Beef jerky is a savory snack that’s loved for its chewy texture and rich flavor. Made by drying lean meat, jerky is a convenient food that’s perfect for on-the-go snacking and is appreciated for its high protein content. While traditional beef jerky is made from sliced whole muscle meat, a fantastic variation, ground beef jerky, offers a softer texture that may be more palatable for some. Ground beef jerky recipes allow for an easier chew, making it a great choice for people of all ages, including kids and older adults who might have difficulty with tougher jerky.
Creating ground beef jerky involves mixing lean ground beef with various seasonings to add flavor. The key to delicious ground beef jerky lies in choosing the right mix of spices and properly dehydrating the meat. The ingredients are usually simple, often including items like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a blend of spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Once mixed, the seasoned ground beef is shaped and dried either in a dehydrator or in an oven on a low setting for several hours. This process removes moisture and concentrates the flavor, resulting in a delicious and shelf-stable snack.
For those who enjoy making homemade snacks, ground beef jerky is an accessible project with plenty of room for personalization. Cooks can experiment with the seasoning blend, opting for classic BBQ tastes, spicy kicks, or sweet and savory profiles. Moreover, the simplicity of the recipe and its use of easy-to-find ingredients make it a rewarding endeavor for both beginner and experienced home chefs. Whether packing for a hike, filling lunchboxes, or simply enjoying a healthy snack at home, ground beef jerky is a versatile treat that invites creativity in the kitchen.Jump to Recipe
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What is Ground Beef Jerky?
Ground beef jerky is a popular snack made from lean ground beef. It’s known for being high in protein and comes in handy as a portable treat. People choose ground beef jerky for its softer texture and often simpler chewing experience compared to traditional beef jerky made from slices of whole muscle meat.
To make ground beef jerky, they season the ground beef and shape it into thin strips or sticks. Then, it’s dried slowly to remove moisture, which helps to prevent spoilage. This drying process is essential for creating jerky’s unique chewy texture.
Here’s what makes ground beef jerky stand out:
- High Protein Content: It’s an excellent source of protein, crucial for muscle repair and growth.
- Lean Snack Option: Using lean ground beef means it can be lower in fat.
- Convenience: Easy to pack and needs no refrigeration, making it perfect for on-the-go.
Ground beef jerky also carries some health benefits due to its protein content and the presence of various nutrients, depending on the added seasonings and ingredients. However, it’s important to look at the sodium levels, as some jerky can be quite high in salt.
This form of jerky is well-liked because people can customize it with their favorite spice mixes and marinades. It’s the go-to choice for those who prefer a gentler texture while still enjoying the savory flavors jerky offers.
Selecting the Right Ingredients
The success of a ground beef jerky recipe hinges on the choice of ingredients, from the type of ground beef to the balance of flavors in the seasonings. Each component plays a critical role in creating a delectable jerky.
Choosing Your Beef
Selecting the right ground beef is the foundation of good beef jerky. One should aim for a leaner mix, ideally 90% lean or higher, as too much fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster. Lean beef ensures that the jerky dries properly and has the preferred texture.
Seasonings and Flavorings
The right combination of seasonings and flavorings can elevate beef jerky from good to great. Essential ingredients include:
- Salt: A must-have for both flavor and preservation. Sea salt can be used for a more natural taste.
- Sugar: It balances the salt and helps in browning the jerky.
- Curing salt: Important for extending the shelf life.
- Spices: Such as black pepper for heat.
- Onion powder and garlic powder: For a savory depth.
- Liquid smoke: Gives a smoky flavor without a smoker.
- Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce: Provide umami and a complex flavor profile.
Preparing the Ground Beef
To make great ground beef jerky, one needs to start with the right ingredients and equipment. Opt for lean ground beef, preferably with a fat content of 90% or higher. The leaner the beef, the better the jerky will be, as excess fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- Jerky gun or jerky cannon
- Rolling pin (optional)
- LEM jerky cannon (optional)
The first step is to choose your ground beef. For ground beef jerky, selecting beef with a high lean-to-fat ratio is essential. This ensures the jerky dries correctly and lasts longer. After selecting the beef, the prep time is minimal. One must simply season it according to their jerky recipe.
Next, using a jerky gun or jerky cannon, one fills the device with the seasoned ground beef. A jerky cannon, like the LEM jerky cannon, is particularly useful for creating uniform strips, which helps in even dehydrating. If a jerky gun is not available, a rolling pin can serve as an alternative tool for flattening the meat into thin strips or sheets.
Before starting the jerky drying process, some prefer to freeze the seasoned beef for a short time. This helps in firming up the beef, making it easier to handle and shape. However, this step is optional and may vary based on personal preference or recipe specifics.
In essence, prepping ground beef for jerky is straightforward, involving seasoning and shaping the meat before it’s dehydrated into delicious jerky.
Creating the Marinade
The foundation of any great ground beef jerky is its marinade. This flavorful liquid concoction is what infuses the meat with aromatic tastes and tenderizes it for that perfect chew. Making the marinade is a simple step, but an essential one.
