Tips to Make Dehydrated Jerky at Home

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Look no further if you are interested in making your dehydrated beef jerky at home. The first question on your mind must be about the time it takes. 

This article has all the details about how long it takes to dehydrate jerky—from preparation, choice of meat to make the jerky, marinating, and dehydrating. We have also shared tips on how to test if it’s done properly. So keep scrolling. 

Tips to Make Dehydrated Jerky at Home 1

How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Jerky?

Dehydrating anything is a lengthy process—not just for jerky. Every single step demands your attention and constant checking. It can take anywhere between 5-15 hours to dehydrate jerky at home, depending on variables such as methods, meat cut, etc.

Choosing the Best Cut Meat

The thickness of the meat is often the deciding factor of how long it will take to dehydrate the jerky. In other words, the thicker the meat, the longer the drying time. 

To ensure that you are not cutting it too thick, stick to the following dimensions if you can. Slice the jerky less than ¼ or 6mm but more than ⅛” or 3mm. If you can cut your meat in between these numbers, you are on the road to well-textured jerky.


The marinade comes down to three dehydrating options. You can use a dedicated food dehydrator, your oven, or the sun – you can now expect your dinner to be full of sunshine too.  All three have different drying times. The fastest and most efficient option is a beef jerky dehydrator. The other two options take much longer due to less airflow. 

There are a few factors that you must consider if you want to be sure of what to expect in terms of the drying time. You can use a wet or dry marinade. The wet marinade obviously will need to be blotted properly before you start the process of dehydrating. A wet marinade jerky on the dehydrator means that the surface must dry out before it begins to dry the actual jerky.

Last but not least, salt levels can also affect the process of dehydrating the jerky. The moisture from the meat gets drawn out by the salt, so you must be careful about how much salt you are using for seasoning. 

Dehydrating Time

As mentioned earlier, the dehydrating time completely depends on what you are using to dehydrate the jerky. If you are wondering how to dehydrate beef jerky using a dehydrator, it can take four to six hours. If you opt for other methods, it will take longer. 

The temperature is the key element here. The temperature you need to choose must be 160°F / 71°C and 165°F / 74°C for poultry. You have to cook the meat properly to get rid of all the possible pathogens so that it’s safe to eat. 

The trick is to lower the heat to 130°F – 140°F once it has reached the desired temperature internally. You can keep the jerky in the dehydrator or oven using the previous temperature if you want to dehydrate it faster, but the texture and taste will not be up to the mark.

Dehydrated Jerky Recipe

Let’s get down to business. We have prepared a thorough step-by-step process that works every single time. You’ll also need a food dehydrator that can cook at 145°F, or use an electric oven if you have one. A quick way to check your dehydrator’s operating temperature is to throw a thermometer inside for 20 minutes after your machine has been on and empty.


You’ll need to grab the following items to prepare your jerky.

  • 1 pound round steak
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
  • Liquid Smoke flavoring (few drops), optional


Pick a lean piece of meat. The best ones are round roast, top and bottom round roasts, flank steak, ground beef (10 percent fat or less), or a sirloin tip. The objective is to work with a piece that has minimum fat. Follow the steps mentioned below to get the perfect beef jerky at home

  1. Slice off all the fat caps from the meat. Having any fat on the meat will reduce the expiry of these jerkies. So it’s ideal to remove as much as possible to ensure that your dehydrated jerky has a good shelf life.
  2. You can now place the meat in the freezer for about 1-2 hours. The goal is to partially freeze them to be able to easily slice them uniformly. The right meat will be hard on the outside but not entirely frozen. 
  3. Slice the pieces accordingly—we have suggested less than ¼’ or 6mm but more than ⅛’ or 3mm. 
  4. Make the marinade with all the ingredients mentioned above. 
  5. Add the meat strips and give it a good shake to ensure that the marinade has been evenly mixed.
  6. Put the mixture back in the fridge to marinate overnight (6 hours to 24 hours). For maximum flavor, the more time you allow for the marinade, the better. 
  7. Take it out, drain it, and pat the jerky strips dry. You need to remove the excess marinade from the meat before starting the process of dehydrating. It speeds up the dehydrating time.
  8. The last step—Place the strips on the racks of the dehydrator or oven. Don’t forget to preheat your machine first. Make sure the jerky pieces are not overlapping or touching each other. 
  9. Beef jerky usually takes up to 4-5 hours. Therefore, leave on the dehydrator at 165°F for at least four hours until the internal temperature is at 160°F. The final dehydrating time always comes down to the thickness of the jerky pieces. 

How Do You Know When It’s Done?

Touch and feel it. If it looks oily, greasy, and soft, then you need to allow more time for it to dehydrate properly. The final feel should be dry and have a leathery texture.


Yes, the process is lengthy, but it’s okay to find your perfect recipe after you have gone through a few trials and errors.  If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can have a go at it with your oven. Any type of food can be dried in the sun, in the oven, or in a dehydrator.

The key is to use the right combination of warm temperature, airflow, and low humidity. The perfect temperature for drying any food item is 140°F. If you increase the temperature, the food will start to cook instead of drying. Don’t just limit yourself to beef—you can also look up recipes on how to make dehydrated deer jerky.

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