Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

My kids really like beef jerky, and actually I do too. For a long time, we never had it in the house because a) it’s expensive and b) unless its full of sugars and nitrates, it is really expensive!

When a road trip left me desperate for some kind of portable protein, I tried an idea a friend had recommended: making jerky from ground beef. It was surprisingly easy, much cheaper, and the kids loved it. I now keep this on hand for daily snacks and make big batches for trips.

I’ve also found that deer and game meats can be prepared this way and are excellent! Usually, we just use grass fed beef though.

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe

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Ground Beef Jerky Recipe




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Make beef jerky with ground beef to save money. Easily customize the flavor with natural spices...



  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. On my oven this is 170 degrees F.
  2. Lightly rub olive oil over the bottom of a large baking sheet with a lip. (It is ok to use olive oil here because we aren't heating to high temps!)
  3. Mix any desired spices in with the ground meat
  4. Using the side of a glass or a rolling pin, roll the meat evenly around the baking sheet. It should be around 1/4 inch thick. If it is too thick, use a second baking sheet.
  5. Using a butter knife, lightly score the meat to make the sizes you want for the jerky. You can also skip this step and use kitchen scissors to cut into strips when its done.
  6. Brush with coconut aminos or fermented soy sauce if desired and sprinkle with a little extra sea salt. (I use Himalayan salt which has almost 90 trace minerals)
  7. Put in the oven for 8-12 hours or until hardened. It is a good idea to flip once, but not necessary at all. I usually stick this in at night and it is ready to flip in the morning and done a few hours later.
  8. Store out of the fridge for a couple weeks, or keep in the freezer if you aren't going to use it before then.
  9. Enjoy!


You can easily mix up the flavors in this recipe with different spices. I've made a Mexican type flavor with Cumin and Cilantro; a Chinese variation with ginger and coconut aminos; and an Italian version with Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, extra Garlic and pepper.

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Some Notes:

The jerky will harden up more after taking it out, so don’t let it get too dry in the oven. It also cooks down a lot, so make more than you think you will need. My kids actually like this dipped in guacamole or salsa, but we also eat it plain or with raw cheese slices.

Ever made jerky? Were you successful? Let me know below!

This ground beef jerky is easy to make and customize and is much cheaper to make than traditional jerky.

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Reader Comments

  1. I’ve been looking for something like this! I’m so impatient with cutting meat for homemade jerky. This looks like the solution!

  2. Wow!!!!! I have been wanting to make my own homemade beef jerky for months. You just made that more possible then ever. I new knew it could be so simple! I am actually thawing a lb. of ground beef as I type this…. I think I might make some beef jerky with it. THANK YOU!!

  3. I’m curious about the texture. Is it very tough? Chewy? Not that I know that much about regular beef jerky, but how is it different?

    • It is a little easier to chew than regular beef jerky, though if it
      cooks too long, it can get a little harder. It isn’t tough, but hard
      enough to seem like jerky.

  4. this sounds like such a great idea!! I will definitly be trying this out. Must this be refrigerated and how long can they keep?

    • Doesn’t need to be refrigerated unless it will take you longer than a
      week or two to eat it. If it will, just keep in the fridge for up to
      4 weeks and the freezer indefinitely.

    • Made it last night! Fantastic!!
      Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  5. Is it best to use 2-3 lbs of ground beef or will 1 lb work? I ask because I have 1 lb. thawed right now. Thanks!

    • One pound would work. I’ve always just made it in bigger amounts
      because it takes so long.

  6. What are coconut aminos?

    • They are similar to soy sauce, but fermented from coconut instead. I
      can’t find them locally where I am, but there are available several
      places online… just do a search

    • They are similar to soy sauce, but fermented from coconut instead. I
      can’t find them locally where I am, but there are available several
      places online… just do a search

  7. I make pemmican from 96/4 ground beef (I don’t have easy access to grass-fed beef): I dry the beef, put it in a blender and grind it down into almost a powder. I weigh the dried beef and add about 40% BY WEIGHT of grass-fed tallow, salt to taste, and chipotle chili powder. It keeps longer than jerky. (I read an article several years ago some archeologists found pemmican in a cave in France and decided the pemmican was about 100 years old and was still a viable product.) Native Americans would add various berries and such to theirs.

    • how’s it taste? I just made some pemmican from ground up home-made jerky and tallow, 50/50 by weight. Kinda hard to get down. Needed something to make the tallow not taste like tallow.

