Introduction: Beef Jerky

Picture of Beef Jerky

Make beef jerky at home with this surprisingly simple recipe you can customize to suit your own tastes. Making it yourself means no added preservatives or nitrates - you control what goes in.

Whether you like it sweet, smokey or spicy, this easy technique will have you loving your homemade jerky, and leave your friends begging for more.

Step 1: Ingredients

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  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) flank steak (or any meat! try turkey or bison!)*
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) preferred seasoning - I used a mesquite blend, but another simple option is garlic or onion powder
  • 1 -2 teaspoons (10 - 20 mL) liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) red pepper flakes (opt)

I didn't add any extra salt because of the soy sauce. If you like it saltier, then go for it!

*user jaythedogg recommends cooking any poultry or pork before dehydrating!

Step 2: Slice

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First, freeze your meat for about 1/2 an hour. This just makes it easier to cut and handle. More than that, and it might get too hard to slice!

Slice your meat into very thin strips. Flank steak is great for this because it's got a very obvious grain to it. The only thing I didn't like about it was how thin the cut was, making my strips come out very narrow.

Step 3: Season

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Combine all of your marinade ingredients in a plastic bag, tupperware, or shallow dish.

Add strips of meat and refrigerate for anywhere between 2 hours to overnight.

Step 4: Dry

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There are several different methods to drying your beef jerky. I used the oven, because it was easiest for me, and I don't have a dehydrator! If you do, well, follow the instructions, yeah?

Here are directions for oven-drying, plus some other great methods I've learned about on the glorious world wide web.

Oven Method

  • Preheat oven to 200oF (95oC)
  • Lay strips across roasting rack -I scrubbed down one of the oven's racks and laid them directly on that
  • Place parchment paper or foil under rack to catch drippings
  • Roast for 2-4 hours depending on preference - 2 hours was plenty for me, but I left some in for 4. Still delicious, but drier and crunchier than I like

Microwave Method

You know how I love to get things done fast, so I couldn't resist including the microwave version!

  • Place strips in a microwave roasting rack
  • Set microwave on high for 4 minutes
  • After 4, add time in 30 second increments until desired consistency

The Alton Brown Method

So many of you have invoked Alton's name when commenting on my recipes of the past, that I simply had to see WWAD*. And you will NOT be disappointed!

It involves: 1 box fan, 4 paper air-conditioning filters, and 2 bungee cords.
(I know, right??)

  • 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
  • Next, lay the box fan on its side and lay the filters on top of it
  • Strap the filters to the fan with 2 bungee cords
  • Stand the fan upright, plug in and set to medium
  • Allow the meat dry for 8 to 12 hours

Please please please somebody try it this way and share your photos!!!

*What Would Alton Do

Step 5: Devour

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Make sure you check in on your jerky periodically while it's drying. You'll learn so much during this process, that you'll be dying to try it out again immediately, tweaking this and that along the way.

Please include all of your own secret recipes and fun stories you have while trying this out. It's such a fun and rewarding project, that I encourage you all to try it! (Let me know how it goes with tofu, yeah?)

P.S. This is one that I don't recommend sharing. Why? Because all of your friends will continue to beg you for more. They may even show up at your house with a pound of some exotic meat for you try your hand at. Be warned!

This jerky can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 months. How it would ever last that long without getting nommed, I have no idea.



obax17 (author)2016-01-15

Would you recommend cutting with the grain of the meat or against it? Or does it matter much in this case?

glubash (author)obax172016-02-06

It doesn't really matter. With the grain will make it a bit tougher to tear off. My last few batches I have used Eye of Round steaks (They are nicely cut at about the right thickness for slicing into strips) and the grain ends up running cross-ways to the length of the strip of jerky. In my opinion, it makes it a bit easier on the teeth when eating.

Bronson1 (author)2015-04-12

What flavour is it

dlvendt (author)2014-03-17

so i left some on for 2 hours and the rest for 3, delicious. 3 thumbs up and 3 paws up. I will be doing this again.

dlvendt (author)2014-03-17

Marinated18 hours and now on then rectec grill at 180 to dehydrate. Will post the results later.

epicfail! (author)2012-09-28

for all you aussies out there, this is awesome with kangaroo :) yum

peteg00 (author)2012-02-27

Every Time I've tried to make my own jerky I screw it up somehow ... I prefer to just buy my jerky from

fiive (author)2010-06-22

Is it O.K. to skip liquid smoke?

scoochmaroo (author)fiive2010-06-22

If you don't like a smokey flavor, yes. If you want a smokey flavor, you may have to use a smoker instead!

mastroprimo (author)scoochmaroo2012-01-17

Hi really nice inst!
I want tell you this way for a home made simple light smoking.
Pic a pot, then put inside a little pot with a small ammount of salted water and a tin alluminimu foil with some sage leaves, ignite the leaves or burn them with the heat of the fire down the pot, cover all with a lid. Shaking time to time the big pot to generate waves on the smaller one. Finish pretty smoked water.

