Introduction: Box Fan Jerky

Picture of Box Fan Jerky

Make beef jerky (or any kind of jerky really) with a box fan, 3 AC filters, some steak, and some time..

I'm writing this as I'm doing it, so i dont have a finished product yet, but I've seen it done online so i dont have any doubts it will work.

Shopping list:

20" Box Fan
3 20" Cotton Based AC filters
2 24" Bungee Chords
Teriyaki Sauce
Soy Sauce
Natures Seasoning
Garlic Salt
1lb Thin sliced Beef Top Round
1lb Beef stir fry
Optional** Meat Cure

Step 1: Buy the Meat, Fan, and AC Filters

Picture of Buy the Meat, Fan, and AC Filters

Pretty self explanitory here. Buy yourself some meat and a box fan if you dont already have one. Mine broke so i had to go buy a new one anyway. My box fan is a 20" box fan, which happens to coincide perfectly with the 20X20 AC filters that Wal Mart sells for 1.47 each. I bought 3. That's all you should need really.

For the meat, i bought 2 kinds. I've never done this so i wanted to test 2 different kinds of meats.

the first kind of meat that i bought was boneless stir fry beef. I figured it was thinl enough and precut into bite size pieces so why not.

The second kind of steak i bought was boneless top round that was think sliced. Again, convenience of being thinly sliced already. You dont want anything too thick because it wont dry out fast enough.

Step 2: Make a Marinade

Picture of Make a Marinade

I have no clue how this will taste, but it smells really good.

You can find all kinds of marinade recipes online but i chose to wing it. We'll see if it pays off.

I used:

Garlic Salt
Soy Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
Natures Seasoning
and a Meat Cure packet that i got with my dehydrator.

I've never seen anyone use this for whole meat, but what can i say... I'm paranoid. You're supposed to use it for ground meat (hamburger, etc). It's probably an unnecessary step, but i did it anyway.

I poured everything into the bowl without measuring it.. Like i said, i just eyeballed it. I made sure the sauce was enough to fully marinade the meat though. I didnt want to come up short on how flavorful the meat would be.

Step 3: Prepare the Meat and Marinate

Picture of Prepare the Meat and Marinate

I sliced up the top round into smaller pieces so that it would dry a bit quicker and then added everything to the bowl of marinade. I sloshed it around with my hand until about everything had a nice coat on it. then i stuck it in the fridge for 4 hours. Some people say over night, but damn it... I'm impatient.

Step 4: Lay Out Meat and Let It Dry

Picture of Lay Out Meat and Let It Dry

After the meat had a chance to soak up some tastyness for a bit, i pulled it out of the fridge and layed it on the AC filter.

a few things to note here:

I found COTTON Ac filters... i wouldnt use fiberglass or whatever
I found the tightest weave backed by steel grating so that the air flow was good, and the strength was good.

I laid the meat on the filter leaving some room for air circulation so that it would dry evenly (I hope).

Once i was done with the first sheet i layed the second on top of that with the veins gonig the opposite direction to hold the meat in place better. I then layed all the other meat on the top one.

I put the bigger chunks of meat on the lower filter (which will be closer to the fan) because they're going to need a little more time to dry i think.

finally, once all the meat is on the filters, use the last one to cover the whole thing up and make a double decker meat tray with the last one. (Filter/Meat/Filter/Meat/Filter)

Now, lay the fan on it's back and put the filters on top.

Use 2 bungee chords to keep the filters stuck to the front of the fan.

Now, go plug it in and wait for about 10 hours and have some jerky!

Step 5: Enjoy

I'll enter more when i actually eat it tomorrow morning...


Gabe1972 (author)2016-11-29

I have a window fan that has a round outlet and the trays from a Ronco dehydrator fit perfectly over it. After loading the trays and stacking them, I tape the outside of the trays together and tape the bottom tray to the fan. This way no air can be forced out between the trays and all air is forced up through them. I then put the whole thing on four cups, one at each corner, to hold it up and off of the table, and run it for about two days on low, depending on how thick it is. The jerky turns out perfectly. The filter method with the box fan would do the same thing. I just got lucky enough that the round trays from my mother's dehydrator fits the fan outlet perfectly.

hhanlin (author)2016-07-09

I am trying this today with my son. How did yours turn out?

