Mar 152011
Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun @ Common Sense Homesteading

So there I was in Middle America, clinging to my jerky gun…and I was ready to use it.  Beef on the hoof beware – I have mastered the art of ground beef jerky making!

I got a great deal on 20 pounds of lean, grassfed ground beef from a neighbor about a month ago (the same one we bought a half a steer from last fall).  We still have plenty of that steer left, but the price on the ground beef was too good to pass up – $2/pound for packaged meat (she was cleaning out her freezer).  I quit cutting up our roasts to make jerky, and started in on the ground beef.

The jerky gun came with seasoning and cure packets, but these were full of all the ingredients I’m trying to avoid in commercial jerkies (MSG, hydrolyzed soy protein, nitrates, etc.).  (Those little packets are expensive, too, if you purchase them separately.)

I hunted around for recipes online.  Surprisingly (or not), most recipes I found were for strips of meat, not ground meat, using a marinade.  I wasn’t sure how those would translate, so I started with GNOWFGLINS “Basic Jerky – Not So Tough” recipe.  I let it sit for a couple hours once the spices were mixed in, and then dried it overnight.  That was a little too much drying time, as it got a little tough and brittle, but the taste was good.

The next time around, I decided to try my favorite recipe for regular jerky from Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator CookbookAll American Marinated Beef Jerky.  This recipe is intended for use with beef strips, but it worked well as a ground beef jerky recipe, too.

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun

1/2 cup soy sauce (I used grain free organic tamari.  Most soy in the US that is not organic is GMO.)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon organic onion powder (she uses 1 teaspoon onion juice made in a juicer)
1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder (she uses 1 teaspoon chopped garlic)
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer sea salt)
1 pound lean ground beef

In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients and let sit (refrigerated) for at least two hours.  I mixed this up at bedtime and let it sit until after lunch the next day, and it wasn’t too strong.  I’d stick to three hours of less if you used beef strips.

Load the mixture in the jerky gun and use the gun to load your dehydrator trays.  I do recommend using the mesh inserts or fruit leather trays, as this mixture will be softer than the mixture Wardeh made because of the added liquid, which makes it easier to fire through the gun.

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun @ Common Sense Homesteading

I loaded up five trays in my Snackmaster dehydrator around 1pm and left them sit at 145 F until around 10 pm.  Out of two pounds of ground beef (I doubled the recipe), I had roughly a gallon bag of jerky.

Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun @ Common Sense Homesteading

As you can see, the jerky gun makes nice, thin strips about an inch wide when you use the “double barrel” attachment.  The gun also has option of a single wide strip or a tube shape.

How to Make Ground Beef Jerky Using a Jerky Gun @ Common Sense Homesteading

I’ve seen shelf life claims ranging from around six months to 18 months.  Ours never lasts that long, so I don’t know for sure.  Keeping it in the fridge or freezer will make it last longer, vacuum sealing also helps.  The fat will go rancid first, which is why it’s important to use lean meat.

This has become one of my favorite snack foods since we’ve been working to reduce our carbohydrate and grain intake.  It’s relatively quick and easy to make, and the gun was pretty inexpensive.  Jo has good ideas on Jo’s Health Corner for other low carb snack options.

Do you have a favorite jerky recipe?  Have you tried making jerky with ground beef?  Has anyone tried making jerky out of organ meats?  I’d love to hear from you.

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  60 Responses to “Ground Beef Jerky Recipe Using a Jerky Gun”

  1. Found you on Real Food Wednesday! Thank you so much – this is exactly what I have been looking for – I'm excited to try a ground meat jerky. I have a ton of ground venison, and thought it would make great jerky, if I could just find a recipe!

  2. Hopped over from Real Food Wednesdays, did a post on this not to long ago, we use venison instead of beef usually and add in a little liver. I think the thing I like the most is that my nine year old has mastered the jerky gun!

  3. A jerky gun! That's what I need. I once tried making jerky from ground beef by flattening it out, but you can imagine the mess that was.

