Beef Jerky 3 Ways – A Dehydrated and Delicious Low Carb Snack!

Beef Jerky 3 Ways – A Dehydrated and Delicious Low Carb Snack!

Hello all! I told you all I would get into making some jerky with my brand spanking new Presto Dehydro (which you can check out my review here), and I did it today!

Just a little side note,  I’ve updated my recipes index (if you click the recipe tab above) so now you can see them in a gallery format with the pictures. I think it looks pretty good right now (although it’s still a work in progress) but check it out if your interested!

Now back to the jerky making.

So who doesn’t want to save money?

No one?

That’s what I thought. Everyone wants to save money!

To give you all an idea of why I would recommend making jerky at home, here’s a quick price comparison.

Jacks Link Jerky Price

That is an 8 oz bag of jerky at my local store for about $13.00!!

At the end of this recipe, I had about 2 lbs (32 oz) of delicious homemade jerky in 3 different flavors for the price of about $20.00. That would be 4 of these $13.00 bags, which would come out to over $42.00. That’s more than half the price of what I would’ve had to pay for in the store.

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with how much you can save, let’s get back to the jerky!

Jerky is an excellent source of protein and it is generally a very low carb snack, which is why I chose to make it!

So I decided that I would give making some beef jerky a try, and I also decided to make it 3 different ways. Might as well go big or go home! I was just so happy that I could make some jerky and ACTUALLY know what was going into it.

Unlike store bought jerky that is chock full of sugar and preservatives, this would be natural and delicious.

Plus, the fact that I could make three different flavors at a fraction of the cost of store bought jerky was a great perk as well.

The first thing that’s important for jerky is of course the meat. Now from my research I found that the leanest meat is the best for making jerky. The fat needs to be trimmed. I found some of the choices to be London broil, top round, bottom round, flank steak, sirloin tips or ground  beef (didn’t even know about this one).

Now apparently the easiest to chew would be if you made it from the ground beef, but I chose to go with a top round since I thought it would turn out to be the most like the kind of jerky i’m used to.

I also recommend buying your meat at a wholesaler as it is much cheaper than buying from a regular grocery store. I went to Costco and got this guy here

Eye of Round Packaged

for only $20. This was a top round piece, and I ended up with about 5 lbs of raw meat, after trimming the fat, which turned into about 2 lbs of delicious finger licking jerky!

The first thing to do is to freeze the meet for an hour or two. This makes the meat much easier to slice. Alternatively, you can also just ask your butcher to cut it all down into small strips for you, but I wasn’t even sure if they did that at Costco, and I also wanted to do it myself!

Trimmed Eye of Round

Next is to remove the fat cap. Use a sharp knife to cut as close to the meat as possible to remove the fat. A little bit of meat coming off is okay, but it just means you’ll have less jerky, and I definitely wanted as much jerky as I could get.

Eye of Round SlicedOnce you’ve got all the fat off, it’s time to slice the jerky. There are two ways to cut it:

  1. With the grain – Gives you a chewier jerky (The way I would traditionally think of jerky)
  2. Across the grain – Gives you an easier to chew jerky.

I opted to go with the grain in order to get a little bit more of a chewy jerky. I think jerky is meant to be chewed and the flavor savored.

If you’re not sure about what the “grain” is, it just means the lines of how the muscle fibers are running. You can either cut with it (the same direction), or against it (across the lines). This is another tip that can be used for other meats.

Also, the thickness of the meat is very important. I cut the pieces to be about 1/4″ a slice. If you cut much thicker, the drying times will be way longer, and you may not actually dehydrate it all, which could also be a health hazard. You can of course also cut it much thinner, and the drying times will be less, but you run the risk of over dehydrating it as well.

Jerky Marinades 3 Ways

After you’ve got the meat all sliced up, it’s time do to some marinating!

I decided I wanted to try 3 different marinades on the jerky this time around (as you may have guessed from the title of this post). This way, if I didn’t like one marinade, at least I had two more to try out.

