Budget Friendly Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

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Homemade ground beef jerky is easy and economical. You can use lean beef or venison – whichever you have available – and common pantry ingredients (except the liquid smoke, which I did buy just for jerky making). My jerky gun came with seasoning and cure packets, but these were full of all the ingredients I’m trying to avoid in commercial jerkies (MSG, hydrolyzed soy protein, nitrates, etc.).  (Those little packets are expensive, too, if you purchase them separately.)

Share with:

FacebookTwitterGoogleTumblrStumbleUponRedditPinterestDiggDeliciousEmail this pagePrint this page


Homemade ground beef jerky is easy and economical. You can use lean beef or venison – whichever you have available – and common pantry ingredients (except the liquid smoke, which I did buy just for jerky making). My jerky gun came with seasoning and cure packets, but these were full of all the ingredients I’m trying to avoid in commercial jerkies (MSG, hydrolyzed soy protein, nitrates, etc.).  (Those little packets are expensive, too, if you purchase them separately.)

Do you need a jerky gun to make jerky with ground beef?  Nope – but it’s rather handy and somewhat entertaining.

Why Use Ground Beef for Homemade Jerky Instead of Beef Strips?

I prefer ground beef jerky for three main reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper. I can get ground beef or venison much cheaper than a roast.
  2. It’s easier to make. Working the jerky gun or rolling the meat out thinly is much easier than wrestling to cut strips out of a piece of meat with bone and connective tissue intact.
  3. It’s easier to chew. Eating a piece of regular beef jerky can sometimes be like chewing on an old shoe, especially when there’s a lot of connective tissue. Ground beef jerky has the meaty, salty jerky taste we love without the bits that get stuck in your teeth.

This recipe has been adapted from Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook – “All American Marinated Beef Jerky”.  Mary makes hers with beef strips, but it worked well as a ground beef jerky recipe, too.  For the soy sauce, I prefer grain free organic tamari. Most soy in the US that is not organically grown is genetically modified, and non-organic wheat may be sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest.

Homemade Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or venison

Directions

In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and let sit (refrigerated) for at least two hours.  I mixed this up at bedtime and let it sit until after lunch the next day, and it wasn’t too strong.

Load the mixture in the jerky gun and use the gun to load your dehydrator trays.  I do recommend using the mesh inserts or fruit leather trays for your dehydrator. This mixture is fairly soft because of the added liquid, which makes it easier to fire through the gun.

If you don’t have a jerky gun, roll the mixture out very thinly (1/8 inch thick) and score lines where you would like the pieces to break apart.

Dry at 145° – 165° F (63° – 74° C) for 4 to 12 hours, until jerky is hard but still flexible and contains no pockets of moisture. For extra safety, heat finished jerky in a 275° F (135° C) oven for 10 minutes.

Jerky will last in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 – 2 months. For longer storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Vacuum sealing will extend shelf life.

How Much Homemade Jerky Do You Get from One Pound of Raw Meat?

The weight of the jerky will decrease by about two-thirds during the drying time, so for every pound of raw meat you use, you’ll get around one-third pound of finished homemade jerky.

How Can I Be Sure My Jerky is Safe to Eat?

The University of Wisconsin suggests the following two options for safe jerky making at home:

  1. Dry meat at 145° – 155°F for at least 4 hours followed by heating in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 minutes. Drying meat at a temperature below 145°F will produce a product that looks done before it is heated enough to destroy pathogens, and before it has lost enough moisture to be shelf-stable.Only a few dehydrators currently on the market will maintain the necessary temperature of 145° – 155°F: the Gardenmaster by Nesco/American Harvest and the Excalibur are two such units. Each of these units has a large heating element, strong air flow, and adjustable temperature setting. Dry for at least 4 hours (6 hours is preferable) and remove jerky from the dehydrator. Place dried strips on a baking sheet, close together but not touching or overlapping. Heat in a pre-heated 275°F oven for 10 minutes to an internal temperature of 160°F – strips thicker than ¼” (when raw) may require longer to reach 160°F. In our research, strips removed from the oven were sizzling hot. Remove oven-heated samples from the oven, cool to room temperature, and package. Always include the post‐drying oven‐heating treatment as a safety precaution.
  2. Steam or roast meat strips in marinade to an internal temperature of 160°F before drying; heat poultry to 165°F (internal temperature) before drying. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline currently recommends this method for making safe jerky. The pre‐heating step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed before drying and a lower dehydrator temperature (130° to 140°F) can be used. After boiling, dehydrate meat for 4 to 6 hours. No post-dehydration oven-heating is necessary. Since it can be impossible to accurately measure the internal temperature of a thin strip of meat, consumers can boil meat in marinade (or water) for 5 minutes before drying. Unfortunately, this USDA‐recommended method produces a dried, crumbly product that would be judged inferior by Wisconsin standards for chewy, flexible jerky.

