Box Fan Jerky


Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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...



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    49 Discussions

    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.

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

    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.

    5 replies

    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.

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

    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.

    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

    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

    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.

    1 reply

    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.)


    4 years ago

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

    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.

    2 replies

    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!

     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!

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

    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!