Easy Homemade Deer Jerky in the Dehydrator: Step-by-Step Instructions

Easy Homemade Deer Jerky in the Dehydrator: Step-by-Step Instructions

Are you looking for a delicious and convenient snack that is perfect for on-the-go? Look no further than homemade deer jerky made in your dehydrator! In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating your own deer jerky from scratch. From selecting the right cuts of meat to mastering the dehydration process, you’ll soon be enjoying flavorful and protein-packed jerky that will impress all your friends and family. Let’s get started!

Choosing the Right Cut of Meat

When making deer jerky, it is crucial to start with the right cut of meat. The ideal cuts for deer jerky are those that are lean and free of excessive fat. This will ensure that your jerky is not only flavorful but also tender and easy to chew.

Selecting the Ideal Cuts for Deer Jerky

Some of the best cuts of meat for deer jerky include the backstrap, hindquarter, and round. These cuts are typically lean and have enough muscle fibers to hold up well during the drying process. It is also important to remove any silver skin or connective tissue from the meat before proceeding with the jerky-making process.

Trimming and Preparing the Meat

Before you can begin marinating and dehydrating the meat, it is essential to trim off any excess fat and silver skin. This will not only improve the texture of the jerky but also help prevent spoilage during the drying process. Once the meat is trimmed, slice it into thin strips against the grain for a more tender jerky.

Marinating the Meat

When making homemade deer jerky in the dehydrator, marinating the meat is a crucial step that can greatly enhance the flavor and texture of the final product. By allowing the meat to sit in a flavorful marinade before dehydrating, you can infuse it with delicious seasonings and spices that will make your jerky irresistible.

Creating the Perfect Marinade

To create the perfect marinade for your deer jerky, start by choosing a combination of ingredients that complement the natural flavors of the meat. Common ingredients for a deer jerky marinade include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, garlic, onion powder, and various spices such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy notes for your jerky.

Marinating the Meat for Optimal Flavor

After preparing your marinade, place your thinly sliced deer meat in a large resealable plastic bag or a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the marinade over the meat, making sure that it is fully submerged. Seal the bag or container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

By marinating your deer meat before dehydrating, you can ensure that your homemade jerky is bursting with flavor and perfectly seasoned. Experiment with different marinades and ingredients to create a jerky recipe that is uniquely your own.

Preparing the Dehydrator

Dehydrators are a popular tool for making homemade jerky as they allow for precise temperature control and even drying. Before you begin making your deer jerky, it’s important to prepare your dehydrator properly.

Setting Up and Preheating the Dehydrator

  1. Start by assembling your dehydrator according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure all trays are clean and in place.
  2. Plug in the dehydrator and set it to the recommended temperature for making jerky. Typically, this is around 160°F to 165°F.
  3. Allow the dehydrator to preheat for at least 10-15 minutes before adding the meat strips. This will ensure even and efficient drying.
  4. While the dehydrator is preheating, you can start preparing your meat strips for jerky.

Laying Out the Meat Strips

  1. Begin by slicing your deer meat into thin strips, around 1/4 inch thick. It’s important to slice the meat against the grain for a more tender jerky.
  2. Place the meat strips on a clean surface and pat them dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
  3. Season the meat strips with your favorite jerky seasoning or marinade. Make sure to coat each strip evenly for maximum flavor.
  4. Once the meat strips are seasoned, carefully arrange them on the dehydrator trays in a single layer. Make sure there is some space between each strip for proper air circulation.
  5. Stack the trays back into the dehydrator and close the lid securely. Let the dehydrator work its magic for the next 4-6 hours, or until the jerky reaches your desired level of dryness.

By following these steps for preparing your dehydrator and laying out the meat strips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying delicious homemade deer jerky in no time. Happy jerky-making!

Dehydrating the Meat

To make homemade deer jerky in the dehydrator, start by slicing your venison into thin strips. This will help the meat dehydrate evenly and quickly. You can also marinate the meat in your favorite seasoning or marinade for added flavor.

Once the meat is sliced and marinated, lay the strips out in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Make sure there is enough space between each strip to allow for proper air circulation.

Set the dehydrator to the recommended temperature for making jerky, typically around 160-170°F. The drying process can take anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on the thickness of your meat slices and the humidity in your environment.

Monitoring the Dehydration Process

It’s important to check on your deer jerky periodically while it’s in the dehydrator. This will help you ensure that the meat is drying evenly and prevent any pieces from becoming overly dry or burnt.

You can rotate the trays in the dehydrator every couple of hours to promote even drying. You may also need to blot any excess moisture or fat that accumulates on the surface of the jerky with a paper towel.

Keep an eye on the color and texture of the jerky as it dehydrates. The meat will shrink and become darker as it dries out. You can also test a piece for doneness by bending it – it should be firm and crack but not break.

Checking for Doneness

To determine if your deer jerky is done, take a piece out of the dehydrator and let it cool for a few minutes. It should be firm and leathery, with no signs of moisture when squeezed.

You can also cut a piece in half to check the interior. It should be dry and uniform in color, with no signs of pink or red raw meat.

Once your jerky is done, let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. Properly dehydrated deer jerky can last for several weeks or even months if stored in a cool, dry place. Enjoy your homemade snack!

Storing and Enjoying Your Deer Jerky

After you have successfully made your homemade deer jerky in the dehydrator, it’s important to know how to properly store it to maintain its freshness and flavor. Additionally, knowing some tips for serving and enjoying your deer jerky will enhance your snacking experience.

Proper Storage Techniques

  1. Air-tight Container: Store your deer jerky in an air-tight container to prevent exposure to moisture and air, which can cause it to spoil faster.
  2. Refrigeration: If you plan on storing your deer jerky for an extended period, consider refrigerating it to prolong its shelf life.
  3. Freezing: For long-term storage, freezing your deer jerky is a great option. Simply place it in a freezer-safe bag or container and thaw when ready to eat.

Tips for Serving and Enjoying

  1. Pairing: Deer jerky pairs well with a variety of foods such as cheese, nuts, and dried fruits for a satisfying snack.
  2. On-the-Go: Pack some deer jerky in your bag for a quick and convenient snack while on-the-go or during outdoor activities.
  3. Flavoring: Experiment with different seasonings and marinades to customize the flavor of your deer jerky to suit your preferences.

By following these storage techniques and tips for serving and enjoying your deer jerky, you can ensure that it remains fresh and delicious for whenever you have a craving for this tasty snack.


In conclusion, making homemade deer jerky in a dehydrator is a simple and rewarding process that allows you to control the ingredients and create a delicious snack that is perfect for any occasion. By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this article, you can enjoy flavorful and tender deer jerky that is sure to impress your friends and family. So why wait? Grab your dehydrator and some fresh venison and start making your own batch of homemade deer jerky today!

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