How To Dehydrate Jerky – Step By Step Guide

Last updated on April 22nd, 2024

How To Dehydrate Jerky? In this article, we’ll walk you through each step involved in dehydrating jerky. 

Dehydrating jerky strips is a delicious way to take a walk back through memory lane. Dehydrating Beef & Deer Jerky is a process that has been around since the days of our ancestors. Before the invention of refrigeration, this was the most common method of preserving meat and other foods. As we have evolved, so have the ways in which we can preserve our food. Dehydration is easily one of the simplest methods to preserve food without spoilage or loss in higher temperature and humidity environments. Moreover, it provides us with a cheap, tasty, and healthy alternative to preserve food for future use. 

In fact, when compared to fresh meat, many people prefer the taste of dried meat. Provided the right sanitation procedures are observed and you follow the recommended time and temperature guidelines, dehydrating can be done safely. It is a simple process, and the resulting meat will taste just as fresh as it did after being butchered.

Below we will take you through the steps required to dehydrate your beef and deer jerky!

Quick Comparison – 5 Best Dehydrators this year


Check out our article –

Top 10 Best Machines To Make Beef Jerky – Buyers Guide

This article also answers some of your most pressing questions such as:

1 – How long do I dehydrate beef jerky?

2 – How long to dehydrate deer jerky at 160?

3 – How long will it take to dehydrate ground beef jerky?

4 – How to dehydrate beef jerky in a food dehydrator?

Dehydrating beef jerky is explained in the following steps:

Step 1: Cut The Meat Into Slices

The meat should be sliced between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch in thickness. If slicing the roast is difficult, it should be sliced horizontally.

See pic below:

Blue arrows – direction that the grain of the meat is running

Black Arrows – direction to slice when slicing against the grain – recomended

how long to cook beef jerky in dehydrator
Credit: Jerkyholic

Step 2: Make the Marinade

Prepare the marinade by combining the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of lean beef
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup Soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder

Mix until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is evenly combined.

how long do you dehydrate deer jerky
Credit: Once upon a chef

Step 3: Marinade The Beef

Toss all the beef pieces in the marinade until they are evenly coated. Wrap the beef pieces in plastic wrap (or place them in a large zipper-lock bag) and marinate them for at least 12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. After that remove any excess marinade from the jerky strips before dehydrating them by draining and patting them dry. By doing this, you speed up the process of dehydration.

how to dehydrate jerky
Credit: Once upon a chef

Step 4: Dehydrate The Meat

The meat needs to be dried now. You need a good food dehydrator for this process. 

The beef strips should be placed on the racks. Be sure to arrange the beef strips so that they do not overlap or touch one another. The beef jerky should have enough space between each slice so that the meat can dry quickly.

how to dehydrate deer jerky
Credit: Little house big Alaska

Check out our article –

Top 10 Best Machines To Make Beef Jerky – Buyers Guide

Check Out This Amazing Food Dehydrator Below:

How long to cook beef jerky in a dehydrator? 

To cook beef jerky in the dehydrator, let your dehydrator run at 165 degrees F for about four hours until the jerky reaches a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees F, according to USDA guidelines. For the meat to be fully dehydrated, lower the temperature to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. After you drop the temperature, the jerky should be finished cooking within 4 to 12 hours, depending on the size of your pieces.

During the drying process, check your beef jerky frequently to prevent it from becoming too dry. If your jerky bends and cracks but doesn’t break, it’s done. White fibers will also be visible in the meat. Let it cool for a couple of hours on the rack after it’s done.

how long to dehydrate deer jerky at 160
Credit: Once upon a chef

Step 6: Store The Jerky Strips

Once the beef jerky has been sliced, it can be stored in vacuum-sealed bags, ziplock bags, or glass jars. When stored in zip lock bags, beef jerky can last for up to seven to ten days. In vacuum-sealed bags, the beef jerky will last for approximately 1-2 months. 

What Is Ground Beef Jerky?

The term ground beef or minced beef refers to beef that is finely chopped with a meat grinder or a knife. The meat is often used in bolognese sauces, hamburgers,  meatloaves, and meatballs.

Check Out This – How to Dehydrate Ground Beef Video:

How To Dehydrate Deer Jerky In An Oven?

You can make your own deer jerky in your oven using this tangy recipe. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you have a food dehydrator to dry the venison (deer jerky). The marinade can also be reused for additional batches.

Dehydrating deer jerky is almost the same as dehydrating beef jerky, but it still helps to understand both methods. Here are the steps to dehydrate deer jerky in an oven:

Step 1: Get The Ingredients & Prepare The Marinade

Prepare the marinade by combining the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless venison
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion salt

Place the marinade in a large plastic bag and set it aside.

Step 2: Cut The Meat Into Slices

Prepare long strips of venison (deer meat) that are one inch wide and one-eighth inch thick. Seal the bag after adding the strips to the marinade. The marinade needs to be refrigerated for at least eight hours or overnight. Occasionally mix the marinade to ensure that it is evenly distributed.

how long do i dehydrate beef jerky
Credit: NC Cooperative Extension

Step 3: Preheat The Oven

You can use your standard oven in your home or get a handy little oven for dehydrating deer jerky.

Check out this Electric Convection Oven Below:

The oven should be preheated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). Keep an aluminum foil or pan on the oven floor so that drippings can be collected.

Step 4: Dehydrate The Venison in the Oven

Remove the venison from the marinade. By draining and patting the venison dry, you can remove any excess marinade before dehydrating them.

How long do you dehydrate deer jerky in an oven?

You will need to dehydrate the venison on a wire rack for 10 to 12 hours in the preheated oven once you arrange it on the rack in a single layer. Additionally, the duration depends on how thick the jerky strips are. 

Step 5: Store The Deer Jerky

The jerky is ready when it is firm throughout, without any sponginess, and does not break when bent. Store them in vacuum-sealed bags or glass jars once done.

how to dehydrate ground beef
Credit: NC Cooperative Extension


1 – How long to cook jerky in the dehydrator?

Beef jerky must be cooked to 165 degrees F for 4 hours in order to be safe to consume and germ-free. After you reach this temperature inside, you can drop the temperature to around 145 degrees F to dehydrate the jerky. 

2 – How long to dehydrate beef jerky at 145 degrees?

After you have cooked the beef at 165 degrees F for 4 hours, dehydrate the beef for 4 to 12 hours at 145 degrees F depending on the size of your pieces. 

Always remember, the meat should not be overlapped while drying, and it should be flipped once. 

Moreover, the general rule is to monitor the meat every four hours and let it dry to a point where it bends and cracks without breaking.

3 – Is it appropriate to over-dry in a dehydrator?

Foods you plan to store cannot be overdried. It will last longer if it is drier. Depending on your taste preference, fruit leather or jerky might be overdried, but food meant for storage cannot be overdried.

4 – Does homemade jerky need to be refrigerated?

Keeping jerky at room temperature for two weeks in a sealed container is possible if it is properly dried. But you should refrigerate or freeze jerky to maintain flavor and quality and increase shelf life.

Final Thoughts

The dehydrating process is an excellent way to extend the life of beef or deer jerky. However, it can be a bit complicated, especially if you are new to the process. Use this easy guide on how to dehydrate beef or deer jerky for the best results! We began by giving some basic information about jerky to those unfamiliar with it, and then we provided some simple instructions for anyone to follow to start making their own jerky.

We hope you have enjoyed our article; How To Dehydrate Jerky – Step By Step Guide and it helped you in your journey to making jerky. 

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