Do I Need a Dehydrator to Make Jerky?

No, it is possible to dry jerky in the oven.

Process homemade jerky in a 250° F (120° C) oven with the door slightly open for 2.5 hours. Rotate baking sheet and bake for three hours more.

You may be able to reduce drying time slightly by flipping the jerky over at the 2.5 hour mark so the underside of the jerky is exposed.

With the Excalibur dehydrator, a batch of jerky is done in about 4-6 hours, depending on the humidity level. Drying overnight gets the jerky a little too dry for my taste. It’s still good, but a little too crumbly.

The last time we made jerky, my eldest mixed up the jerky marinade and meat one day and my youngest loaded up the Excalibur the next morning. The jerky gun makes nice, thin strips about an inch wide when you use the “double barrel” attachment.  The gun also has option of a single wide strip or a tube shape.

We made some of the wide strips (he wanted to try the different barrels) and perforated them with a thin bladed spatula so they broke apart easily when dry. (You can use this same scoring technique for jerky that’s rolled out instead of made with a jerky gun.)

Scoring the jerky Scoring the jerky After drying, the jerky breaks easily apart.   After drying, the jerky breaks easily apart.

This has become one of my favorite snack foods since we’ve been working to reduce our carbohydrate and grain intake.  It’s relatively quick and easy to make, and the gun was pretty inexpensive.

Do you have a favorite jerky recipe?  Have you tried making jerky with ground beef?  Has anyone tried making jerky out of organ meats?  I’d love to hear from you.

Ground Beef Jerky

Easy and economical jerky recipe that’s great for lean beef or venison.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  2. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  3. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  5. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1 pound lean ground beef or venison

Instructions

  1. In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and let sit (refrigerated) for at least two hours. I mixed this up at bedtime and let it sit until after lunch the next day, and it wasn’t too strong.
  2. Load the mixture in the jerky gun and use the gun to load your dehydrator trays. I do recommend using the mesh inserts or fruit leather trays for your dehydrator. This mixture is fairly soft because of the added liquid, which makes it easier to fire through the gun.
  3. If you don’t have a jerky gun, roll the mixture out very thinly (1/8 inch thick) and score lines where you would like the pieces to break apart.
  4. Dry at 145° – 165° F (63° – 74° C) for 4 to 12 hours, until jerky is hard but still flexible and contains no pockets of moisture. For extra safety, heat finished jerky in a 275° F (135° C) oven for 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. Jerky will last in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 – 2 months. For longer storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Vacuum sealing will extend shelf life.
  2. Ingredients
  3. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  4. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  5. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  7. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  8. 1 pound lean ground beef or venison
  9. Instructions
  10. In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and let sit (refrigerated) for at least two hours. I mixed this up at bedtime and let it sit until after lunch the next day, and it wasn’t too strong.
  11. Load the mixture in the jerky gun and use the gun to load your dehydrator trays. I do recommend using the mesh inserts or fruit leather trays for your dehydrator. This mixture is fairly soft because of the added liquid, which makes it easier to fire through the gun.
  12. If you don’t have a jerky gun, roll the mixture out very thinly (1/8 inch thick) and score lines where you would like the pieces to break apart.
  13. Dry at 145° – 165° F (63° – 74° C) for 4 to 12 hours, until jerky is hard but still flexible and contains no pockets of moisture. For extra safety, heat finished jerky in a 275° F (135° C) oven for 10 minutes.
  14. Notes
  15. Jerky will last in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 – 2 months. For longer storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Vacuum sealing will extend shelf life.

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