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Do you want to know how to make beef jerky? There are so many great reasons to love it. And if you know how to make it, you can have it whenever you want. Let’s take a look at how to make delicious beef jerky you and your family will love.
Most people assume beef jerky is very hard to make, but it’s not that complicated. All you have to do is slice it up, marinate it, and stick it in the dehydrator. You can also make it in the oven, which we will tell you how to do below.
Finding a Great Beef Jerky Recipe
Finding a great beef jerky recipe is as much about your tastes and preferences as anything. You can be flexible with what you put on your beef jerky in terms of seasoning. You may want to try several different recipes to find the one that you and your family love the most.
Here’s a recipe for how to make it in the oven. You can use the same ingredients and processes but make in a dehydrator instead if you prefer.
Here’s a recipe we really love. First, you need to gather these ingredients:
- ¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp of red pepper
- 1¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 pounds of thin-sliced beef top round
LEA & PERRINS Original Worcestershire Sauce 10 oz BottleNature Nate’s 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Honey; 32-oz. Squeeze Bottle; Certified Gluten Free and OU Kosher Certified; Enjoy Honey’s Balanced Flavors, Wholesome Benefits and Sweet Natural GoodnessSimply Organic Paprika Ground Certified Organic, 2.96 Ounce ContainerSimply Organic Pepper, Black Medium Grind Certified Organic, 2.31 Ounce ContainerSimply Organic Red Pepper Crushed Certified Organic, 1.59-Ounce ContainerSimply Organic Garlic Powder Certified Organic, 3.64-Ounce Container
Now to put it all together, you need to whisk the sauces and the spices together in a big bowl. Once you have mixed it all thoroughly, add the beef to the bowl and flip it over to fully coat all sides of the beef. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
Next, preheat your oven to 175 degrees. While doing so, you can line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over this.
Then you will take out the beef and transfer it over to paper towels to dry out from the marinade. Discard what is left in the bowl (do not reuse). Arrange the beef slices on the wire rack that is on the baking sheet.
Line them single-layer in a row. Do not double or overlap the beef strips. They will not get properly dried out if you do and you won’t have jerky-like planned.
Lastly, put this in the oven on the low heat setting and dry out until it feels leathery. It usually takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete. You can then take it out to cool and cut into smaller pieces with sizes if you prefer.
Some people like to store all of this in plastic ziplock storage bags to keep it fresh. Beef jerky will keep for a long time, which is one reason it is popular for survival situations. It’s a good idea to learn the right survival foods to carry with you.
If you aren’t already knowledgeable, it’s a good idea to brush up on long term food storage tips and techniques.
Making the Best Beef Jerky
Making the best beef jerky is all about drying it out properly. If you try to cook it too fast, it gets too dry and is not pleasant to eat. In fact, you’re not really cooking it at all – just drying or dehydrating it.
Another key to making the best beef jerky is getting the right cut of beef. If it’s a survival situation, you may need to make do with what you have. It’s all part of the process.
In an ideal situation, you will get the right cut of beef, flank steak preferred, and it will be sliced thin. A lean beef without a lot of fat is preferred and will make the best jerky. Flash freeze the beef before slicing when you can.
Don’t worry about slicing the pieces the exact same size or thinness. It’s really not important and it’s normal for jerky to be varying in size and shape of the pieces.
Next, you’re going to marinate your jerky in the flavor combination you have chosen. We’ll talk more about flavors below but refer to the recipe above to see how to marinate the beef. You can marinate for up to a full day if you really want to soak in the flavors.
To get the best beef jerky, you always want to rack it – use the method we described in our recipe above. If you don’t rack it, the meat on the bottom will soak up all the juices that dry out of the top and your jerky will be dried out on the top but not underneath.
Bake it low and slow! That is the real key to getting the perfect beef jerky every time, no matter what the flavor you are using. When you try to do it too fast, you’ll ruin the whole thing.
Beef Jerky Recipe in a Dehydrator
If you’re looking to know how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator, then you can use pretty much any flavor recipe you want. All you have to do is prep the meat strips with the flavor combinations you like, then put them in the dehydrator.
Part of the fun of beef jerky is that you do have the option to make beef jerky in a variety of flavor combinations. You can make any of the following popular flavor combinations in your dehydrator:
- sweet and spicy
- Dr. Pepper flavored
- smokey honey glazed
- Texas BBQ
- sweet and sour
- butter mesquite
- garlic pepper
- and many more!
Beef Jerky Sticks for Survival
Beef jerky sticks are a great item to have on hand in the event of an emergency or survival situation. You can buy them and stock up, and they do last for a very long time. Or, if you are a DIYer, you can use our recipe here but make them into sticks instead of pieces and store those.
Beef jerky is full of protein and calories that you need to keep you going when SHTF, so it’s easy to see why it makes such a great snack and something to keep around in case of emergency.
How to Make Beef Jerky Without a Dehydrator
All of this may sound well and good, but what do you do if you need to make beef jerky and you don’t have a dehydrator? Maybe yours broke, or you lost it, or it’s a survival situation and you simply don’t have it available to you.
Here’s how you can make beef jerky without a dehydrator. Just read our oven method above. You can also do this with a small toaster oven if you’re regular oven isn’t working.
When you don’t have electricity, you can also do it over a hot fire. Just rack it the same as you would on the oven method, but keep a close eye on it. A lower flame works better than a big roaring fire that will cook it too fast.
You don’t have as much control when drying your jerky out over a fire versus in an oven or a dehydrator so you have to play it by eye a lot more. In a survival situation, it will still work, however.
If you’re prepping for when SHTF, it’s a big advantage to know how to make beef jerky. All of these methods will work in a pinch. You can make some jerky now to ensure you have it when SHTF or you can use these methods when you need them the most.
Beef vs Turkey Jerky
Ah, the age-old question of beef vs turkey jerky… ok, maybe it’s not a question for the ages. In any case, most of my prepping colleagues prefer beef to turkey, but personally I love both options. And it’s just that, a personal preference.
There are pros and cons to both. However, one thing that can’t be argued is that jerky in any form is a great survival food.
Pemmican as an Alternative Survival Food
If beef jerky just isn’t your thing, you can try pemmican, the ultimate survival food. Pemmican is a portable, long-lasting, high-energy food that was invented by Native Americans.
It’s made of lean, dried meat that’s crushed into powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. I like to add dried fruit for the taste.
The best part is just a handful will sustain a full-grown man or woman all day long – even while working. This makes it a great food to have in an emergency.
Bonus: How to Make Pemmican, the Original Survival Food
Invented by the natives of North America pemmican was used by Indian scouts as well as early western explorers.
Native Americans spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time without refrigeration.
Pemmican is a portable, long-lasting, high-energy food. It's made of lean, dried meat that's crushed into powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. This makes it one of the ultimate foods to have stockpiled for when SHTF or disaster strikes.
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how folks 150 years ago did it.
These guys were the last generation to practice basic things, for a living, that we call "survival skills" now.