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
Have you ever made jerky? Do you own a food dehydrator?