How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator

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Whether you're a carnivore or on the paleo diet, knowing how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator is an AMAZING skill. If you want something quick, simple, and almost fool proof, this ground beef jerky recipe with a NESCO dehydrator is super simple and delicious.

Start Making Beef Jerky at home

Olin day using his hands to mix in seasoning for beef jerky with a dehydrator

With four active boys in home, we can really break the bank when shopping at the grocery store for snacks if we aren't careful. One of the favored treats in this carnivorous house is beef jerky. A great way to save money is to leave the store bought jerky on the shelf and use ground beef. It's also a lot of fun to learn how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator at home.

Because we love camping and hiking, this is also a great way to make snacks you can bring on the trail. It's super easy and a great way to learn different ways to make and store food. We just got done learning how to make Tender Smoked Venison on the Traeger from our recent hunting trip so this is a great next step.

Buying the best Dehydrator

Using a nesco dehydrator to make beef jerky

I started making my own homemade beef jerky more than a decade ago when my mom gifted me a NESCO Dehydrator. I loved making different types of jerky, whether ground or cuts of meat from less tender meat in the freezer, and even dried fruits. I also learned that NESCO makes one of the best and easiest dehydrators out there.

Getting Into the Meat of It

Olin day using lean beaf to make beaf jerky with a dehydrator

As you know, I have boys and I enjoy taking every opportunity to teach them something new and useful. This includes working in the kitchen, especially with meat. You can always create your own spice recipe with ingredients like onion powder, black pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and even red pepper flakes to add extra spice. However, because this is the boys first time, I actually opted to just use the spice packs included with the NESCO.

Elich day having fun learning how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator

Pro parenting tip; after you have your kids wash their hands thoroughly, have them mix the ingredients together by hand. This helps build confidence, familiarity with the texture of foods like meats, and you can keep your hands clean by taking the job of adding the remaining ingredients. That's part of what makes learning how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator so fun.

How to Use a Jerky Gun

Olin and elich day learning how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator

When using ground meat, you are going to want to invest in a solid metal extruder (like this WILDDIGIT model I found on AMAZON). This style device will ensure easy operation, quality construction, and uniform output for those perfect strips or ropes.

How to make beef jerky with a dehydrator nesco

Unlike a lean cut of beef where you have to slice the meat and cut against the grain, there is very little to worry about when using this nifty device. The boys and I actually had a great time learning how to make beef jerky with a dehydrator in this video.

How to Use a Stackable Dehydrator

Olin and elich day using a nesco dehydrator to make beef jerky

One of the best parts about the NESCO dehydrator is that it is easily stackable AND the control knob on top is labeled for different types of foods. So, after filling all the trays and stacking them, just turn the knob to jerky and away you go. The plastic trays on this stackable dehydrator also make for easier cleaning especially if your sink is large enough to give them a soak.

Depending on the thickness of your meat strips, 6 to 12 hours is a good range for dehydration time. And, unless your dehydrating some type of fruit roll ups, you should never need to let it go for 24 hours or you will wind up with crispy meat chips.

Amazing Beef Jerky

Olin and elich day showing off their home made beef jerky

If you are raising kids that love beef jerky and also like to get hands on, this is the perfect beginner project for you. The next time the boys and I make jerky, we might use a flank steak or even some of the deer roast from this season as a way to experiment with a solid cut of meat.

Have you ever wanted to make your own beef jerky?


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