Last advice for italian people want to trie this great inst. the piece of meat here is called BAVETTA DI PANCIA.


OrIsIt (author)scoochmaroo2011-08-06

What is liquid smoke? where do you aquire it?

loveisweakness (author)OrIsIt2011-08-22

If I'm not mistaken it is liquid that has had smoke condensate of some form dissolved in it, and I'm reasonably sure you can find it at most supermarkets.

jaythedogg (author)2009-09-21

MAKE SURE to cook poultry & pork BEFORE dehydrating! Trust me, nasty things can result if you don't! Otherwise, great ible!

NetGod999 (author)jaythedogg2009-09-24

200 degrees for four hours will kill most of the uglies...
"Note that the common methods of cooking food do not sterilize food - they simply reduce the number of disease-causing micro-organisms to a level that is not dangerous for people with normal digestive and immune systems."

mastroprimo (author)NetGod9992012-01-17

True true.
Also to consider is if you freezing the meat, like sushi, before the dehydrating process, this reduce drammatically the presence of dangerous organisms, and also make the meat more soft.

hishealer (author)NetGod9992009-09-29

A salt brine marinade will kill lots of uglies too, it dehydrates them to death. See bacon, for example. Of course that makes for some really salty jerky.

scoochmaroo (author)jaythedogg2009-09-21

Ooh, good comment!

big-jamie (author)2012-01-08

Straight to the supermarket for me to get some good steak to make this. Ive made plenty of jerky before but finding this instructable has ignited my passion again for jerky, I love it.

I did one time marinade my beef in pure tobasco sauce which gave it a right good kick, shall we say.

I have bacon on the grill the now while reading this so its as if its a smell-ible lol. thank you.

Chrystalkay (author)2012-01-04

I had a LOT of left over turkey a couple years ago and decided to try turky jerky with the already cooked met. I marinated it overnight in soya sause, with a bit of rice wine vinegar and fresh ground garlic.
MAN! It made the best jerky! Of course I didn't get much of it once my grown kids discovered it!
Anyway, there is no law that says you have to use fully raw meat. What about that underdone beef roast? Or even a pork roast that came out without much flavor? This has saved several disasterous meats from the garbage pan.

captaincoolness55 (author)2009-09-24

AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!! :D i must try this! since i don't have the type you suggested, i'll have to use bacon. gotta use it up some how. lol

KittyF (author)captaincoolness552011-08-30

the problem with using bacon or any fatty meat is the fat can turn rancid and will trun faster the longer it is held in a heated environment and the higher the heat is of course.. Bacon jerky is likely to go quickly so you';ll have to eat it up fast. That's also why they keep the little packets in the store bought jerky. to keep the oxygen from making the fats in the meat rancid before you can eat it.

FWIW, Kitty

fiive (author)2010-06-09

Is this wheat free?I am allergic to wheat.

KittyF (author)fiive2011-08-30

make your recipe wheat free by subbing wheat free ingredients for one which have wheat in them. when you have an allergy, you have to learn to experiment in self defense. it's even worse if you have several.

whiteoakart (author)2009-10-07

I just put in my first batch.  I am using the oven for convenience this time around.  My oven has a convection setting, which I am using for the jerky.  It's perfect because it circulates the air around in the oven.  I am thinking it will take less time to dry it.  I know baking and roasting take less time with the convection setting.

I will post a picture when it is done!

My brine:
1 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup BullsEye BarBQ sauce
1 Tbs crushed garlic
1/4 cup basalmic vinegar
2 Tbs Spanish Paprika

I do not like Liquid Smoke.  Next time, I will use a smoker to dry it.

