The Best Beef Jerky Recipe

Follow this quick and easy guide to making beef jerky at home. This ground beef jerky recipe is much more inexpensive than the kind from the store and can be made with all of your favorite flavors and none of the hard to pronounce ingredients!

Follow this quick and easy guide to making beef jerky at home. This ground beef jerky recipe is much more inexpensive than the kind from the store and can be made with all of your favorite flavors and none of the hard to pronounce ingredients! #groundbeefjerkyrecipe #beefjerky #diybeefjerky #makeyourown #homemade

The Best Beef Jerky Recipe

I remember the first time someone tried to give my little boy beef jerky from the store. I jumped up and said “You aren’t actually trying to feed that to him are you?” “Why not? It’s just meat.”

More like meat + chemicals + MSG. Enough for my poor little guy to get sent straight to the emergency room.

Beef Jerky can be a great snack. It’s high in protein and it’s easy to grab it and take it along where you need it. And just like many things made from scratch, it’s really not that hard to make your own and skip the high costs and chemicals in the store version.

–Find even more Snack Ideas on Little House Living!

My version that follows below is made with ground beef. I know you can make jerky out of more expensive cuts of meat but I can’t afford that. Using ground beef also allows this version to be tender and easy to chew. (Unlike some of that jerky that just about pulls your teeth out when you try to take a bite!) Make sure to use the leanest ground beef you can afford (I think we used 93% and still had a small amount of fat, but it’s easily wiped off.)

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (as lean as possible)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, or any other seasonings/flavorings

Directions

Start off by thawing your ground beef, if it’s frozen.  Once thawed, add in the sea salt and any other flavorings you desire.

The seasoning for beef jerky is a “by-taste” kind of recipe so it’s best just to try your favorite spices, You can change it up with each batch you make to create your family’s favorite or divide your beef and try a few different flavors at a time. We aren’t big on spices so I only added minced onion and garlic powder to this batch.

Mix all the spices well with the beef. Place in a container and let it sit in the fridge overnight so that the beef soaks up all the flavors.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and place it on a flat tray in the oven. Heat the meat to 160 degrees. Remove it from the oven and let the meat mixture cool.

For this next step, you can use a jerky gun if you have one. I didn’t, so I used a plastic freezer bag and cut a hole in one corner so that I could “pipe” the meat mixture out. Place the meat in the jerky gun or bag.

Place pieces of parchment paper on top of your dehydrator trays. Using the bag, create your jerky strips or rounds. Don’t make them too large or they may not dry correctly.

Place your dehydrator on 150 degrees and dehydrate for 8 hours. (You can also make these in the oven but they will need to be watched carefully since they will cook faster.) They will be more tender if made in a dehydrator.

Once the 8 hours are up, remove the jerky and store it in the fridge. This jerky will need to be eaten faster than jerky from the store because it has no nitrates as a preservative. If you want to save it for longer, you can always freeze it.

The Best Beef Jerky Recipe

We think this is the best ground beef jerky recipe because it’s inexpensive and easy to customize when we want to change it up! I think next time I’m going to add some of my homemade BBQ Sauce into the meat and make BBQ Jerky. Yum!

Print this Hamburger Jerky to add to your Recipe Binder below:

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef as lean as possible
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • garlic powder onion powder, soy sauce, or any other seasonings/flavorings

Instructions

  1. Start off by thawing your ground beef, if it's frozen.  Once thawed, add in the sea salt and any other flavorings you desire.
  2. The seasoning for beef jerky is a "by-taste" kind of recipe so it's best just to try your favorite spices, You can change it up with each batch you make to create your family's favorite or divide your beef and try a few different flavors at a time. We aren't big on spices so I only added minced onion and garlic powder to this batch.
  3. Mix all the spices well with the beef. Place in a container and let it sit in the fridge overnight so that the beef soaks up all the flavors.
  4. Remove the mixture from the fridge and place it on a flat tray in the oven. Heat the meat to 160 degrees. Remove it from the oven and let the meat mixture cool.
  5. For this next step, you can use a jerky gun if you have one. I didn't, so I used a plastic freezer bag and cut a hole in one corner so that I could "pipe" the meat mixture out. Place the meat in the jerky gun or bag.
  6. Place pieces of parchment paper on top of your dehydrator trays. Using the bag, create your jerky strips or rounds. Don't make them too large or they may not dry correctly.
  7. Place your dehydrator on 150 degrees and dehydrate for 8 hours. (You can also make these in the oven but they will need to be watched carefully since they will cook faster.) They will be more tender if made in a dehydrator.
  8. Once the 8 hours are up, remove the jerky and store it in the fridge. This jerky will need to be eaten faster than jerky from the store because it has no nitrates as a preservative. If you want to save it for longer, you can always freeze it.

