Our love for all things jerky-related is no secret. Today, we are going to show you how to make one of our favorite snacks – ground beef jerky. There are a lot of reasons to love homemade ground beef jerky. You can make all kinds of great-tasting flavors, it is a nutrient-rich snack that is convenient for on-the-go lifestyles, and it is super easy to make at home.
Making Ground Beef Jerky
One of the most frustrating parts about making jerky at home is slicing the meat thinly and consistently. Even with a good meat slicer, it can be challenging to get uniform slices that are thin enough for jerky.
Making ground beef jerky is an easy solution to this problem. You don’t need anything special to make a consistently thin jerky that dries evenly when using ground beef.
Choosing the Best Ground Beef
Jerky making is one of those opportunities to take advantage of extra-lean ground beef. When we make jerky from ground beef, we usually use the leanest we can get – something like 97 percent lean is perfect.
You want to avoid using fattier ground beef because the fat won’t dry and can turn rancid, ruining the batch and posing some serious health risks. You also want to look for ground beef with a fine grind so that the meat is easier to press into strips.
During the drying process, the ground meat will lose practically all of its water (which will reduce its weight significantly). Ground beef can drop one-half to two-thirds of its weight during the drying process. We usually start with around three pounds of beef to make about one pound of jerky.
Keep this in mind when you are buying your meat. We can say from experience that a pound of jerky doesn’t tend to last very long.
What Other Ground Meat Works?
Beef is the most common ground meat and is usually one of the least expensive, but that doesn’t mean it is the only way to go when making ground jerky.
We have tried today’s recipe using bison, wild game, pork, chicken, turkey, and lamb. It always works out perfectly.
Steps for Making Ground Beef Jerky
The first step is to flavor the meat. Any combination of flavors you like in regular jerky work just as well here. Our favorite way to do it is to use the Bearded Butcher Blend Original Seasoning. We add a small amount of curing salt and a touch of brown sugar to enhance the natural flavors of the seasoning and produce a crisp jerky.
All you’ll need to do is mix the seasonings into the meat. Try to avoid using liquid in this recipe, but if the seasonings are clumping up too much, you can add a small amount of cold water.
Once the seasonings are completely mixed into the ground beef, place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid or a resealable bag in the refrigerator and let it rest.
The meat requires at least four hours for the flavors to set and can be left in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Using a Jerky Gun
A jerky gun is an inexpensive tool that makes the process of crafting ground beef jerky fast and easy. Simply load the cold beef into the cylinder, pressing it in firmly to remove all air pockets, load the tip, and pipe the ground meat into strips.
Pipe directly onto the trays of your dehydrator or onto parchment paper if you are using the oven.
Ground beef jerky can be made in the smoker, but it isn’t as simple as whole-muscle jerky. So we typically stick with the dehydrator for this recipe.
If you don’t have a jerky cannon, you can press the ground beef out using a rolling pin. We recommend placing the beef between sheets of parchment paper and rolling until the meat has a uniform thickness of less than one-quarter of an inch.
It is best to start with the beef very cold to make this process easier. If the meat begins to get sticky, simply place it in the freezer for a few minutes.
How Long to Dry Ground Beef Jerky?
Ground beef jerky will take anywhere from about three hours up to about eight hours depending on how efficient your dehydrating system is. The jerky will take longer in the oven since it is more difficult for the moisture to evaporate. If using an oven, you can help the process along by cracking the door open while the jerky is drying.
What Temperature to Dry Jerky?
In the dehydrator, you'll want to go with the highest setting. In the oven, set the temperature as low as it will go (typically 170 degrees).
You might want to use a meat thermometer probe to measure the ambient temperature in the oven when making jerky to keep tabs on it.
If the oven gets too hot, the beef will cook instead of dry.
Ground Beef Jerky Recipe
- 1lb extra-lean ground beef
- 2-4 tbsp of Bearded Butcher Blend Original Seasoning, more or less to desired taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp curing salt (optional)
- 1-2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
- Food dehydrator or oven
- Jerky cannon or rolling pin
- Meat thermometer and/or instant-read thermometer
- Parchment paper (for use in the oven)
- Mix all of the seasonings together in a medium-sized bowl and taste to ensure the proper flavor.
- Add cold ground beef to the seasonings and mix well to fully incorporate the seasonings into the meat.
- Refrigerate for four to 24 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator and immediately begin making jerky strips.
- If using a jerky cannon, load the cannon and pipe ground beef mixture onto parchment paper or the trays of a dehydrator. If not using a jerky cannon, press the ground meat between parchment paper sheets with a rolling pin until ¼ inch thick or less.
- Place jerky in dehydrator set at highest temp or in the oven at 170 degrees to dry.
- Begin checking the jerky for doneness after three hours, checking every 30 minutes.
- Jerky is finished when it cracks when bent and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Store dried ground jerky in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Jerky will stay fresh for up to two weeks.
One of our favorite things about ground beef jerky is the difference in the bite from regular jerky. It is much softer, almost crumbly, and perfect for people who like jerky but have dental issues. The ground meat makes it simple to add all kinds of crazy flavors.
Ground jerky is also easy to make at home and provides a great way to provide protein and nutrition for your family in a tasty snack. Don’t just take our word for it, try out this ground beef jerky recipe and tell us what you think.
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