Hamburger Jerky Recipe: Your Guide to Homemade Beef Snacks

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Hamburger jerky is a savory snack that transforms ground beef into a portable and protein-packed treat. Making jerky from hamburger meat involves seasoning the beef and drying it out until it becomes tough and chewy. The process is straightforward, allowing anyone with basic kitchen equipment to try their hand at creating homemade jerky. With a ground beef jerky recipe, individuals can customize the flavor to suit their taste, using a combination of spices, sauces, or even a simple BBQ rub.

The convenience of this snack makes it ideal for on-the-go lifestyles, whether it’s for a quick protein boost during a hike or a satisfying munch during work breaks. Ground beef jerky also offers a practical way to preserve meat and enjoy it over time. Those interested in crafting their own jerky can use tools like a jerky gun, dehydrator, or an oven for the drying process. The end result is a homemade jerky that rivals the flavor and quality of store-bought options, all while providing an enjoyable kitchen project.

Enthusiasts looking for a hamburger beef jerky recipe will find a variety of options to explore, each with unique flavors ranging from hot and spicy to sweet and tangy. Experimenting with different ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, or ketchup allows for custom creations that cater to individual palates. The key to success is using lean meat and controlling the drying environment to achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Jump to Recipe

Understanding the Basics

In exploring how to make hamburger jerky, one must understand what ground beef jerky is, how it differs from traditional beef jerky, and the importance of selecting quality meat.

What Is Ground Beef Jerky

Ground beef jerky is a type of jerky made from ground beef, rather than sliced whole muscle meat. It’s formed into strips or sticks using a jerky gun or similar tool. Because it is ground, the meat fibers are shorter, resulting in a jerky that’s easier to chew.

Beef Jerky Vs. Ground Beef Jerky

Beef jerky traditionally comes from lean cuts of beef sliced into thin strips, then marinated, dried, and smoked. Ground beef jerky, on the other hand, is made from lean ground beef—ideally with about 10% fat—which is seasoned, formed, and dehydrated. It has a different texture that’s typically softer and less tough.

Choosing the Right Meat

Selecting the right meat is key for a delicious jerky. One should aim for lean beef with minimal fat content, as fat does not dry well and can cause the jerky to spoil faster. Lean ground beef, such as a 90% lean mix, works well for a ground beef jerky recipe, providing flavor while keeping the jerky stable for longer storage.

When choosing ground beef, consider:

  • Fat Content: Ideal is 10% fat for the best texture.
  • Freshness: Fresh ground beef ensures a better-tasting jerky.

Preparation Essentials

Making jerky from ground beef requires precision in both ingredients and process. Each step is crucial to ensure flavor and safety in the finished product.

Required Ingredients and Tools

  • Ingredients:

    • Ground beef
    • Seasonings:
      • 1 tablespoon salt
      • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
      • 2 teaspoons black pepper
      • 1 teaspoon onion powder
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 teaspoon curing salt (optional for preservation)
      • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (if not using a smoker)
  • Tools:

    • Large bowl for mixing
    • Jerky gun or rolling pin (for forming jerky strips)
    • Dehydrator or oven

Prepping the Meat

Select lean ground beef for a drier jerky, as excess fat can cause spoilage. If the beef isn’t already ground, one should grind it with a medium plate to achieve the ideal texture for jerky. Before starting, ensure that the work surface and tools are clean to prevent any contamination.

Mixing the Seasoning

Combine the dry seasonings—salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder, sugar, and optional curing salt—in a bowl. Add liquid smoke if the jerky won’t be smoked traditionally. Mix these ingredients thoroughly before adding them to the ground beef to ensure an even distribution of flavors. After mixing, the seasoned meat should rest to allow the flavors to infuse before forming into strips.

Creating the Jerky Mixture

To make the perfect hamburger jerky, one begins by preparing a beef mixture. They will need a large mixing bowl to combine their ingredients thoroughly. Starting with lean ground beef ensures that the jerky will have less fat, which is ideal for drying.


