How to Make the Most Delicious Beef Jerky Ever

Last Updated: July 31, 2022

What’s the best beef jerky recipe for doomsday preppers?

After sifting through 793 comments, reviews, and beef jerky recipes, we have found one of the best beef jerky recipes for you, the prepper learning how to make their core survival food stock items.

AND three ways to make your excellent beef jerky snack.

The Benefits of Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is one of the most versatile foods that can be made in a household. If you know how to make it, then you have useful calories in any situation. Once stored in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber, in the event of any disaster, you’re supplied with one of your core protein sources: meat. Upon removal from storage, beef jerky is easy to eat right away, or slice up and mix into a hearty stew for some really nice flavors.

  • High-quality emergency calories and nutrients
  • Can cook with a wide variety of dishes and foods
  • Long-term storage options of up to a year; best within six months

Most people might think beef jerky is very hard to make, but it’s not that complicated. All you have to do is choose your meat carefully, slice it up, marinate it, and stick it in the dehydrator. You can also make it in the oven and over a fire, which we will outline for you below.

Let’s take a look at how to make a delicious beef jerky recipe you and your family will love.

The Great Beef Jerky Recipe

jerkyholic.com

The best beef jerky I can remember was in Oregon. A local hunter shot and killed deer himself, and prepared every step of the way. From venison to beef, New York Strip steaks turned into jerky…the semi-dried, but still tender beef jerky was the best I have ever had.

Local Oregonian Farmer

The great beef jerky recipe begins with the selection of your meat. Given the correct quality of marbling and aged beef, in line with the perfect texture of the meat BEFORE your begin the drying process, select your favorite lean cut of beef. Keep in mind, if you’re in a survival situation, the resourceful prepper makes do with what is available.

All part of the survival game.

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of your steak choice1 tablespoon of honey
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup of soy sauce2 teaspoons of onion powder
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
Total Yield10 – 12 ounces of beef jerky
Note: most of the ingredients for beef jerky are able to be stored long-term.

More Flavors and DIY Recipies

If you want access to other flavors, look no further! Once you’re set up with your dehydrator, then you can use pretty much any flavor recipe you want. All you have to do is prepare and marinate the meat strips with the flavor/recipe combinations you like, then put them in the dehydrator for experimentation. Adapt and modify, prepper! That’s how we learn how to be resourceful.

Finding a great beef jerky recipe is all about your tastes and preferences. For seasoning, you can be flexible with what you put on your beef jerky. Try several different recipes to find the one that you and your family love the most.

You can make any of the following popular flavor combinations in your dehydrator:

  • Sweet and spicy
  • Dr. Pepper flavored
  • Coffee-flavored
  • Smokey honey glazed
  • Texas BBQ
  • Sweet and sour
  • Cajun
  • Butter mesquite
  • Garlic pepper
  • Chipotle
  • Up to you!

1. How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator

Now that we have covered your ingredient selection for your beef jerky project, let’s make some jerky! For the first of three methods, we’ll be covering the best one: the dehydrator.

Step 1. Select your beef and trim any excess fat.

Step 2. Place it in a zip-top bag, and place it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours in order to firm up. 

Step 3. Remove the steak from the freezer and thinly slice the meat with the grain, into long strips.  Don’t worry about slicing the pieces exactly the same. Normally, jerky is in varying in size and shape.

jerkyholic.com

Step 4. Next, you’re going to marinate your jerky in the recipe combination you have chosen. 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. You can marinate for up to 24 hours if you really want to soak in all the flavors.

pinterest.com
jerkyholic.com

Step 5.  Place your beef on the provided dehydrator racks for drying. Even if you aren’t using a dehydrator, to get the best beef jerky, you always want to rack it — if you don’t rack it, the bottom of your meat will soak up all the juices and the top of your jerky will be dried out on the top but not underneath.

jerkyholic.com

Step 6. Beef jerky takes around 4-5 hours to dry when dehydrating. Turn the dehydrator to 165° and let it run for about 4 hours until the internal temperature of the jerky reaches a safe 160° F (Guidelines: USDA). Depending on how thick your slices are will determine how long it will take to finish dehydrating.

Step 7. Make sure you check your beef jerky throughout the drying process to avoid overdrying. The jerky will be done when it bends and cracks but does not break in half. If it’s done, let it sit on the rack and cool for a couple of hours.

Step 8.  Now it’s time to either store the beef jerky in ziplock bags, vacuum sealed bags (mylar bags), glass jars, or my favorite: enjoy your freshly made jerky right then and there. Beef jerky will stay good for 7-10 days if kept in ziplock bags. For longer storage, using mylar bags will allow the jerky to last up to a year!

Congratulations! You have jerky to enjoy!

2. How to Make Beef Jerky with an Oven

Here’s a recipe for how to make it in the oven. You can use the same ingredients and the first four steps.

Step 1. Select your beef and trim any excess fat.

Step 2. Place it in a zip-top bag, and place it in your freezer for 1 to 2 hours in order to firm up. 

Step 3. Remove your steak from the freezer and thinly slice the meat with the grain, into long strips.

Step 4. Marinate your jerky in the recipe combination you have chosen. 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. You can marinate for up to 24 hours if you really want to soak in all the flavors.

Step 5. Dry the strips on paper towels to soak up any excess marinade and lay the jerky pieces across a metal rack, or for the true fun of making jerky, use toothpicks and hang the strips.  After drying the strips with paper towels, slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each piece of jerky.

jerkyholic.com
jerkyholic.com

Step 6. Prepare the bottom rack of the oven with aluminum foil to avoid drippings during the drying process in the oven. 

