Are you a fan of beef jerky but tired of the store-bought options that are often tough and lacking in flavor?
Why not try making your own crispy beef jerky at home? With just a few simple ingredients and some patience, you can create a delicious and satisfying snack that is perfect for on-the-go or as a protein-packed addition to your meals.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of making crispy beef jerky from scratch, with tips and tricks to ensure your jerky turns out perfectly every time.
So, grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Make Crispy Beef Jerky?
Step 1: Choose the Right Cut of Beef
The first step in making crispy beef jerky is to choose the right cut of beef. Look for lean cuts like sirloin or round roast, and slice them very thin against the grain. The thinner the beef, the crispier your jerky will be.
Step 2: Prepare the Dry Brine
In a medium bowl, mix together your dry brine ingredients. This can include salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and any other dry seasonings of your choice.
Step 3: Brine the Beef
Lay your meat slices in a shallow glass or plastic container and sprinkle on a layer of dry brine. Continue to layer meat slices and sprinkle with brine until all meat has been covered. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours, turning meat over 2-3 times in the brining period.
Step 4: Drain and Air Dry
Remove meat from the refrigerator, drain and discard any liquid that has collected. Place meat on smoker racks or drying screens and let air dry for up to 1 hour. Be sure to spread out the thin cuts of meat so there are no folds anywhere as this will prevent proper drying.
Step 5: Smoke or Dehydrate
Once your beef is air-dried, it’s time to smoke or dehydrate it. You can use a smoker or a food dehydrator to achieve that crispy texture. Smoke or dehydrate at a low temperature (around 140-165 degrees Fahrenheit) until the jerky chips easily snap in half.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Once your crispy beef jerky is done, let it cool and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for longer shelf life.
Choosing The Right Cut Of Beef
Choosing the right cut of beef is crucial when making crispy beef jerky. You want a lean cut with minimal fat, as fat does not dehydrate well and can lead to spoilage. Top round, bottom round, sirloin, and flank steak are all great options for beef jerky. These cuts are lean, full of flavor, and easy to work with. It’s important to remove any excess fat before slicing the beef into thin strips for the jerky. This will prevent the jerky from becoming soft and chewy instead of crispy. When choosing a cut of beef, consider the flavor and seasoning as well. Different cuts of beef have different flavors, and the seasoning you use can affect the taste of the finished jerky. For a classic smoky flavor, try using a cut like top round and season with a traditional jerky seasoning blend. For a more unique flavor, experiment with different cuts of beef and seasonings to find the perfect combination for your taste. Overall, selecting the right cut of beef is an essential step in making crispy beef jerky that is both flavorful and satisfying.
Preparing The Meat For Jerky
To prepare the meat for jerky, start by selecting the right cut of beef. Lean cuts like sirloin or round roast work best, and it’s important to trim away any visible fat. Fat can cause beef jerky to spoil faster, so it’s best to remove as much as possible before marinating.
Next, slice the meat very thin against the grain. This will help the jerky stay tender and easy to chew. Use a sharp knife to cut the meat into slices that are about 1/8 inch thick.
After slicing the meat, it’s time to marinate it. Whisk together your marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the beef slices. Make sure each slice is completely coated with marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Once the meat has finished marinating, it’s time to dry it out. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack on top of the foil-lined baking sheet.
Remove the beef slices from the marinade and dry them with paper towels. Discard any remaining marinade. Arrange the beef slices in a single layer on the wire rack and bake in the preheated oven for 3-4 hours, or until dry and leathery.
Finally, cut the beef into bite-sized pieces with scissors and enjoy! Store any leftover jerky in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for longer shelf life.
Creating The Marinade
Creating a flavorful marinade is an essential part of making crispy beef jerky. There are many different marinade recipes out there, but one simple and tasty option is to mix soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, and any other seasonings of your choice in a bowl. You can also add some chili powder or red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
Once your marinade is mixed, place your thinly sliced beef in a shallow glass or plastic container and pour the marinade over the meat. Be sure to coat each slice well with the marinade. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.
