The Best Ground Beef Jerky Recipe & How to make it
What Is Ground Jerky?
While traditional jerky is cut into strips and soaked in a marinade, ground jerky involves mixing the seasonings right into the ground meat before pressing into strips or sticks to dry.
The meat can be pressed by hand, but most people prefer to use a jerky cannon to make uniform strips and Slim Jim style sticks.
Because the seasoning is blended straight into the meat, ground jerky doesn't need any time to marinate, so some people prefer it to the more lengthy process of making traditional jerky.
Skip the Marinade
With ground jerky, you add your mix of seasonings and cure directly to the meat, then blend it before shaping.
This eliminates the need to marinate, because the seasonings are already evenly distributed in the mix. Soaking in a flavorful liquid will make the meat too wet to shape, and will lead to crumbly jerky.
That doesn't mean you can't use your favorite flavors though--the end result will taste just as great.
If you crave the flavor that Worcestershire or ketchup brings to the mix, you can brush a small amount onto the fully formed strips before drying for a dash of flavor without all the moisture.
Choosing Your Beef
While you can get quality ground beef prepackaged at your local grocery store, you want to look for the option that is the finest ground.
If you're choosing meat at the butcher counter to be ground for you, ask them to grind once on their normal grind setting and then again at a finer setting.
This creates a smoother mix and creates a more uniform texture in your jerky.You want to choose the leanest beef available to avoid your jerky going rancid due to the extra fat.
Aim for at least 90% lean meat whenever available.
Seasoning Your Jerky
For ground jerky, you only want to use dry spices, not marinades or liquids. There are prepackaged spice mixes available, or you can use your own blend of spices (check the end of this article for an awesome recipe to try).
Some popular jerky seasoning brands include Paulie Spice, Hi Mountain Jerky, and Nesco. Whatever blend of spices you choose, be sure that there is a curing agent used.
Most mixes have cure in them, but if you're making your own recipe, make sure to include a cure.
After mixing in your spices and cure, refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow the cure and the meat to bind.
Some recipes or mixes will call for longer, so follow any directions given.
Forming Your Jerky
Once your meat has been seasoned and refrigerated it's time to form it into strips or sticks.
To shape it by hand, cover the meat with wax paper and roll on a flat surface until it's 1/4 in thick, or your own desired thickness. Then cut it into strips to transfer to your dehydrator.
You can use a regular knife or make use of your pizza wheel for an easy cut.If you want to use a jerky cannon (or jerky gun), you can find an affordable one from Presto, a mid-range Weston model, or a higher end model from JerkySpot.
To load the cannon, shape several small logs of meat slightly thinner than the barrel of your jerky cannon.
Drop them into the cannon, and use either the provided tool or your hands to press them in to remove any air bubbles.
If your jerky cannon has a tool provided to press the meat further down, use this as you go. If not, pressing firmly by hand once you've placed all the meat inside will do.
You want to eliminate as much air as possible so that your jerky comes out in one piece rather than in crumbly segments.Next, choose your attachment.
Most come with a head for strips and another for sticks of jerky (Slim Jim style). Screw on your attachment and start piping out your desired length of jerky.
If you plan to dehydrate your jerky in the oven, you can pipe directly onto your baking surface, ideally a baking sheet topped by a drying rack to allow airflow.
If you will move your jerky to a dehydrator, you can pipe your jerky onto wax paper on your counter top and then gently move them to the dehydrator racks.
If this is your first try at using a jerky cannon, try a few strips on a separate surface before piping directly onto your oven or dehydrator racks to avoid mishaps.
You're Almost There
The last step is to dehydrate your jerky in the oven or your dehydrator. Ground jerky will typically take 2.5-8 hours, depending on your oven temperature and the thickness of the jerky.
Using a dehydrator, the process will average 3.5-8 hours. Your total dehydration time will vary depending on the thickness of your jerky, so be sure to check every hour starting 2/3 through the suggested cook time.
If your recipe calls for a 3 hour dehydration, start checking it occasionally after 2 hours. Your jerky is done with it will stretch and rip, but if it crumbles or snaps you may have overcooked it.
The Ultimate Ground Beef Jerky Recipe
Create Your Own Beef Jerky Recipe
If you're more of a free spirit, try making your own mix of spices. The most popular for jerky are the following
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Salt & pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- liquid smoke (1 tbsp max)
- Worcestershire sauce (1 tbsp max)
- Ketchup or BBQ sauce (1 tbsp max