If you like regular jerky, you will love ground beef jerky. There are many reasons to choose this kind instead, but it is particularly softer and easier to chew.
Whether you want to preserve your ground beef, make a quick snack that is healthy, or you’re simply feeling adventurous, ground beef jerky is the best choice.
These Are All The Reasons and Ways To Make Ground Beef Jerky At Home
Before we get started on how to make ground beef jerky, let’s discuss why you would want to make it.
- First of all, it is cheaper to buy ground meat than any other cut or type of meat
- Also, it is easier to make, especially if you have a jerky gun, as you won’t have to cut anything
- It is softer and more digestible. This type of jerky can be used in many recipes and eaten easily without fearing a broken tooth.
Let’s get started on the 5 things to do to make a delicious ground beef jerky
Step #1: Pick your ground meat
We suggest that you choose a lean-packaged ground beef—turkey works too—but don’t use anything above 10% fat. This option can be too fatty to dehydrate.
A good ratio is 96% lean meat and 4% fat. It will dry evenly and is more nutritious too.
Step #2: Season your meat
Seasoning is key in making good beef jerky, especially ground beef jerky, so don’t be afraid to mix the meat with your hands.
Some people use soy sauce, liquid smoke, onion and garlic powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Mix the meat well with these ingredients in a glass bowl.
Leave the seasoned meat in the fridge for 12-24 hours. This allows the meat to absorb all the flavors.
Step #3: Pick your equipment
Here is the tricky part, but if you have a jerky gun, this is the time to load it. Otherwise, we’ll explain what to do next.
First, take the meat out of the fridge, and then pack the ground beef into the jerky gun, a little at a time. Make sure there is no air, as this prevents the meat from packing together.
Shoot the strips of meat onto the dehydrator trays or the baking sheets. Clean up the nozzle of the gun with a knife, to make sure the process is clean.
If you don’t have a jerky gun, don’t worry, there is another option. Take the meat out of the fridge, and place it on a baking sheet or cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
Use a rolling pin and flatten the beef until it is about ¼ inch thick. Then, use a dull knife to cut the meat into thinner strips. You can cut all the way through or not, it doesn’t matter, as the meat will separate once dry.
Step #4: Time to get started on the dehydration
After you have laid out the meat on the baking or dehydrating sheets, it’s time to set the oven or dehydrator to a low-temperature setting. A good range is between 160-175 degrees F.
While the dehydrator has an even method of drying, the oven doesn’t, so make sure you check on the meat constantly. Keep the oven door partly open if possible, so that the moisture can escape.
Some people have gas ovens and delicate alarms, so it may not be feasible to keep the door open. In this case, open the door every 2 hours and check your meat.
When using a dehydrator, allow the ground beef jerky to dry for 3 hours or so, but check every half or one hour.
In the oven method, the process will take a bit longer. Put the meat in the oven for 2 hours. Then, flip the meat onto the other side, but pat it with a paper towel before doing so.
Regardless of the method, the jerky will be ready when it bends but doesn’t break in half. It should be soft to the touch and not too hard on the outside.
Step #5: Store properly and enjoy
Once your meat is ready, you can keep it out of the oven or dehydrator to cool down for a few hours. It is important to let the meat cool down before storing, otherwise, moisture can concentrate and ruin your jerky.
You can store the ground beef jerky in an airtight container or Ziploc bag, but place it in the fridge for longer storage.
Whenever you want some, leave the jerky outside to get to room temperature, or enjoy cold.
Now that you know how to make jerky, let’s cover some safety matters and common questions.
How do you know when it is done dehydrating?
Meat should be dehydrated at a temperature of 145-175 degrees F. The process will take an average of 4 hours, though when using a dehydrator, time will vary.
To make sure your ground beef jerky is ready, bend it at a 90-degree angle, and if you notice raw or soft-looking meat squeezing out, your meat isn’t ready.
If your meat cracks and is too hard, then you may have over-dried it. It is edible still, but the flavor may not be ideal.
Check the meat at least every hour when using the oven, and at least once when using a dehydrator.
Is it cheaper to make your own beef jerky?
Making your beef jerky is very cheap. Because ground beef is one of the cheapest meats, you can make jerky without much hassle or financial investment.
If you love eating jerky, making it will save you money. It is not a cheap snack out there, as a pound can cost up to $12.
Instead, buy a pound of meat for $5 or less depending on where you are, and enjoy making the jerky at home.
Also, you can add whatever you want to your meat, which is an added health benefit. Some commercial jerky brands out there have too much sodium and added nitrites.
Using your recipe, you can control what to put into your meat depending on your taste.
Will it be safe to eat?
As long as you follow the guidelines and make sure your oven remains on, your beef jerky should be very safe.
Handle the meat with rubber gloves to prevent cross-contamination and always wash your hands thoroughly during this process.
Beef should be heated up to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to be safe to eat.
When you first place it in a dehydrator or oven, the temperature will pre-dry to 160 degrees F. This step removes any possible bacteria or microbial growth.
Some government agencies recommend that you pre-boil the meat before drying, but this creates a crumbly and over-dried product.
If you make sure your tools are working properly and that the meat remains heated to a constant temperature, the product is safe to eat.
Don’t forget about storage though, as storing this outside the fridge can allow mold to grow or moisture to get in.
You are now an expert at making the best ground beef jerky at home!
Even though it seems intimidating, you can safely make ground beef jerky at home and enjoy a softer, richer product.
Enjoy as a meal, snack, or treat any time of the day!