This recipe is a great way to use up ground beef from the freezer or to take advantage of a great deal at the store. Here are some other recipes using ground beef you can try too:

Frugal Ground Beef Recipes to Stretch the Budget

Must Try Cheap and Easy Recipes With Ground Beef

How to Make Make Ahead Meatballs

Does your family enjoy beef jerky? What spices and flavorings do you like to add?

merissabio

This Ground Beef Jerky Recipe was originally published on Little House Living in January 2014. It has been updated as of January 2020.

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57 Comments

  1. Hi,

    Just a couple questions about your home-made jerky. Can you only make one tray at a time in your dehydrator? I was wondering if the parchment paper blocks the flow of the heated air. Also, you’re jerky looks more like sticks….might it be better to flatten it somewhat for easier drying? I am so glad to hear I can do this at home without using the nitrites/nitrates or whatever that stuff is. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    1. I haven’t noticed the parchment paper blocking the air, however mine comes up through a middle vent. No, you can make several trays at once. Sticks or flat jerky both works good. I wanted mine to be a bit softer and easy for my little guy to munch on so I made sticks 🙂

  2. Great idea! We make beef jerky buy purchasing a cheap roast(s) from a wholesale club. Then slice and marinate in a mixture of fresh minced garlic, soy sauce, worcestershire, a touch of liquid smoke and then sprinkle with garlic salt & dehydrate. I never thought to use ground beef! Can’t wait to try it out!

  3. Sounds like a good idea. My family likes jerky but I don’t like the chemicals or expense. I’m a novice when it come to the dehydrator. I’ve only used it for drying apples and some kale chips. This may be a silly question…how does the raw ground beef cook in a dehydrator? Thanks for the post, looking forward to exploring your site!

    1. It doesn’t actually cook….the overnight salting it was “cures” the meat to make it safe. Store beef jerky isn’t cooked either, they just use nitrates to cure their meat.

      1. I actually work in a meat plant were we make beef jerky, and it is cook at 180 F at the same time that its dehydrated.

        1. Ivan, do you tips on making jerky in oven or tips from experience at the plant?? thanks
          i just love beef jerky! also besides turkey or wild game, what other meats can be used?

  4. I look forward to your posts; I actually enjoy Facebook more now that you are part of it. I love jerky & look forward to making this.

  5. This would be great for dog treats as well. I make my own jerky using extra lean ground beef or ground chicken only – nothing else added – then freeze. Very healthy for the dogs. Dogs do not need the added chemicals and sodium in store bought jerky or dog treats.

    1. ..awesome idea! 🙂 ..but if making this as dog treats I suppose you’re meant to leave out the salt and spices, since that’s not healthy for them at all?

      1. Correct. Onion is not recommended for cats and dogs. Garlic, on the other hand can be beneficial for dogs. So, if using this recipe for pets, I wouldn’t use salt or any spices. I have a cat; if there is ANY salt or spice in her food, she will have diarrhea for days.

        If you do like the idea of natural herbs and supplements to your pets food, there are wonderful articles on the internet that provide valuable information.

  6. Hi Marissa! I too, am thankful you share so much on Facebook! The beef jerky sounds delicious! I like how we can customize it to our tastes. I never knew beef jerky could be so easy to make at home! I hope to make some soon! Thanks for sharing your creativity with us! Blessings from Bama!

  7. I haven’t made jerky yet, but I did read that after it’s dry, you can put it in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 30 mins, and that’ll make sure it’s safe.
    Thank you for this recipe! I’m going to save it for sure.

