This beef jerky is my to-go recipe for an easy, nutritious, satisfying, and easily-portable snack. I’ve fine-tuned the recipe over the years and simplified it, so that it’s both easy to make and incredibly tasty.
A secret ingredient — that also has lots of health benefits — makes this jerky extra tender. Read on to find the secrets (including the secret ingredient!) on how to make the best and the most tender beef jerky!
How to Make Homemade Beef Jerky
This is a straightforward beef jerky recipe with just 5 ingredients. Although the jerky takes some time to make, the preparations are pretty easy. You just slice the meat, let it marinate overnight, spread onto a baking rack, let bake for about 6 hours at a very low temperature, and you are done. So, as you see, there is only a little work in this recipe and lots of waiting time — which you can use for doing something you love!
This recipe makes two batches. While the first batch is drying in the oven, you can keep the rest of the marinated beef in the fridge and dry in the oven once the first batch is done.
But let’s talk about the ingredients. For the meat, I’ve noticed that sirloin works best. Everything else tends to make tough jerky.
Over the years, I’ve tried several types of meat and always return using sirloin because it makes the best and the most tender jerky. To maximize the nutritiousness and the health benefits, go for grass-fed and grass-finished beef if you can.
For the marinade, I prefer to use coconut aminos or tamari (fermented soy sauce) as the base. Sometimes, I use just coconut aminos and sometimes just tamari, but I often combine these two in different ratios.
Just notice that coconut aminos contain more carbs than tamari. And if you go for tamari, use the traditional type, which is fermented (no shortcuts here!) and doesn’t contain wheat or gluten.
Now, you must be dying to hear the secret ingredient: it’s raw apple cider vinegar, i.e., good old ACV. Having numerous health benefits, this incredible ingredient also helps make meat more tender. That’s one of the reasons why I use it in my beef jerky.
Apple cider vinegar also lends an appetizing tang to the meat, so that’s another reason I love using it in my jerky.
There are several spices you can use in your beef jerky, from mild to fiery. As I make a whole-family version, I favor mild flavors. This recipe uses onion powder as a natural flavor enhancer and either black or white pepper to lend a tongue-tickling kick.
Actually, I often use a combination of black and white pepper, but lately, I’ve used only white pepper because I prefer the exciting note and black pepper seems to be somewhat worn and a bit too obvious spice.
Naturally, other spices work, too. Check for more tips at the Tips for Variations section below.
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Homemade Beef Jerky
So, that’s it, let’s take a look at how to prepare this superb snack:
Take about 2 lbs (910 grams), preferably grass-fed and grass-finished sirloin.
Slice it as thinly as you can.
Like this. Set aside for a while and make the marinade.
To make the marinade: take a steel or glass bowl and combine 1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut aminos or tamari (I use coconut aminos here)…
…2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar…
…1 teaspoon onion powder…
…and 1 teaspoon ground white pepper or black pepper (I use white pepper here).
Whisk until well combined.
Place the beef slices one by one into the marinade, ensuring the slices are completely covered with the marinade.
Here we go. You can still toss the meat gently that the marinade covers it completely.
Cover with a plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours.
The next day, take the marinated beef slices from the fridge. (Notice how the color has changed!)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place a baking rack on top of the baking sheet.
Spread the beef slices evenly on the baking rack, next to each other. The slices can touch each other, but don’t let them overlap.
Place the baking rack with the beef slices on the top oven rack.
Place the parchment paper-lined baking sheet on the low oven rack. This is to catch the possible drippings from the meat.
Dry at 140 °F (60 °C) for six hours, or until dry and crispy.
Serve as a snack or appetizer.
I’ve stored the jerky for several weeks at room temperature, and it was still good. However, I really cannot say how well it stores other than it stores pretty well!
How I Came up with This Easy Jerky Recipe
I’ve come a long way with making beef jerky, improving the recipe and the method how I make it.
I remember I did my first beef jerky experiments several years ago. I read blog posts and other articles for successful homemade beef jerky.
Most of the recipes guided you to make the beef slices “hang” from the baking rack while drying them in the oven. However, this hanging didn’t work for me, as the dried meat was super difficult to remove from the rack as it had got stuck to the rack so badly.
Maybe that was why I gave up homemade beef jerky and settled with the inferior commercial creations filled with dubious ingredients.
However, at some point, after getting fed up with those inferior commercial creations (which were without exception also teeth-breakingly tough), I decided to dig up my notes about the homemade beef jerky experiments and start exploring again to find out if there are ways to improve the recipe.
I decided to try how the jerky turns out if I place the meat slices horizontally on the rack, not hanging from it.
My joy was indescribable when I noticed that this method worked wonders. The meat dried wonderfully and equally, and the slices were so much easier to remove from the rack. Awesome!
I still was playing with different oven temperatures and drying times before I found out that I got the best result when drying the meat at 140 °F (60 °C) for six hours.
A bit higher temperature baked the meat rather than dried it, and the baked meat certainly tasted dull, and the texture wasn’t that pleasant compared to the flavorful dried meat. Actually, 140 °F (60 °C) is the maximum temperature I recommend. Even 122 °F (50 °C) would give a good result, however, you might need to dry the meat longer than six hours.
Now, when I had found the ultimate drying method and the ideal temperature, I continued experimenting with spices. I tried different marinades – or not marinades at all but just drying the seasoned beef slices. I also tried dry rubs. Soon, I noticed that the jerky benefits from proper marination to become the most tender and to gather enough flavors.
