If I could, I would eat beef jerky every day. As a kid it was tied with gas station nachos as my favorite food. When we bought a food dehydrator a while back, my dream had been realized; I now eat jerky nearly every morning with my breakfast, and it’s my go-to snack. What’s more, making your own jerky allows you to flavor it how you’d like, and at a fraction of the cost of store-bought beef jerky.
You might think the tag of “gluten-free” is unnecessary, but you’d be surprised by the amount of wheat found in commercial jerky and in nearly every other homemade jerky recipe. Traditional soy sauce uses wheat, so we use tamari sauce or coconut aminos. Also, worcestershire usually has some corn or soy in it, but if you shop around you can find some that is more Paleo-friendly, like this one.
3 lb roast (cuts vary by tenderness and price, but “london broil” or eye of round is generally the best)
1/2 cup tamari sauce or coconut aminos
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp coarse-ground pepper
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
Trim the fat off your roast. If you are using grass-fed beef, you’ll want to leave a little of the fat still on the beef since it’s highly nutritious. Keep in mind that the more fat you keep, the quicker the meat will spoil. This is never an issue in my house because I usually eat everything within a week.
Slicing the meat can be problematic, but you basically have three options. The first option is to have the butcher slice the meat for you, which they will usually do for free. Secondly, you can hand-slice it yourself at home; if that’s the case, you’ll want to partially freeze the meat to help with your slicing. Lastly, we use our Cuisinart food processor, with instant results (as you can see above).
Next, you’ll want to to mix the remaining ingredients with the sliced meat. I usually put it all in a large bowl and mix it by hand to ensure the beef is evenly coated.
Place the beef in a ziploc bag and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best, especially for thicker slices. It’s always a good idea to mush the meat around every once in a while to make sure the beef is consistently marinated.
Lastly, spread the meat on your dehydrator and cook it per the dehydrator’s specifications. Ours takes about five hours for four loaded trays. I suggest rotating the trays every couple of hours so everything cooks evenly. Once the jerky is no longer squishy, turn the heat off and let the trays dry for about 30 minutes before bagging it up, wrapped in paper towels. I also don’t seal the bags for the first day or so to make sure no moisture gets trapped in there.
The beef jerky should keep for about 2-3 weeks on a shelf, and a couple months in the fridge. Three pounds of raw meat should yield about one pound of jerky.
I’ve heard that you can make jerky in an oven on its lowest setting with the door cracked for circulation (which makes sense, since most ovens have a lowest temperature of 170 and we dehydrate at 160 degrees). I may try that in the future just to see how it turns out.