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How to Make Beef Jerky in the Oven

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan

Oven-drying is probably the most readily accessible method for making beef jerky at home. I wouldn’t say that it’s the easiest method – a dehydrator wins here – but everyone has an oven in their kitchen. I’ve been experimenting with making beef jerky in my electric oven and I am happy to say that I have finally achieved the results with which I am quite happy.

When making beef jerky in the kitchen oven, you need to pay attention to these four important things:

  1. Meat selection
  2. Food safety
  3. Temperature
  4. Air ventilation and circulation

Selecting meat for beef jerky

There is no best meat for jerky. Any lean meat can be used to make it. I read somewhere that meat for jerky needs to be 93% lean or higher. This is because beef fat does not dry well and becomes rancid quickly. That said, nowadays we make beef jerky not for it’s long shelf life without refrigeration but for its taste. In my house, a batch of jerky doesn’t last long enough for fat to become rancid.

Fatty jerky, without a doubt, tastes awesome. It’s also easier to chew. I tried it once from Big John’s Beef Jerky – my favorite artisan beef jerky maker – and got hooked for good. However, making fatty jerky in the oven may be problematic as kitchen ovens’ lowest temperature settings aren’t low enough not to melt fat and make your jerky greasy.

Commonly used beef cuts for making jerky:

  • Eye of round
  • Flank steak
  • Top round
  • Bottom round
  • Sirloin tip
  • Chuck
  • Skirt steak

It makes financial sense to go with the cheapest cut you can find.

Beef jerky and food safety

There are several methods that are commonly used to ensure that beef jerky is safe to eat. USDA recommends to “steam or roast meat to 160 °F before dehydrating it“. The reason for doing that is to destroy any potential pathogenic bacteria (e.g. E.coli and Listeria) present in the meat. One way to achieve that is to place meat in an oven at 275F for 10 minutes.

Stanley Marianski in his Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages book suggests, as an alternative, to boil the meat for 2 minutes in the marinade, if you have enough, or in a separately prepared brine.

What is Cure #1 (Pink Salt) and should I use it when making jerky?

You will find a number of recipes using pink salt or curing salt when making beef jerky. This is a necessary step when making dried or cured sausages to ensure that they are safe to eat. Curing salt, or Cure #1, contains a small amount of sodium nitrite, which helps prevent harmful bacteria growth. It also improves color of the meat (pink as opposed to grey) and enhances its flavor.

Cure #1, also known as pink salt, is regular salt and only 6.25% sodium nitrite. Typically, you would use 5 grams or 1 level teaspoon of Cure #1 per 5 pounds of meat.

Morton sells a different product called Tender Quick, which serves a similar purpose but the ratios used are different. Follow the instruction on the package to see how much of Tender Quick you need to add per specified amount of meat.

Drying temperature

Traditionally, beef jerky is dried at around 145F. In the kitchen oven, you will have to settle with the lowest setting available. Most kitchen ovens don’t go lower than 170F or so. This will result in a slightly different texture of the jerky as compared to other production methods.

To make oven-dried beef jerky safe to eat, it will be initially heated to 160F in an oven at 275F. This process will take 10 minutes.

Air ventilation and circulation

As common sense would suggest, drying beef jerky means removing moisture from the meat. Hence, it’s important to ensure that your oven has an efficient way of removing moisture throughout the drying process. Oven vents are not sufficient for that. You will need to crack open the oven’s door and keep it like that while you are drying jerky. A wooden spoon will come in handy for keeping the door ajar.

Beef jerky made in the oven - create air flow for better drying. | Taste of Artisan

If your oven has a convection fan, it may be a good idea to use it as it will greatly expedite drying time. With the door open, you will need to find a way to the keep the button down for convection to work. Also, if the air flow is too strong, you may want to place something between the fan and the jerky to disperse the air stream from the fan.

Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan

Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan

How to Make Beef Jerky in the Oven

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Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 3 lb meat (93% lean or higher)

For the marinade:

  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (plus more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Worcestershire
  • 1 cup soy sauce (regular, not low sodium)
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke (optional; use if you want to add smoky flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Cure #1 (heaping; optional but strongly recommended)

