How to Make Beef Jerky, 3 Ways

Whether you prefer to use the oven, smoker or dehydrator, we show you how to make beef jerky that's flavorful, chewy and delicious every time.

Finding an easy beef jerky recipe can be a fickle process. Some recipes require single-use equipment that most people don’t have at home, while others seem too involved to tackle on a regular day. But learning how to make beef jerky doesn’t have to be complicated: We found a recipe that’s easy to follow and delicious every time, no matter which way you make this road-trip snack. No fancy tools required!

If you have a dehydrator or smoker you want to use, great—but you can also make this beef jerky recipe in the oven. Our guide on making beef jerky is complete with images so you know exactly what your jerky is supposed to look like every step of the way. We’re sure you’ll turn to this teriyaki beef jerky recipe again and again.

How to Make Beef Jerky 

Before you start, you should know there’s a risk of food-borne illness when making beef jerky. Many recipes out there go against the accepted practice stated by the USDA, but this isn’t one of those recipes. We advise that you follow the recipe to the letter to keep you and your family safe.

Also, after trying several cuts of meat, we settled on flank steak as our favorite cut for making jerky. It’s lean, usually pretty inexpensive and very flavorful. Brisket is another option, but you’ll need to trim a lot of fat from the outside before slicing it up. It goes without saying that you should use the freshest meat you can get.

Ingredients

  • 1 beef flank steak (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 2/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions

Step 1: Prep and freeze

Trim all visible fat from steak, then pop the meat in the freezer, covered, for 30 minutes or until firm.

Test Kitchen Tip: Freezing the meat will make it much easier to cut into thin slices.

Step 2: Get slicing

sliced meat for beef jerkyTMB Studio

Carefully slice the steak along the grain (the long, fibrous streaks) into long 1/8-in.-thick strips.

Test Kitchen Tip: Cutting the slices as thin as possible will give you that customary, satisfying jerky chew.

Step 3: Make the marinade

marinade for beef jerkyTMB Studio

Transfer the meat to a shallow, resealable container. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

Step 4: Marinate the beef

beef jerky marinade with meatTMB Studio

Add the marinade to the container with the beef. Toss and stir the meat in the marinade to coat. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Step 5: Boil

boiling beef jerkyTMB Studio

When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 170°F. Transfer the beef and marinade to a large Dutch oven or saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. When you start to see rolling bubbles, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Pat the jerky dry

beef jerkyTMB Studio

Using tongs, remove the beef from the liquid and let it drain on a paper towel-lined pan or plate. Pat each piece of meat dry, otherwise it will take too long to fully dry out. Discard the liquid.

Step 7: Dry, dry, dry

beef jerky dryingTMB Studio

Arrange beef strips in single layer on wire racks placed on 15x10x1-inch baking pans. Let the meat dry in the oven for 4 to 5 hours, or until beef becomes dry and leathery. Be sure to rotate the pans occasionally.

Step 8: Enjoy

When the jerky appears to have dried completely, take it out of the oven. Using paper towels, gently blot any beads of oil from the jerky. And try to let the batch cool completely before sinking your teeth in.

Ta-da! You’ve made a batch of savory, mouthwatering beef jerky perfect for snacking on all week.

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator or Smoker

You can also use a commercial dehydrator or smoker instead of the oven to turn your beef into jerky. If you choose to go this route, follow the first six steps of this recipe, and then fire up your preferred appliance. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for temperature and time to dry out your beef.

For reference, the Taste of Home Test Kitchen smoked the jerky at 170° for 2 hours and dehydrated it at the same temperature in 1-1/2 hours. So, budget at least a few hours to finish your jerky no matter how you choose to dry it.

How to Store Beef Jerky

For the best quality and longer storage, store the jerky, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you plan to store the jerky in the freezer, use a food vacuum sealer to seal the jerky before freezing.

After you master this beef jerky recipe, compare it to the best beef jerky from the store. We guarantee it’ll stand up!

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James Schend
As Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversees the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and manages all food content for Trusted Media Brands. Prior to this position, James worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.