After marinating, remove the meat from the container and pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess marinade. This step is important as it helps the meat dry out properly during the dehydrating process.
Now you’re ready to dehydrate or smoke your beef jerky. Place the meat on drying screens or smoker racks, making sure not to overlap any pieces. Dehydrate or smoke at a low temperature (around 140-165 degrees Fahrenheit) until the jerky is crispy and snaps easily in half.
With these simple steps, you can create a delicious and crispy beef jerky that’s perfect for snacking on-the-go or as a protein-packed addition to your meals.
Marinating The Beef
Marinating the beef is an important step in making crispy beef jerky. The marinade not only adds flavor to the meat but also helps to tenderize it. When marinating beef for jerky, it’s important to use a food-safe plastic bag, non-reactive glass, or a stainless steel container.
To make the marinade, you can use a basic beef marinade base that includes olive oil, citrus juice, and soy sauce. You can also add additional herbs and spices to customize the flavor profile. Allow approximately 1/2 cup of marinade for each one to two pounds of beef.
If you already have a tender cut of beef, only 15 minutes to 2 hours of marinating time are required to add flavor. But if tenderizing is also a goal, meat should soak in the liquid for at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours. Any longer and the muscle fibers break down too much, and the texture becomes mushy.
Always marinate in the refrigerator, as leaving your meat to stand in marinade on the kitchen counter or outdoors will encourage the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. If you want to plan ahead, prepare your marinade in advance and tightly seal it in a zip-top freezer bag and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
After draining marinade from beef, pat all sides dry with paper towels to prevent steaming and encourage browning. This is also the time to add a rub or any additional seasonings that you want to add to the flavor profile. If a marinade is to be used for basting or as a sauce, reserve a portion of it before adding it to the beef. Marinade that has been in contact with uncooked meat must be brought to a full rolling boil for at least one minute before it can be used for basting or as a sauce.
By following these marinating tips, you’ll be able to create delicious and crispy beef jerky that’s bursting with flavor.
Drying The Jerky
Drying the jerky is a crucial step in making crispy beef jerky. There are several ways to dry the meat, including sun-drying, oven-drying, dehydrating, microwaving, and smoking. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Sun-drying is the oldest method of drying meat into jerky. It involves hanging the meat strips in direct sunlight for several days until it is completely dry. However, this method requires a lot of time and is not practical in areas with high humidity or frequent rain.
Oven-drying is perhaps the easiest and most consistent method of drying jerky. It works well for all types of jerky, but it’s important to set the heat as low as possible (usually around 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and avoid using the broiling element. Overloading the oven with too much jerky can also affect the drying process.
Dehydrating is another popular method of drying meat into jerky. It involves using a food dehydrator to remove moisture from the meat. Dehydrators are designed to maintain a consistent temperature and air flow, making it easier to achieve that crispy texture. However, dehydrators can be expensive and take up a lot of space.
Microwaving is a quick and easy way to dry small batches of jerky. Simply place the meat on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until the meat is dry. However, microwaving can cause the meat to become tough and chewy if not done correctly.
Smoking is another popular method of drying meat into jerky. It involves using a smoker to infuse the meat with smoky flavor while removing moisture from the meat. Smoking takes longer than other methods but produces a unique flavor that cannot be achieved by other methods.
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to ensure that the meat is completely dry before storing it. Properly dried beef jerky should snap easily when bent and have no signs of moisture or softness. By following these steps, you can make delicious and crispy beef jerky at home!
Testing For Doneness
Testing for doneness is an important step in making crispy beef jerky. After about 3 hours of drying, begin checking your jerky to avoid over-drying. To test for doneness, remove a piece of jerky from the tray and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the jerky should crack slightly but not break completely when bent.
It’s important to ensure that the internal temperature of your jerky reaches at least 160°F to destroy any potential pathogens. If you’re using a dehydrator, make sure that it can maintain a temperature of 145°-155°F. If your dehydrator doesn’t have this capability, you can finish your jerky in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 minutes.
If you’re unsure about the internal temperature of your jerky, you can steam or roast your meat strips in marinade before drying to ensure that they reach the necessary temperature. For poultry, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F before drying.