Instructions

  • A lot of beef cuts come with a fat cap. Trim the fat off and cut the meat into manageable pieces that will be easy to slice. Then put the meat in a plastic bag and put in a freezer for a few hours. Freezing will firm it up and make it a easy to slice evenly.
  • When the meat is firm, slice it about 3/16" - 1/4" thick. Thinner sliced meat tends to come out dryer and less chewy. Thicker will take a long time to dry.
  • To make the jerky chewy, slice it along the grain.
    Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan
  • To make the jerky less chewy, slice it across the grain.
    Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan
  • Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large Ziploc bag and shake.
  • Add the meat slices, shake and massage the meat really well.
    Beef jerky made in the oven - delicious, chewy and addictive. | Taste of Artisan
  • Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, flipping the bag and massaging the meat every 6-8 hours. Strictly speaking, marination is not necessary, but it makes jerky much more flavorful inside out and tenderizes tougher beef cuts.
  • Remove one rack from the oven so you can start hanging the meat slices on it. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300F.
  • Hang the meat on the oven rack. The most efficient way is to hang the meat slices vertically, as shown on the picture below. This way you can have about 5 lbs of meat on one rack, properly spaced out.
  • Once the oven is preheated to 300F, bring the meat in, close the oven door, turn the temperature down to 275F and bake the meat for 10 minutes. This will bring its internal temperature to the safe level of 160F.
  • Drop the temperature further to the lowest setting your oven can go, e.g. 170F. Crack open the oven door and insert a thick wooden spoon to secure it in that position.
    Beef jerky made in the oven - create air flow for better drying. | Taste of Artisan
  • After about 30 minutes, when the temperature in the oven has stabilized at its lowest setting, turn on the convection fan, if you oven has it. It will expedite the drying process. You will have to find a creative way to keep the button down to activate convection.
  • Continue drying jerky until it's ready. The jerky is dry enough when it bends without breaking, while surface develops cracks when you bend it. This will take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on whether you use convection and the thickness of meat slices.
    How to make beef jerky in the oven - bend test for readiness. | Taste of Artisan

Notes

For safety considerations I always use Cure #1, but I made it optional in the marinade recipe. You decide for yourself. Not only does it make jerky safer to eat, but it also improves its color and enhances the flavor.

Oven beef jerky – the results

I did a direct comparison of oven-dried beef jerky to the famous Jack Links. The texture was quite similar. Jack Links jerky was a little more bendy and did not crack when bent. It also was softer and more moist due to a variety of additives that it uses. Oven-dried jerky wins in my book. It tastes more traditional and natural. I also preferred the flavor of the oven-dried jerky.

How to make beef jerky in the oven - comparison to Jack Links jerky. | Taste of Artisan

How to make beef jerky in the oven - comparison to Jack Links jerky. | Taste of Artisan

This post was updated on January 26, 2019

 

 

 

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27 comments

Curtis August 30, 2019 - 4:41 am

Hello

Why can’t you use regular table or sea salt?

Also can you sub nitrate with chemical tenderizers and use baking aids to tenderize the meat a little?

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan August 31, 2019 - 1:00 pm

Curtis, I use kosher salt in cooking because it’s more pure and is fairly consistent from brand to brand. Any other salt will do too. Table salt, because of its smaller granules, will need to be adjusted as a Tbsp of table salt will give a lot more salt compared to kosher salt. Sea salt of good quality is a very good alternative and I use it as well. Himalayan salt is another good alternative.

Reply
John C. August 17, 2019 - 10:31 am

Thank you for the great recipe and detailed instructions. For the first time after many failed attempts was I able to make my first successful batch of beef jerky. My family loved it so much that the whole 4-lb batch was gone within a few hours. Will be making again soon for sure.

Reply
Gabor May 25, 2019 - 12:09 pm

Hi!

I am going to make some (hopefully) tasty jerky this weekend following Your recipe. This is my very first attempt. (Never dried meat before either)

I can set my oven’s temperature to 50˚C (122 F).
Should I choose this temperature or is it better to choose 170 F? How much does the temperature alter the drying time?
It is important to leave the door open either way I suppose.

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan May 25, 2019 - 4:42 pm

Hi Gabor, you are in luck with those low temps. Once you’ve got your jerky to 160F dry it at 130F to 140F. 170F is too high and only to be used when you can’t get any lower, most ovens here don’t.

Yes, you still want to keep the door cracked open to get humidity out, this will promote faster drying.

Can’t say how much longer the drying will take. It will depend on the size and thickness of meat strips, but likely it’ll be a couple of hours more.

Reply
Janet Lail April 5, 2019 - 2:35 pm

What is Cure #1

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan April 5, 2019 - 3:20 pm

Janet, it’s salt with a small amount of sodium nitrite mixed in to prevent harmful bacteria growth and to enhance color and taste of meat. I updated the post with the description of Cure #1 and a link to where you can buy it.

Reply
David March 13, 2018 - 11:26 pm

I dry mine around 145 overnight. I use eye of round with 1/4″+/- strips. I use the cure. I keep it in paper lunch bags for 3-4 days and then into ziplock bags.

I find that the pieces that I cut by hand that are different thicknesses end up being more or less the same dryness as the thicker and thinner pieces around them after a couple days.

Reply
Georgette February 10, 2018 - 7:49 am

Where can you buy cure#1?

Reply
victor February 10, 2018 - 7:55 am

I buy pink salt from the sausagemaker.com, but there are many other places too, or Amazon here. Many grocery stores carry either pink salt (ask at the meat counter), or Morton Tender Quick (pretty much the same thing, just make sure to follow directions on the package for the ratio per pound of meat). Morton Tender Quick is usually in the same place where they have table salt and such. I know Wegmans carries it, if you have it near where you live.