- Liquid Ingredients: These are the base of the marinade. Typically, one combines both Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce for a rich umami flavor.
- Spices: Freshly ground black pepper adds a subtle heat, while garlic powder and onion powder contribute savory notes.
- Mix: In a mixing bowl, combine equal parts of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. The exact quantities can adjust based on the amount of beef being used.
- Season: Sprinkle in the black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. It’s important to balance these spices to taste, ensuring none overpower the others.
- Enhance: If a smoky flavor is desired, adding a dash of liquid smoke can introduce that classic barbecue essence.
- Whisk the marinade thoroughly to dissolve the spices and integrate all ingredients.
- Allow the mix to sit for a few minutes before using, this helps the flavors amalgamate.
By submerging the beef in this marinade, it absorbs the flavors, resulting in a delicious jerky. Remember, a good marinade is the secret to the jerky’s final taste.
Shaping and Seasoning
When making ground beef jerky, the process of shaping and seasoning is crucial. The meat should first be mixed with the desired seasonings to ensure an even flavor throughout. Most recipes will suggest a variety of spices including salt, pepper, garlic powder, and often a specially chosen mix to create a unique taste profile.
Once the ground beef is seasoned, one can form the jerky using a jerky gun or a rolling pin. A jerky gun is similar to a caulking gun, which can push the seasoned meat out into uniform strips or sticks. If using a rolling pin, the mixture should be rolled between two sheets of parchment paper to achieve the preferred thickness, typically around 1/4 inch.
Jerky Gun Method:
- Pack seasoned ground beef into the gun.
- Press out strips onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Rolling Pin Method:
- Place meat between parchment paper.
- Roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
- Cut into strips with a knife or pizza cutter.
Regardless of the chosen shaping method, consistent thickness is key for even drying during the cooking process. After shaping, the ground beef jerky should be placed in a smoker or oven preheated to the recommended temperature, taking care not to overlap pieces, ensuring even drying and cooking.
When making ground beef jerky, the drying method is crucial to ensure safety and the desired texture. Both dehydrators and ovens can serve well for this purpose, with temperature control being a vital aspect of the process.
Using a Dehydrator
A dehydrator is an appliance specifically designed to remove moisture from food, which includes meat for making jerky. It circulates warm air across the food placed on dehydrator trays. Here’s a simple process to follow:
- Set your dehydrator to 160-170 degrees F.
- Arrange the seasoned ground beef on the trays, making sure they’re spread out evenly.
- Let the beef dehydrate for about 4-6 hours, checking the texture periodically.
Some people prefer using an Excalibur dehydrator, known for its even drying and reliability.
If a dehydrator is not available, an oven can be an effective alternative. To dry beef jerky in an oven, one should:
- Preheat their oven to 300 degrees F for the initial heating phase.
- After laying out the beef on baking sheets, heat it for about 10 minutes.
- Then, reduce the oven’s temperature to its lowest setting, which is often around 170 degrees F, and leave the door slightly open to allow for air circulation.
- It might take several hours to properly dehydrate the meat; it should be dry but still pliable when done.
Both methods require regular checks to ensure the jerky reaches the desired doneness without over-drying.
Proper Storage Techniques
Maintaining the quality of ground beef jerky depends on proper storage. One should keep the jerky in an airtight container or resealable bag to retain its freshness and flavor.
Refrigeration helps to prolong the shelf life of beef jerky. After opening or creating homemade jerky, one should store it in the refrigerator to keep it safe for consumption. This is especially true if one lives in a warmer climate where room temperature can significantly shorten the lifespan of food products.
Freezing for Long-Term
For individuals who want to keep their beef jerky for several months, freezing provides an excellent long-term solution. When freezing jerky, it’s crucial to ensure that the product is placed in airtight packaging to prevent freezer burn. Ground beef jerky can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
Safe Beef Jerky Making Tips
When making beef jerky at home, it’s crucial to ensure your jerky is safe to eat by understanding the proper internal temperature and methods to prevent bacterial growth.
Understanding Internal Temperature
For beef jerky to be considered safe, it must reach an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C) to effectively kill any harmful bacteria. Using a meat thermometer, one can check to see if the jerky has reached the necessary temperature during the cooking process. The use of nitrates can also play a role in preserving the jerky and further preventing the development of bacteria, though some individuals prefer nitrate-free or gluten-free options for health reasons.
Preventing Bacteria Growth
Controlling bacteria growth is a fundamental aspect of making safe beef jerky. Ensuring cleanliness is a start: thoroughly washing hands, surfaces, and utensils with soapy water before beginning the process is essential. Freezing the meat before cutting it can reduce bacterial activity, and thawing should occur in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Additionally, maintaining a low sodium level can aid in both preserving the jerky and making it a healthier option, as excessive salt can be detrimental to one’s health.
Exploring variations in ground beef jerky recipes allows enthusiasts to customize the snack to their preferences, whether they crave the familiarity of commercial flavors or the satisfaction of creating a homemade batch.