Step 7. Preheat your oven to 170° F – 200° F. The overall temperature you use will depend on how much airflow is created while keeping the oven hot enough to do its job of drying your meat.

Step 8. Place your baking tray with strips of sliced meat on the highest rack of your oven. Upon closing the oven door, leave a gap of about a quarter inch for the air to circulate throughout the oven, moisture to escape, and essentially mimick the function of a dehydrator ( a wooden spoon is used in this picture). Remember to monitor all of your baking time, as this increases the risk of fire and shouldn’t be done without tight supervision.

jerkyholic.com

Step 9. It should take between 3-8 hours to dry in the oven depending on the thickness of your sliced meat.  Check after 3 hours, and continue as needed. The jerky will be done when it bends and cracks but does not break in half. That is the real key to getting the perfect beef jerky every time, no matter what flavor you are using.

Step 10. Remove the baking tray and let your jerky stand to cool for one to hours. Finally, enjoy or store.

Note that this method is not officially approved by the USDA.

3. How to Make Beef Jerky With a Box Fan

If you’re feeling like a DIY project, then this method is for you!  Sometimes, we aren’t going to have access to a dehydrator, or want to prop open an oven. Therefore, the following DIY method is perfect for the crafty prepper.

A box fan

You will need: 1 box fan, 4 paper air-conditioning filters, and 2 bungee cords

paper air-conditioning filters

Step 1. Select your beef and trim any excess fat.

Step 2. Place it in a zip-top bag, and place it in your freezer for 1 to 2 hours in order to firm up. 

Step 3. Remove your steak from the freezer and thinly slice the meat with the grain, into long strips. For this method, it’s going to be significantly better if your slices are thinner than in the methods involving a dehydrator or oven.

hands using a knife to cut along the grain of a large cut of venison
filson.com

Step 4. Marinate your jerky in the recipe combination you have chosen. 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. You can marinate for up to 24 hours if you really want to soak in all the flavors.

Step 5. Dry the strips on paper towels to soak up any excess marinade and lay the jerky pieces across a metal rack, or for the true fun of making jerky, use toothpicks and hang the strips.  After drying the strips with paper towels, slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each piece of jerky.

Step 6. Evenly distribute the strips of meat onto 3 of the air filters, laying them in the grooves and then stacking the filters on top of one another. Top these with 1 empty filter.

Step 7. Next, lay the box fan on its side and lay the filters on top of it.

Step 8. Strap the filters to the fan with your 2 bungee cords. Stand the fan upright, plug it in, and set it to the medium power setting.

Step 9. Allow the meat dry for 8 to 12 hours.

Note that this method is not officially approved by the USDA. The consumption of raw or improperly cooked meats increases the risk of foodborne illnesses.

What’s in Jerky-Dried Meat?

Once ounce aka 28 grams contains approximately 116 calories, 9.4 grams of protein, 7.3 grams of fat, 3.1 grams of carbohydrates, and about half a gram of fiber. Every mineral and vitamin is a vital part of your body’s rebuilding functions and the electrical communication of your nervous system. Each 28-gram serving contains roughly the following percentages of the daily recommended value by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board.

  • Zinc: 21%
  • Vitamin B12: 12%
  • Phosphorus: 9%
  • Folate: 9%
  • Iron: 8%
  • Copper: 7%
  • Selenium: 5%
  • Potassium: 4%
  • Thiamine: 4%
  • Magnesium: 3%
  • Riboflavin: 3%
  • Niacin: 3%

Nonetheless, with an average 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains roughly 450 milligrams of salt, too much consumption of beef jerky can lead to cancer, heart issues, increased blood pressure, and risk of heart attack, and stroke.

Though beef jerky is a nutritious snack, it should not be consumed too much. Sodium levels make too much beef jerky unsuitable for certain diets that restrict sodium intake. Furthermore, beef jerky is highly processed. Numerous studies have shown a connection between diets high in processed and cured red meats like beef jerky and a higher risk of cancers, such as gastrointestinal cancers. In addition, a recent study found that dried, cured meats like beef jerky may be contaminated with toxic substances called mycotoxins, which are produced by fungi that grow on meat. Research has linked mycotoxins to cancer.
In short, though beef jerky is a healthy snack, it’s best consumed in moderation. Most of your diet should come from whole, unprocessed foods.

Pemmican as an Alternative Survival Food

Pemmican (also pemican in older sources) is a mixture of tallow, dried meat, and sometimes dried berries. A calorie-rich food, it can be used as a key component in prepared meals or eaten raw. Historically, it was an important part of indigenous cuisine in certain parts of North America and it is still prepared today.

Wikipedia

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. Native Americans added dried fruit for a wide range of flavors, just like you did with the dehydrator above. 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.

In Conclusion

There are many ways to enjoy a self-crafted treat in the form of dried meat, your spices, and your ingenuity. Whether your jerky is for a hike, an emergency situation, or part of your food storage plan, it embodies a nutritious option in how you sustain yourself. Beef jerky can be made with a dehydrator, a wooden spoon & an oven, or even a box fan and some cleaned air filters. Jerky in stores tend to be one of the most expensive packaged products with varying degrees of quality; why not make your own high-quality jerky and learn how to survive while at it?

Win-win.

“Always Be Ready” Max

For the most traditional method, and most entertainingly hands-on, see our article: How to Make Beef Jerky: The Traditional Method with a Twist.

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