In the picture above you can see the main ingredients for each marinade behind the Ziploc bags that I had the meat marinating in.

  1. Traditional style – Pepper, Garlic, Onion, Worcestshire, Stevia
  2. Walden Farms Thick and Spicy BBQ(affiliate link)
  3. Weber’s Kick’n Chicken (affiliate link)

You may think it odd that I used a chicken seasoning on beef jerky, and indeed it certainly seemed a bit odd, but i’m glad I did. The main ingredient in the Kick’n Chicken seasoning that I was interested in was dehydrated orange peel. I was thinking something like some kind of orange beef flavor. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but it was still delicious.

Now the research of course showed me all kinds of marinading times for jerky. I saw people marinading their meat for 4 hours all the up to 5 days!!

I wasn’t so bold, but I did want to get some good flavor into the meat, so I opted to go for a marinade time of about 36 hours. The longer you marinade, the more pronounced the flavors will be.

After Marinade Pat Dry

After the meat has marinaded for whatever amount of time, the next thing is to pat it dry and get all the excess liquid off the meat. Too much liquid will make drying times much longer as well as possible drip all over the dehydrator making a mess.

I also saw some people that just strained the meat in a colander, but I didn’t want a whole bunch of liquid on the meat, so instead I just laid out the pieces on some paper towels and patted them dry.

Put Meat on Dehydro Trays

Once the excess marinade is gotten off of the meat, just lay them on the dehydrator trays making sure they aren’t touching. I set my Presto Dehydro  to a temperature of 160 F and let it rip.

I know that most people probably won’t just have a dehydrator around, so I researched a bit and found that you can probably make the jerky in the oven by just getting the temperature down to 160 F (or the lowest setting closest to that) and then leaving your oven door open. The times may vary, but it should turn out okay as well. The jerky will need to be put on some kind of baking rack  set on top of a baking pan so the air can circulate around the meat and dry it out. You will also need to rotate the jerky top to bottom and front to back periodically so that it can dry out evenly.

I think the biggest plus of this dehydrator is that the fan forces the heat throughout the unit and around the meat so that it doesn’t need to be rotated or touched in any way until it’s done. It’s pretty much set it and forget it (except don’t actually forget it!).

Dehydrated Jerky 3 Ways

After about 8-9 hours in the dehydrator my jerky was done! Some of my slices were a little thick, so they needed some extra time. I recommend checking them around the 6 hour mark to see how they’re coming along. Some people I saw online had only dehydrated them for 4 hours, while others kept them going up to overnight. I guess it all depends on what kind of texture you’re looking for and the strength of your unit.

The test to see if the jerky is done is to bend a piece in half and see if it cracks but doesn’t break. If it breaks in half it is too dry (unless that’s what you want). If it just cracks but bends then it should be done.

Traditional Jerky

Traditional Style

BBQ Jerky

Walden Farms Thick and Spicy BBQ Style

Kickin Chickn Jerky

Weber’s Kick’n Chicken Style

 After the jerky is all dried out to your liking, I recommend patting them again with some paper towels and letting them cool on the rack for a couple hours. As they cool on the racks they will continue to dry out some more.

There will sometimes be some wet spots on the meat from the liquid coming out of it, and if you package them all up while they’re like this, then the liquid may rehydrate them and make the meat go bad.

I also recommend putting them in Ziploc bags and storing them in the fridge. Get as much air out of the bags and then zip them up so the jerky stays fresh longer.

There are ways to keep the jerky out in the open as well, but from my research I saw it’s better if this is done with jerky that has been cured with salt or using one of those packets that draws the oxygen out from the package. I didn’t want to use either, and I didn’t have either, so I just threw them in the fridge.

Jerky Yum!