Homemade Jerky Recipes
Homemade jerky gives individuals the opportunity to be adventurous with their flavor profiles. A popular choice is the BBQ ground beef jerky, which satisfies that smoky tanginess with a blend of spices like paprika and a hint of sweetness. Those who prefer a bit of heat might opt for the Wicked Fiery Ground Beef Jerky, turning up the intensity with red pepper flakes and coriander.
Some might step away from traditional beef and try exotic meats for their homemade jerky recipes. Ideas include bison, elk, or ground venison, each offering its own unique taste and texture.
Replicating the taste of store-bought jerky can be quite rewarding. The Jerkyholic’s Original Ground Beef Jerky follows a straightforward process, yielding that familiar chew and robust flavor without needing to marinate.
Commercial-style recipes often include a mix of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke to achieve that signature smoke flavor. By following these recipes, makers can produce jerky that rivals those found on grocery shelves.
Making homemade ground beef jerky is a rewarding process that results in a delicious snack suited to a wide range of tastes. Ground beef jerky provides a texture that tends to be easier to chew than traditional jerky, making it a fantastic choice for all ages. Incorporating a variety of seasonings allows one to tailor the beef jerky flavor to individual preferences, whether they enjoy it mild, tangy, or with a spicy kick.
Understanding the steps—from mixing and seasoning to drying—is essential. With practice, individuals can consistently produce high-quality jerky right at home. It is a simple pleasure and a healthier alternative to many store-bought snacks.
Here’s a quick summary of what they need to remember:
- Season the ground beef well and distribute the spices evenly.
- Flatten the meat to a uniform thickness, generally ¼ inch for optimal drying.
- Dry the jerky until it reaches a safe internal temperature and the desired consistency.
By adhering to these guides, anyone can create batches of ground beef jerky to enjoy and share.
For enthusiasts eager to try out new beef jerky recipes, several online guides offer step-by-step instructions. Hey Grill, Hey presents a thorough walkthrough for creating The BEST Ground Beef Jerky Recipe, detailing the smoking process and temperature control. Those new to the craft of making ground meat jerky will find this resource handy.
Alternatively, Jerkyholic shares their personal mix with the Jerkyholic’s Original Ground Beef Jerky. Their method emphasizes the importance of refrigeration time to let the meat bind together—critical for achieving the perfect texture.
Fans looking for a broad selection of jerky might consider exploring products by commercial jerky producers. These companies offer a variety of flavors and meat options, but for those wanting to handcraft their own jerky, recipes catering to special ingredients are available. For instance, a recipe for those preferring a soy-free alternative might use coconut aminos, a savory sauce made from the sap of coconut palms.
Lastly, for those who prefer the convenience of kitchen appliances, Common Sense Home offers a recipe geared towards a dehydrator or oven method, perfect for at-home chefs. Whether using a smoker, oven, or dehydrator, these resources can help jerky makers produce delicious snacks.
|Quick Guide to Resources
|Hey Grill, Hey
|People’s Choice Beef Jerky
|Common Sense Home
Remember to follow food safety guidelines, keeping beef jerky at a safe temperature to prevent any potential foodborne illnesses.
What is the difference between ground meat jerky and whole muscle jerky?
Ground meat jerky is made from ground beef, which is formed into strips or sticks before it’s dried. Whole muscle jerky is made from sliced pieces of whole muscle meat, like steak. Ground meat jerky is often easier to chew, while whole muscle jerky can be a bit tougher.
How do I make jerky using a smoker?
One can make jerky in a smoker by setting the temperature to 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit. The jerky should be smoked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and has a bendable but not breakable consistency. Learn more about smoking jerky.
Can I dehydrate ground beef jerky in an oven?
Yes, jerky can be dehydrated in an oven. Set the oven to a low temperature, between 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow the jerky to dry for several hours. It’s crucial to ensure the jerky has fully dehydrated before storing it.
What texture should I expect from homemade jerky?
Homemade jerky should be chewy. It should bend easily but shouldn’t be so tough that it’s difficult to bite. The texture can be adjusted by the drying time; longer drying times will result in a tougher jerky.
How long can homemade jerky last?
If stored properly in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, homemade jerky can last for 1-2 months. In the refrigerator, it can last up to 6 months. Always check for any signs of spoilage before consuming.
Ground Beef Jerky Recipe
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- Combine Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, liquid smoke (if using), garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Ensure the mixture is well combined.
- Marinate: Cover the bowl and let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Prepare Jerky Gun: If you have a jerky gun, fill it with the ground beef mixture. Alternatively, you can form the jerky by hand or with a rolling pin and cookie cutters.
- Shape Jerky: Create thin strips or shapes with the ground beef mixture.
- Dehydrate: Place the jerky pieces on dehydrator trays, leaving space between them for airflow. Dehydrate at 160°F (71°C) for 4 to 6 hours, or until the jerky is fully dried.
- Cool and Store: Let the jerky cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.