EviLNinJa (author)2008-01-15

you are better off doing this in the oven on a mesh rack at 170 degrees F also either way you make it it is a good idea to pasteurize the jerky by putting in the oven after its done at 250 F for 12 mins to kill any remaining bacteria and melt off any left over fat.

Mugsy Knuckles (author)EviLNinJa2015-11-19

Above 140 Fahrenheit the proteins in the meat begin to denature. The whole point of this method is to dry the meat, not to cook it.

Will Knot (author)EviLNinJa2008-06-12

no then you are cooking the meat not making jerky. That low heat toughens the finished product.

EviLNinJa (author)Will Knot2008-06-13

No. food dehydrators and smokers run at around 170 unless you have a nice one that lets you choose the temp.. So using a oven at a low temp do the same job as a dehydrator.

mas9779 (author)EviLNinJa2008-06-19

the idea of this is he doesn't want to use a dehydrator or smoker because he doesn't want to cook it you marinate in an acidic bath to kill the bacteria thats why you don't cook it

ksparks (author)mas97792008-07-26

I have a box fan, but I can't find the cheap paper filters. I'm not going to use them more than once, so I'm not willing to spend $5 a filter.

The deal with commercial dehydrators (this info courtesy of Alton Brown) is that they HAVE to go to 170, because they don't have the air flow capability to dry the items. Dry is about air flow, not heat. Hence the utility of this setup.

Specialization is for insects

kennethrogersjr (author)2014-10-16

Why use air filters? Some wire screening and a bit of wood and nails and you can have something washable and reusable. Just a thought.

JasonK11 (author)kennethrogersjr2015-05-20

You can get 24" x 24" FDA Compliant, BPA Free Screens at

flper (author)2013-12-12

so do you draw the air through the meat or blow it through the meat..

ironsmiter (author)flper2014-08-21

the general consensus would be blow it through. You COULD suck it through, but that would require adding a layer of tape around the circumference of the filter/fan assembly. to prevent dust and debris getting sucked in between the filters.

by blowing it through the filters, you get a positive pressure in between the filters. this will blow OUT any debris that tries getting in (dust, doghair, bugs, etc.)

jbaily (author)2013-10-18

When you peeled it off wouldnt there be bits of cotton? (not that its a real problem to me)

thekosmicfool (author)2009-08-13

See, my problem with the Alton Brown method is that he lied. He claimed you could get the needed filters for about 99 cents each. Wrong! I couldn't find the correct size filter and material for anything close to 99 cents anywhere on this planet. So I bought the cheapest appropriate filters I could find. They were still expensive, so there was no way in Hell I was ditching them after one batch. So I needed to modify the plan. I went to Home Depot and purchased a roll of fiberglass screen. Like you'd put on a screen door. I think I got a roll of 80 X 36 inch screen for about 6 bucks. I Then cut the screen into 18 x 18 inch squares, which perfectly fit in the inside border of my 20 x 20 inch filters. I can wash these in the sink with soap and water, and reuse them over and over. This way, my filters are protected from meat juice and marinade getting on them. I've made at least 6 batches so far, and the filters are still quite clean. So anyway, the layering I use is: Fan > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter. Air flows through, juices keep off the filters, and insects can't get inside the rig. Also, I don't stand the fan upright. I take 2 chairs and set the fan on it's side across the gap between them. I cut my meat probably 6mm thick, because like others, I found meat cut too thin to be way too wafer-like. I like my jerky thick enough to really chew. I usually end up drying it for darn near 24 hours, but it's worth getting jerky that's dry all the way through, but not overly tough. It's really quite excellent. Plus the screen imprints a nice little waffle pattern on the jerky. I like that.

Well,about the cost thing, remember this show ran from 1999 to 2012, and prices could've vastly changed. But the fiberglass mesh idea sounds neat!