I didn’t measure out my ingredients this time around, so I won’t be able to give very accurate nutritional info like I do on most of my posts. However, the Walden’s and the Kick’n Chicken have zero calories and zero carbs, and the only thing that would’ve added calories in the traditional style would be the Worcestershire. I just eyed enough to coat the meat but not completely submerge it. Also, since everything was patted dry after the meat was taken out of the marinade, I think it would’ve been a pretty slight amount of calories from that.

The only real thing that added calories was the beef, which I think is how jerky should be. To give you an idea of an estimate:

About 8 oz of beef (1/2 lb)  would contain about 410 calories and 0 Carbs, which is generally what would’ve been in the jerky that used the Walden’s or the Kick’n Chicken, since they both contained 0 calories and 0 carbs.

Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you’ve got any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave me a message at the bottom and i’ll be sure to address it. Also, if you liked this post please share it, and if you’re interested in receiving future post updates, go ahead and sign up! I know you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks, and enjoy!!

pinterest jerky1

42 thoughts on “Beef Jerky 3 Ways – A Dehydrated and Delicious Low Carb Snack!

  1. My mother had a dehydrator and used to make venison jerky that she would send us for Christmas every year. It’s a tradition I really miss. Now, as I’m being pressed by my doctor into a more paleo diet, I’m actually considering a dehydrator for snacks like this.

    1. Well i’m glad that you found my site then! Jerky would definitely fit into a paleo diet. Some venison jerky sounds great, but we don’t have much of that in our local stores, and I’ve never been hunting either. I have had it before, and it was great. Plus it’s a really lean meat, so that’s great for jerky as well.

  2. Hey great information on beef jerkey. I have made a lot of jerky in my food dehydrator. My favorite being green chili flavored jerky. Yep I’m from the great state of New Mexico and we put green chili on everything. I have found that in dehydrator I have to rotate the the jerkey one during the cycle as the ones closest the the heat source and fan tend to get done quicker. Did you notice this at all?

    1. Wow green chili sounds like a great flavor to try out! I’ll have to give it a shot next time. I actually did not find that I had to rotate the trays at all. I didn’t really notice any difference between the relative texture or doneness of the different groups, but I could certainly see how it may be so.

  3. Awesome breakdown of making Beef Jerky at home! Love the 3 flavors you decided to try!

    Wow!

    What a money saver! Not to mention that Beef Jerky is a healthy low carb snack. Hence, I guess why you featured it on your site. 😉

    I think I might have to purchase one of these dehydrators. I can think of tons of things now to make.

    The only thing I hated about this post is I now want to have beef Jerky! LOL!!!

    Seriously, looks great! Awesome information!

    Quick question.. Did you use the liquid smoke in just the traditional or the others as well?

    I didn’t see it listed in the article with the other ingredients.

    -Dan

    1. I’m glad you liked the post! I try and break things down into manageable bite sized chunks for people to take in. I actually only added the liquid smoke to the traditional because I didn’t want it to change the flavor profile of the other two flavor. I’m sure it would’ve turned out good though as well.

  4. I really love beef jerky but when I go to buy the packaged ones, I notice that they have too much added sugar. I will only eat if it is <1 sugar. So using a dehydrator would be a great option.

    I have a question. Is there a reason to remove all the fat? The reason I'm asking is because I am on a low-fat high carb diet and in nutritional ketosis. So I prefer the fat.

    1. I believe you’re meaning a high-fat low carb diet? If that is what you mean, you remove the fat because it aids in the dehydrating and it keeps the meat from spoiling faster. You could actually probably leave the fat on, as I have seen some people do, but you may not be able to store it for quite as long, or you could maybe freeze it and it’d last as well. I’m sure there are metabolic differences between the fat and the lean meat that have to do with the rate they degrade or something, but i’m not positive.

  5. Beef Jerky is a wonderful protein snack to have around. My friends from South Africa introduced me to a type of jerky called ‘biltong’ maybe you’ve heard of it? I found this article in great timing as just bought 2 lbs of Jack Links from Sam’s Club lol.