As a base for the marinade, I used tamari and coconut aminos, which worked equally well. They gave a bit different result actually: tamari lent a really salty flavor, so there was no need for additional salt, and coconut aminos gave a delightfully sweet and pleasant note. Like said, I often combined these two to get both enough salt and sweetness to the jerky.
At some point, I decided to add apple cider vinegar to the marinade. My first thought was to get more flavor and maybe reduce the carbs by replacing part of the coconut aminos or tamari with practically carb-free vinegar. However, I noticed that this marvelous ingredient made the jerky super tender! This was so important observation that nowadays I always add apple cider vinegar to the marinade. Now, I don’t have to suffer from tough jerky ever again!
As you might know, onion powder is my favorite natural flavor enhancer, and I use it everywhere. No wonder I decided to try out how it works with jerky.
To my satisfaction, it worked wonders, so it was definitely a keeper. I also tried garlic powder in addition to onion powder, and I was also happy with it.
I also tried out different peppers, chilis, and seasoning mixes. In the end, I was happy just with white pepper and black pepper, so those ended up at my final recipe.
In fact, I was so happy with the recipe that it ended up in one of my Finnish keto books, Järkevä ketoruokavalio, which was published a bit over one year ago.
This beef jerky is my to-go snack, and I basically have it all the time with me, also while traveling. This jerky is also my son’s favorite. I make sure that he always has access to this flavorful and nutritious snack.
Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy:
- 2 lbs = 910 g sirloin, preferably from grass-fed and grass-finished beef
- 1/2 cup = 120 ml coconut aminos or tamari
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or black pepper
- Slice the meat as thinly as you can. Set aside for a while when you make the marinade.
- To make the marinade: combine the coconut aminos or tamari, vinegar, onion powder, and the pepper in a steel or glass bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Place the beef slices one by one into the marinade, ensuring the slices are completely covered with the marinade.
- Cover with a plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours.
- The next day, take the marinated beef slices from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 140 °F (60 °C).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a baking rack on top of the baking sheet.
- Spread the beef slices evenly on the baking rack, next to each other. The slices can touch each other, but don't let them overlap.
- Place the baking rack with the beef slices on the top oven rack.
- Place the parchment paper-lined baking sheet on the low oven rack. This is to catch the possible drippings from the meat.
- Dry for about 6 hours, or until dry and pliable. A longer drying time makes the meat crispy (which I prefer!).
- Serve as a snack or appetizer. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
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Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified Organic – Raw, Unfiltered All Natural Ingredients, 16 ounce, 2 Pack
Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified Organic – Raw, Unfiltered All Natural Ingredients, 16 Ounce
Starwest Botanicals Organic Malabar Black Whole, Pepper, 16 Ounce
Simply Organic White Pepper, Certified Organic | 2.86 oz | Piper nigrum L.
Simply Organic White Onion Powder, Certified Organic | 3 oz | Allium cepa
Frontier Co-op Onion, White Powder, Certified Organic, Kosher, Non-irradiated | 1 lb. Bulk Bag | Allium cepa
Big Tree Farms Organic Coco Aminos, Original Flavor, Soy Free, Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo, Certified Kosher, Whole30, Non GMO, Low Glycemic, Low Sodium, Sauce & Marinade Substitute, 10 oz (Pack of 2)
Organic Coconut Aminos Soy Sauce Replacement, 16.9 Ounces
San-J Organic Tamari Soy Sauce, Gold Label, 64 Ounce
San-j Organic Tamari, 20 oz
|Nutrition information if coconut aminos used||In total||Per serving if 12 servings in total|
|Protein||206.5 g||17.2 g|
|Fat||36.7 g||3.1 g|
|Net carbs||31.8 g||2.7 g|
|kcal||1292 kcal||108 kcal|
|Nutrition information if tamari used||In total||Per serving if 12 servings in total|
|Protein||214.8 g||17.9 g|
|Fat||37.0 g||3.1 g|
|Net carbs||13.4 g||1.1 g|
|kcal||1262 kcal||105 kcal|
Tips for Variations
You can vary this jerky endlessly with different spices and seasonings. However, not all spices stand long drying as their taste might turn out pungent. Over the years, I’ve tried several spices and noticed that at least these work:
- Cajun seasoning
- Barbecue seasoning
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili flakes
- Red pepper flakes
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- White pepper
- Liquid smoke
- Smoked paprika
- Ranch seasoning
- Brown sugar substitute (I use Sukrin Gold)
Actually, another way to tenderize the meat is to use a little bit of baking soda. I’ve heard of this method but didn’t try it so far as I have been so satisfied with the tenderizing properties of ACV and the mouth-watering tang it provides.
I bet other kinds of vinegar work, too. However, I recommend using flavorful and relatively mild vinegar, such as coconut or rice vinegar. Just make sure they don’t have any added sugar.
Fresh pineapple or papaya juice are also excellent meat tenderizers, thanks to their meat protein-breaking enzymes bromelain and papain, respectively. However, they are pretty high in carbs for a keto diet, so if you use them, go easy on them.
Talking about carbs: As coconut aminos are also relatively high in carbs (luckily, the jerky is still very low in carbs even if you use coconut aminos) compared to tamari, you can reduce the carb count using tamari in your jerky.
This week was unbelievably busy but gratifying. I’ve taken lots of photos for our Ketokamu products, written plenty of text, and recorded exciting videos.
On Friday, we recorded videos of making Fathead dough with our Ketokamu baking mix. The result was beyond fantastic, especially the Finnish Christmas pastries I made with it.
Yes, I have been a bit obsessed with these traditional star-shaped seasonal pastries lately, and I’m so happy I managed to develop a perfect keto substitute for the wheaty and sugary pastries!