Thanks for the inspiration.

scoochmaroo (author)whiteoakart2009-10-07

I am personally addicted to liquid smoke.  I'm sure it's probably some terrible carcinogenic, but then, that's probably what makes it addictive.  ;)

I wish I had a convection oven!  Let us know how long it takes!

codongolev (author)scoochmaroo2011-02-26

actually, I saw some informational video about liquid smoke, and they pretty much just burn wood and pipe the smoke up through some water to dissolve the smoky particulate matter.

fiive (author)whiteoakart2010-06-22

very good

codongolev (author)2011-02-26

I read in wired a very hazy description on microwave beef jerky (it pretty much consisted of "marinade, then put in microwave for 30 minutes on half power," so yeah), so I tried it. for the marinade, I used some sort of Caribbean jerk marinade overnight, and then I did the microwave thing. it actually took a little longer (closer to 43 minutes) and it was kind of hard to see when it was done (is that water or fat?), but I tried it anyway. it took a little prodding and poking and guesswork, but let's just say my brother's asleep, and I promised him some, but I am having trouble keeping it out of my face.

padz (author)2010-11-25

i tried ur way and they were fantastic!!! iv made about four batches since ;) nice one thanks.

renejeddore (author)2010-10-12

I let mine soak in a cold garage (approximately 5 degrees Celsius) for around 36 hours. I dried it for four hours with the oven door opened to it's first stop. Came out perfect! Everyone loved it!


siggibahama (author)2010-08-19

since reading your instructable like,,, a year ago, I have been going jerky crazy, trying everything, I now love making pig jerky,,,, but my oven made too little jerky at once, so me and my boys came up with this,,,

Blaaken (author)2010-08-14

Try tenderizing the meat before marinading, it should help the meat absorb more of the marinade and it will be more tender.

bob150388 (author)2010-08-12

I have been using this recipe since Christmas. Probably made it 10 times. Have a batch ready to go right now. It is the easiest and best jerky I have ever had. I do make a couple of small changes. I add about a 1/2 cup of water to the marinade and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon handle after about 20 or 30 minutes as someone else here suggested. I dry it for 4 hours at 200 F. Always comes out great!

scoochmaroo (author)bob1503882010-08-12

That's awesome. I was just talking about making some more! I'll try your suggestions.

WryteF (author)2010-06-16

There is nothing like the enjoyment of making your own jerky except for savoring it for weeks and months afterward.  A beef jerky maker does make the process a bit less of a mess.

wenpherd (author)2010-04-08

Wow! this looks great, oh and a little spelling error (I think) Step 5, 2nd paragraph, sentence two "Its such a fun and......" got to get that "A" in there.

carnivore (author)2010-02-08

   i tried your recipe and it's excellent . my first batch just came out of the dehydrator . i used deer meat . everyone likes it. thank you for the post. tomorrow i think ill try beef.

spylock (author)2009-12-05

A little ground ginger is my secret ingredient,it does wonders,3/4 to 11/4 teaspoon would do it for the amount of meat you have.

mastermaker (author)2009-10-18

Hahahahaha, i didn't read it all the way through, sorry, but still has anyone tried it?

mastermaker (author)2009-10-18

Has anyone ever though of cooking it slightly to remove bacteria, etc. then drying it between two air vent cleaners and a fan like alton brown did? It makes much more proper jerky i believe.

whiteoakart (author)2009-10-07

The jerkey was dry, but still a little tender at 1:45.  It was almost completely dried and chewy at 2:00.  The smaller pieces are a bit crunchy.  I would prefer it a little spicy, but the rest of the family doesn't.  They like it just fine.

Thanks Scooch!

scoochmaroo (author)whiteoakart2009-10-07

Next time you can make up two different brines - put a little of the stuff in another bag and spice it up for yourself!

gorgo333 (author)2009-10-03

I made this using the oven method, it was great!!! a family friend said it was some of the best jerky she's had.

scoochmaroo (author)gorgo3332009-10-07


mkslocomb (author)2009-10-04

two things. 1. my recipe is a simple marinade of 2 parts Lee & Perrins (less salt), 2 parts kikoman soy (less salt and no carbohydrates), 1 part liquid smoke. mix and cover the meat 8 to 24 hrs (after that it tends to be too strong). dehydrate using your favorite method. 2. dehydrated meat takes a very long time to go bad, but you cannot dehydrate fat enough to stop it from going bad. fat goes rancid in just a couple of weeks. i usually use london broil (it's very lean) and trim it before i marinade it with very good results.

cornz (author)2009-10-02

This is brill, i made mine with soy sauce, hendersons relish (a uk only thing), worcester sauch, garlic, chillis, salt, pepper and honey. dried for 2 and a half hourse at 90 degrees centigrade. Wolfed the lot in one go. Next batch soaking the sauce up as we speak. Fantastic ibble. Beef jerks is almost £2.00 a small bag.

farrellg13 (author)2009-09-25

bacon jerky... sounds potentially life altering

gorgo333 (author)farrellg132009-10-01

I must try eventually!

Kryptonite (author)farrellg132009-09-27

*Tries* So, salty!!!!!!! More please?

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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