How to make beef jerky in a food dehydrator

Dried Pork JerkyOur 9-year old son LOVES beef jerky. He could eat it for every snack and even meals if we let him.

Firstly, it’s very expensive – the Dollar Store used to do a tiny pack for $1.50. Walmart has beef jerky too, but they do the same size pack for $1.97. A slightly bigger pack is $4.99! My boy can go through it too quickly to accommodate those prices.

Secondly, it’s salty. Very salty. Not to mention all the other stuff that goes into it.

I mentioned in a previous post that we bought a food dehydrator. Truthfully, beef jerky was our main reason for buying it. I wanted to choose the meat that my son was eating and I wanted to choose the spices that go into it.

So, along came the dehydrator.  We chose the Nesco Snackmaster, which has been a fabulous purchase.  Just yesterday, I purchase 3 pounds of lean ground pork and I set to work.

The dehydrator came with 5 pouches of jerky seasoning but that went quickly and I needed to find my own recipe.  Here is the recipe that I use.  You’ll be able to tweak it to your own tastes:

  • a jerky gun
  • 1 pound of lean ground pork
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce (I used the low sodium variety)
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp of liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

A word of warning: that’s quite a lot of liquid for just 1 pound of ground meat.  Add the liquids slowly and stop when you feel like it’s getting too wet.   The wetter the meat, the longer it will take to dry in the dehydrator.


  • mix all the ingredients together in a bowl
  • load the jerky gun
  • dispense strips of ground meat on the dehydrator trays
  • set your dehydrator to about 165F
  • dry for at least 4 hours (jerky should be chewy and stiff, but not brittle)
Ground Pork Jerky

Ready to be dried.

Leave a comment


  1. I recently bought a dehydrator, and I’ve seen 2 different ways to make jerky (one with ground meat and the other with sliced meat). Do you prefer using ground meat? Why? (I’m trying to decide which type to try for my first attempt at jerky.)


    • Hi Laurie,

      To be honest, I’ve never tried making jerky with strips of meat rather than ground meat. I’ve used ground meat because it’s cheaper and because the outcome looked like jerky and tasted like jerky. It passed my son’s taste test!

      Also, I understand that ground meat dries much quicker. So that’s a factor too.

      I guess I always saw ground meat jerky as a bit more “beginner”, but maybe that’s just me.

      If you have a jerky gun, I’d try ground first. But I’m sure either would be yummy.

      Good luck! Keep me posted.


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