  4. I made some ground lamb jerky last year – it was delicious, but it took some time to flatten it out on the trays by hand… I think I need to get one of those jerky guns…. :)

  5. I highly recommend the jerky gun if you've got a lot of ground meat you'd like to jerk (…er…jerky-ize…). With the added moisture in this recipe (because of the soy sauce), it take a bit longer to dry, but it makes the very lean ground beef easier to extrude. The trays load up very fast.

    Megan – I've got liver awaiting use in the freezer and could use a way to camouflage it. I may have to try that the next time I make jerky. I don't mind the flavor/texture, but the boys are not fans.

  6. You make me want to run out and buy a gun ;) I need to make some for our big road trip this summer. Heaven forbid we get hungry on the road and resort to store-bought "food."

    Also, on another note, I hope your son is not walking around with a nose full of spirulina powder! LOL

  7. I really like the gun. It makes it so easy to get a consistent end product.

    lol – he just laughed about the green boogers. I haven't ordered my sprirulina yet. Our next order to the buying club will likely be going in next week and I will order some then. I can't find it locally in quantity.

  8. I have been making beef jerky for years but never even thought to make it from ground beef and I never heard of a jerky gun either. I'm definitely going to give this a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Oh I cannot wait to try this! How fantastic! Now I just need to get some more fruit leather trays and a jerky gun! FUN! Thanks for posting! Found you over at Real Food Wed. I would love for you to stop by sometime and say hello!

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Jennie. I like the mesh inserts best for these best, as they dry a little bit faster. If you use fruit leather trays, be sure to flip the pieces midway through so they dry thoroughly.

  11. What type of dehydrator do you have? I want one to make my own dehydrated fruit/ and jerky but wasn't sure what to get. The excaliburs are $$ but if it is worth it- I will save for it.


  12. I have a basic Nesco dehydrator. There's a link in the post to a similar model. I think an Excalibur would be great, but this was more in my budget range. I've had it for years (at least 10?), and it stills runs just fine. I did get extra trays. I have six trays now and will fill them up with a double batch (two pounds) of jerky.

  13. I hope my husband doesnt see this post. :-) We'd be getting a dehydrator and buying a half a cow in no time!

    Great post! :-)

  14. It would be a great investment if you eat a lot of jerky! :-)

  15. Love your photo with the jerky gun cocked and loaded! I have only done it with this slices of meat. AS a matter of fact we get a large amount of it sliced up that way at the butcher when we get our beef from the farm (It's great to use for stir fry!). Any, way this jerkey gun is a new thing for me… I only learned about it this year. I think you have inspired me to try it! (That means we can have more stir fry!) :-) Thanks for the inspiration. I LOVED your finished pictures. I am looking forward to giving it a try!

  16. I love the jerky gun because it's easy enough for the kids to use. Sometimes slicing the meat thin enough can be a little tricky, and then there's the fat and connective tissue to deal with. Using the ground beef, it's an economical meat to start with, and there's no waste. The finished product is also a bit easier to chew than strips.

    (As for the photo – I'm a bit of a ham at times. ;-)

  17. Your "gun" photo just cracked me up! :)
    And your jerky looks delicious, my mouth is just watering. I adore jerky!
    Thanks for sharing this with the Homestead Barn Hop this week!

  18. Thanks for visiting, Jill. I really enjoy the Barn Hop. My youngest enjoys helping with the jerky because he gets to use "mommy's gun". ;-)

  19. I have a Jerky Gun. I can not get the peices as thin as yours that are in the pictures. What's the secret!

  20. To get the thinner strips, I use the end that makes two strips at once. I tried using the single strip (as show in the photo with the gun and the tray), but those strips were a little too thick and chewy.