    1. I have actually heard of the jerky you’re talking about. I believe it has to do with curing and letting the jerky dry out in just a dark room with a heat source somewhere in it for a long time. I don’t know if I would every try it just because I don’t have a room somewhere to try it and it seems a little bit like it’s asking for some kind of food borne illness to come up. I’m sure the way they do it is probably a safe way, but I don’t know that I could do it myself.

  6. Is it wrong to now want some jerky for breakfast?

    I love having a pocketful of jerky (never thought I’d say that sentence) when I go out hiking. Nuts and berries are good, but a good, chewy jerky is a thing of beauty.

    What’s the shelf life once you’ve thrown it in the fridge? And what was the final turnaround time, including seasoning/drying/cooling? 48hrs?

    1. I think having some jerky for breakfast would be a superb idea. The shelf life once put in the fridge should be, I think, 1-2 months if kept in sealed packages with as much air as possible taken out and refrigerated. You can also extend this by doing things like using the curing salts or deoxidizer packets, but just all natural no preservative jerky such as I’ve made above should last about 1-2 months. This also depends on how much fat was left on the meet and things like that.

      To answer your other question, it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you want something that really get the flavor on the meat, I’ve read of marinating the meat for 5 days. Then to dry it and everything else, you could dehydrate it overnight and then let it cool for hours and hours. That could be up to 6 days! The shortest time I would say would be about 4 hours marinade, 8 hours dehydrate, and 3 hours cooling, so about 15 hours total. The meat won’t get as much of the marinade flavor, but it’ll still be jerky. Hope that helps!

  7. Expertly made tutorial! If this guide doesn’t teach you how to make jerky, I don’t know what will.

    The Walden Farms style looks particularly tasty. You made them look exactly like the store jerky if not better. And of course, you ‘low-carbed’ it! How is it possible that the 3 styles have zero calories, though? Surely they’d have some? Are the store jerkys that modified?

    Thanks for the recipe(s) Pete! I’ll be sure to try out your Weber and Walden styles sometime!

    1. Well the only calories would come from the actual beef itself. Both the Weber and Walden styles have zero calories and zero carbs in them. I don’t know how they do it, but since we’ve got pretty strict labeling guidelines (at least for the actual nutrition info) I would tend to believe them. You can of course check them out yourself through the links provided. Nutritional info is on there too.

  8. I fancy me a beef jerky now. In fact, I fancy anything beef on a normal day. Realizing there are different ways to chef this up, I’ll bookmark this and get to work.

    If it doesn’t turn out like it does in the pictures, I’ll blame you!

    Thanks for this post!

  9. Pete, my mouth watered through the entire post. I must admit that I have never eaten Jerky before. I see them on the shelves, but for some reason, I never stopped to see what they were.
    Now I must admit, I feel for Jerky. I will try the oven one first and if I like and my blood glucose and pressure readings remain happy, I will be purchasing through your link.
    Great post and a sincere author. Many thanks for sharing.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed my post! I believe jerky that is homemade would be a very beneficial snack to have with a very low glycemic impact. Since it’s homemade, and I don’t add sugar into anything, there should very minimal to any real effect on blood sugar. Of course i’m neither a doctor nor a diabetic, so I think testing it out would be a great idea. Let me know how the oven one works out for you!

  10. As usual yummy food again! Very easy guide to fallow the recipe, that is one of my reason why I’m keep coming back here. I have some question, first can I pair this beef jerky in a sauce/dip? second what sauce and what your recommendation? Thanks in advance!

    Cheers
    Eric

    1. I’m sure you could probably pair jerky with a dip. For all the flavors I think some ranch would be good, or maybe even some honey mustard. The jerky itself has some great flavor packed into it. I actually think most dips or flavors that you would use for beef (even ketchup) would probably taste good too.