      • I made my pemmican and added dried blueberries and coconut oil as I didn’t have tallow. It’s delicious, the kids even eat it like candy.

  8. Thank you! I’ve been putting this off, thinking I needed some way to extrude the meat (and didn’t want to go buy something to do that). This is great.  Here’s a great ingredient to try: smoked paprika.  Awesomely smoky.  

    • Actually just an hour ago I used the rolling pin method to prepare ground beef for jerky. I still want a jerky gun however, it would make my job much easier.

      • would a manual trigger or electric cookie press work with one of the flat dies? that would make long strips and it becomes a multitasker vs. a one use wonder 😉 This sounds interesting. I made jerky for my kids from a roast that I thin sliced and dried in my dehydrator. Would a dehydrator work for this as well? I’m not sure what the max temp is (Excalibur) but probably up around 150 or so.

        • did you cook the roast before dehydrating it?

  9. I’ve had good results making this in the dehydrator.  I usually make it with one pound at the time and add onion powder as well as garlic powder, about a half teaspoon or so of the onion powder, along with sea salt and a little other spice sprinkled in.  I form the pieces with my hands, first making a small ball usually, and try to make them fairly small and thin.  I put the dehydrator on 105 degrees or less for a few hours so that it’s not so hard and chewy.  I’ve found that you don’t really need the liners on the trays and it dries better without them.  Of course, it doesn’t last long, so I should probably be making bigger batches at one time and storing them in the frig.  I like the fact that they’re basically raw, so we get more of the enzymes, etc.

    • what temp do you put it on for the majority of the time?? 105 at the end or the whole time??

  10. Thank you for your site. I search and search for recipes and always end up back here. You have everything!

  11. What do you think is the fattiest ground beef that can used for this?

      • Deer jerky works great! It has zero fat but lots of healthy protein and vitamins.
        try it.

  12. I have made jerky a lot from grass f’ed top round steaks usually. It is delicious, but a lot of work to cut thin slices. I have a food dehydrator and am going to try your recipe with it! Can’t wait! Thanks!

  13. Making this today with some elk meat that I had thawing. I hope it turns out well! 🙂 My hubby has a hard time finding healthy things to snack on since the office cupboard where he works is full of candy bars and, at the very best, rancid nuts. I hope this goes over well with him, cause it’d be nice to give him something to eat if he’s hungry.

    I made this with cumin, a lot of garlic, cayenne and coriander (and of course salt and pepper). It smelled SO good raw, Hopefully it tastes good cooked as well!

    Thanks for the recipe! If this turns out, I will be making it again and again!

  14. wow, this is wonderful.. all the goodness of grass-fed and by-product free with the convenience of jerky! You’ve really demystified this process for me, thank you!

  15. I have been making this for years now, having figured it out by trial and error. I always pat it out by hand (easier than using a rolling pin) onto wax paper that I set directly onto the oven racks. You can also set the jerky/wax paper on a baking sheet if preferred. After an hour or less, when the surface is somewhat dry to the touch, I flip the sheet of jerky directly onto the oven rack and peel the wax paper off. It dries far more quickly with this method. I also open the door periodically to let out the moisture. Once dry, I cut it into strips for a portable protein snack or quick meal. My family loves it! I also make a variety of flavors, usually using 1 tsp salt per pound of meat, and 1.5 lbs per baking sheet. My oven has convection which I sometimes use, and also has an adjustment to calibrate the oven temperature, so I can reduce the temperature by 30* to make the temp. 140*. Hope this helps.

    • Cseibe – About how long does it take for your jerky to be done?

      • About 8 hours.

  16. Will this technically work with “regular” ground beef? I haven’t been able to get grass-fed meats yet. Will it still store just as well?

    • This works just as well with regular ground beef. My husband tried it and although it was a little bit greasy because of the fat content of the meat we used ( we bought 80/20) just to try this, it was delicious. Were in the market for some venison and bison that’s grass fed right now so we can make our snacks healthier.

  17. I’ll go try ground beef jerky! It’s a lot less expensive then the steak i normally buy. LOL. my recipe is amazing. It’s base is soy sauce and add worchester sauce to taste. Then garlic, cinnamon, and pepper. Then pour it over and let it sit for like 12 hours and then dry it. Fantastic!

