So you decided you wanted to start making your own beef jerky. You bought the supplies. You bought the dehydrator. You have your slices of beef marinated and ready to go. Then you’re hit with a question you should’ve seen coming: what temperature do you dehydrate beef jerky at? It is recommended that you put your beef jerky in the dehydrator at 165 degrees for 8 hours. While this may vary slightly depending on the make and model of dehydrator you are using, 165 degrees for 8 hours is generally considered optimal as it doesn’t undercook the beef or burn it to a crisp. It’s the sweet spot to make your jerky just right. Depending on a number of factors, this may take more or less time.
Factors That Affect Jerky Drying Times
One factor includes your marinade. The wetter your beef jerky is after marinating, the longer it will take to cook in a dehydrator. Imagine putting a load of soaking wet laundry in a clothing dryer. It’s going to take more time to dry than clothing that is only slightly damp. Same principle applies to cooking beef jerky. One way to combat this is after the marinade process; be sure to blot your jerky with a paper towel to get any excess juice off of your strips. This will allow even cooking and will keep the process from prolonging itself for too long.
How to Slice Meat For Beef Jerky
Another factor that may affect the length of time would include thickness of your jerky slices. The general rule of thumb here is that the thicker the piece, the longer it takes to dehydrate properly since there’s more beef to cook. Personally, I use a meat slicer to cut my beef to about a quarter of an inch (sometimes a little less than that.) This gives me nice, evenly thick pieces of beef that aren’t so thick that they need more time to cook, but also not so skinny that they burn and get crunchy.
As long as you keep these factors in mind, putting your jerky into the dehydrator at 165 degrees for 8 hours is the ideal time and temperature that you should be cooking your beef jerky. If you’re still unsure, consider checking your dehydrator’s manual to see what they recommend. We also recommend pre-heating your dehydrator for about 15 to 30 minutes to get the temperature up to where it needs to be for nice, consistent cooking of your jerky.