Reply
Marcus Grantham September 29, 2017 - 7:58 am

Thank you for detailed step-by-step guide. I was able to follow it and make some of the best tasting jerky I’ve ever tried, for a small fraction of the cost of what they sell it at. Thumbs up!

Reply
Sheila June 18, 2017 - 9:35 pm

Wow this is great. I made it this weekend. My children love it!

Reply
Keith Simmons May 21, 2017 - 11:09 pm

Victor,
I’m looking forward to making some jerky per your instructions. I too have a convection oven. I discovered that it is possible to crack the door and have the fan run too. Being a woodworker, l took a small wooden block,(1/2″ thick x 1 1/2″ square),and put it over the little pop out button that tells the oven the door is open. Close the door on that block and it thinks the door is closed, allowing the fan to run, and venting some of the heat. I have not made jerky yet,but it should work. May have to experiment with block thickness to get desired temp. Hope this helps.
Happy cooking, Keith

Reply
victor May 22, 2017 - 12:53 am

Hi Keith, thanks for the tip! Why didn’t I think of that??? LOL. Mine also has that button. Next time I am making jerky I will use the oven fan.

Reply
Hank February 19, 2017 - 3:49 pm

I’ll be attempting my first batch of beef jerky tomorrow (it’s marinating now) and I really appreciate this and the work you put into it. Prior to your information, I’d never heard of Cure#1 so I’ll see if I can find some. Also, do you think using the convection settings on an oven would be beneficial? I would guess that would at least keep from having to prop the door open. Thanks.

Reply
victor February 19, 2017 - 3:58 pm

I saw drying vastly improved when I added a fan, so, technically, convection will be very beneficial. The problem that I had with convection is inability to keep the target temperature. My oven’s lowest temp setting is 170F. I wanted to stay true to the original drying process which suggests about 145F – 155F. So, with the oven door closed and 170F lowest temp setting my temps ended up being well over that. Not being able to have convection fan working with the door ajar I had to resort to using a computer fan.

Reply
Tyler Ervin January 19, 2017 - 2:07 pm

Hey! I’m really excited to try this, however I can’t seem to find the Cure #1 process, involving the pink salt? Ha am I totally just missing it? But could you explain what the Cure process is? And is it done before or after the marinade? Thanks!

Reply
victor January 19, 2017 - 9:24 pm

It’s actually very simple. I add Cure #1 into the marinade, at 1 tsp (5 grams) per 5 lbs of raw meat. When adding Cure #1 you also need to adjust overall salt amount. 5 grams of Cure #1 is pretty much 5 grams of salt.

Reply
Tyler Ervin February 1, 2017 - 9:20 am

Awesome! That makes it easy, just combining it with the marinade. However I’m still a little confused with what Cure #1 is. On the first
Marinade instructions, if says to follow the directions on the packet. So do I purchase a packet of Cure #1 somewhere or is there a recipe for it? You said it’s pretty much salt, so can I get away with just using salt, or are there some other ingredients I should use? Thanks
Again!

Reply
victor February 4, 2017 - 9:41 am

Tyler,

Curing salt, or Cure #1, contains sodium nitrite, which helps prevent harmful bacteria growth. Pure sodium nitrite can be deadly in high enough amounts, that’s why it’s never sold in pure form to the public. Cure #1 is regular salt and only 6.25% sodium nitrite.

Typically you would use 5 grams or 1 level teaspoon of Cure #1 per 5 pounds of meat. I only say to go by instructions because Morton sells a different product called Tender Quick, which serves a similar purpose but the ratios used are different.

Reply
Peta November 10, 2016 - 10:59 am

Hi Victor,
What an amazing tutorial on making beef jerky. Not many people go to the trouble you did to lay out all the different steps.
I am so impressed and can’t wait to try your recipe soon.
Thanks so much for this!
I’m giving it 5 stars because I bet it will be delicious 🙂

Reply
victor November 10, 2016 - 7:48 pm

Thank you for the kind words. I found that the majority of recipes and instructions online take shortcuts and miss the safety aspect entirely, which troubled me. My intent was to create an easy process for making jerky in the conventional oven that produces a great and safe to eat product. I hope you like the results too. My family can’t have enough of our homemade jerky, they love it.

Reply
Local Jerky Man October 11, 2016 - 6:28 pm

This is the most informative blog about beef jerky preparation I have come across. The photos are very detailed. Great read!

Reply
victor October 11, 2016 - 6:35 pm

Thank you.

Reply
Kris October 29, 2019 - 3:18 am

I work at a place that distributes Jack Links. We usee to carry Obertos. I loved them. Very tender and not oily. Do you haveca recipe that compares to the Obertos by chance? I like the original flavor.

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 29, 2019 - 9:31 pm

Unfortunately, I don’t, but if I ever do I will give you a shout.

Reply
Kris October 30, 2019 - 10:34 pm

Thanks. Same here 😊