Beef Jerky

Peggy's Beef Jerky2

I just love my dehydrator.  It cranks out the most beautiful, tasty batch of beef jerky in 4 hours flat!! I love beef jerky!!  This has always been my husband’s favorite snack as well.  And the perfect low-carb snack indeed!  At $16 per pound in most meat markets, this is a very expensive little snack.  For years I made my jerky on regular sheet pans in the oven at 155-160º for 5-6 hours, basting and turning the meat a couple times during the drying process.  A dehydrator allows the strips of meat to dry on open racks, with forced warm air circulation around all sides of the meat, eliminating the need to turn the meat at all, as well as speeding up the drying process.

This recipe can be done with other cuts of beef, but sirloin will be the lowest in calories and fat (except for skirt meat) and probably the best meat value for jerky.  I began with 4 nice sirloins (about 6# raw meat total) that when trimmed of all fat, sinew, any visible gristle and membrane, yielded exactly 5# of lean strips of raw beef.  That dried out to exactly 32 oz. of finished jerky.  Since I can’t possibly know how much you will eat at a sitting, I’m giving you nutritional info for a 1 oz. serving, which is probably 2-3 pieces, depending on their size.

When slicing your meat, it is important to slice it uniformly thick (FYI, longer strips are best for dehydrator trays.  If oven cooking, the length of the strips is unimportant).  I aim for 3/16″-1/4″ thick slices.  HANDY TIP:  Slicing partially frozen meat is easier, if you can take the time to partially freeze it.  Any thinner than 3/16″ will reduce your final jerky to crispy critters faster than the thicker pieces (must remove those from cooking sooner); thicker than 1/4″ will take a long time to fully dry out.

I like to marinate my meat for at least 6 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator in a covered plastic pan before dehydrating.  You will get better flavor results with longer marinating time. 🙂  For those that like a sweeter, teryaki-type jerky, you can add 1 tsp. of maple extract and a dab of your favorite sweetening agent.


6-6½ lbs. boneless sirloin (will yield about 5 lb. trimmed meat)

1 T. tomato paste (Walmart Great Value brand is pure tomato pulp, no added sugar)

3/4 c. red wine or water

1/3 c. soy sauce (not low-sodium), wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. coarse black pepper

1 pkt. stevia, Splenda or other sweetener (optional)

DIRECTIONS:   Trim all fat, membrane, sinew and gristle off the meat.  Any left on will expedite spoilage.  Partially freeze meat to facilitate slicing.  Slice the partially frozen meat 3/16″ thick.  In large plastic/glass marinating pan,  blend tomato paste with soy sauce until smooth.  Add water and remaining ingredients and stir well.  Add meat to the marinade and using hands, toss meat several times to coat well.  Cover and marinate 6 hours or overnight, covered, in refrigerator.  You can also marinate the meat in gallon zip-log plastic storage bags.  I recommend placing them into pans though, in case of leakage you won’t want to mess up the refrigerator 😉  Stir once or twice during marinating (or manipulate the bag with your hands to be sure all the meat is touching the marinade.

When ready to dehydrate, lift meat pieces out of marinade and lay on dehydrator trays or non-stick baking sheets, leaving a ¼” space between pieces.  You do not want them to touch each other as this will block air/heat circulation. Set dehydrator to meat setting (155º-160º) for 4-6 hours.  I check mine every hour, in case small/thin pieces are over drying. No matter how hard you try, some pieces will slice out thinner than others.  It just happens!

My jerky takes 4 hours in my dehydrator, but it used to take me 8 hours, for several reasons, mostly tray overcrowding in my old smaller dehydrator.  If oven cooking on pans, set oven between 160º-200º. Turn meat every hour (usually 1 or 2 times is enough).  Take pieces out of the dehydrator/oven as they appear to be fully dried.  It goes without saying, any thick pieces will take longer to fully dry out.  Discard any marinate remainders as it is contaminated with raw meat juices.  When jerky has cooled, ENJOY!!

