When learning how to dehydrate meat safely, you'll see that dehydrating it's 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.
Click any of the images above to visit the meat page of your choice!
We'll show you how dehydrating meat is done safely, step-by-step along with some tips on how to store your dried meat and how to use it in recipes. Let's get started! We've also got an easy Beef Jerky recipe too farther down the page.
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 busy learning how to dehydrate meat 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 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!
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:
When learning how to dehydrate meat properly, it is important to slice the meat thinly. This will help the meat 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... ;-)
Properly 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.
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.
If you're wanting to use raw 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.
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!
How to Make Beef Jerky in a Regular Oven:
#10 is a MUST.
How to Make Beef Jerky in an Electric Dehydrator:
Use the ingredients listed above from the regular oven method.
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!
One of our site visitors, Paul Bee, wants to add this:
"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:
"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 re-hydrates 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!
Thanks for taking the time to read how to dehydrate meat safely. As you have discovered, I prefer to use cooked meats. Please feel free to make jerky using the recipe I provided, and/or follow the recipe that's likely provided inside your dehydrator's owner manual.
Susan Gast began Easy Food Dehydrating in December 2010. Read Susan's story of what sparked her interest in all things related to "food dehydrating."
Susan is featured on Mother Earth News blog, and on Solo Build It (SBI) who host this site along with her sister site, Finally-Keto. Read her first SBI interview, and her second SBI interview. Susan also runs an additional SBI website: SusanGast.com - Non-Fiction Author - and showcases many of the books she's created and marketed over the years.
Since 1980, Susan's involvement in publishing - in one form or another - led her to create a "review site" of products related to the publishing industry. Visit ePubTechReviews today.
Do you want to send Susan a quick message? Visit her contact page here. She'd love to hear from you!