At29035ft (author)thekosmicfool2010-04-30

 I'm really interested in the screen method you speak of, but I don't understand how the thin screen protects the filters.  Any chance you should share some photos?  Thanks!

ikarias (author)2006-09-15

Ok. it looks like a clean and simple DIY, But... Maybe i'm stupid because i'm from the netherlands, but WTF if Jerky? I'm guessing its dryed meat, but shouldnt it be smeked or something? Hope i dont offend anyone with this reply.

Fred_Sanford (author)ikarias2012-10-15

You shouldn't smoke it for your fist taste, but once you do taste it, try smoking the meat beforehand and see what happens. Also, you can't describe jerky, you just have to taste it.


One probably could place a smoking pot in front of the fan with some wet wood chips.  Maybe one of those heavy iron smoke chip gizmos with a slotted lid set on a hot plate on a low/smoulder setting.  If you keep the smoke far enough away so that the fan does not draw against the chips and fan them to flame that should work.  Might have to "shield" it from side drafts and funnel it towards the fan.

Chrystalkay (author)2012-01-04

I know instructions always say to cut WITH the grain of the meat, but that is always too tough for me. I slice across the grain and have super tender jerky. Only problen is that it will break more easily, but who cares? It breaks up just fine in my mouth and THAT I care about!

schnurrbart (author)2009-10-15

I tried this today.  It dried the jerky for 12 hours and put it inthe oven for a few minutes just for good measure.  I tried a smallpiece, and while it tastes good, the inside seems to still be a littlemoist, unlike jerky you'd find in a store.  Does anyone think thismay be unsafe?  I'm gonna let it sit overnight and re-evaluate, butI'd really appreciate any advice about if I need to continue drying itmore tomorrow.  Thanks

jtb103 (author)2009-06-15

Alton brown from the food network did this once

Arkayanon (author)2008-09-21

I've also done this with some deer meat my brother gave me from a hunting trip of his. Passed it around to a couple of friends and got good responses from all. Even after I explained that it wasn't "cooked" but simply dried. The people I worked with at Lowe's thought the use of filters was interesting.

explosivemaker (author)Arkayanon2009-03-21

......ha ha ha.....I can imagine the weird look you would get from someone if you asked specifically for "cotton filters" and then told them you were going to make jerky with them....

boognishmofo (author)2008-09-01

You can use cheese cloth much better to keep it off the filter. Used in the kitchen all the time. As for the bacteria mas9779 is correct, the marinade is going to have the acidity to kill most of the bacteria I would throw a couple squeezes of lime in for good measure. It will not hurt to throw it in the oven on 165 for a couple minutes when it is done I dont know why guy is saying 250 all you need is 165 to kill bacteria. I have seen people in south carolina put meat in mason jars and let them sit for months out in the sun in marinade and then let it dry out like jerky. Americans are so over protective of what they "think" is not safe to eat. In japan they eat chicken rare if it is fresh, I have been thinking about getting a fresh chicken from the farm to try this. Are there any rules on instructables about cleaning animals for consumption? Another thing I have been wanting to try for years is cooking with pressure. You can cook a whole side of salmon or tuna just by placing bricks on top. With enough pressure and weight it could be cooked well done, but who wants well done tuna?

Phocian (author)2008-08-21

I make about 50 net lbs. of jerky per year. In winter I use a smoker made of bricks and cinder blocks. In summer I use a box fan to draw the smoke over the meat from a small fire. My jerky will keep for more than a year. Wood smoke is a natural preservative. I recall an anthropologist finding pemmican (ground-up jerky mixed with rendered fat) in a cave in France, he speculated the pemmican was about 150 years old and was still edible. If the moisture content of jerky is less than about 80% (I think) it will last forever stored in an air-tight container in a cool place. Wood smoke, thinly sliced meat and a warm heat--as opposed to "hot" heat--will make long-lasting jerky.

inspector (author)2007-08-02
chris.brent (author)2006-11-30

Oh dear you should have finished making in months ago! Did it not go wel!!!

mr2monster (author)chris.brent2006-11-30

Actually it went quite well. It tasted great and I've made about 6 batches since then... I'm actually going to be making a bunch of it to put together in gift baskets for christmas this year because everyone liked it so much. I jut forgot to update this instructable.

timewaster (author)2006-09-18

I did this after watching the Alton Brown show. Worked great. I made wood frames with aluminem screen wire That I placed the meat on. Used one filter between fan and meat. Who wants dirty jerky. Used the recipe found on DIY website.