  8. Very cool!! I think this will be my husband’s Valentine’s day gift! 😉 We don’t get into gifts/chocolates etc for that day but he LOVES jerky…do you put red pepper flakes in the jerky to give it a kick? BBQ jerky sounds great, too.

  9. I made homemade jerky when my boys were little. They loved it. The recipe I had was for turkey jerky. You don’t know the difference. I couldn’t keep it in the house. I would make a batch and before you knew I had to make more. Ground turkey is so much cheaper than beef.

  10. Would it be possible to dry this in an oven instead of dehydrator? I had NO idea this is how beef jerky was made and now I can’t wait to try it! THANKS!!!

  11. I have made jerky with ground beef before, but used a curing packet. I can’t wait to try this healthier version! We have some ground deer in the freezer, I think we’ll try that this time.

  12. Hi,
    We made beef jerky for the first time last weekend and it was fabulous!! We took about half of the batch to a get-together with friends and every last bite of it was eaten! We used the spices and cure that came with the jerky kit, but were hoping to come up with our own recipe for next time. Your article/thoughts will definitely be utilized during our next jerky making time!
    Kim

  13. Just when I though your website couldn’t get any better, it does! While it would be ideal to get a great cut of meat, as you state, it’s not always an affordable option. This is why I love you! Haha! But really, it is great because many homesteading blogs don’t even offer an alternative to the budget-minded and just assume that if you’re making something like jerky, you’re always going to buy the finest cuts of meat. Again, that’s ideal but not always practical which is why you rock!

  14. Did the jerky today and it turned out really well. I used salt, pepper, brown sugar, and garlic for the seasonings. Almost as good as your photos!

  15. Wow, this sounds so much more healthier that what is sold in the stores – thank you for sharing this recipe and linking up with us at #WWDParty.

  16. My boys are going to just love this recipe, they do love their Jerky. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  17. You are so beautiful and awesome!!!!! Think on whatever is pure and lovely and do Not let some jerk tear you down!!!! You have a good heart and theirs is hardened. I am new to your website and absolutely love it:-)

  18. Merissa, i have made beef strip jerky in oven before. tips is pattin dry all liquid before and during the process. red pepper flakes are divine in it!! i know you can even ‘dry’ it in the sun, protected from bugs, like the native americans used to do! thanks for your blog. am excited to read all your stuff!!

  19. I’m making venison jerky this morning, my husband shot the deer to very thrifty! I marinade it in soy sauce, garlic powder, salt and lea and perrins tangy tomato Worcester sauce. I love my dehydrator

  20. Hey Merissa! I’m just curious about how long the jerky stays good. I’m going on a 3 week road trip with my girlfriends, and we will be camping the whole way. How long do you think it will stay good in a cooler? What about out of a cooler (for hikes and such)? Also, do you think I could make this in one of those Nuwave ovens? My grandma has one I can use. Thanks in advance!

    1. I’ve kept this (in the fridge) for over a month and it was still just fine. I’m not sure about the Nuwave, I haven’t used one before 🙂

  21. While I applaud your decision to eat healthy and reduce the chemicals so prevalent in our food, your recipe for jerky is a recipe for food poisoning. Sure, you might get by making this fifty times with no incident, but you are asking for food poisoning–either e coli or botulism. Table salt/sea salt DOES NOT act as a cure and does not kill harmful pathogens that may be present in the meat. Using ground meat instead of cuts of whole muscle meat is exponentially more dangerous without using a proper curing agent, as the surface area of ground meat is obviously thousands of times more than whole meat. Commercial jerky producers ALWAYS cook the meat to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees F before dehydrating. It is a USDA requirement. One of the people commented that one may cook the meat after dehydrating in order to kill any harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, this is not safe either. Dehydration actually increases bacteria’s thermal resistance and makes them even harder to kill. That is why the meat HAS TO BE cooked to a minimum safe temperature BEFORE dehydrating. I eat healthy (paleo) and avoid processed foods; however, some chemicals are necessary in food production if you do not wish to contract food poisoning.

    1. You may want to actually read the USDA guild lines before commenting. They recommend that the meat is heated to 160 degrees before dehydrating and then to make sure that the dehydrator temp does not go below 130 degrees and there is nothing about using chemicals or any other spices for that matter before dehydrating. You can find more info here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/jerky-and-food-safety/ct_index

      The biggest things to remember is to keep the meat in the fridge until ready to use and keep hands clean throughout the recipe creation.

