How Long To Dehydrate Beef Jerky At 160? The Complete Guide

Are you a fan of beef jerky? Do you want to make your own delicious and healthy snacks at home?

If so, you may be wondering how long it takes to dehydrate beef jerky at 160 degrees. The answer is not always straightforward, as it depends on various factors such as the thickness of the meat and the type of dehydrator or oven you are using.

In this article, we will explore different methods for dehydrating beef jerky and provide some tips to help you achieve the perfect texture and flavor.

So, grab your apron and let’s get started!

How Long To Dehydrate Beef Jerky At 160?

When dehydrating beef jerky at 160 degrees, the general rule of thumb is that it should take around 4-5 hours. However, this can vary depending on the thickness of the meat and the type of dehydrator or oven you are using.

For example, if your jerky strips are thicker than 1/4 inch, they may require up to 8 hours to fully dehydrate. It’s important to conduct a bend test to ensure that you don’t overdo the jerky. Simply bend a piece of jerky in half – it should bend easily without breaking.

When placing your beef cuts in the dehydrator or oven, make sure to leave as much room between the slices as possible. This allows for proper air circulation, which helps the meat dry more uniformly.

Most types of food dehydrators can be used to make beef jerky, so any brand will do. However, Nesco dehydrators are particularly popular among beef jerky enthusiasts.

If you don’t have a dehydrator available at home, making beef jerky in the oven is a great alternative. Simply slice the beef into thin strips and marinate it overnight before drying it in the oven at 160 degrees for around 4 hours.

It’s important to note that dehydrating anything, not just jerky, is a process that requires attention and checking towards the end to get it just right. In most cases, dehydrating jerky could take anywhere between 5-15 hours depending on different variables.

Choosing The Right Cut Of Beef For Jerky

Choosing the right cut of beef is crucial when making jerky. The best cuts of beef for jerky are those that are lean and have little to no marbling. This is because marbling, or fat, can cause the jerky to spoil more quickly.

Some popular cuts of beef for jerky include top round, bottom round, and flank steak. These cuts are all lean and easy to work with. When selecting your cut of beef, look for one that is fresh and has minimal fat.

It’s also important to slice the meat against the grain into strips that are around 1/4 inch thick. Slicing against the grain ensures that the meat will be tender and easy to chew.

Once you have your beef sliced, you can add your desired seasonings and marinade. There are many different recipes available online, so feel free to experiment with different flavors and spices.

Preparing The Meat For Dehydration

Before you begin dehydrating your beef jerky, it’s important to prepare the meat properly. Start by selecting a lean cut of beef, such as top round, sirloin, or flank steak. Trim off any visible fat or connective tissue to prevent spoilage and ensure that the jerky dries evenly.

Next, slice the meat against the grain into thin strips that are roughly 1/8 inch thick and 1 inch wide. Slicing against the grain helps to break down the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender jerky.

Once you have sliced the meat, it’s time to marinate it. This step is crucial for adding flavor and tenderizing the meat. You can use a pre-made marinade or create your own using a combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

Place the sliced meat in a resealable plastic bag or container and pour in enough marinade to fully coat each piece. Seal the bag or container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to dehydrate the meat, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Arrange the strips of meat on the dehydrator trays or oven racks, making sure that they are not touching each other.

Dehydrate the beef jerky at 160 degrees for 4-8 hours, or until it is dried through. Keep an eye on the jerky towards the end of the drying process and conduct a bend test to check for doneness. Once your jerky is fully dehydrated, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Marinades And Seasonings For Beef Jerky

One of the best things about making homemade beef jerky is that you can customize the flavor to your liking. There are countless marinades and seasonings that you can use to create a unique and delicious jerky.

To make a basic marinade, mix together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and a sweetener such as honey or brown sugar. You can also add other seasonings such as cayenne pepper or paprika for some extra heat.

