Beef Jerky (Paleo, Gluten-free)

We’re currently vacationing in Orlando this week (and consulting my Disney guide from time to time). The weather is perfect, the crowds are terrible (as expected), and our son Oliver is having a great time relaxing and getting away from the stresses of kindergarten. In preparation for our trip, I decided to revisit one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, beef jerky.

It’s amazing how jerky has endured as one of my all-time favorite foods since childhood. The word “jerky” itself is borrow from the word ch’arki, which translates to “dried, salted meat” in the Quechua language (spoken in the Andes region of South America).

Sometimes, the best way to apply a marinate is to just get in there and do it. Please forgive my old man hands.

Beef Jerky - Paleo, Primal, Gluten-free

  • Servings: 2/3 lb
  • Difficulty: Easy
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~2 lbs eye of round roast
1/4 cup tamari (or 1/3 cup coconut aminos)
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp coarse-ground black pepper (fresh-ground okay)
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. Slice the beef as thinly as possible. Your local butcher will often be happy to slice the beef for you on the spot. If slicing by hand or with a home slicer, freeze the meat for 10 minutes beforehand to make it easier to slice. We were gifted a food slicer by our friends Paleo Parents last year, which we love and used for this recipe.

2. Combine the marinade ingredients and stir until well-mixed, then combine with the meat. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and marinate overnight.

3. Lay the beef pieces out on your dehydrator in a single layer. Set to 155F (some models use 160F, either is fine) and dehydrate until firm (aka “no longer squishy”), between 2 and 5 hours depending on how the thickness of your jerky. Once finished, turn off the dehydrator and allow the beef to cool for 30 minutes before storing in plastic bags lined with paper towels (to capture any remaining moisture). You can remove the paper towels after a day or so.

** The jerky will keep for several months in the fridge, or about a month on the shelf, depending on the fattiness of your meat – fatty meat spoils faster than lean meat.

** Feel free to scale up or down as you see fit – 3 lbs of meat will yield about 1 lb of jerky.

** Jerky can be make in the oven, at 170F with the oven door cracked open.

** You can slice the beef across the grain like in this recipe, to make sheets, or slice it along the grain to make strips. Both are delicious and it’s fun to play around with the two different textures.

We’ve been using this square dehydrator since day one, and we like it a lot. There are higher-end dehydrators out there, like this Excalibur model, which I’ve heard great things about. With our current dehydrator, we rotate the trays every couple of hours to ensure everything cooks evenly.

35 thoughts on “Beef Jerky (Paleo, Gluten-free)

  1. I really like tender jerky, is there a trick to not getting dry shoe leather jerky? Is it the ingredients or the length of time drying? Or both?

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    1. Debbie, in my experience, the most tender jerky is cold-smoked at a lower temperature. Definitely not an easy task, but one I plan on conquering once I get around to buying a legit smoker :)

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    2. Debbie,

      You could also try a thicker cut, and of course, your length of time matters. I had my meat cut 1/4 inch thick (as I also don’t prefer the thinner, tougher type).

      GL

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      1. thanks! I had the butcher slice it 1/4 inch thick (or so!) and it turned out well. Tasty recipe and a good place to start for other flavors, I think. It was our first try and we are pleased!

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  2. This jerky looks wonderful. I eat close to a Paleo diet ( really wish there was another word to use besides Paleo since I am a Genesis – Rev. girl.) As a diabetic many Paleo recipes are off my list. This is one food I eat to combat middle of the night blood sugar lows. Now, you have given me a way to make this at home. You just can’t know what a gift this is. Thanks so much. Btw, those are working mans hands : )

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  3. You might try getting your meat at your local Mexican grocery store. They prepare very lean roasts thin cut as “bistek Milenesa”. It is already cut about 1/4 inch thick, had no bones, very little fat, and is much cheaper than beef at your “normal” grocery. Just cut into strips, mandate, and dry. Five pounds of meat usually makes enough for two full dryers of jerky. I use Morton “Tender-Quick” to add sodium nitrate and nitrite and then the jerky will keep at room temperature for months. This is important to me since I mail jerky to my son in the Marines overseas, and it takes weeks to arrive.

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  4. this looks great and not so difficult(thank you!). And can I just say your son is adorable! Mine is about the same age, and it pains me to see him to grow up sometimes. Just saying…

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  5. Hi there! I’m super excited about this jerky recipe because it’s the first teriyaki-style jerky I’ve found that isn’t loaded with sugar. Wahoo! Here’s my question: I can’t eat apple cider vinegar. Turns out it’s because I’m fruit intolerant. Oof! since it’s such a small amount in this recipe can I leave it out, or does vinegar tenderize? If vinegar is needed, I can sub with malt vinegar, yes? I realize that’s not perfectly Paleo, but I have to make a few adjustments, sometimes.

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      1. No problem, and yes, it helps! I ended up using rice vinegar and it worked perfectly, so thank you. This jerky was freaking delicious, by the way. Making more tonight/tomorrow!

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  6. I made this last night. Had the butcher cut my meat 1/4 inch thickness and marinated over night. Followed your recipe precisely and ran this in my Nesco for 5 hours. Came out EPIC! Having a thicker slice worked out amazing. I may run this again but for 3-4 hours next time to see what the difference might be. The flavor is better than the store bought. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Russ, the jerky recipe is absolutely terrific! If you were to try and reduce the saltiness a bit without ruining the process, where would you begin? Reduced-sodium tamari, slight reduction in kosher. etc.? Thanks again for all you share, Russ, I’ve been quite the fan for years!

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