Dehydrating Meat

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How to Dehydrate Your Left Over Meats!

Dehydrating meat is a great option if you are you looking for a way to preserve meat without canning or freezing.  It's easy to do, and you can dehydrate just about any kind of meat. We'll show you how dehydrating meat is done safely, step-by-step. We'll also share some tips on how to store your dried meat and use it in recipes. Let's get started! We've also got an easy Beef Jerky recipe too farther down the page.

Methods of Preserving Meat - Meats are preserved by smoke, freeze-dried, or cured by salt. Shelf life is important, right? But we're all about the 'easy' here as in 'easy'-food-dehydrating! For example, when preparing chicken for the family dinner, put an extra breast in the cooking pot and save it to dehydrate later on! Dehydrators do a fine job of drying meats for backpacking. Let's get some meat dehydrated NOW before inflation gets any worse—and meat prices escalate (even more than they already have...)

Fastest and Easiest Way to Dehydrate Meat:
Use Pre-Cooked Meats!

Fastest and Easiest Way to Dehydrate Meat: Use Pre-Cooked SLICED Meats!
Meat that is already cooked and pre-sliced makes this task easy—we have the perfect way of dehydrating meat safely! Dehydrating meat is simply a process of removing the water content from it. Dehydration concentrates the flavor of the meat and allows you to store it for a longer period of time.

Snacking and Backpacking - Beef Makes a Beef Jerky Treat!
Looking to make beef jerky? Of course you are! (Please scroll farther down the page). Check out these two recipe links when you're ready to make lots of great stews and soups using your dehydrated meat! If you make pouches of beef jerky, you'll have backpacking snacks ready to go! It's easy to vacuum seal dried meats by using a food vacuum sealer.

Meats are the building block of proteins for the body, and it's so easy to have your own dehydrated meats on hand whether you're playing in the yard, or hiking up a hill. Shelf life is important when you're backpacking. We aren't able to tote mini-fridges to safely store meat. When you make jerky properly, though, you'll be good to walk for miles and miles sans refrigeration! Dried meat makes a great snack or addition to meals. It is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthy option. Dehydrated meat can be used in a variety of recipes, such as soups, stews, casseroles, and more.

A Note About Rehydrating Meat
While vegetables rehydrate very well, I cannot say the same for dried meats. If you overly dehydrate meat, you may experience a more chewy texture than you'd like... but it's better than not having any meat available at all unless you are a vegetarian, of course! Experiment with longer rehydrating times for less-chewy meat!

What is the Best Meat to Dry
on a Dehydrator?

Fattier meats tend to dehydrate better than leaner meats. This is because the fat helps to keep the meat moist during the dehydration process. Some of the best meats to dehydrate include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Venison

When dehydrating meat, it is important to slice the meat thinly. This will help the meat to dry evenly and prevent it from drying out too quickly. It is also important to marinate the meat before dehydrating it when making jerky. Marinating adds flavor and helps keep the meat moist.

There are a number of different ways to perfect dried meat. The most popular method is to use a dehydrator, but you can also dry meat in the oven or even in the sun. Whichever method you choose, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to ensure that the meat is properly dehydrated. Yes, I know the sun cannot provide directions on dehydrating... ;-) Dehydrated meat can be stored for several months. Be sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Read how to store beef (and other foods) here.

Preparation for Dehydrating Meat

Because your meat is already cooked—that's one step saved—no further preparation is necessary for dehydrating meat safely. Remember, we're not dehydrating raw meat. The best meats to use are choice cuts—the tender cuts—so they won't be chewy or tough. Trim off visible fat. The less fat on the meat, the better as it's the fat in meat that causes the meat to go rancid. Simply place your cut meats onto dehydrator trays.

Beef - Whether you're making jerky or not, make sure to cut your leftover beef into evenly-sized pieces when you put it on the dehydrator trays. This helps the dehydrating process and allows the meats to dry out at the same rate.

Chicken - Cut it into evenly-sized pieces, like we did with the beef, above. Read more about Dehydrating Chicken here.

Turkey - See more about Dehydrating Turkey here.

Pork - Learn more about Dehydrating Pork here.

Seafood - Visit Dehydrating Seafood to learn how to safely dry all kinds of fish! (If you have the patience to catch it!) Yeah, yeah—I hear you—go to a fish market.

Itching to Use Fresh Ground Beef?

If you're wanting to use ground beef, just make sure to cook it first! Make sure you break up clumps as you go, just as you would when making chili. This makes your ground beef much easier to dehydrate and rehydrate more evenly. Ground beef is really easy because it's already ground into pretty much uniformly sized pieces.

