Five simple tips you need to make your own delicious homemade jerky – plus an easy recipe. ~ by Serena Ball, MS, RD
In terms of ‘amount of praise received’ for ‘amount of effort expended’ homemade jerky has an excellent ratio: Like 10:1.
Imagine you are hiking with friends – or even at a soccer game; you pull out your homemade jerky and offer some to fellow hikers or fans. Their response: “Wow, this is great! It’s sweet, salty, spicy and a little smokey.”
Your response, “Thanks I made it myself.”
“Wow! You did?! Do you have a smoker and have you been chopping cherry wood – because this is such subtle sweet smoke.”
OK, maybe the conversation would go slightly different from that – but every friend with whom I’ve shared this – loves it. Even my former Chicago neighbor – who was a meatatarian (My definition: He ate meat only, so he was an EXPERT in cooking it)…told me, “I like this jerky better than my own!”
This stuff is so easy to make. Here are some tips:
- Change up the spice mix to your taste: Add more spiced paprika if you like spice, use ground oregano if desired. Just make sure all spices are ground to help them adhere to the meat. The amount of salt is your preference but there is way, way less salt than found in commercial versions.
- My recipe makes about 3 tablespoons of spice mix; use for 1 pound of meat. Multiply this recipe up to 5 times to keep proportions correct. That’s a tip from Eileen Clarke author of Slice of the Wild the book from which this recipe originated before my adaptations.
- Use your oven as a dehydrator. If you have a convection oven, use that setting. You could use a food dehydrator, but I don’t lug mine out for this short cooking time.
- I use venison, but you could use beef or any meat as long as it’s fairly lean and cut 1/4-1/8-inch thick. I want to try this for Turkey Jerky!
- Most importantly: Make sure you have time to freeze meat for at least 45 minutes before slicing – or plan to start with frozen meat (that you slightly unthaw in the microwave for about 1 minute on defrost setting.) Mostly frozen meat is easier to slice thinly.
Spicy Sweet Mole Jerky
- Yield: About 3-4 ounces 1x
Five simple tips you need to make your own delicious homemade jerky – plus an easy recipe.
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 pound venison or lean beef steak, trimmed; or roast – such as shoulder roast, FROZEN, but just beginning to unthaw (See note in blog post)
- Preheat convection oven to 175-degrees F (actual temperature, not adjusted. Or heat to 180-degrees on a regular oven. Lay aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easy clean-up) on 2 large metal baking sheets; place a wire cooling rack on top of each tray.
- In a small bowl, mix all the spices well with a fork; sprinkle about a third of the spices on a plate, set aside the remainder.
- Trim the meat and slice in slices 1/8-1/4-inch thick. Lay meat on spice covered plate; flip to season the other side. Arrange meat close together on cooling racks.
- Bake 2 1/2 – 4 hours; begin checking at 2 1/2 hours. Meat should be no longer pink and dry, but still pliable. Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.
What summer snacks are you planning to make this year? Do you have or use a food dehydrator? Have you ever made jerky?
Tuesday 14th of August 2018
I’m wondering if the sugar could be omitted or a no calorie substitute could be used.
Tuesday 14th of August 2018
Good question Glenda. I've never used a no-calorie sweetner when making this jerky. But since it's not a baked good (in which you need sugar for volume and to activate the yeast) a sugar substitute should work well. Make sure you use a sweetner that doesn't break down when baked. Splenda or Splenda Natural (stevia + sugar blend) would probably work well.
Lauren Grant | Zestful Kitchen
Tuesday 23rd of May 2017
I never knew it was so simple! I will have to give this a try soon! Such a great snack.
Wednesday 24th of May 2017
Yup. I hope you have a chance to slice some up soon Lauren!
Tuesday 10th of June 2014
I love the idea of cocoa; yum! I am planning on making some portable snacks to take on my vacation this weekend, so this will be perfect.
Wednesday 11th of June 2014
Let me know how it turns out Meme! Seriously, it's so easy and it's fun to switch up the spice mixture!
Saturday 7th of June 2014
This would be awesome with venison, but I would probably try turkey first...easier to get hold of.
Thursday 5th of June 2014
I definitely need to try making this over the summer! My parents used to make jerky when I was a kid, but I've never tried making it myself. I don't have a dehydrator, so the regular old oven will work well for me too :-) Love the cocoa mole twist!