  21. Mark's Never Fail Jerky
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/8 cup worcestershire sauce
    1/8 cup red wine
    1 tbs molasses
    1 tbs liquid smoke
    1 tbs brown sugar
    1 tbs hot sauce (optional)
    1 tsp cayenne (optional)
    1 pound lean ground beef or thin sliced eye of round

  22. Looks good.

  23. Whollly Salt bat man… we used premium tamari and 1/2 the salt that the recipe called for and it is way to salty… I need to try now to rectify 4 pounds of way tosalty jerky… Maybe it was the premium tamari but I have never had a problem subing it before… Any ideas??

    • I don’t know of any way to “unsalt” jerky, unfortunately. About the only thing I could suggest is pairing it with a bland food that could use some salt. I use San-J organic tamari. I’m sure there’s a difference in salt content in various brands.

  24. I recently had pork liver in Thai larb and I didn’t even recognize it at first. Even after the waiter told me what it was, it didn’t taste very livery. I wonder if one could make a beef larb jerky? Mix of ground beef and liver with the larb flavorings (lime juice, fish sauce, mint, cilantro) during the marination process. Could be a fun experiment!

  25. THANK YOU for posting a recipe using real food and not the seasoned packets for jerky! I have the same jerky gun and have been wanting to use up some ground venison in our freezer but I didn’t want to use the msg laden packets and wasn’t sure what spices, etc. to use to make my own marinade. Now I know! :) I love reading your blog, and pin stuff from it all the time! Thanks for another awesome post. :)

    • You’re welcome. Those jerky packets are awful, aren’t they? Plus, they’re really expensive. This is so much nicer. The jerky cookbooks at the bottom of the post have a lot of great ideas, but this is still a favorite of ours.

  26. [...] are commonly used for meats such as jerkies to enhance flavor and improve shelf life.  Blanching in water or steam helps slow down enzyme [...]

  27. [...] feet, they’d better be in the vehicle Snacks – (durable ones) such as granola bars, jerky or dried fruit Water – (make sure you empty a little out of the tops of bottles in case they [...]

  28. Oh my. If I show this to my “men” you know what I’ll be doing soon…..

  29. Thanks for the post! Love the picture of you with the jerky gun ;-) I recently purchased a dehydrator and planning on making jerky with ground beef and wondered if the jerky gun was REALLY necessary. I see now that it is, and will be purchasing one soon. All the Best!

  30. Really REALLY salty. Half the salt and it would still be salty. Good seasoning flavor…. But Drink with lots of water. Thanks for the jumping point because we didnt know what to do as we are first timers.

    • Marinating for a shorter period of time will reduce the saltiness, and different ingredient brands will also affect the flavor dramatically, especially the salt and soy sauce used. The salt acts as a preservative, binding free water in the meat and extending shelf life, so be aware of this if you reduce the salt in the recipe.

  31. I was wondering, do you have to use a meat cure such as Morton’s tender quick salt? Or does it keep O.K. without it? I to don’t want the MSG and all the “junk” in the pre mixed seasonings. Thanks for your help.

    • I just use natural sea salt in this recipe. Salt binds up free water, which helps prevent spoilage. To extend shelf life the jerky can be refrigerated or frozen. if you like. Because it doesn’t have all the bizarre preservatives, it will not have the shelf life of commercial products.

  32. I am going to try ground turkey tomorrow with this recipe. I was looking on line for the seasoning packets and ran across this site. Must be my lucky night. Thanks for Posting.

  33. Hello, this looks great! Thanks :-). How lean is lean. Does it have to be lean? The pasture raised ground beef is my only option and I don’t want to buy extra lean from the supermarket. If it’s not lean, what will happen to the jersey?

  34. Does anyone have a recipe for Teriyaki Beef Jerky for ground beef? I have seen lots for sliced beef but none for ground beef. I usually use the packet mixes but want to make my own spice blend and would really to try Teriyaki. Thanks for your help

  35. Does the jerky need to be heated to a particular degree for safety purposes or does the salt content and drying take care of these concerns? Thanks

    • Free water is necessary for bacteria growth, and as you have correctly identified, the dehydrating process removes that water and the salt binds up free water that may be left. This doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of spoilage, but it does slow down the bacteria responsible for spoilage. Historically, of course, meat was air dried or smoked – no exact temperature controls.

