Original beef jerky

Original Beef Jerky Recipe: A Classic Snack, the Old-School Way (Step by Step)

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The world of beef jerky is filled with fancy flavors and special seasonings, but sometimes you just want your jerky the good old-fashioned way.

When that craving hits, give our original beef jerky recipe a try. No gimmicks, no crazy ingredients, just old-school beef jerky cooked up just the way it used to be!

Original Beef Jerky Ingredients

Ingredients for the original beef jerky recipe
Ingredients for the original beef jerky recipe

For this jerky you’ll need the following ingredients:

What Kind of Beef Should You Use?

Adventurous cooks will tell you that you can use any cut of beef to make your beef jerky. And jerky purists will tell you that only the finest, leanest cuts should be used.

We fall somewhere in the middle: use your favorite cut, ideally a lean one, but any will do as long as you can remove the fat from it.

Our favorite is eye of round, and it’s what we used to make our original beef jerky. But you can also use sirloin tip, flank steak, top round or bottom round — all make excellent jerky!

Preparing the Beef

Removing Excess Fat

Cutting off all fat from eye of round beef
Cutting off all fat from eye of round beef

If you chose a fattier cut, this step may take a little longer, but it’s well worth it. Trimming the fat from your beef is one of the most important steps of making beef jerky.

Why? Well, fat spoils quickly, and if it’s attached to your beef jerky, it’ll spoil your whole batch along with it.

Your jerky will last longer and taste better if you trim all the fat from the beef first. Remove as much as you can — you’ll be glad you did.

Freezing and Cutting the Beef

Now put your freshly-trimmed beef in the freezer for 1-2 hours to make it easier to slice. Take it out when you see ice crystals beginning to form on the surface of the beef.

Then cut the beef into thin slices. Try not to exceed ¼ inch slices, as thicker slices don’t dry as well as thinner ones.

Pay attention to the direction of your slices, too. Slicing against or across the grain will result in tender, easy-to-chew jerky, which most people prefer to tough jerky.

Cutting meat for the original beef jerky recipe
Cutting meat for the original beef jerky recipe

Making the Marinade

To save time, you can make the marinade while you’re waiting for the beef to freeze. Or you can whip it up fresh right before adding the beef — it’s up to you.

Either way, it’s as easy as can be: just combine all the marinade ingredients in a container and mix well.

Marinade for Original beef jerky
Marinade for Original beef jerky

Then add the beef, toss it around until it’s thoroughly coated and put it in the fridge for 7-24 hours. The longer you leave it, the more flavor will be absorbed by the beef, so experiment a little to find out how strong you like it.

We marinated our beef overnight for a flavor that’s bold without being overpowering.

Dehydrating the Beef into Jerky

Beef placed on the dehydrator
Beef placed on the dehydrator

For this step, you have three options. You can dry the beef in an oven, an electric smoker or a food dehydrator.

Each option has its pros and cons, but we recommend using a dehydrator. It’s inexpensive, compact, easy to clean and designed specifically for dehydrating foods like beef jerky.

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First things first: whichever method you use, remove the excess marinade from the beef with a paper towel. Soggy beef may not dry properly, and even if it does, it’ll take a lot longer than it needs to.

Then dehydrate your beef at 160 degrees F for 4-8 hours. Thicker slices need more time, and if you prefer a crispier texture, you’ll want to dehydrate for longer, too.

Since drying times vary so widely, start checking your jerky every half hour beginning at the 3 hour mark. Diligent checks will ensure that you remove it at the perfect time.

Your jerky is done when you can bend a piece without breaking it. Ours was ready after 7 hours in the food dehydrator and weighed in at 7 ounces — a little under half of our starting weight.

What beef looks like after being dehydrated for ~7 hours
What beef looks like after being dehydrated for ~7 hours

Step-by-Step Instructions

Makes 5 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Marinade time: 7-24 hours
Cook time: 4-8 hours

Each pound of beef will yield approximately 7 oz. of beef jerky.

1. Trim all fat from the beef, then freeze for 1-2 hours.
2. Slice beef against the grain in long, thin strips no thicker than ¼ inch.
3. Combine all marinade ingredients in a container, then add beef and put in fridge for 7-24 hours.
4. Remove excess liquid with paper towel.
5. Dry beef in a food dehydrator at 160 degrees F for 4-8 hours, checking every half hour starting at the 3 hour mark. Remove when jerky bends without breaking.

Ingredients Cost
1 pound of beef$4.87 per 1 pound beef at Walmart
1/4 teaspoon Prague Powder #1 curing saltBetween $12 and $13 for a 2.5 pound pack
(which comes out to 1 cent for 1/4 of a teaspoon of curing salt)
1/2 teaspoon salt1 cent for 1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon coriander groundBetween $4 and $5 for a 1.52 oz. container
(which comes out to 10 cents for 1/4 teaspoon coriander ground)
1/4 teaspoon onion powderBetween $4 and $5 for a 1.73 oz. container
(which comes out to 11 cents for 1/4 teaspoon onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powderBetween $4 and $5 for a 2.33 oz. container
(which comes out to 14 cents for 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke hickory$1.34 for a 4 oz. container at Walmart
(which comes out to 8 cents for 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke hickory)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper$3.98 for a 3.12 ounces container at Walmart
(which comes out to 11 cents for 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar1 cent for 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold waterI used tap water so it was essentially free
Total Cost: $5.44/~7 oz. (full cost: meat + ingredients)
Original beef jerky
Original beef jerky

Last update on 2020-12-01

Random Beef Jerky Joke:

What do you call a cow with a twitch? Beef jerky.