Easy to make. Packed with protein. Bacon makes it better.
This post was originally published in 2015 and has become one of our most popular. It’s been updated here with new info and even more recipe-testing to make certain you get awesome results.
I’ve made Homemade Jerky lots of times; but as the saying goes, ‘Everything’s better with bacon.’ Turkey jerky is no exception.
The texture is great: chewy but not too tough to bite. Plus the little bits of bacon mixed in with the ground turkey make for a yummy-smokiness.
And it packs a powerful amount of protein – about 21 grams of protein per serving – compared to 13 grams/serving of a popular name-brand version.
Then there’s the cost comparison:
- My Homemade Bacon Turkey Jerky – $3.75 for 4-5 servings – about 20 pieces
- Name-brand turkey jerky – $8.25 for only 3 servings!
This recipe started with a text from Deanna: “Just tried TJ’s Bacon Jerky. Unbelievably good. I’ll bet you can make it.” And so the challenge was on to make a copycat version of Trader Joe’s Bacon Jerky. #TrueConfession – I didn’t get a chance to taste TJ’s version before it was unavailable – but this recipe won’t disappoint. Easy to make. Packed with protein. Bacon makes it better: Bacon Turkey Jerky via @tspcurry Click To Tweet
And it’s really fun to make! Here are some tips to making this protein-rich snack – the easy way:
- Use ground turkey – You may already have it on-hand and it’s not difficult to work with. Other recipes use whole cuts of slightly frozen meat and slice it super-thinly. This can get tedious.
- A zip-top plastic bag works instead of a jerky gun/press – While a jerky gun handily squeezes out jerky strips that are 1-inch wide and ¼-inch thick, I was pretty excited I got the same results using a plastic bag – with the corner snipped – and a rolling pin.
- No dehydrator needed – When making jerky in the oven, it must usually be cooked 8 hours in order to maintain food safety. So it can turn out crispy and tough. A dehydrator generally yields a better texture. But not everyone has a dehydrator. So my method of cooking at a higher temp, for a shorter time and then drying out additional moisture yields a safe and pleasantly pliable piece – without nitrates or preservatives.
- Hello bacon! I wanted the smoky, almost sweet flavor – and the wonderful fat that yields chewy not crispy jerky. But I didn’t want lots of extra fat – plus I knew too much fat would keep jerky from drying out properly. So I used a combo of finely chopped center-cut bacon and liquid smoke. (BTW, liquid smoke is not a weird combo of chemicals that produce a smoky flavor. It’s basically just water that’s collected after condensing over a smoking fire. Interestingly, it’s usually vegan.)
Now please tell me if you agree with my husband and kids: Isn’t everything – even jerky – better with bacon?
EQUIPMENT FOR HOMEMADE JERKY [affiliate links]:
Nordicware Natural Aluminum Commerical Baker’s Half Sheet
If You Care FSC Parchment Baking Paper
How To Make Bacon Turkey Jerky in the Oven
Easy to make. Packed with protein. Bacon makes it better. You may even have ground turkey on-hand.
- Yield: About 20 pieces of jerky
- 1 pound ground turkey (85% lean)
- 1 strip center-cut bacon, all white fat removed, minced very finely (about 1 tablespoon minced)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper – about 10 grinds with the pepper mill
- Cover 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (For the trick to keep parchment paper from rolling up on you see this #HealthyKitchenHack)
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; place into a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag. With scissors, snip one bottom corner of the bag about 3/8-inch from the tip. Twist top of bag and pipe 5-inch strips of jerky meat onto prepared parchment paper. Fit about 9 strips on a sheet. If you have a rimmed baking sheet, just slide the parchment paper onto the counter and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin (or empty wine bottle,) carefully and evenly flatten the jerky to about 1/8-inch thick. Slide parchment paper back on baking sheet. (If you don’t have rimmed baking sheets, there’s no need to remove the parchment paper from baking sheet.)
- Preheat your oven to 160-degrees if you have a regular oven. Preheat to 195-degrees on a convection setting (so the oven automatically sets for 170-degrees). A convection oven is preferable for this recipe.
- Roast jerky for 2 hours; remove from oven and turn jerky pieces over. Replace baking sheets in different locations in oven (to allow for even roasting.) Check jerky after 30 minutes; it should be no longer pink – but pliable. It should only have a small amount of moisture/fat remaining on surface and should be nearly completely dry.
- Remove from oven and dry remaining moisture by pressing between paper towels and then placing on cooling rack to dry for 1 hour further (only if you have heat or air conditioner on – or live in a dry climate – a humid climate will only add moisture to jerky.)
- Store in refrigerator for 2 weeks – or longer in the freezer.
Have you ever made jerky? Do you own a food dehydrator?