  • Lean ground beef
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground coriander

The process is simple. In the mixing bowl, the cook adds equal parts of Worcestershire and soy sauce to the beef. These sauces will act as the base of the marinade, providing both flavor and a mechanism to tenderize the meat. To this marinade, a pinch of cayenne pepper is added for a subtle spice. A dash of ground coriander brings a warm, earthy tone to the mix.


  1. Place the ground beef in the bowl.
  2. Pour equal amounts of Worcestershire and soy sauce over the meat.
  3. Sprinkle cayenne pepper and coriander into the bowl.
  4. Mix the ingredients by hand until well combined.

It’s important to mix everything evenly. Marinate the meat, covered, in the fridge. A few hours allow the flavors to soak into the beef, but for the best results, they should leave it overnight.

Once the meat has marinated, they’ll be ready to proceed to shaping and cooking, turning this seasoned mixture into delicious hamburger jerky.

Note: Always wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat to maintain food safety.

Shaping and Laying Out Jerky

Creating the perfect hamburger jerky involves careful shaping and methodical laying out of the meat to ensure even drying and consistent texture. It is crucial for the meat to be pressed evenly and arranged properly on the drying surfaces.

Using a Jerky Gun or Cannon

For those using a jerky cannon, the process starts by loading the seasoned ground beef into the barrel of the tool. After attaching the desired nozzle, squeeze the trigger to extrude uniform strips or sticks directly onto the dehydrator tray or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This tool helps in achieving consistent thickness quickly and easily.

Flat Rolling Method

If a jerky gun isn’t available, one can use a rolling pin for flattening the meat. First, place a portion of the meat between two sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. Then roll it out to a uniform thickness, about 1/4 inch is ideal. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut into strips or shapes before transferring them to the drying surface.

Arranging on Dehydrator Trays or Baking Sheets

Once the meat is shaped, it must be arranged on dehydrator trays or baking sheets without the pieces touching. Good airflow between the pieces is essential for even drying. When placing meat onto a dehydrator tray, it’s important to leave small gaps between the strips. For oven baking, ensure the oven is preheated, and use a wire rack over a baking sheet to improve air circulation around the jerky.

Drying Methods

When making hamburger jerky, the drying process is crucial for creating a safe and flavorful product. There are several methods one can use, each with its specific steps and requirements.

Using a Dehydrator

To dehydrate hamburger jerky, a dehydrator is often the best tool for the job. It removes moisture from the meat at a controlled rate and can be done so at a lower temperature, preserving flavor. An Excalibur dehydrator is a popular choice among jerky enthusiasts. The user should ensure an internal temperature of 160°F is reached to safely dehydrate jerky.

Oven-Drying Technique

For those without a dehydrator, an oven can be an effective alternative. Simply preheat the oven to its lowest setting, usually around 170°F, and place the marinated meat on a wire rack over a baking sheet. The oven should be kept slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Turning the meat halfway through drying and checking for air pockets ensures even dehydration.

Alternative Drying Methods

While dehydrators and ovens are the most popular, other techniques include using a smoker or even drying in the sun, which are traditional but less consistent. The smoker imparts a smoky flavor but requires careful monitoring. Regardless of the method, the jerky should be stored in the fridge after dehydrating to maintain freshness and extend shelf life.

After Dehydration

Once hamburger jerky has finished dehydrating, a few critical steps are necessary to ensure its quality and longevity.

Checking Dryness

After the jerky has undergone dehydration, checking for dryness is crucial. Properly dried jerky should be pliable but not brittle. To test, bend a piece of jerky; it should bend slightly without breaking. If the jerky is brittle or snaps, it may be over dried. If using dehydrator racks, remove a single piece to test. When using a baking sheet, look at the edges, as these are areas that dry first.

Storage Solutions

For storing hamburger jerky, cooling is the first step before packaging. Make certain the jerky has cooled completely to prevent condensation within the storage container, which can lead to spoilage. The best storage solution is an airtight container. It can be a ziplock bag, glass jars, or vacuum-sealed bags, ensuring the jerky remains fresh and avoids moisture. Store the containers in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If the jerky will be consumed quickly, a pantry will suffice. For extended storage, consider a refrigerator or freezer to prolong the freshness.

