Beef jerky is one of those things I think you either love or hate. Ripping apart a hunk of meat with your teeth like a cave-dweller just isn’t for everyone. We’re on the loving end of the spectrum. It’s flavorful, juicy, packed full of protein and the perfect snack. We used to comb through the beef jerky bags at the store to make sure to avoid the ones that looked too dry. Then packages started changing, and they started covering up the packaging windows… We couldn’t check anymore for the good bags. Solution. Make our own!
Start with your meat. You can try just about any meat, but we’ll stick to beef for this post. We bought a 3 lb bottom round from the store and sliced it into various sizes. Some of the cuts are thin so they are almost like meat chips when they’re done. Some are a little bit thicker, so they can hold the marinade all the way to eating time.
Now the fun part, use your meat tenderizer and smash all of your slices to make them even thinner. Really smash it. It’s no fun if you don’t get into it. Make sure to cover the meat with something thin and non-porous. We used clean ziploc baggies because we could see through them to watch how thin the meat was getting.
Flavor it! We tried four different varieties- teriyaki, salt & pepper, Old Bay, and cayenne. I like my jerky moist and soft, so the teriyaki was for me. Husband likes his jerky crispy and a little dryer, so the dry rubs were for him. We let the flavored, raw meat sit lightly covered overnight in the refrigerator. It’s hard to be patient, but it’s so worth it.
The next morning, get out your dehydrator and layer the meat on each tray. We placed the teriyaki marinaded pieces towards the bottom so they didn’t dry out too much. We set the dehydrator to 160 degrees and let it go for 5 1/2 hours. The time all depends on the thickness of your cuts. We weren’t exactly sure how long it needed, so we checked on the meat every 45 minutes or so to avoid drying it out too much. [ We use this inexpensive and very effective dehydrator if you’re looking to purchase one: Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, White – MADE IN USA ]
Let your jerky cool enough to store in a container without creating moisture, and enjoy!
The 3 lb bottom round made us 1 lb of jerky. We skipped dinner that night, ate jerky for hours, and we still had more for snacks. It’s one of those things that we always bought. Now we’re kicking ourselves for not trying to make it at home sooner because it’s so easy and tastes so good. Hope you enjoy it too!