Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe (Dehydrator + Oven Instructions)

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.


Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.

While store-bought beef jerky is also a good option and tends to store/remain shelf stable for a longer amount of time, this is mostly due to added preservatives. When you make your own homemade beef jerky, you have full control over every part of the process, which means no added preservatives or questionable ingredients.

You can make beef jerky in a dehydrator, a smoker or an oven, and you can get as creative as you like with the marinade. Some common ingredients found in most homemade beef jerky marinades include some combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, honey, molasses, cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and liquid smoke.

Today I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes for homemade beef jerky: Sweet and Smoky Beef Jerky made with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, paprika, garlic and onion powder and liquid smoke.

But there are lots of great recipes for beef jerky marinades, so feel free to search other ones online or even use store-bought marinades if you prefer and then follow the rest of the instructions below.


Homemade Beef Jerky in the Oven Vs. the Dehydrator

As mentioned above, you can make beef jerky in a dehydrator, a smoker or an oven. I make my beef jerky in my Excalibur dehydrator (which I LOVE and highly recommend if you’re in the market for a home food dehydrator). But I’ve also included oven directions in case you don’t have a dehydrator yet.

I find I get the best results using a dehydrator as the oven can easily over-dry the jerky and tends to dry it more unevenly, leaving some pieces with too much moisture while some are a little too dry. So I suggest that if you are using your oven, you should keep a close eye on the jerky and remove any pieces that are dried while leaving any that require a bit more drying time.


Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.

Best cuts of meat for beef jerky

The best cuts for beef jerky are lean cuts with the fat removed. These include:

  • Eye of round
  • Top or bottom round
  • Flank steak
  • Sirloin tip

You can either ask your butcher to trim all the fat for you and slice the meat into slices that are ⅛-inch to ¼-inch thick, or you can do this yourself. If you opt to trim and slice the meat yourself, it helps to pop it in the freezer for up to 30 minutes to make it firmer and easier to slice thin. 

It’s important to remove as much fat as possible as the fat is what will make the meat go rancid and spoil much quicker.


Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.

How to make beef jerky in a dehydrator

When making your own homemade beef jerky, the meat needs to hit an internal temperature of 160°F in order to be safe for consumption – so if your dehydrator doesn’t go to 160ºF, you’ll want to use the oven method instead. Alternately, if your dehydrator doesn’t go to 160ºF, you can still use the dehydrator but then put your jerky in the oven at 275°F for 10 minutes as an added safety measure

One reason I love my Excalibur is because it reaches high enough temperatures for making all kinds of dried foods, including beef jerky. It also has fans in the bak (instead of at the top) so all of the food dries evenly and the trays don’t need to be rotated.

To make homemade beef jerky in a dehydrator, lay out marinated strips of jerky on the dehydrator trays, spaced out so they aren’t touching, and load trays into dehydrator. Set the dehydrator to 160ºF and set the timer for 4 hours. If the meat is still quite moist, put it back in the dehydrator and check every hour or so until the meat is dry and leathery but still flexible.

Related: Homemade “Cheesy” Kale Chips (Dehydrator + Oven Instructions)


How to make beef jerky in the oven

If making beef jerky in the oven, preheat oven to 175°F, then lay marinated jerky strips out directly on a cookie sheet or baking tray

Place jerky into the oven for 2-3 hours. Check at 2 hours to see if any of the pieces are fully dried and if so, remove them and set them aside on a plate. Place any remaining pieces back in the oven and continue to dry until the meat is dry and leathery but still flexible.


Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.

How to know when homemade beef jerky is done

When making homemade beef jerky for the first time, it can sometimes be hard to know when it’s done. If the jerky is soft, flexible and chewy, it’s safe to eat, but probably won’t last long on your shelf, so you can either eat it right away or store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or you can continue drying it until ore of the moisture is removed.

Once the jerky is dry and leathery a bit more stiff (but still slightly flexible), that is more suitable for longer-term storage. It should bend and crack, but not snap.


How long does homemade beef jerky last?

Homemade jerky can have a shelf life of a couple months when following proper methods. I find a vacuum sealer is very handy for storing beef jerky and other dried foods. I use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer.

Vacuum pack jerky or place in Ziplock bags with an oxygen absorber. Vacuum packed beef jerky will last up to 2 months on shelves or about 3 months in the refrigerator.

Homemade beef jerky will last at least one year or more in the freezer. 

If you don’t use a vacuum sealer or an oxygen absorber, beef jerky will last about one week on your pantry shelves or up to 2 weeks in the fridge. It will last for up to a year in the freezer.

Related: 8 Ways to Preserve Food At Home


Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.

Sweet & smoky beef jerky marinade

My favourite homemade beef jerky recipe is marinated for 24 hours in a sweet and smoky sauce made with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, paprika, garlic and onion powder and liquid smoke. 

It’s super simple to make. All you need to do is mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, toss the sliced beef in the marinade and then place in a Ziplock bag or airtight container and let it marinade in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Then lay beef slices on your dehydrator trays (or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper if using the oven method), and then follow the appropriate instructions for drying your beef jerky.

Full recipe and instructions can be found below:)

If you make this recipe at home, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a review or a comment below and let me know what you think!


Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe (Dehydrator + Oven Instructions)

Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe (Dehydrator + Oven Instructions)

Yield: Roughly 1 lb. of beef jerky

Homemade beef jerky is a delicious way to preserve meat for food storage and for easy transport to take on hikes, camping trips, road trips and to pack in a backpack in an emergency situation where you need to leave home.


  • 2 pounds thinly sliced beef (see best cuts above)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or alternative (ie. Tamari or coconut aminos)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or substitute molasses or maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder


  1. Toss the sliced beef in the marinade, ensuring every inch is well coated. Place in a Ziplock bag or in an airtight container and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, up to 24 hours.

    Dehydrator Directions:
  2. Lay the marinated beef slices on dehydrator trays, ensuring they don’t touch. Place trays in the dehydrator and dry at 165ºF/74ºC for 4 to 6 hours. (For food safety reasons, if your dehydrator doesn’t go up to 165ºF, dry at the highest setting and then play jerky in the oven at 275ºF for 10 minutes after drying so that meat reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF).
  3. Once beef jerky is completely dry, it’s ready to pack. Jerky should be dry enough that it cracks when it bends, but doesn’t snap or break.

    Oven Directions:
  4. Preheat the oven to 175ºF. Lay the marinated beef slices on a baking tray, ensuring they don’t touch. Dry in the oven for 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Once beef jerky is completely dry, it’s ready to pack. Jerky should be dry enough that it cracks when it bends, but doesn’t snap or break.


*** IMPORTANT: Always ensure that your beef jerky is dry and has no visible moisture left before storing. Foods with more than 10% moisture content that are vacuum sealed or sealed in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber run the risk of producing the botulism toxin, which thrives in moist environments with low to no oxygen. ***



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Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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(Continued in comments…)

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