Introduction: Beef Jerky

About: From time to time, I'll provide Amazon affiliate links. When you click on them, it helps me continue to contribute awesome Instructables.

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

  • 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

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

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

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

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.