How To Tell When Beef Jerky Is Done

Get a Food Thermometer

Using a food thermometer is recommended for any meat preparation, and making jerky is no exception. When using a method where drying time is crucial, having a reliable thermometer will help you determine how long to dry your meat.

Before placing any food inside, preheat your dehydrator to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it alone for an hour. By doing this, you can help eradicate any dangerous bacteria before cooking meat.

It’s also important to heat your beef to an internal temperature of 165F prior to dehydrating. This will help eliminate the bacteria in the meat.

Once your dehydrator is preheated, lower the temperature to 130–140F, which is the perfect target dehydrating temperature.

Factors Affecting How Long to Dehydrate Beef Jerky

Although we would love to provide you with a straightforward response to the question, perfectly dehydrating beef jerky requires more than just keeping an eye on the clock.

How long your beef jerky should be dehydrated for the best flavor, texture, and safety depends on a number of factors. Recognizing and understanding these factors can transform your jerky-making experience.

Safety First: Ensuring Your Jerky Isn’t Just Tasty, But Safe

It is imperative that the jerky’s internal temperature reaches a minimum of 160°F (71°C) in order to eradicate any potentially hazardous bacteria.

If you’re not sure about the consistency of the dehydrator’s temperature, you might want to try putting the jerky in a preheated oven for ten minutes as the dehydration process approaches its end to ensure that this temperature is reached. We assure you that having slightly over-dried jerky is preferable to contracting food poisoning.

The process will start to become more intuitive over time. Instead of worrying and running a ton of tests to make sure your jerky is done, you’ll find that you just “know” it.

It’s crucial to always store your completed jerky in an airtight container after the fact. It’s best to be safe and throw away the jerky if any signs of spoiling appear or if it starts to smell bad.

If you’re making jerky in bulk, you might even think about freezing it. You should read our comprehensive guide on storing beef jerky to prevent it from spoiling too soon, which covers all of your options.