How To Dehydrate Meat – Make Beef & Turkey Jerky From Dehydrated Meat

Dehydrated meats are an ideal food source for preppers and survivalists. Dried beef, turkey and fish can provide a light weight and protein rich energy boost which is full of minerals and vitamins. 

For outdoor enthusiasts who need good quality fuel that they can carry on long hikes and expeditions, dehydrated meats are an excellent option. Being able to dehydrate your own meats for longer-term storage gives you the ultimate peace of mind that you won’t go hungry. 

Without the knowledge and skill to dehydrate your own meat you could be left vulnerable when resources run out and food shortages occur following an emergency. 

We want to help you be fully prepared whenever the time comes with access to your own jerky at home whenever you want it. 

We’ve found the best recipes to allow you to make dehydrated food quickly and easily. 

How To Make Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a really popular snack. It’s ready to eat and it’s a great source of protein. Once you’ve made your beef jerky, it doesn’t require any refrigeration so it’s super easy to store. 

Preparing Your Beef 

Aim to buy a cheaper cut of beef when you’re making beef jerky. You should bear in mind that once dried the beef will lose a huge amount of its weight so it is going to be expensive if you use high volumes of expensive beef. 

Start By Trimming All The Fat Off Your Beef

You can identify the fat as the white parts which are usually along the edges of the meat but may be marbled through it. 

If the fat is marbled through the meat, cut along the lines – you’ll be cutting the meat into strips anyway so don’t worry. 

The reason for trimming the fat off is that it doesn’t dry out well. It can also turn rancid so make sure it’s all taken off before you begin the dehydration process.

Marinade Your Beef

It’s not essential that you marinade your beef but lots of people enjoy experimenting with different tastes. 

Here’s a list of some of the ingredients that people like to use to marinade their beef to give it extra flavor: 

  • Brown Sugar 
  • Worcestershire Sauce 
  • Soy Sauce
  • Paprika
  • Black Pepper 
  • Chilli Flakes 
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic 
  • Maple Syrup 

You could also buy a pre made beef marinade and just pour this over the beef for a great taste in minutes. 

Ideally you’ll want to leave your beef marinating for at least 2-3 hours.

McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Seasoning

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Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup

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Jim Melton’s Jerky Marinade (Est. 1999)

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Cooking Your Beef

Cook your meat well. You want to make sure that it’s cooked all the way through, whichever method you use. 

There are a number of options you can use to cook your beef. These will depend on your individual preferences and what kitchen appliances you have available. 

By cooking the meat well you’ll make sure that no bacteria is present and that the beef jerky will be safe to consume. 

Have a look at these cooking options to decide which suits you best: 

  • Steam
  • Braise 
  • Simmer 
  • Pressure Cooker 
  • Outdoor Grill or BBQ
  • Open fire/firepit 

Slicing And Cutting your Beef

Many people like to ground up beef when making beef jerky as it helps the meat to dehydrate faster. 

If time isn’t an issue for you, you may want to cut your cooked beef into slices or cubes. Try to keep cubes to approx 0.5 inches and slices should be fairly thin. 

Dehydrating Your Beef 

Depending on the method of dehydration that you’re using, you need to dry your beef for different lengths of time. 

We’ve given you a rough guide below to help with dehydrating your beef and making beef jerky. 

Using a Dehydrator To Dehydrate Beef: 

There are some great dehydrators available which you can use at home. Many of them have in-built alarms so that you don’t need to keep track of timings and can simply set it off. 

Food Dehydrator

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To use a dehydrator for beef jerky, spread all the cubes or slices of meat over the trays that you have available. 

Dry at 140 degrees F for 5-6 hours. Consult your dehydrator instructions for more specific timings and always take into account the amount of beef you have and the way you have cut it. 

Using an Oven To Dehydrate Beef: 

You can use a conventional kitchen oven by simply spreading the beef over trays and setting the temperature to 140 degrees F. 

Aim to cook the beef for approximately 6 hours. After this, open the oven door slightly and allow the meat to continue drying until hard. 

Using The Sun To Dehydrate Beef: 

If you’re living off grid or simply want to make beef jerky without using standard kitchen appliances, you can use the heat of the sun to dehydrate your meat. 