  18. I made this yesterday but m not sure I cooked it long enough. It was about 8 hrs. How do I know when it’s done? I’m afraid to store it at room temp if it’s not fully dried. It’s in the fridge now. Thanks for your help!

    • It should not bend easily when it’s fully done, and the inside shouldn’t look wet at all…

  19. I mixed up the meat and put it on the baking sheet tonight, I’m gonna put it in the oven tomorrow morning. The lowest setting on my oven is 200, how long do you think I should cook it for? Also, wouldn’t the fat cook off of the ground beef and need to be drained?

    • With the beef I’ve used, it cooks so slow that the fat has never been a problem, but definitely drain it if it does collect. 200 should be fine, but I’d start watching carefully after a couple of hours…

  20. Hi Katie, I just tried this recipe. It cooked in my oven at 170 for 12 hours, however it still seemed rather pink/red on the inside. I rolled the meat very thin and its definitely dry, but is this normal? I know a lot of jerky seems reddish, so I wasnt sure.

    • This was a concern for me too. How did yours turn out?

  21. So excited to try this! I recently started buying the organic ground beef from Costco, and have been searching for good, clean jerky instead sugar loaded junk from the store!

  22. I made this receipt and I can see how children would love it. For me it was the worst so called Jerky I have ever had. Guess I will just stick with Wild Joe’s.

  23. My lame apartment oven only goes as low as 200°. Is this workable or should I try to use someone else’s?

  24. I made this with 80/20 beef. I had to press it out by hand. Roller did not work. Oven at 175 for 12 hours. 1 hour into it I noticed that the meat had started to shrink and was sitting in a pool of fat. I pulled the tray out, tipped the sheet to drain the fat, placed a cooling rack upside down on top of the meat, then sandwiched a separate baking tray on top. I flipped the whole thing over and removed the used baking sheet so that I now had the meat on top of a cooling rack, on top of a fresh baking sheet. Worked great for elevating the meat out of its own grease and catching any extra drippings. I also blotted the jerky with a paper towel after the 12 hours to combat any extra greasiness. My husband has been enjoying the jerky in his lunch!

  25. Although this post is old hoping to get a response so I can figure out if I should eat my jerky or not :). Made ground turkey jerky last night in my dehydrator. Put it in around 10pm then flipped over in trays at 7am. The underside was still raw-is this normal? Flipped one of them again and it’s still a bit raw on one side. Concerned since it’s been cooking for that long that bad bacteria may have formed. Am I being overly concerned? Should I just keep cooking it? I stuck one of the layers in the oven on 275 for 10 minutes per a review from another site but don’t know if that was necessary and now it’s even chewier. Any thoughts would be SO helpful. Thanks!

    • I usually make it in the oven so I haven’t had this problem specifically, but I’ve never had a problem with it even if it took a while to dehydrate.

      • K thanks Katie! I ended up eating it and all is well. Going to try in the oven as the cleanup seems easier :).

  26. Planning on making some deer hunter sticks in my dehydrator with ground meat 80/20 mixture, my question is after I add my seasoning can I add small cheese pieces to my mixture and would it come out ok dehydrated? Thanks for any help

  27. Thank you very much for the easiest recipe for jerky I have come across. My 21 year old daughter said I had the perfect blend of spices in it… I tried the Chinese variation with ginger. I plan on taking batches on road trips in the future!

  28. As usual, EXCELLENT recipe! We have yet to try one of yours that we don’t love.

  29. I used one of the Breakfast Sausage recipes from Real Life Paleo on ground venison and added a little extra salt. Then followed your instructions for dehydrating. It’s delicious!! I recommend trying one of their breakfast sausage recipes if you’re looking for a new taste for your jerky.

  30. I have a lot of year old ground deer meat, a little freezer burnt, and I’ve been trying to figure out something to do with it (besides cook it for my 115 puppy) I thawed out 4 lbs and followed this recipe to make up a batch of jerky…now granted there’s three cookie sheets in my oven right now, but my house smells wonderful!! I didn’t have smoky flavor spice, so I used the next best thing, smoked paprika. Added a bit of chili powder for good measure, some worchshire, some soy sauce, some balsamic vinegar, some siracha, onion and garlic powder, salt, pepper, white pepper, seasoned salt (hey I didn’t have curing salt so figured a little extra wouldn’t hurt!) mixed it all til I had a nice mild smell, not overly strong, it’s looking so good, I just drained and flipped, I can’t wait til it’s done! My oven starts at 200 but a bit under that so it still kicks on prob 150-175 F

  31. i made this tonight with maple smokehouse spice and ground turkey (hubby is allergic to beef, pork, and chicken). So yummy!
    Made citrus basil beef last night, but left it in the oven too long. Tastes wonderful, but a little dry. I’m going to use it as ‘instant soup’ on a plane trip. I’ll break it up into a cup of hot water.