DanAdamKOF (author)2006-09-15

Ah cool! I freaking love jerky. That reminds me, TimAnderson was doing a similar project with hot dogs, did he ever post the results?

ewilhelm (author)DanAdamKOF2006-09-16

The results are in! His hot dog jerky was terrible:

His dried watermelon was much better.

neopirater (author)2006-09-15

Do the filters do anything to the meat that would harm it? Such as leave any kind of particle?

mr2monster (author)neopirater2006-09-16

No, that's why i made sure to say to use cotton ones instead of fiberglass. It pretty much peels off the meat when you gather it all, and if there is any left on your jerkey, it's easy to remove.

trebuchet03 (author)neopirater2006-09-15

not as far as I know... its pretty much a paper/fiber product -- I'd just avoid the edges as the mfr of the filter might have some glue overspray which is probably a non-issue anyway :P

Bryan (author)2006-09-16

For another diy version of this device and a forum of "jerky" people discussing "jerky things" - try out

SmartAZ (author)2006-09-15

BTW I think I would find some nylon to keep the meat from touching the filter.

SmartAZ (author)2006-09-15

Since you are not using a preservative, plan on eating your jerky shortly after it's made. (Most people can eat it faster than they can make it anyway.) It will keep as long as 6 months in vacuum, but only use mylar food bags or glass bottles, not sandwich bags. The limit is about 6 to 8 months.

Randy_che (author)2006-09-15

Additions I would make to the marinade: Couple tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon liquid smoke The meat cure I use is called Lem Cure, but Mortons has a curing salt too. They are pink, and made of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, also with regular salt and some other ingredients. You only use a little meat curing salt in the batch. Like a half teasoppon for a couple of pounds. I've made jerky plenty of times without it, and it always seems to be safe. Doesn't last long enough to worry about. I also like to add some chili garlic paste to the marinade or sprinkle liberally with fresh ground black pepper or chile flakes after placing on the racks. It sticks really well to the damp marinade, and stays on when dry.

austin (author)Randy_che2006-09-15

sodium nitrate and nitrite is nasty stuff

Randy_che (author)austin2006-09-15

1. Not when only present in low concentrations. 2. You probably eat some every day and don't know it. 3. I'd rather eat a miniscule amount of sodium nitrate or nitrite than get botulism.

trebuchet03 (author)Randy_che2006-09-15

I wouldn't worry about botulism... unless you plan on storing for 6 years before consumption :P I've made plenty of this stuff (similar method) without issue ;)

CatMan (author)2006-09-15

so why don't you GIVE credit to Mr. Brown in your text?i don't see any reason why you shouldn't. i DO see several reasons why you SHOULD...

CamTron (author)2006-09-15

I think I spend about 30 dollars a month on jerky. This is the most simple yet invaluable instructable yet.

mr2monster (author)2006-09-15

By the way, it only took about 7 hours to get done instead of 10. I'll edit in a bit with pics of the finished product. It's really good. My marinade could use a little something else, possibly more teriyaki, but I'm not sure... It could be that i didnt let it soak long enough too...

mrmath (author)2006-09-15

Alton Brown from Food TV does this. If I remember correctly, he lays the meat into the corrigations of the filter. I remember seeing it on his show Good Eats. (BTW: This comment is meant to lend "credibiliy" to your post, not make it look like it's not original--if a celebrity chef does it, it must be good and work, right?)

mr2monster (author)mrmath2006-09-15

That's actually where i saw it... In response to prank, I wouldnt have just taken anyones word for it, i saw it from a credible source, i didnt mean to sound non chalante.

prank (author)2006-09-15

"but I've seen it done online so i dont have any doubts it will work." words to live by

mr2monster (author)2006-09-15

Jerkey is basically dehydrated meat.

Here's a wikipedia take on jerky

About This Instructable




More by mr2monster:How To: Sneak Booze on a Cruise 2014 EditionHow to Cross Link Your Craigslist AdsHow To (CHEAPLY) Take Micro / Macro Photography With Your iPhone
Add instructable to: