How to Make Beef Jerky in the Oven
There are plenty of ways to make beef jerky in your own kitchen oven. If you like to take jerky with you to the gym, on a road trip, or just keep it on hand at the office (or home-office), you can easily make that happen.
And guess what? You can use your regular kitchen oven to make jerky. You don't have to buy an expensive dehydrator to dry your favorite meat and use the marinade of your choice. A simple marinade can include black pepper, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, paprika, teriyaki, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce low-sodium soy sauce, red pepper flakes or any other remaining ingredients you like. Your marinade is really up to you, but the good thing is you can control the ingredients—right down to your sodium intake (in case you're concerned about cholesterol).
If this is your first time making jerky at home, don't worry, it's not hard to learn how to make beef jerky. All you really need to turn your beef strips into jerky is your oven, wire racks, paper towels, a baking sheet, and a lean cut of meat that you can easily cut into thin strips.
What Temperature Should Beef Jerky Be Cooked At?
The key to successful oven jerky is low oven temperatures. It your oven will go as low as 170 degrees F, that's a good temperature for your jerky. If not, 180 or 200 degrees will work. Your cook time will depend on how chewy you want your jerky to be and the thickness of your cut of your homemade beef jerky. There are a few steps you'll want to follow before you put your meat in the oven, though.
First, trim the fat from your meat. Some people like to freeze or partially freeze their meat before they cut the fat; it's much easier to slice off the fat of frozen meat. You can wrap the meat in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 to 60 minutes. Next, you'll want to cut your meat into thin ribbons. If you cut against the grain, or the muscle fibers in the meat, that means you're cutting across those muscle fibers. Cutting against the grain makes the meat easier to chew through. Cutting with the grain will make your jerky chewier. How you cut your meat is really up to personal preference, as is the thickness of your meat strips. One-eighth or 1/4 of an inch thick is common, though that's not a requirement.
Once your meat is cut the way you prefer, it's time to soak it in a marinade of your choosing. Place your meat in a ziplock bag, apply pressure to the bag to combine the meat with the marinade, open the bag again, let out all the air, reseal, and refrigerate overnight or for about 12 hours while it marinates. After you cover your meat with marinade, pat the meat dry with paper towels to pick up any excess moisture.
What are Common Beef Cuts to Cook in the Oven?
A good rule of thumb for selecting jerky meat is to go lean. Top and bottom rounds, sometimes called London broil, is a thin, quality cut often used for jerky. Flank steak, sirloin, and venison, are other cuts of meat that will work well for jerky and dehydrating your beef strips.
What Are the Best Tools for Dehydrating Meat in the Oven?
If you have a jellyroll pan and a wire baking rack, like these from Amazon. Lay out your meat strips in a single layer across the racks. Keep room in between the strips for proper air circulation. Again, how long you keep the meat in the oven depends on how chewy you like your jerky. Place your racks in the oven and keep a ball of aluminum foil or a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it open slightly. Or, if your oven has a convection fan, you can turn that on. Line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch possible drips from the meat.
Your goal is to remove moisture from the meat, so it will be important to circulate air around the oven. If you keep the oven door open slightly or there's a convection fan running, you'll keep the meat from cooking, and it will dehydrate instead.
Once your beef jerky is dry to the touch, put out a cooling rack for the jerky to continue to dry at room temperature for about 24 hours.
Hopefully, what results is some healthy, tender jerky—a great alternative to a snack high in carbohydrates. Enjoy your high-protein snack along with the satisfaction that you made it at home in your own oven.
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