Flavor Variations and Recipes

Creating the perfect hamburger jerky can be an exciting culinary adventure, with flavors ranging from traditional BBQ to exotic teriyaki twists. This section explores various recipes and flavor options suitable for different tastes and dietary requirements.

Classic Homemade Jerky Recipe

For those who love the timeless taste of jerky, the Classic Homemade Jerky Recipe provides that familiar smoky and savory flavor. This recipe often involves a marinade of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, and garlic powder, ensuring each bite is packed with taste. A popular choice is to follow Jerkyholic’s Original Ground Beef Jerky, which emphasizes using at least 90% lean beef for the best texture and flavor.

Spicy and Savory Options

Individuals craving a kick in their jerky will appreciate Spicy and Savory Options. Incorporating ingredients like chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or even finely chopped jalapeños can elevate the heat. For a unique twist, one could opt for a Dr. Pepper Jalapeño Beef Jerky, blending the sweetness of the soda with the heat of the peppers.

Specialty Diets and Adjustments

Catering to Specialty Diets and Adjustments, hamburger jerky can also be made gluten-free by substituting soy sauce with a gluten-free alternative. For those following a gluten-free diet, it’s essential to scrutinize all marinade ingredients to ensure compliance. The key to delicious jerky is in the seasoning, and for a gluten-free teriyaki flavor, one could use tamari instead of traditional soy sauce for a similar umami taste without the gluten.

Nutritional Information

When making ground beef jerky, nutrition is key, particularly for those seeking protein snacks. The jerky typically comes in various serving sizes, but common homemade recipes might describe a serving as one ounce (28 grams).

Here’s what to expect in nutritional terms per serving:

  • Calories: A single serving provides roughly 70-100 calories, depending on the leaness of the meat.
  • Protein: With beef being a rich source of protein, one can expect about 9-15 grams per ounce.
  • Fat: The fat content can vary, especially based on the beef used, averaging 1-3 grams.
  • Carbs: Usually low in carbs, often under 1 gram, unless sugar is used in the marinade.
  • Sodium: This can be quite high due to preservation methods. Homemade recipes can range from 200-500 milligrams.

It’s essential to bear in mind these numbers can change based on the recipe and proportions of ingredients used. Some recipes will utilize different types of seasoning and marinades which can influence the sodium and calories content.

Here is a typical nutritional breakdown in tabular format:

NutrientAmount per serving (1 oz)
Protein9-15 g
Fat1-3 g
Carbohydrates<1 g
Sodium200-500 mg

Ground beef jerky is a convenient, protein-rich snack that’s easily portable and can be tailored to fit dietary needs by adjusting the ingredients in the recipe.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Jerky

When making jerky, whether from beef, venison, elk, or bison, selecting the right meat is crucial. For whole muscle jerky, a lean cut with minimal fat prevents spoilage and ensures a better chew. On the other hand, ground beef jerky allows for a more tender bite and can be easier to make at home.

The jerky making method impacts texture and flavor. For smoky taste, hickory or other wood chips add authentic smoke flavor during the smoking process. If using a dehydrator or oven, liquid smoke can be used. Always cook jerky until it bends slightly without breaking, ensuring it’s done but not overdone.

A balanced mix of spices and seasonings makes all the difference in jerky. Use kosher salt or sea salt for curing; both are preferred over table salt for their pure flavor. MSG is optional and can enhance the umami, but some prefer to avoid it. Sweetness can be achieved with brown sugar, while red pepper flakes give a kick of heat. Experiment to find the perfect balance for your palate.

Lastly, ensuring proper storage is key to longevity. Once cooled, store jerky in airtight containers in a cool, dry place or refrigerator. A desiccant packet can help keep moisture out, especially in more humid environments. This way, your jerky will stay fresh and delicious for weeks, ready to be enjoyed as a protein-packed snack.

Use lean cuts for whole muscle jerky.Choose fatty cuts that spoil easily.
Opt for kosher or sea salt.Over-salt, as it can overpower the natural flavors.
Balance spicy, sweet, and savory flavors.Neglect taste testing your seasoning blend.
Store jerky properly to maintain freshness.Leave jerky out where it can get moist and spoil.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When making hamburger jerky, enthusiasts may encounter issues related to moisture, texture, and equipment. Resolving these challenges ensures a delicious and safe jerky experience.

