minimum of five hours, though the ideal amount of time would be 12 hours to ensure the meat is completely saturated with the flavor.
- Preheat the oven. Set the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow it to heat up while you continue preparing the meat for cooking.
- Dry the meat. Remove the meat from your marinade, and properly dispose of the marinade. Using a paper towel pat dry the meat so that it is a little easier to handle. As you dry each piece of meat, set it aside on a baking rack that you have placed inside of a jelly roll pan.
- Coat in seasoning. Once you have dried off enough meat to cover the baking rack in a single layer, go back and begin coating each piece in an additional layer of dry seasoning that you may like. This particular step is optional, though it can allow you to create some truly fantastic tasting beef jerky. An example of some seasoning that you may want to use is dry barbeque rub, or perhaps a bit of brown sugar. Replace each piece of meat onto the baking rack.
- Place and bake. Place the baking rack and the jellyroll pan into the oven, and allow it to begin baking. Baking the beef jerky will take a bit of time if you want to do it right. On the average you will want to bake the beef for about four hours, or until it is dry to the touch.
- Remove and cool. Once the beef jerky has completed its baking time, remove it from the oven, and set it aside and allow it to cool and air dry for 24 hours. The ideal place that you will want to do this is where it will be cool and dry. A good example of where to do this is in the refrigerator, though you can also leave the beef jerky out on the counter for a while until your oven has completely cooled. When the oven is completely cool, simply place the beef jerky into the oven over night. Place the finished beef jerky into a Ziploc bag or a covered container, and enjoy.