Sweet Beef Jerky Recipe

Believe it or not, I never liked beef jerky until I tried this Homemade Beef Jerky. Not sure what it is, but the store-bought stuff just never appealed to me. But my husband and my kids are beef jerky fans so we were constantly buying it. I’ve tried them all; thin cut, thick-cut, peppered, original, teriyaki, gourmet, and gas station jerky. I originally wanted to make my own just to cut down on the cost. Store-bought beef jerky can range anywhere from $20-$30 per pound but when you make your own, it’s about $5-$8 per pound. That’s a huge difference! Here’s a little price comparison chart for you:

In addition to the cost, the taste is incomparable. I LOVE homemade beef jerky. It’s the only kind of beef jerky I eat. If you’ve never made homemade beef jerky, it’s time that you try. Although I use a food dehydrator for mine, don’t worry if you don’t have one. I include instructions for how to do this in your oven as well.

Easy Homemade Beef Jerky (with oven instructions)

Ingredients for Homemade Beef Jerky:

3 pounds bottom round roast, or other lean beef
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

Directions for Homemade Beef Jerky:

Trim beef of all fat and connective tissue. This is crucial since dehydrated fat is really nasty, chewy and it is first to go rancid. Your jerky’s shelf life will depend on how much fat you have, so try to choose a really lean cut of meat and make sure you trim off any other fat.
Slice beef to 1/8″ thick slices. To make the job easier, place your meat in the freezer for about an hour to get it to firm up a bit. Or just have the deli at your grocery store slice it for you like I do.

Pound down the slices even thinner with the flat side of your meat tenderizer. Use a ziplock bag or plastic wrap between the meat and the tenderizer.

Mix all marinade ingredients together. Add other seasonings/flavors that you enjoy such as teriyaki, red pepper flakes, tabasco, cayenne, liquid smoke, chili powder, etc. The more you make this, the more you will be able to customize this recipe to fit your tastes. This base recipe happens to be my favorite but feel free to adjust it.
Toss beef strips and marinade ingredients in a big ziplock bag and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours (24 being ideal). Read more about why it’s important to marinate in ziplock bags HERE.

Squeeze out all remaining marinade and pat dry lightly. Arrange in a food dehydrator or oven in one even row so none of the pieces overlap.

Cook in the food dehydrator (155-165°) for approximately 8 hours, turning food trays as necessary, or until you get the desired chewiness of meat. This may take longer depending on how you like your meat and how fast your dehydrator works. Mine took closer to 10 hours.

If using an oven, cook at lowest temperature available (up to 200°) for 4-8 hours, until meat is quite dried with a little chewiness left.

Keep the beef jerky in a ziplock bag at room temp for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

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