Moisture and Safety Concerns

Ensuring hamburger jerky is dry and safe to eat is paramount. Jerky must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to be safe from bacteria. If jerky is not dried properly, it can spoil, presenting a safety risk. To prevent this, users should use a food dehydrator or an oven set to a low temperature for several hours. A dehydrator with a jerky button makes the process simpler and more consistent. A quick check, where jerky bends but doesn’t break, helps confirm the right doneness.

Texture and Flavor Adjustments

Sometimes hamburger jerky may turn out too tough or too crumbly. Adding binders like corn syrup solids can help in achieving the desired texture. For a more savory flavor, experimenting with spices and seasonings is key. It’s useful to look at pictures as references to ensure the right appearance of the jerky. Ingredients should be mixed thoroughly and refrigerated to allow flavors to meld and the meat to bind, creating the perfect jerky consistency.

Equipment and Technique Optimizations

The equipment used in making jerky can greatly affect the final product. For example, when using a jerky gun, it’s important to eliminate air pockets to prevent uneven drying. Consistency in meat thickness is also essential for even dehydrating. If a dehydrator is being used, checking that it circulates air efficiently can ensure that each piece dries out at the same rate. When slicing or shaping the meat, using the correct tools, like a pizza cutter on parchment paper, can yield a better shape and size for the jerky pieces.


Making jerky from ground beef is a simple process and results in a tasty, protein-rich snack. Individuals can take lean ground beef and add their favorite seasonings before flattening the meat and cutting it into strips. The key is to dehydrate the meat properly until it has that chewy jerky texture.

For those new to making jerky, they will find that the process can be both enjoyable and rewarding. Following a recipe is straightforward, and they can adjust the flavors to match their preferences. Whether they use a dehydrator or an oven, the steps are simple:

  1. Combine ground beef with seasonings.
  2. Press the meat into thin strips.
  3. Dehydrate until fully dried.

Health-conscious snackers will appreciate that jerky is a low-carb option that fits into various dietary plans. It’s portable, requiring no refrigeration which makes it perfect for on-the-go situations like hiking, work, or school lunches.

In conclusion, making ground beef jerky at home allows one to control the ingredients and the quality of the snack. It’s a fulfilling DIY project that yields delicious results. With the basics mastered, they can experiment and refine their technique, perhaps mixing in different seasoning blends or trying out new drying methods.

With a little practice, they might even create a signature jerky recipe that stands out from the store-bought varieties.

Hamburger Jerky Recipe

Hamburger Jerky Recipe

This recipe for Sweet and Spicy Hamburger Jerky offers a delightful blend of heat and sweetness. Incorporating the rich flavors of molasses and apple cider vinegar, it adds a unique twist to the traditional jerky taste, while a hint of cayenne and paprika provides a spicy kick.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 25 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine Wild Game
Servings 10 servings
Calories 120 kcal


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef 90% lean
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Mix the Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with molasses, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt. Mix thoroughly to ensure that the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the meat.
  • Marinate the Meat: Cover the bowl and let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to infuse into the meat.
  • Shape the Jerky: After marinating, take small portions of the meat mixture and shape them into thin strips or patties. You can use a jerky gun if you have one, or simply shape them by hand. Make sure they are of uniform thickness for even drying.
  • Arrange for Drying: Place the shaped meat on dehydrator trays or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper if using an oven. Ensure they are spaced out and not touching.
  • Dehydrate the Jerky: If using a dehydrator, set it to 160°F (71°C) and dry for 4-6 hours. If using an oven, set it to the lowest temperature, prop the oven door open slightly for air circulation, and dry for 4-6 hours. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the meat and your drying method.
  • Check for Doneness: The jerky is done when it is dry and firm but still slightly pliable. Avoid over-drying as it can become too brittle.
  • Cool and Store: Allow the jerky to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. It can be stored at room temperature for about two weeks, or longer in the refrigerator.
Keyword beef, dehydrated, jerky
User Review
5 (1 vote)