Homemade Beef Jerky


Did you know that you can make your own Beef Jerky? It is not difficult to make but it is time consuming. It has to marinate overnight and depending on your dehydrator it can take more than 3 hours to dry and it is worth every minute you wait. You do not need an expensive dehydrator, my first one was small and inexpensive. I am sharing my favorite marinade recipe but there are many others you can use too. I like to vacuum pack my beef jerky but you can keep it in in a resealable bag just as well.


Slice strips of the beef thin and place them into a resealable bag. To make it easy to slice I freeze my meat, thaw it slightly and cut it thin by hand. If you cut with the grain you will get a chewy and tough jerky. Cutting against the grain will give you a less chewy and softer jerky. Make sure you cut away most visible fat as it will not dehydrate completely and can make the jerky go bad faster.


In a medium bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients.


Pour the marinade over the meat in the resealable bag, getting all of the air out of the bag, then seal the bag. Gently massage the meat until it separates the pieces. Place the bag of meat into the bowl, in case the bag leaks, making sure all of the meat is all covered with the marinade. Refrigerate for 10-12 hours.


Place the meat into a colander and allow the marinade to drain completely, discarding the marinade. Lay the strips of beef flat onto the dehydrator shelves, being careful not to let them touch. Dehydrate according to your dehydrator suggested temperature. The total time to dehydrate will depend on your dehydrator, the temperature and the thickness of the meat.


Continue to dehydrate until they turn almost a black color like this. If you bend them you should see white cracks.


Once the jerky cools, place it in a resealable bag or vacuum pack in serving size pieces and refrigerate. Even the vacuum packed jerky needs refrigeration. These will keep in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks or you can freeze in serving size pieces if you want.

Homemade Beef Jerky




  • 4 – 5 pounds lean beef, partially frozen
  • 1/2 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water


  1. Slice the partially frozen beef into thin strips, cutting away any visible fat, then place it into a resealable bag. If you cut the beef with the grain, you will get a chewy and tougher jerky. Cutting the beef against the grain will be less chewy and softer.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the rest of the ingredients for the marinade, whisking thoroughly.
  3. Pour the marinade into the bag over the beef pieces. Squeeze out all of the air you can and seal the bag. Gently massage the beef, separating the pieces.
  4. Place the bag into a bowl in case it should leak. Refrigerate for 10 – 12 hours.
  5. Pour the beef into a colander, draining and discarding all of the marinade. Let drain thoroughly.
  6. Lay the beef strips flat onto the dehydrator shelves making sure they do not touch. Check your dehydrator manual for the suggested temperature.
  7. Dehydrate for 3 hours then turn the strips over. Continue to dehydrate until the beef is almost black and when you bend it you will see white cracks. The time could be quite a few hours depending on the type of dehydrator you are using, the temperature and the thickness of the beef. 
  8. Let the jerky cool then place it into a resealable bag or vacuum seal into individual serving size pieces. Refrigerate, which ever way you chose, for up to a few weeks (mine never lasts that long). You can also freeze the jerky in serving size pieces but it will be softer when it thaws.



  1. I love beef Jerky! I didn’t realize they dehydrated raw rather than cooked. So I guess the process of dehydrating also is in a way cooking the meat too? Interesting!

    • Yes you can but if I remember right I believe you have to crack the oven door. You want to maintain 130 -140 degrees Fahrenheit for food safety. I dehydrate mine at 135 degrees.

  2. Great post, I’ve wanted to try making jerky from venison and wallaby. Would you mind posting a link to your dehydrator if you recommend it?

    • Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Temperature Settings and 26-hour Timer Automatic Shut Off Includes Guide to Dehydration, Black. This is exactly as it is advertised from the Amazon site and a wonderful dehydrator. I make yogurt, dry my herbs, beef jerky, dry fruit and so much more. Highly recommend this one. I also bought the rubber mats for the shelves but really don’t use them unless you want to make fruit leather and they were expensive. It comes with the mesh and that’s really all I use.

  3. And our South African version is called “biltong” … I remember, when I was a child, that my father used to make his own biltong (mixing all different spices together) and then hang it behind the refrigerator to dry (not sure how hygienic that was 🤔). These days, you can buy the bag of spices and biltong maker (dryer) in speciality shops.
    We love biltong and always have in the house (most of time, bought from the shop 😊).

      • I’ll bet they do and can a meat processing place where they take their deer make jerky too or is that something they need to do on their own?

      • Gee I don’t know of any places that process deer meat here. Everyone I know do their own. The only venison jerky I have seen has been at big chain sportsman stores and SO expensive. I personally prefer beef. Venison is such a dry meat I feel it doesn’t have as much flavor unless it is made into a soup etc.

      • That’s interesting that everyone does their own butchering/processing of venison … we had a big place in a nearby City and they butchered the meat in the back for hunters, but had a butcher shop out front. They just closed a few years ago – surprised everyone as people would grumble they couldn’t find a place to park, but wouldn’t go anywhere else to buy meat.

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