Chicken Jerky

Jerky is a great snack to have around. It stores well, makes little mess, and packs a lot of flavor.
Chicken is quickly becoming my new favorite thing to make into jerky. Here ill explain the steps required and share my basic recipe that i use. I find that chicken takes less time to marinate and is healthier for you than red meat. The only potential problem with chicken jerky is that it MUST be cooked to the right temperature to avoid risk of salmonella and other food borne bacterias. I wouldnt suggest using a dehydrator without a temperature setting because you have no way of making sure the chicken is cooked safely.

Step 1: Equipment Needed

Ok so the main thing we need is chicken. I buy whatever chicken breast i can find on sale. You want to get something thats not too fatty, and the whole breast is usually cheaper than the pre-cut pieces they sell. My dehydrator can handle 3 large breasts or 4 medium ones.
You will also need:

1 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbs red pepper
1 tsp black pepper

This time i added some splashes of liquid smoke to the mix and a dash of ginger to try it out. You can add or subtract ingredients as you like until you find a mix you like best. If you dont like soy sauce however, you need to add something for the salt content. Jerky can store for a while due to its low moisture, high sodium content. Salt inhibits bacteria growth and is a staple for jerky recipes.

Step 2: Trim Your Chicken

Take your chicken breast and trim all the fat you can off if it. Fat spoils quickly, and the lower the fat content the longer your jerky can store.

Once its all trimmed up, cut the chicken into strips about 1/4 or smaller. You can put the chicken in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before cutting to help firm up the chicken and make it easier to cut the pieces into consistent size.

Use a very sharp knife to make cutting easier. I have a ceramic knife that cuts through things like a hot knife through butter. If you get a ceramic knife just be careful because they are more delicate and will take your fingers off much more easily.

Step 3: Mix and Marinate

Once your chicken is cut, put it in a freezer bag, and dump in your ingredients. I prefer freezer bags because you can squeeze out the air and work the chicken around the bag so its all covered and mixed. If you dont have freezer bags you can use a bowl and just mix it around frequently. I let my chicken marinate for 30-60 minutes.

Step 4: Set Up Your Dehydrator

I have a Nesco american harvest dehydrator with variable temperature settings. Arrange your chicken strips on the dehydrator trays so theres a little bit of space between the pieces. Overlapping pieces will not dry properly and slow the drying time. Set the temperature to at least 160 and put it some place it wont be in the way. The chicken jerky should be dry in 5-8 hours depending on thickness. Mines usually done in about 6 hours, and i let any large pieces sit for an extra hour.

If you dont have a dehydrator you can use your oven as well. I used to use the oven before i got my dehydrator and it works just as well, but takes longer. You line the bottom of the oven with tin foil to catch the drippings. Then you can put the chicken on a wire rack so there is space for air to circulate. Set the oven to 200 and prop the oven door open a little with a wooden spoon or other similar non-meltable utensil. If you have a small fan you can aim it into the oven to help move the air around.

Step 5: Store and Enjoy

I like my jerky a little more crispy than most people. when i can bend it and it starts to peel or crack i take it off the dehydrator. If you want it less dry, you can take it off once it is firm but still flexible. If you have it in an oven, every hour or so you may have to pat the moisture off the pieces to help it dry quicker.

Once its done, try not to eat it all at once. Its really good warm. Let it cool to room temperature before packing it into bags or jars. If you pack it up hot, moisture can form inside the container and shorten the shelf life. The jerky can store for about 2 weeks at room temperature, and about a month in the refrigerator. If theres any doubt about it being cooked to the right temperature store it in the freezer to prevent it from spoiling.

Thanks for checking out my first instructable. Let me know if anything should be fixed up for it.



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    11 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I can handle four large breasts at once if you know what I mean.


    5 years ago

    Jack, whats so important that i have missed? You wrote a fairly long story there to only end it that in your opinion, my directions are useless. How about something more constructive.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    chiefjudge09,. Don't no why he has a problem with you, when he's wrong about so many things. Just trying to share my experience, and some education. Keep doing what you do Brother!


    5 years ago

    As far as the temp to kill illness it's really does not apply to jerky. That's the point of jerky is to make a food that will stay well without refrigeration. Before they had cooling systems in every he and packing like we do today this is how they kept food that and curing. If your salt content is high enough no bacteria or germs will grow. Soy sauce was actually used as a preservative by the Chinese for thousands of years, when it was westernized was when it became a flavor instead of a essential item to keep meat fresh.

    Also it has to do with moisture content. With out moisture content at a certain level no bacteria will grow and all will die. It's best to weigh the starting product and its dome usually when you loose 30% of the moisture. But you have to keep the air humid around the meat or you risk other types of bacteria growth and mold.

    Cursing meats is one of the easiest but tricky things a person can do now a days. With all the hormones, chemicals and preservative in meats today it's hard to get stuff right. I make my own cured meat and jerky and I only buy fresh local hog meat. Nothing ever from the store since its full of junk and they pump it with water to make a heavier cut for less cost to them. If anyone watched no reservations with Anthony his friend Michael the chef from Cleveland has a great simple to use book for curing meats. Step by step, with great hints and tips for the home curer. I highly suggest you take your instruction from a professional person not just people's instructables.
    I'm not knocking this guys, but I found on here each person misses steps while writing it out. I've seen some very important steps missed that could have meant death for people. So always be careful and only trust YOUR judgment and skills. Not someone else.

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Jackofmanytrades, I have been in the meat curing business for more than 4 decades. My experience with sausage, and jerky making, and the science involved is quite extensive.That being said, a few corrections if I may.... Temperature's are important if you are working with poultry, pork, bear or fish. Back in the day jerky was red meat only, packed in salt, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate. Salt, and nitrates, and or nitrites, are to prevent Botulism. Salt does nothing to prevent Salmonella, E-Coli H 157, Trichinae parasite in pork, and bear meat. Only heat will destroy these organisms completely. The one exception for pork, is to freeze pork at 0°f for 30 days. I have seen a few poultry jerky recipes out there, that start out raw going into the dehydrator, and they are drying at145° to 150°. These people are putting bad info out there that can make others sick, or worse.


    Jack, if you have problems with other posters' 'ibles, why would you write a novel on chief's?

    "I'm not knocking this guys..."

    Well, actually, you kind of are.

    He makes sure to mention proper cooking temperatures as a failsafe. It's clearly written to help stave off any illness that an inexperienced preserver, who may not have the common sense to do a little research beforehand, might encounter otherwise. He makes sure, also, to mention moisture, packaging, and several storage methods. To me, this was written by someone passionate about their hobby for someone who wants to try their hand at it, while not needing to do a boatload of extra research. I agree with you that serious preservers should invest in a quality book by a respected, trusted, reliable author, but that's not necessarily the target audience here.

    I get what you're trying to say, but you went about it in a rude way to someone who didn't deserve the criticism at all.

    Next time, you should probably think twice about being rude to someone who really didn't do anything wrong.


    3 years ago

    The absolute most important thing is to make sure your slices are as close to even as possible. Thick slices/chunks in the mix with thin will dry slower and leave a pocket of uncooked/cured meat inviting a risk of bacteria surviving the process. On the flip side, if you leave it in long enough to dry the thick parts, the thin ones will get crispy.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Finally, something fun to do with boring chicken breasts haha Great 'ible, chief! Thanks for posting!


    5 years ago

    I havnt tried thigh yet but breast is the choice due to it being very lean. I plan on attempting thigh, but after trimming it there might not be enough


    5 years ago

    Is using chicken thigh not a good choice due to fat content? cheers for putting this up, keen to give it a go