For a more exotic flavor, try using a teriyaki marinade with soy sauce, sake or mirin, sugar, garlic, and ginger. Or, for a smoky and spicy option, try using chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with lime juice and honey.

When marinating your beef strips, be sure to fully coat each piece and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight for best results. This allows the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.

Another option is to season your beef strips with a dry rub. Simply mix together your desired spices and rub them onto the meat before dehydrating. Some popular spices for beef jerky include cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder.

No matter what marinade or seasoning you choose, be sure to taste test it before adding it to your beef. Adjust the flavors as needed until you achieve the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy.

With these tips and ideas for marinades and seasonings, you’ll be able to create a variety of delicious beef jerky flavors to enjoy.

Dehydrating Beef Jerky In A Dehydrator

When using a dehydrator to make beef jerky, it’s important to choose a dehydrator with a thermostat control that goes up to at least 150°F. The meat must maintain a temperature between 145°F and 155°F to be safe.

When you set the dehydrator to 160°F, it can take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 7-8 hours depending on the model and brand of the dehydrator. If you have a unit that dries from the bottom up, you will need to rotate racks to keep things drying evenly. This can mean your beef jerky will take longer to dry properly. If you fill your dehydrator, it can also take longer to finish drying.

To make beef jerky in a dehydrator, start by removing any fat from the meat and placing it in the freezer for one to two hours. When it is semi-frozen, cut it into 3/8 to 1/4 inch thick strips. Alternatively, you can ask a butcher at the grocery store meat counter to slice it very thin for you.

Next, mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl to make the marinade. Place the meat into a glass container and pour the marinade overtop. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour (or overnight).

After marinating, drain the meat in a colander and place it on dehydrator trays. Do not overlap the meat and turn it once while drying. Dry at 145°F for 8-10 hours. It’s important to check progress after 4 hours and continue checking periodically until it is ready. The jerky should bend like a willow without breaking when it’s done.

Once your beef jerky is fully dehydrated, remove it from the dehydrator and allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or resealable bag. Properly stored beef jerky can last for several weeks or even months.

Dehydrating Beef Jerky In An Oven

If you’re using an oven to dehydrate beef jerky, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, preheat the oven to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to use a thermometer to ensure that the oven is maintaining a steady temperature throughout the drying process.

Next, place the thin strips of meat on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This allows for proper air circulation and prevents the meat from sticking to the pan.

It’s important to note that oven drying can take longer than using a dehydrator, as there is no regular air flow to remove moisture. It may take up to two to three times as long as using an electric dehydrator.

To prevent the meat from forming a hard, protective shell that keeps moisture from escaping, it’s important to check the meat regularly and flip it over every hour or so. This ensures that all sides of the meat are being evenly dried.

The amount of time it takes for beef jerky to dehydrate in an oven can vary depending on the thickness of the meat and other factors. It’s important to keep an eye on the jerky and conduct a bend test towards the end of the drying process to ensure that it’s not overdone.

How To Tell When Beef Jerky Is Done

Knowing when your beef jerky is done is crucial to ensuring that it is safe to eat and has the desired texture. Here are some tips to help you determine when your beef jerky is ready:

1. Conduct a bend test: This is the most reliable way to tell if your beef jerky is done. Simply take a piece of jerky and try to bend it. If it bends easily without breaking, it’s ready. If it snaps in half, it needs more time.

2. Look for dryness: The jerky should be dry to the touch and have lost most of its moisture. If it still feels moist or looks shiny, it needs more time.

3. Check the color: Beef jerky should be a dark brown or reddish color when done. If it still looks pink or red, it needs more time.

4. Use a thermometer: If you want to be extra cautious, you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the jerky. It should reach at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat.

Remember that dehydrating jerky can take anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat and your dehydrator or oven. It’s better to err on the side of caution and over-dry your jerky than to under-dry it and risk spoilage or illness. With practice, you’ll get a feel for how long your particular setup takes and be able to make perfect beef jerky every time.