Beef Jerky homemade on crystal plate

Budget Bites: Beef Jerky

If your family loves beef jerky as much as mine, you definitely need to learn how to make this grocery item yourself—cheaper, better!

Beef Jerky homemade on crystal plate

Here’s the deal: If you can make it as good or better than its store-bought version for way less money, why not? Give this recipe a try. I’m going to bet that once you do, you won’t go back.

This recipe will make beef jerky better than anything you can you buy, and it is infinitely cheaper. Make sure you get the beef on sale and you’ll be in under $10 a batch. A pound of store-bought quality beef jerky in my area runs anywhere from $24 to $40 a pound.

Beef Jerky

You’ll need:

  • very lean beef (chuck or round)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • soy sauce
  • tomato sauce
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • dried onion flakes
  • salt
  • garlic powder


beef jerky on a wooden board
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5 from 1 vote

Beef Jerky

This recipe will make beef jerky better than anything you can you buy, and it is infinitely cheaper. Make sure you get the beef on sale and you’ll be in under $10 a batch. A pound of store-bought quality beef jerky in my area runs anywhere from $24 to $40 a pound.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time2 days
Resting in Refrigerator8 hours
Total Time2 days 8 hours 25 minutes
Course: Anytime, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 90kcal
Author: Mary Hunt


  • 1 pound very lean beef (chuck, flank, round)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce (or steak sauce)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (see NOTES)
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (white, or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tspn sugar
  • ¼ tspn dried onion flakes (or 1 tspn finely chopped fresh onion)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn garlic powder


  • Trim all visible fat from meat and freeze until firm and solid enough to slice into thin strips. Cut across the grain and make sure that the slices are thin, about 1/8-inch. Move into a medium size bowl that has a lid.
  • In a small bowl,combine remaining ingredients and pour liquid over meat. Cover. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 140 F. Remove meat from the marinade and place the strips on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in the oven.
  • Bake at this very low temperature until strips are very dry and splinter on the edges (from 18 to 24 hours).
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Wrap lightly in plastic wrap or covered container. This recipe multiplies well. Yum!


NOTE: It might seem as though jerky should be stored like other dried food items. The shelf life of jerky is generous, but just like any other food item, jerky that is stored improperly will go bad.
The best way to store jerky is to treat it like a fresh food item. Jerky can be stored in the refrigerator to be used within 6 month


Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 284mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg


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11 replies
  1. Bonnie says:

    Hi Mary,
    I have a question about the time involved in making the beef jerky. In one section of the recipe, it says to marinade for 3 days. In another it says 8 hours. Can you clarify this please?
    Thank you.

  2. UncommonSensesc says:

    I am definitely going to try this recipe for beef jerky; we have one that we usually used and that I’ve tweaked to get the taste we like but this sounds really good. We have 2 dehydrators that we’ve picked up at yard sales for $5 and $3, plus 4 extra trays that cost us $1 (I love a good yard sale!). On one we make our beef jerky and the other we use for fruits and vegetables. I don’t know who can afford a whole pound of beef jerky at the store and making our own just tastes better too. We usually let it marinade for at least 24 hours to be sure to get the best taste possible. I love this column and look forward to my daily email – thanks for doing this Mary!

  3. CLAIRE KIRK says:

    Chili-Lime sauce.
    A few years ago, El Pollo Loco came out with a Chicken Chili-Lime special that was outstanding! It was for a very short time, and to my knowledge, was never repeated, even though I have requested it many times.
    I recall that they would serve the regular flame BBQ’d chicken pieces and simply baste the pieces with the sauce before serving. If you could duplicate this recipe, I’d be one happy camper!

  4. Chris says:

    I would like a copycat recipe for Heinz Chili sauce,not make as needed but a canning recipe that would make enough to last for a year.

  5. Kayak Jack says:

    The answer to “crabbyoldlady’s” question is – most assuredly. Historically, a low, smokey fire was used to make jerky. Ancient man didn’t have gas ovens. So, a low, smokey fire did the work. The smoke has three benefits. It keeps away flies, it adds a preservative, and (with the right woods) it adds the best of flavors. Smokey fires in our kitchens are not feasible, or desireable.

    Interestingly enough, jerky dries well on a screen rack, with ambient air blowing up through it, no heat needed at all. Lay one of those square, window fans up on 4 bricks or blocks so the bottom is up off the floor a few inches. It should freely take in air on the bottom, and be blowing air straight up. Lay a screen rack across the top of the fan. Place the marinated meat strips onto screen. Several such racks can be stacked up like this.

    Turn the fan onto a lower or mecium setting, letting a free flow of air to pass upwards through the layer/s of meat. In a day, check the meat, and rearrange pieces that seem to be drying slowly so they are assured good air flow. At two days, the meat will be nearly all done, some pieces probably will be done, and can be removed. Make sure that each piece is brittle dry and leathery before removing.

  6. Kayak Jack says:

    I would like to make a protein rich diet. Mixing grains (corn, rice, etc.) with legumes (beans, peas, peanuts, etc.) forms protein as we digest them. My question is, in what proprtions is this the most effective. Realizing that with various combinations of different grains with different legumes, the proportions will be different, it complicates my trying to solve this set of problems. So, I ask an expert for assistance.

  7. crabbyoldlady says:

    When the oven must be running for hours, is it really saving that much? Just a thought.
    One thing I would like to make is the WHITE french dressing we had in most cafes in Paris…


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