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How to Dehydrate Meat

Here's how to dehydrate meat safely! Dehydrating meat in a dehydrator is a great option - if you are looking for a way to preserve meat without going the canning or freezing route.

Learn about dehydrating different meats by clicking on the images below...

Dried beef in a small dish

Click an IMAGE Below for FULL Info. on that Specific Meat and/or Fish

Dehydrating BEEF
Dehydrating CHICKEN
Dehydrating PORK
Dehydrating SEAFOOD
Dehydrating TURKEY
Dehydrating BEEF
Dehydrating CHICKEN
Dehydrating PORK
Dehydrating SEAFOOD
Dehydrating TURKEY

Click any of the images above to visit the meat page of your choice!

How to Dehydrate Meat (Leftovers)!

I discuss how to dehydrate leftover meat safely, step-by-step - along with 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 a little further down the page.

TOP Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Dehydrate beef jerky - top question!
A. See "how-to" for Beef Jerky further down this page.

Q. How do dehydrate meat?
A. Read all the dehydrating deets for beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and seafood on the page you're on now (with links out to your meat of choice).

Q. Dehydrating ground meat?
A. This is also covered on this page, a little further down!

Q. How to dehydrate meat in a food dehydrator, and drying meat in dehydrator?
A. The answer to both are on this page PLUS on the individual meat pages where their full instructions are. Just scroll down a little further down the page, thanks!

Four Types of Meat Preservation Methods

Meats are preserved using these popular methods:

  1. Dehydrating
  2. Smoking
  3. Freeze-drying
  4. Cured with 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).

How to Dehydrate Meat:
Preparation for Successful Drying

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 in the meat, the better, as it's the fat in meat that causes it 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. Read ALL about Dehydrating Beef here.
  • CHICKEN - Cut it into evenly-sized pieces, like we did with the beef, above. Read ALL about Dehydrating Chicken here.
  • TURKEY - See ALL about Dehydrating Turkey here.
  • PORK - Learn ALL 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.

How to Dehydrate Meat Using Fresh Ground Beef

If you're wanting to dehydrate raw ground beef, 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.

When Dehydrating 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.

family backpacking taking a rest to eat dried food snacks

Snacking and Backpacking - Beef Makes a Beef Jerky Treat!
Looking to make beef jerky? Yes! (Please scroll farther down the page). 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.

Check out these two recipe links when you're ready to make lots of great stews and soups using your dehydrated meat!

A Note About Rehydrating Meat
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 and use flavored stocks to enhance the flavor.

What are the Best Meats to Dry in a Dehydrator?

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

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Venison

NOTE: There has been a health-scare recently (late December of 2023) regarding a disease in Venison. Please heed any warnings prior to cooking and eating venison!

When learning how to dehydrate meat properly, it is important to slice the meat thinly. This helps the meat dry evenly and prevents 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 - no surprise there.

There are a number of 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 dehydration... ;-)

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.

Stocking-Up on Flavor!

Use Stock To Add Flavor
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, refrigerate or store them in the freezer until ready to use. Dehydrated meats 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 before drawing out the air when using your food vacuum sealer.

REMEMBER to add a 100cc oxygen absorber to your bag before removing the air with the food vacuum sealer. 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 recipe

Beef Jerky Recipe - Dehydrator Method

How to Make Beef Jerky in an
Electric Dehydrator:

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 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°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!

Every 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 Jerky Recipe - Regular Oven Method

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°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.


Check out this guide to the eight best cuts of beef, brought to you by The Best Stop.


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 it 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 after rehydration are 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!



Try Our Beef Stew!

Beef stew in a square bowl with a dark interior

Treat yourself to our Beef Stew recipe...

Thanks for taking the time to read how to dehydrate meat safely.

As you may have noticed(!), I prefer to use cooked meats.

Please feel free to make jerky using the recipe I provided, and/or follow the beef jerky recipe that's highly likely included in your dehydrator's owner manual.

Don't forget to get your free "Six Simple Steps" eBook where I share how to dehydrate food safely!