  32. I made jerky with ground elk. Mixed in seasoning add water set in frige overnite. Rolled out between two sheets of wax paper. Cut into 1 in strips with wet table knife, placed on backing sheet 200 degrees two hours . Still adjusting the seasoning for next batch.

  33. We like to have beef jerky cut into small pieces rather than taking a long piece. This is good when travelling, etc. as it’s easier to reach into a baggie and pick out one piece.

    What is the proper way to handle this…cut the meat in pieces, then marinate, and follow with dehydrating, or cut the meat into small pieces after the hydrating is complete.

    • I prefer to cut it up into whatever size pieces after it is done dehydrating because the meat shrinks, and it is hard to tell how small it will get if you cut it up beforehand. It is not difficult to cut once dried.

  34. when I first told my husband I was going to try this he said, “I can think of 100 better ways to use that ground beef”, it made me question what I was doing. We are on a tight budget so I almost felt bad for making this but it was already in the oven. We watched and waited all night as this recipe started to take shape. My husband still skeptical also stated I’d be the only one who would end up eating it. This morning I pulled this outta the oven and tried my first bite. Not too bad I thought. 10 min after pulling it out of the oven my husband and 10 year old had the entire batch gone!!!
    I will say you made a believer out of my husband wellness mama!
    And we will be making this again very soon!

  35. My kids love jerky. THey go on alot of hikes an mission trips and it is a staple for them. I would love to try this and you have some great ideas for variety, but do you know how I could make it teriyaki flavored? THat is there favorite.

  36. I was wondering the same thing. I want to make this for my SO as he loves jerky so much he would eat it every day if he could! I’d also like to try it as Katie mentioned this is a bit softer/ less chewy than commercially made jerky, which is why I didn’t like jerky for many years. His other favorite flavor besides teriyaki is barbecue. I was worried about putting anything with sugar on the ground beef with it being in the oven so long. I’m afraid the sugar would burn even at such a low temp and make the final product inedible. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  37. Our Amish friends preserve many meats naturally. Here are a few of their tips,
    1) Meat has a saturation point – fresh cut beef stops absorbing marinades after 8 hours, ground at about 6. Drying meat naturally concentrates marinade flavors.
    2) Try using pure Cane Syrup instead of sugar. Note: Cane Syrup has a strong molasses type flavor, so start with small amounts.
    3) You may want to try a dry rub instead of marinade. It only absorbs into the outer layers, however with thin sliced or ground meat that’s sufficient and quicker.
    4) Turkey meat fibers are different from beef. Adding 1/2 tsp of cinnamon opens the fibers so marinade absorbs better. (try it next Thanksgiving)
    5) It is necessary to dry at no less than 170. Lower temps can actually accelerate bacteria growth instead of killing it, causing your Jerky to spoil quickly.
    6) High oven temps can be lowered by venting the oven. Propping it open with a wooden spoon also allows the moisture to escape faster. [Warning: otherwise honest kids and spouses can be turned into thieves by the escaping aroma.]
    Hope some of that helps!!

  38. How lean of ground beef do you tend to use for this?

    • It’s my understanding the leaner the better- the more fat the quicker it will go rancid.

  39. I’m looking forward to trying this. I typically make jerky using High Mountain brand jerky seasoning, but I’m in a wellness challenge and can’t eat sugar or preservatives or grains. So I would like to try this recipe with just salt and seasoning and ground beef. The problem is after searching several sites I’m freaked out about what is “safe.” I’ve made jerky a dozen times with High Mountain and we will eat it unrefrigerated for up to a week, but for this jerky, I’m wondering if we have to do anything different with this to keep it safe since it doesn’t contain the .85% sodium nitrite that seems common with the commercial seasons.

  40. The American Indians did not use Sodium nitrite in their jerky.

  41. Finally a beef jerky recipe, they ARE so expensive prepackaged and packed with sugar and all other types of ingredients. Thanks!!

  42. Would it work the same way if you wanted to make liver jerky?

    • Liver has too much fat and moisture for jerky.