      1. I read through my post and I didn’t mention anywhere that a curing agent is a USDA requirement. By your own admission, your recipe does not comply with the USDA food safety recommendations as you did not indicate to cook the meat to 160 degrees before dehydrating. If you’re not going to cook the meat, then at least use a curing agent to provide an additional margin of safety.

        1. Patrick. While most of your comments are correct for mass production product, if you’re making it at home they aren’t. At home cooking does not have the same number of processes introduced, as well as people involved in the works, as mass production. I applaud your need to educated on the proper use of preservatives. If you’re getting packaged at the market, you are spot on in your assessment, but if you’re making it at home, the recipe here is sufficient. The 250 for 30 minutes extra cook time someone suggest isn’t a bad idea, and certainly won’t hurt, but if you’re making it at home and storing it in the fridge and eating it within a month or so, as suggested, this manner is just fine.

  22. Our ancestors have been drying meat for thousands of years and I can assure you that they have not been cooking the meat first and then drying it. Now granted I think using store bought pre-ground hamburger is a bit hinky for MY family I would give this recipe a try if I was grinding my own beef.

  23. I’m in the process of making your ground beef jerky. Your recipe says to take meat mixture out of the fridge and put on a flat tray in the oven. Heat to 160 degrees. Q: Heat the un- preheated oven to 160 and take out when oven reaches that temp? Or take out when meat reaches that temp? Thanks!

      1. I just put the raw mix into jerky press after being in fridge overnight. Because 160 internal temp, as suggested, would make a meat loaf! And how do you squeeze a meatloaf through a jerky gun? Its now dehydrating at 170 degrees and I’ll keep it on for 8-10 hours. Is it safe? I never made the meat loaf 🙁

  24. l have made jerky many time, but can honestly say this is the first time seeing it done with ground beef,, l normally use roulanden cut beef or buy a roast when on sale and par freeze it and then slice it with my slicer,, l make up my own concoction(sp) to my taste..and then put it on my trays and when it is done to my likeness l take them off and put them in baggies and put them in the fridge, when my boys were small,, l was making this every couple of weeks never had time to sit in the fridge for more than 2 weeks,, (l had to hide some for me or l wouldn’t get any,,lol) l have just gotten back into using my dehidrator again,,andt this is on my list of to do foods again.. trying not to have processed foods anymore..way to many un nesassary chemicals. thx for the post.
    Oh ya l agree 100% our for fathers never pre cooked the meat before dehidrating there meats or fish.. we need more to go back to the ole ways of eating…
    Once again thanks for the post.

  25. Hello Merissa 🙂

    The jerky recipe was awesome and I along with my few friends finally prepared an awesome appetizer. But I need to ask one question., when and how do I add flavors, for example, black pepper or jalapeno.

    This time we intend to experiment with different flavors.

  26. For what it is worth I’ve found that ground beef that has not been frozen is easier to work with when making jerky than thawed frozen ground beef. If you already have it frozen by all means use what you have but if I recall correctly i had some issues with my jerky cannon when using thawed as it didn’t come out as evenly.

  27. If you don’t have a gun to make these, check out this guy who uses a plastic bag and 2 wooden paint stirrers to form his. Just google “World’s Easiest Beef Jerky! No Jerky Gun? No Smoker? No Dehydrator? No Problem!” – We made it like this at home and it was great.

    1. I’m afraid my attempt was a fail. Cooking it to 160 degrees internally in the oven created baked crumbles, nothing I could squeeze from a bag into strips. My dehydrator goes up to 165 degrees, so did i really need to pre cook in the oven? What should I have done to make this work? Thanks

  28. i have never made jerky before. my ? is this, when you put beef on tray to cook it, do you pat it into the pan, or just loose crumbles. i don’t understand how you can pipe cooked ground beef to form it

  29. Please do NOT use garlic, onion, salt, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. All contain toxins for dogs and contain high amounts of salt.! Try a teaspoon of ginger or cinnamon if you think that your precious pet needs flavoring.