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How to Make Deer Jerky at Home

How to Make Deer Jerky at Home

Last Updated on 22nd April 2022 by

A lot of times if you end up with deer meat, you can have way more than you are able to use quickly. Like most meats, your meat won’t last more than a few days in your fridge. Of course, you can freeze it, but there are other ways to use it without it going bad.

I like to make deer jerky, as this is a great way to use up excess deer meat. I will show you how to make deer jerky and how to season it as well. There are a few different ways that you can make deer jerky, and I will provide details for how to make it using different methods, like in the dehydrator and in the oven.

Not everyone has a dehydrator, so I want to give you some options to work with. I am a big believer in taking your leftovers and using them in different ways so that you are not eating the same food in the same way over multiple days. Anyone could get tired of even the tastiest food after a few days straight of eating it, so I like to give people some new ways to use their food.

I think knowing how to make homemade deer jerky will give you some more options with deer meat and ensure you don’t get tired of eating the same old deer meat in the same old way.

The process for how to make deer jerky in the oven or in the dehydrator is more or less the same, but there are some minor differences you need to know about to ensure it comes out perfectly every time.

How to Make Deer Jerky in Oven

You may need to cut the meat first, if it isn’t already cut. You should slice it into thin strips, and I find it is easier to cut if the meat if partially or completely frozen. That may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. 

You don’t need to cut the membrane out, because once you dry the meat you will not even realise you are eating the membrane. You don’t have to cut the meat into specific sized strips either. It can be all different sizes and still work great for deer jerky.

Cooking in the oven is the best method for how to make deer jerky without a dehydrator, and it’s fairly simple to do. There is some prep work involved, though, and you need to give yourself plenty of time set aside to prepare the jerky before you plan to eat it.

To cook the deer jerky in an oven, you first want to marinate your deer meat strips. You should let them soak in brine for about 24 hours to get out the blood and to make the meat tender. Then, combine your marinade and place the deer meat and marinade in a resealable plastic bag.

I used liquid smoke, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, and pepper for my marinade, but you can change yours up a bit, if you like. Put your meat into the bag and seal it shut and place that into the fridge overnight. You should move the contents of the bag around every once in a while to make sure the marinade is distributed evenly.

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it heats up, you can place the meat directly onto the racks in the oven. You will want to put a pan underneath the lowest rack or on the lowest rack to catch drippings from the deer meat as it cooks.

Placing the meat directly on the racks will ensure that it dries out all the way and gets tough like it should. Make sure the strips of deer meat do not touch each other.

How long does it take to make deer jerky? You need to cook it at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 hours. You can cook the meat for anywhere from 5-7 hours, depending on how tough and dry you want the meat to be. The meat is done when it breaks if you try to bend it.

How to Make Deer Jerky with a Dehydrator

You can make your deer jerky in a dehydrator as well, and this is just as easy as the oven baking method. A lot of the process stays exactly the same too.

Heat up the dehydrator to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You will want to lay the strips directly onto the dehydrator racks. Once again, ensure that there is enough space in between each strip so that they are not touching one another.

Then, cook the deer meat for about 4-6 hours. After 3-4 hours, you should flip the jerky over with a pair of tongs. Allow the meat to keep on cooking until it is dried out completely or as dried as you want it.  

This method for how to make deer jerky in a dehydrator is fairly simple, but as you can see, it takes a long time.

You should marinate and brine your meat ahead of time to ensure it is flavourful. You can use the same marinade for dehydrating the jerky as you used to bake it in the oven.

How Long Is Homemade Deer Jerky Good for?

If you leave the deer jerky at room temperature and just store it in an airtight container, it will stay fresh and edible for about two weeks. If you keep it in the fridge, however, it can last for a full month.

For freezer storage, you want to place it into a freezer safe container or resealable freezer bag. It will keep in the freezer for up to six months.

Store bought beef jerky is usually made with preservatives, so it will last longer than your homemade version.

How to Make Deer Jerky from Ground Meat

Can you use ground deer meat to make jerky as well? You can, but it takes some extra work. You need to form the ground beef into long strips. You can do this with a rolling pin or use a jerky gun.

Either way, you want flat strips of formed deer jerky, and you can bake those just like you would the regular strips of deer meat in the oven. You can make these in the dehydrator as well, and it cooks the same way as the directions I have you above.

You don’t have to cook the pre made deer jerky strips right away. It can take some work to form them and roll them flat, so you may not be ready to cook them up right away. They can be stored in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to bake or dehydrate them.



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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here