Beef jerky has long been a go-to snack for those seeking a healthy, protein-packed treat. Loved by home cooks, health enthusiasts, and snack lovers alike, beef jerky is not only delicious but also highly portable and long-lasting. Making your own beef jerky at home ensures you control the ingredients and customize the flavors to your liking.

beef jerky recipe

Ingredients You'll Need

Before you begin, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of lean beef (such as flank steak, sirloin, or round)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional for added heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon curing salt (optional but extends shelf life)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1 - Prepare the Beef

  1. Select the Right Cut:

Choose a lean cut of beef to prevent excess fat, which can cause spoilage. Flank steak, sirloin, or round are excellent options.

  1. Freeze the Meat:

Place the beef in the freezer for about 1-2 hours. This will firm up the meat, making it easier to slice thinly.

  1. Slice Thinly:

Using a sharp knife, slice the beef against the grain into 1/4-inch thick strips. Thinner slices will dehydrate more quickly and evenly.

Step 2 - Marinate the Beef

  1. Mix the Marinade:

In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey (or brown sugar), onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and curing salt.

  1. Marinate:

Place the beef strips in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Ensure all the meat is well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Step 3 - Dehydrate the Beef

Using a Dehydrator

  1. Preheat the Dehydrator:

Set your dehydrator to 160°F (70°C).

  1. Arrange the Beef:

Lay the marinated beef strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays, ensuring they do not overlap.

  1. Dehydrate:

Dry the beef for 4-6 hours, or until the jerky is firm and dry but still slightly pliable.

Using an Oven

  1. Preheat the Oven:

Set your oven to the lowest temperature, usually around 170°F (75°C).

  1. Prepare the Baking Sheets:

Line baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Arrange the beef strips in a single layer on the wire racks.

  1. Oven Dry:

Place the baking sheets in the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape. Dry the beef for 4-6 hours, checking periodically until the jerky is firm and dry but still slightly pliable.

Storing Your Homemade Beef Jerky

Store your jerky in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags. For optimal freshness, keep it in a cool, dark place. Homemade beef jerky can last 1-2 months at room temperature, 3-6 months in the refrigerator, and up to a year in the freezer.

Customizing the Recipe

One of the best parts of making beef jerky at home is the ability to experiment with flavors. Here are some ideas:

  • Spicy:

Add more red pepper flakes or a splash of hot sauce to the marinade.

  • Sweet and Savory:

Increase the honey or brown sugar and add a dash of cinnamon.

  • Smoky:

Incorporate liquid smoke into the marinade for a deeper, smoky flavor.

  • Asian-Inspired:

Add ginger, sesame oil, and a splash of rice vinegar to the marinade.


Making your own beef jerky at home is not only fun but also allows you to create a snack that's tailored to your taste buds. With the right ingredients and a bit of patience, you'll have a stash of delicious, healthy jerky ready to enjoy. If you're looking to elevate your snack game, try different flavor combinations and share your creations with friends and family. Happy jerky-making!

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