What's The Ideal Temperature
for Dehydrating Cooked Meat?

Cooked meats are best dehydrated at 160°F—but please consult your food dehydrator's owner's manual for their specific instructions to prevent bacteria from growing. Dehydrate your meat until it is dry to the touch and slightly leathery. If meat is not dehydrated long enough, bacteria can still grow. The shelf life of meat that has been properly dehydrated will last for several months without refrigeration, although it will begin to lose flavor, and meat that has been dehydrated at too high of a temperature will be dry and tough. If you're storing meat for long-term purposes, learn how to vacuum-seal meat here.

Use Stock To Add Flavor
If you're not making jerky from fresh meat, check out our "rehydrating" page—and consider using a flavorful stock when re-hydrating 'regular' meat! Adds much more flavor, that's for sure! I love Better Than Bouillon by Superior Touch in just about any savory recipe.

Store in Refrigerator or Freezer Until Ready to Use
To maintain the quality of dehydrated meats, please refrigerate or store in the freezer until ready to use. Dehydrated meats will stay fresh for up to six months in the freezer—without freezer burn when you use a food vacuum sealer!

Is it Safe to Store at Room Temperature?
Vacuum-sealed dried cooked meats can last up to 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature. Make sure to add an oxygen absorber to your dehydrated meat package prior to drawing out the air when you're ready to use your food vacuum sealer. Inside of your vacuum sealer bags, you add a 100cc oxygen absorber. This keeps your dried meat safe and inhibits mold growth and bacteria. Oxygen absorbers are not poisonous—which is a good thing—because they're in direct contact with our foods!

yummy beef jerky

Beef Jerky Recipe

How to Make Beef Jerky in a Regular Oven:

Jerky Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef (sirloin, flank, or London broil)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)

Jerky Instructions:

  1. Trim the beef of any fat and slice it into thin strips, about 1/4-inch thick. If you are using flank or London broil, you may want to cut the meat against the grain.
  2. In a large resealable bag, combine the meat with the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  3. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top.
  6. Place the beef on the wire rack, making sure they are not touching each other.
  7. Bake in the oven for 4-6 hours, or until the beef is dry and slightly chewy.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  10. Enjoy!

#10 is a MUST.

How to Make Beef Jerky in an Electric Dehydrator:

Use the ingredients listed above from the regular oven method.

Jerky Instructions:

  1. Trim the beef of any fat and slice it into thin strips, about 1/4-inch thickness. If you are using flank or London broil, you may want to cut the beef against the grain.
  2. In a large resealable bag, combine the beef with the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  3. Marinate the beef in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Set your electric dehydrator to 165 degrees F and dry the beef strips for 6-8 hours.
  5. Remove from the electric dehydrator and let cool.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  7. Enjoy!

This time, #7 is a MUST.

Don't forget, your food dehydrator manual will highly likely feature their own tasty jerky recipe! Check out these Nesco and Excalibur Food Dehydrators here. Dehydrate food properly. Use the correct-size oxygen absorbers inside vacuum sealer pouches to keep bacteria at bay!

Beef Stroganoff.... and more!

Check out some of our recipes, like Beef Stew, Soups on our site, and much more!

Try out more tasty recipes such as Beef Stroganoff from The Salty Marshmallow!

Learn which beef cuts are best for dehydrating at TheMeatSource.  This site has tons of great info. on how to cook meats properly!

Great Tips From Easy Food Dehydrating Visitors:

One of our site visitors, Paul Bee, wants to add this:

Get Lean Roast Beef, 1/16" thick!

"I get mine at a deli counter. Get lean roast beef, turkey, or chicken. I have them slice it about 1/16 inch thick. When I'm back home, I slice it into strips and dehydrate it. I use it for a quick snack or when camping. As mentioned by Susan, freeze it until you are ready to use within the time limit. Vacuum sealing keeps moisture from getting to the jerky."

– Thanks, Paul, for writing in!

Sarah, in Australia, wanted us to know this about canned chicken:

Get Low-Fat Canned Variety

"I do a lot of dehydrating for long hiking trips and have found that the canned chicken (that looks like canned tuna) in the supermarket (yes sounds gross) is the only chicken I've been able to dehydrate that rehydrates exactly like it was prior. The taste and texture on rehydration is perfect! just remember to buy the canned low-fat kind".

Hi Sarah—that's really great to know! I actually have used the 'canned' variety in soups and salads! :-)  And yes, the low-fat stops rancidity when storing "long term". Thanks so much for posting!

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