For remainders, wrap in small batches in foil and then place the foil packs into a large ziploc bag.  Though they can be stored on the counter for 1-2 months, if not properly dried, it can mold/spoil.  Refrigerating therefore, is always the safest way to store jerky that has not been done commercially.  I actually keep most of mine in the freezer and just thaw 1 foil pack as needed, keeping the one in the fridge until that pack is fully consumed.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 32 oz. (2 lb) finished jerky, or 32 servings of 1 oz. each.  Each serving contains:

94.59 cals, 2.52g fat, 0.58g carbs, 0.09g fiber, 0.49g NET CARBS, 16g protein, 128 mg sodium

32 thoughts on “Beef Jerky

  1. Steve

    in stead of putting it in a pan I put a toothpick thought it and have it hang down in the oven. The toothpick keeps it from falling. No need to turn it that way. Just put something below it to catch any drippings. Works great.

    1. What a clever idea, Steve. I’ve done jerky on pans in the oven but just turned the pieces freqhently to guarantee full dehydration. LIKE your idea.

  2. Dan

    I have a Nu Wave oven that I use to do the dehydrating in. It normally takes about 2 to 3 hours to dehydrate. I love that instead of the dehydrator. Time wise it is much better and I haven’t found any difference in the final product. I do the beef, turkey and chicken in this unit.

      1. Dan

        I use the level 3. I think that’s like a 30% heat. There’s a YouTube demo on how to use the Nu Wave. That’s where I got the temp settings. Although, the instruction book, recipe book and charts are fine, you will need to do a little experimenting yourself. I start with what is recommend and the work from there.

      2. Dan

        I usually used the 4 or 5 power setting. There is also some help at the nuwave site in the recipe section. Check out slot of the YouTube videos also.
        Good luck.


  3. Tom

    I make It quite often. If you like it spicy I do equal parts soy sauce and franks red hot sauce. Table spoon of chili powder, teaspoon of cayane pepper and a little garlic powder.

      1. Dan

        Peggy, I used to have a dehydrator until it burned out. Since I already had the Nu Wave and knew I could do just about all my voting in it, decided to research the effects to dehydrate. So I now have one less kitchen appliance in my small apartment, yet can still do what I love.

        1. Mine’s pretty new, so it has a few years of life yet, I’m sure. 😉 But it’s nice to know the NuWave will do the job on a setting of 3. I’ll have to remember that to recommend it to folks. Thanks for that info!

    1. I haven’t yet. Not sure this marinade with tomato paste would be as good on them. I would leave the tomato paste out if you use turkey or chicken.

      1. Debbie Walker

        Thanks for responding to my question.  I think you’re right about the tomato paste, it wouldn’t go well with poultry.  Maybe a little liquid smoke, since chicken and turkey doesn’t have as much flavor as beef.  

  4. Rosie

    I made two batches of this recipe and on one I switched the soy sauce for teriyaki sauce just to see, my husband is not low carbing and he liked them both…teriyaki sauce will add some carbs.

    1. Hmmm. Didn’t know they would even do that. Problem with that approach is you, the end user, won’t be able to cut away the fat, gristle and sinew, Well, you can, but it wouldn’t be as easy as removing it fromt eh larger piece of beef. Removing all that fat, etc. is so important when making jerky. If left on, those fatty bits will promote spoilage.

    1. With a sharp 7″ knife. TIP: freeze it for an hour so until it begins to firm up and form ice crystals (you don’t want it completely frozen, obviously) and then it slices very thinly for you. 🙂

    1. Kathie, I had taken the 1/4 wine out of this recipe but failed to do so in the directions. I have gone in and deleted the reference in the directions also now. I decided the wine didn’t work so well in the jerky. This marinade mix on a rib roast, with the wine, is very nice. Sorry for the confusion.

    2. I have deleted the wine from this recipe and have also gone into the directions and deleted that reference. This jerky is better without it and I thought when I deleted it I had deleted all mention of it.

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