Homemade Grass-Fed Beef Jerky

Reader Contribution by Tammy Kimbler

Grass-fed beef makes great jerky.  The lean mineral flavor of the beef really comes through. Two jerky recipes are favorites in our house, one with maple, mustard and smoked salt, the other with garlic, chili paste and dark soy.  The smoked salt adds major dimension to the meat with a pleasant sweet-sharp tang from the maple and mustard.  The dark soy sauce, which is like soy molasses, makes the jerky sweet and savory, with a nice kick from the chilies.

Many dehydrator books will tell you that you “must” pre-cook meat before you dehydrate it at 155 degrees for safety reasons.  My preference is the more traditional route. I dry my raw beef at 90 degrees, which to my taste, preserves the real flavor of the meat. Is there a risk?  Some.  I think it’s the same as eating raw eggs. The difference is that I know where my beef is from, how it was raised and processed. Salted, thin slices cure and dry quickly, minimizing exposure to harmful bacteria. If you’re really concerned, I recommend chilling the meat completely, even partially freezing it, the searing all sides in a blazing hot cast iron pan. This will kill off the bacteria on the outside of the meat (where most bacteria reside) while leaving the interior raw. Then proceed with the recipe.

Teriyaki Garlic-Chili Jerky Recipe


1.5 lbs grass-fed or lean beef (like round or sirloin)
3 tbs honey
1.5 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
1.5 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs garlic chili sauce
1.5 tsp vinegar

Mustard-Maple Smoked Salt Jerky


1.5 lbs grass-fed or lean beef (like round or sirloin)
1 tbs smoked salt
3 tbs grainy mustard (I used my Stout Beer Mustard)
3 tbs dark maple syrup
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Remove all visible fat and connective tissue. The fat will go rancid if left on the meat. Cut the meat into 1/4 inch thick strips. I made mine about 4 inches long, 1 inch wide. They shrink as they dry. The length was purely based on the cut of beef. If you cut with the grain you’ll have chewier strips, cut across the grain will be easier to chew.  Add all the marinade ingredients to a bowl, mix, then add the beef. Using your fingers, work the marinade throughout the meat. Marinate over night in the refrigerator.

The next day lay the strips on drying mat for the dehydrator, or on a rack set over a cookie sheet for the oven. Set your dehydrator for 90 degrees. If using the oven, set it on the lowest temp. Leave the door open if the temp is high. Dehydrate the beef until it is dry and stiff.  Mine took about 10 hours over night. Store in an air tight jar on the shelf for one month, or in the refrigerator or freeze for even longer storage. Makes 2 dry quarts.

Tammy Kimbler grows, forages, cans, dries, pickles, ferments, brews, ages, cooks and eats from her Minneapolis, Minn., backyard. At One Tomato, Two Tomato, she aims to show how easy, accessible, healthful and delicious gaining control of your personal food system can be. Connect with Tammy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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