  11. This is so awesome! My wife and I recently got a dehydrator and I have been looking for a good resource to make beef jerky. Thanks so much for sharing, I am definitely going to try this out over the weekend!

    1. That is awesome! My dehydrator is definitely one of my best buys of the year. Let me know how your jerky turns out!

  12. Okay I am SO going to do this! I have tried about 5 different kinds of store bought jerky and hate them all LOL. We have a local provider of grass-fed beef in our area so I am going to tackle this fun project this weekend. Thank you!!

  13. Nice post. My mouth was watering by the time I got to the end. I love jerky and would love to reap the benefits of this. I just ordered some bacon jerky which arrived yesterday. I have to admit that I ate it all in one sitting. Thanks for posting this. I will be bookmarking your site!

    1. Bacon jerky sounds delicious. I don’t think i’ve ever actually tried it, so it looks like it’ll go on my jerky to do list. I bet it’ll be cheaper if I make it than buy it too!

  14. Wow, I really had no idea you could made home made beef jeryky. I thought you had to use machines to turn beef into that. What else can you use the dehydrator for? I wouldn’t want to buy it just for this.

    1. You can dehydrate all sorts of things actually. Fruit, vegetables, and meat are the main things to use for it though.

  15. Thank you so much for introducing a great beef jerky recipe. This is something I have to try. I love saving money and I love beef jerky so it looks like I need to start trying to make my own. I love the breakdown and steps of making it. Thanks for the Cosco advice, looks like I should get a membership. Thank you again for sharing.

    1. No problem! Costco is a great place to get some meats. I will always get the large portions and just split them up and freeze them.

  16. Pete I have always wanted to make my own jerky brother but never figured out how until now! You’re right, the store bought brands are way too expensive, this is a much better alternative! Definitely going to try this out, thanks a ton.

    1. It way better making your own jerky and being able to choose what flavors to make! I think it’s a great investment.

  17. I love beef jerky, but it’s not something that is overly popular or available over here in the UK. I have always wanted to get myself a dehydrator, but my main idea was to dehydrate fruits and stuff like that. Making jerky never even entered my head, so definitely some ‘food’ for thought here (pardon the pun). However, beef jerky flavoured with chicken …?

    1. I know the chicken seasoning on the jerky may sound a bit weird, but it tastes delicious. I was just intrigued about having a seasoning with dehydrated orange peel in it. I think it certainly is worth a try.

  18. Pete, what a fantastic article! My mouth was watering through the whole thing.

    My wife is from Thailand and I bought her a dehydrator a while back so that she could make her Thai foods, but I’ve never thought to try using it myself. I’m going to try now.

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and your experience.

    All the best, Kevin

    1. You’re certainly very welcome. I’ll actually be travelling to Thailand and some other southeast Asian countries soon. What, if you don’t me asking, does she make in the dehydrator that’s Thai?

  19. When I think of making Beef Jerky at home I think of spoiling the meat but you make it look easy. I like the flavors you used but I would like to try a peppery Jerky. I wish you would have tried cutting a batch against the grain just to see the difference. Thanks to the great ideas.

    1. I was actually sort worried about spoiling the meat, as I don’t usually do something at that quite low a temperature for that long, but the dehydrator made it a breeze. The traditional style the kick’n chicken style both actually were peppery, as they had a pretty good amount of pepper on them. Unless you’re meaning pepper that jalapeno peppers, which I do plan on trying out some time. I definitely will do some against the grain to see how they are next time. I actually mean to this time but forgot. Don’t worry, I’ve got some big plans for this dehydrator.

  20. Wow, another great and informative article! I had never heard of how to actually make your own beef jerky! When it comes to taste do you think its way superior to the store bought? I like that you were able to make three different kinds for the same price as a little at the store. I’ll have to look into this!

    1. Thanks! I think making jerky at home CAN be way superior to store bought if done in the right way. Plus, you just can’t beat the fact that you know exactly what’s going into it and the savings benefit of it as well.

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