Growing up in a tiny town in rural Oklahoma, there was one week of the year that brought so much joy: The County Fair.There was one BBQ stand, in particular, that used to make their own beef jerky. It was a peppery meaty masterpiece. No jerky has ever come close to it, until I figured out how to make it myself (self-five!)
It’s not the jerky made from ground meat formed into sticks, it’s not the greasy Slim Jim kind, and it has no chemical aftertaste that most store-bought jerkys have. It’s sliced rump roast, marinated in salty goodness, and dried to perfection.
I make a huge batch of this at least 5 times a year: My dad’s birthday, my husband’s birthday, father’s day, family road trips, and Christmas. And then when my 7 year old begs me to make it, I make it. I can’t resist his puppy dog eyes.
Everyone goes nuts for this stuff.
There are a lot of different ways you can make this.
Here are the basics.
1. Go to a grocery store with a meat counter. I use Crest Foods. Grab a rump roast and take it over to the meat counter guys. Give them a big ol’ smile and ask very sweetly “Do you mind slicing this for beef jerky?” If they let you pick the thickness, make sure it’s not papery-thin. You don’t want it so thin you can see through it.
2. Make your marinade. There are two different marinades I use, they both end up tasting the same to me.
If you can find Allegro marinade, buy that. It’s much easier. I get two bottles of the Original Marinade. But you could also get the Teriyaki or other flavors if you want a different kind of jerky.
If you want to make the marinade yourself, it’s easy to tweak this to make it gluten-free.
2 cups of soy saue
1/2 cup Worcestershire
4 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
If you like it spicy, add Sriracha (about 5 Tbsp) and crushed red pepper to taste. Most of my guys like spicy jerky, but my kids like the original. So sometimes I do half and half.
Marinade this stuff for at least 24 hours. You’ll need to peel apart the slices, flip, and turn them in the marinade to make sure every side of every piece is getting it’s fair share of marinade. We don’t want any sad flavorless pieces.
Okay, here’s the MOST IMPORTANT PART.
Are you paying attention?
Lay the jerky flat on the dehydrator or rack (whichever you’re using) and cover liberally with FRESH CRACKED PEPPER. It’s gotta be the fresh cracked stuff, regular pepper is not gonna cut it. Trust me here. If you’re extra spicy, cover it with pepper AND crushed red pepper. So good.
I put my dehydrator at 130 degrees and it’s done in about 9 hours. You can also lay it flat on a rack in the oven – just make sure to cover the tray beneath with aluminum foil for the drippings.
How do you tell when it’s done? Try bending a piece. If it cracks, it’s done. If it’s still bendy, it might need more time. Don’t worry about the wet look, the fat always looks a little wet, even when the jerky is done.
Then I put it all in a ziplock bag – with the top OPEN- to dry out a little more for a few hours. Cut into slices and enjoy. It goes fast, I promise. So set aside a little bit for yourself. Put it in a good hiding place where none of your family will get to it – someplace reserved for cooking or cleaning tools. They’ll never look there, I promise.
There you have it. This is one of the MANY things I make in my food dehydrator. You’re gonna hear me talk about this bad boy a LOT. I make homemade fruit roll-ups, dried fruits that my kids actually LOVE, flavored salts, chips, and so much more in this thing. I’ve owned about 5 dehydrators over the years, and this one is my favorite by far. You can get the small version or the larger. I opted for the big one and I’m glad I did- I can do one big batch and be done with it. Find the same one HERE.
Now for the best part….
My cost to make this batch of beef jerky was $14. It made a whole pound of jerky. Three pounds of rump roast dehydrated made 1 full pound of jerky. Good store-bought beef jerky cost AT LEAST $2/ounce, which makes 1 pound of the gross store-bought stuff $32.
My better-tasting jerky cost less than HALF of the store-bought kind.