How to Make Jerky: 4 Easy Ways

Dec 14, 2022


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Why does jerky taste so good? The smoky flavors of this dried meat are a terrific snack for those who want an easy piece of protein during the day. Unfortunately, jerky can get expensive at the grocery store, especially for the name brands. However, there is a solution. Make your jerky at home. Yes, it’s possible, and this guide will show you how to make jerky without leaving the house.

1. Oven

One of the easiest ways to cook jerky is by using the oven. Most houses, apartments and other living spaces have one in the kitchen. Preparing jerky can take a few hours, but it’s worth the wait. This recipe calls for at least three hours of marinating and three to four hours when in the oven. 

For the marinade, mix Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. If you like spice, you can add cayenne or red pepper flakes. Marinate the beef in the mixture for three hours or overnight. Lean cuts like top round work well for jerky. If you can’t eat beef, then turkey and pork can work. If you’re wondering how to make deer jerky, that is also a tasty option.

When you’re ready to cook, dry the beef with a paper towel and place it on a baking sheet. Then, bake at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for three to four hours. After it comes out of the oven, slice the meat with scissors into your desired size. 

2. Dehydrator

Dehydrators have become more popular as people look to make their favorite snacks at home. You can use this handy appliance to make fruit leather, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable chips and, yes, jerky. If you don’t have an oven or are concerned about its energy usage, a dehydrator is an excellent choice. 

Making jerky in a dehydrator is similar to the oven process. Start with a marinade, like the one mentioned in the oven recipe. You can add and substitute ingredients as you see fit. Adding liquid smoke, brown sugar or other items could enhance the flavor to your liking. Cut your meat into strips and marinate them for at least four hours or overnight.

Once the meat has finished marinating, pat the strips dry with a paper towel. Put your strips of jerky on a dehydrator tray and set the temperature to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For best practice, rotate the jerky every hour, so it’s even throughout. Your jerky should be ready after about four hours, depending on the size of your cuts. 

a pile of cooked jerky

3. Air Fryer

Speaking of popular appliances, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the air fryer. This appliance is ideal for creating your favorite recipes in a healthy way because it requires less oil than traditional fryers. Will an air fryer compromise the taste? No, it will still taste amazing. Air fryers make tasty foods more accessible, and jerky is no exception. 

For air fryer jerky, start with the tried and true method of marinating. It may take a while, but marinating locks in the flavors. Marinating is really the only time you can flavor the meat, so it’s essential. Remove the strips from the marinade and pat dry. Spray oil onto your air fryer basket and lay the strips down. Set your air fryer at 180 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the meat for two hours. 

4. Smoker

Jerky enthusiasts swear by the smoker method. Cooking low and slow is an excellent way to make any meat, including jerky. The flavors and amount of protein you get from smoked meats make a carnivore’s mouth water. 

There are multiple types of smokers out there. Let’s go with a pellet smoker, like a Traeger, for this list. Marinate your beef strips for maximum flavor. On the smoker, you’ll want the temperature at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the meat on the grates and cook with the lid closed for about four hours.

Homemade Jerky: An Easy Culinary Journey

Jerky may be an underrated snack because it’s tasty and has a long shelf life. It can also work with multiple pieces of meat, depending on your dietary preferences. Unconventional meats like venison work well, like other lean meats. If you want to make jerky, try these four easy ways. 

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.