Sticks of beef jerky in a round brown and tan bowl with a brown and white towel behind all on a wooden surface (with logo overlay)

How to Make Beef Jerky in the Dehydrator

Use a dehydrator to dry out seasoned beef to make your own homemade beef jerky. It keeps a long time for a great snack at home or on the road.

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Growing up, my family went camping about once per month. Sometimes it was local, other times we would drive for hours to get to the campground. One consistency: my dad always had beef jerky as a driving food.

Fast forward, and I’m sure it’s still my dad’s favorite driving food, but Justin also loves it, too. His dad makes his own at home with deer meat after he goes hunting. Since we used beef instead of deer meat, we had to change some of the seasonings and flavor.

We borrowed the dehydrator originally to make some crystallized pineapple. Then Justin decided he wanted to try a beef jerky recipe.

Either way, this was a great way to make homemade jerky. It let Justin control the taste, and we could keep it to clean ingredients. There weren’t any preservatives in our jerky.

We have a few of the silica packets (yes, like the ones you get in a box with shoes) that we use to keep the beef jerky fresh.

Seasoning and Flavor Options

There’s no one way to make beef jerky. With so many flavor options, you can mix and match to find your personal preference. The recipe included is what Justin made so we know the combination works well. 

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Pink salt
  • Hot sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • BBQ dry rub
  • Teriyaki sauce

How to Make Beef Jerky without a Dehydrator

Oven-Dried Beef Jerky

One option is to use your home oven. Just know this will have the oven running on low heat all day so it will use a lot of energy and warm up the house a little bit since the oven door needs to stay open. 

  1. Set your oven to 165F
  2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  3. Place the seasoned strips of meat in a single layer with enough space around them for air to flow
  4. Cook on the middle oven racks for 10-14 hours with the door propped open to allow moisture to escape the oven

Air Fryer

Most air fryers have an option for dehydrating built into them. You have to have the dehydrate option to use an air fryer for beef jerky. 

  1. Place the beef slices in the air fryer tray with plenty of space
  2. Set to 350F for 3-5 minutes, until the beef is no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 165F
  3. Change the air fryer to the dehydrating method and cook for 2 hours, until the jerky is completely dry

What Type of Beef is Best for Beef Jerky?

To make your own beef jerky, you want a lean cut of meat. The fat does not dehydrate as well so it will take much longer to process or may never fully dry out in the food dehydrator. 

  • Eye of Round
  • Top Round or London Broil
  • Bottom Round
  • Sirloin Tip
  • Flank Steak

No matter which type of beef you use, make sure it is the leanest cut available. You will also need a sharp knife to make the thin precision cut.

Beef Jerky Step by Step

Ingredients

  • 1 lb steak (lean)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp A1 steak sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation

Slice the steak into thin slices.

Strips of beef on a bamboo cutting board on a wooden surface

In a medium bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and A1 sauce. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Beef jerky marinade in a stainless steel bowl on a wooden surface

Cover the steak strips with the jerky marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Strips of beef covered in marinade in a stainless steel bowl on a wooden surface

Place the jerky strips in a single layer in your dehydrator trays and set it according to manufacturer settings.

Strips of seasoned beef on the racks of a round dehydrator on a wooden surface

Dehydrate for 12-24 hours, depending on the thickness of the steak and the power of the dehydrator.

Sticks of beef jerky in a round brown and tan bowl with a brown and white towel behind all on a wooden surface (vertical)

Beef Jerky Leftovers

Storage: Store the beef jerky in an airtight container at room temperature. If you have any silica gel packets or something similar to keep any hydration out, those help keep it longer. Either way, the beef jerky should be good for at least a week.

Originally Published On: September 21, 2020

Last Updated On: January 15, 2023

Sticks of beef jerky in a round brown and tan bowl with a brown and white towel behind all on a wooden surface

Beef Jerky

Use a dehydrator to dry out seasoned beef to make your own homemade beef jerky. It keeps a long time for a great snack at home or on the road.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Marinade Time 2 hours
Total Time 14 hours 10 minutes
Course:
Snack
Cuisine:
American
Keyword:
beef
|
dehydrator
Dietary Needs:
Dairy-Free
|
Egg-Free
|
Nut-Free
Meat:
Beef
Cooking Method:
Dehydrator
Servings: 25 pieces
5 from 4 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb steak (lean)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp A1 steak sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

Recommended Equipment

Instructions

  • Slice the steak into thin strips
  • In a small bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and A1 sauce
  • Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes
  • Cover the steak strips with the marinade
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  • Place the steak strips in a dehydrator and set according to manufacturer settings
  • Dehydrate for 12-24 hours, depending on the thickness of the steak and the power of the dehydrator
  • Store in an airtight container
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Nutrition Facts
Beef Jerky
Amount Per Serving (1 piece)
Calories 80 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 307mg13%
Potassium 67mg2%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 98IU2%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 4mg0%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.

19 thoughts on “How to Make Beef Jerky in the Dehydrator”

  1. I used to have a coworker who always made this when I was in NJ and never knew how. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will give it a try.

  2. Fascinating. I’ve seen it in bags at the supermarket and wondered how it is made and I thought it was a special treat for pets.

  3. I have always wanted to try making beef jerky. What really surprised me was the thicker cut of beef. In my mind, I always thought of thinner strips. But this makes a lot more sense.. The dehydrator pulls a lot out.

  4. 5 stars
    I do not care for beef jerky… well beef at all … but my family does. I love the idea of making jerky at home as the most common store bought ones are full of junk that I don’t want my family to have.

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