  36. I’ve been making jerky for several weeks now. Based on all my research, it sure seems like you need some sort of curing agent in the jerky to be safe and that little amount of sea salt or even regular salt won’t do it. My recipe is almost identical to yours, except I use Morton’s Tenderquick (salt, sodium nitrate) and use no regular salt in the recipe and it comes out perfect and not nearly as salty.

    • Using an additional preservative such as sodium nitrate will increase shelf life/stability at room temperature. The salt acts as a preservative by binding up free water in the meat, which, in addition to the drying process itself, binds up free water, making the meat inhospitable to bacteria growth. Introducing healthy bacteria, as Wardeh does in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods, is another way to extend shelf life by crowding out bad bacteria with good bacteria. I’m sure you’ve seen historical references where meat was dried completely untreated, or smoked, but not salted or cured. Each element acts to add another layer of shelf stability. You are correct that the recipe in the post will keep best in the fridge or freezer for longer storage because of this, and that less salt may be used if another preservative is introduced.

      • I have Mary Bell’s “Just Jerky”. I can definitely understand what you mean. We usually consume a batch of jerky within a few days anyway.

  37. Instead of the Tamari and spices, try “Dale’s Steak Seasoning”. If you can’t find it locally, Amazon has it. It’s essentially concentrated soy sauce with garlic and other spices mixed in. I recommend the low sodium version. The Kroger’s house brand is just as good for a cheaper option.

  38. 145° is not high enough. My Dad use to make hamburger jerky with my dehydrator. He froze the package to make it last. I was the first to try it. I ended up with a very bad case of Ecoli. Turns out the meat was contaminated and 145 isn’t high enough temp to kill the bad bacteria. Now I take my jerky out of the dehydrator and finish it off in my Convection oven. That allows it to get high enough 170 to 175°. It took me a long time to try jerky again.

  39. Have you ever tried Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce?

    • No, I haven’t. The salt in the soy sauce acts as a preservative, so any time you reduce the salt, you increase the risk of spoilage. If you would like to try it, I’d recommend the 165 temp for sure.

  40. How do you precook the jerky to 160 before dehydrating??

    • I don’t. I only use local, single source meat from healthy animals from people I trust, and I’ve never had an issue with any forborne illness using the 145 temp. Mary Ellen mentions that she takes hers up to 160 in the oven after dehydrating.

  41. I have been looking for months for a good HEALTHY jerky recipe and have yet to find one. I was hoping yours would be I am afraid to say you are a bit contradictory in your recipe. You say you do not want to use commercial because of the MSG and the nitrates and yet you put soy sauce (8500 mg) and then add a t. of sea salt (6000 mg) and then you double it which gives you almost 30000 mg of salt! The recommended intake is between 1500 and 2500 and of course the less amount is the best. Out of 2# of meat you get 20 pieces of jerky that equals your recommended daily intake. With eating other foods you could allow yourself maybe a bite of jerky a day. And I do not think you need much salt since you are dehydrating as opposed to letting it sit and dry out.

    • If you don’t want that much salt, don’t use that much salt, but if you’re going to reduce the salt, make sure to eat the jerky sooner rather than later, and keep it refrigerated. Looking in another jerky recipe book (specifically, “Jerky: Make your own delicious jerky and jerky dishes using beef, venison, fish or fowl” by A. D. Livingston), the salt levels in the recipes are very similar – or even higher. “2 lbs meat, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon salt” in the Sesame Seed Jerky. “2 lbs meat, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon salt” in the Hawaiian Jerky – and so on. Not all of the cure is absorbed by the meat. I view jerky as an occasional treat, not a food I’m going to snack on all day. The low salt recipe in in the Livingston jerky book is 2 pounds lean red meat, 1 cup low-salt soy sauce, 1/4 cup liquid smoke and freshly ground black pepper.

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