Make sure your cubes or slices are spread very thinly over a number of trays to give maximum surface area. 

Place the trays in direct sunlight and try to find a spot where insects or wasps are minimal. You’ll need to also take the trays inside at night to prevent animals from eating the meat. 

If you’re dehydrating your meat in a sunny, warm climate you can expect it to be ready to consume in approximately 2-3 days. 

Rehydrating Your Beef

If you do want to rehydrate your beef it’s easy to do. Many people rehydrate their dehydrated meats for use in recipes that require cooked meat, or simply for a change in texture or variation. 

You can rehydrate your beef by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1 cup of meat cubes. 

Always allow the meat to soak for up to 4 hours to allow it to absorb all the water. 

How To Make Turkey Jerky

Preparing Your Turkey 

Remove all the skin and any bones from the turkey. If you’re buying your turkey direct from the butcher or grocery store, try to get boneless, skinless turkey breast to cut down on preparation time. 

Put the turkey into the freezer for 20-30 minutes before you slice it. This helps to firm it up and allows you to slice it as thinly and accurately as possible. 

Use the sharpest knife that you have to cut slices about 1/8th inch in thickness. Make sure all the pieces are roughly the same thickness. 

You can also consider buying ground turkey if you want to minimize the time it takes to dehydrate. 

Just like with the beef jerky, you might consider marinating your meat before you cook it. 

Cooking Your Turkey

Stir fry your turkey strips for 10-15 minutes depending on their size. 

You don’t need to cook the turkey until it’s browned on the outside, just make sure that there’s no raw meat on the inside. Heating the turkey to 160 degrees F will ensure that any dangerous bacteria are killed.

Dehydrating Your Turkey 

Again, you can use different methods to dehydrate your turkey depending on the equipment that you have available. 

Using A Dehydrator To Dehydrate Turkey: 

Follow the instructions on your specific dehydrator for exactly how long you need to dehydrate your turkey jerky for. Most dehydrators will come with a small recipe book or guide for cooking times and this is useful as timings and temperatures can vary between different models. 

Generally, you’ll want to dehydrate the cooked turkey meat for approximately 6 hours at 145 degrees F.

Using An Oven To Dehydrate Turkey: 

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F. 

Place the turkey on wire racks and make sure that none of the meat is overlapping.

Bake for 2 hours on each side, turning the turkey strips over half way through. 

Using The Sun To Dehydrate Turkey: 

Try to avoid using the sun to make jerky with poultry wherever possible. 

What Meats Can Be Dehydrated?

You can dry any raw meat such as beef, poultry and game. You can also dehydrate canned meats which can be a cost effective way to produce jerky in large quantities as canned meats are generally much cheaper than fresh. 

Always be cautious about following the guidelines for pre-treating meats and fish for dehydration as these do vary. 

You might want to try experimenting with dehydrating meats and fish such as: 

  • Ham and deli style turkey 
  • Canned tuna
  • Cooked shrimp 
  • Ground beef 

What is the Shelf Life of Dehydrated Meat?

With the correct storage, dehydrated meats can have a shelf life of up to 3 years. This makes them ideal for keeping in long term food supplies or in equipment such as your emergency bug out bag or get home bag. 

In order to get the maximum shelf life for dehydrated meat, you need to make sure that you put it into vacuum sealed containers as soon as it’s ready. 

You can also use glass jars or zip lock bags. The important thing is that it’s not exposed to air and moisture. Adding an oxygen absorber into a container or bag will provide an extra level of protection and stop your dehydrated meat from going bad. 

Ziploc Gallon

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Wallaby 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers

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Once your dehydrated meats are properly sealed make sure that you store them in a dry, dark place such as a cupboard or basement shelf. They should always be stored at room temperature if possible. 


Dehydrated meat has a huge number of benefits – from being a light weight and protein rich snack, to providing key minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. 

Knowing how to make dehydrated meat is an essential skill if you’re keen to become self sufficient and protect you and your loved ones from unexpected food shortage supplies. 

Don’t be left vulnerable by not knowing how to dehydrate and preserve meats such as beef and turkey. The dehydration process is quick and easy to do and could help you stay healthy and safe.

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