Homemade beef jerky for a lazy Sunday

Like many Americans, I love me some football. NFL Red Zone has probably been the single largest killer of Sunday productivity for me for several years now, at least during football season. Don’t get me wrong, I still get stuff around the house done… I do have full view of the TV when cooking, cleaning the kitchen, and folding laundry afterall. Just don’t ask me to do something, ya know, outside.

Since I know I’m going to be spending Sunday “in”, I know I’ll have the time to make one of my favorite snack foods. I’m talking about beef jerky. REAL beef jerky, not the junk full of fillers and preservatives you find at the store. Every time I see somebody munching on Jack Links I shudder a little. Just take a look at the ingredients for their “Original” flavor: BEEF, WATER, SUGAR, LESS THAN 2% SALT, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, DRIED SOY SAUCE (SOYBEANS, SALT, WHEAT), HYDROLYZED CORN AND SOY PROTEIN, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, MALTODEXTRIN, FLAVORINGS, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE. Why would anybody want to put this stuff in their mouth?

Every time we go shopping, I always check the bargain bins to look for jerky candidate meat. I always look for thin sliced top sirloin personally, but any beef steak will work as long as its thin cut. You can also use venison, bison or even pork, although the venison or bison may come out a little gamey. For the actual cooking, I use a Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator. It is incredibly easy to use, easy to clean and fits nicely in the closet when not in use. Don’t worry if you don’t have a dehydrator though, an oven set to 165 Degrees works just as well!


  • 2 lbs thin-sliced top sirloin, cut into 1 inch wide strips
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Loading up the dehydrator trays


  1. If you haven’t already, make sure you cut off extra fat from your steak strips.
  2. Add strips to a mixing bowl then add all spices
  3. Hand mix the meat and the spices thoroughly
  4. Load strips into the  dehydrator (or oven, see notes below), making sure to leave a small bit of space between strips.
  5. Dehydrate at 165 degrees for 6 – 8 hours, checking periodically after 5 hours.

I prefer light seasoning over so peppery your lips burn


  • If you are using an oven, lay the strips directly on the racks, taking care to leave space between each strip and put a baking pan at the bottom to catch any drips.
  • Make sure you don’t set your temperature any lower than 165 degrees, as this is what is required to kill bacteria in the meat.
  • Some people love the smell of cooking beef jerky, some people hate it. I’ve found it best to put my dehydrator outside for the duration, as the smell would get a bit overpowering after 6 hours!
  • Feel free to try your own spices, although if you’re keeping Primal be sure you avoid the bad ingredients like sugar, soy, wheat, corn syrup, and MSG.
  • No preservatives means it won’t last forever. Eat or freeze within 2 weeks, store in ziplock baggies and keep it refrigerated to be safe.

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