Do you want to make jerky, but don’t have a dehydrator? No problem! Just follow these tips for how to make jerky in the oven!
When I was a kid, we had a giant wood cookstove right, smack in the middle of the small kitchen of our small, open floor plan house.
That thing had no problem heating the entire house even on the coldest Middle Tennessee winter days, and when we opened the vents to heat the cooktop for canning things, or deep-frying, or whatever, it would sometimes get hot enough to send us outside for a little cooldown.
But the really nice thing about having a wood cookstove is the oven.
When we stoked the fire and shut the stove down for the night, it would burn slowly until morning when dad got up to open the vents back up and get it going again.
And many nights during hunting season, when trophy hunters were bringing their unwanted deer to our house right and left, we’d hang jerky off the oven racks, leave the oven door open so it didn’t overheat, and in the morning, we’d wake up to another batch of jerky done.
Since we’ve been married, Gabe and I haven’t lived in a house that’s been set up for a wood stove at all – let alone a wood cookstove – and now that we live in an older mobile home (which we remodeled last summer) which are known for being matchboxes, well, this home will house a wood burning stove over my dead body.
But you don’t have to have a wood stove to learn how to make jerky in the oven!
All you need is a little patience, and a few cookie sheets and wire racks.
How To Make Jerky In The Oven
First, prepare your meat. Regardless of whether you use cut meat strips, or ground meat, you need to choose your recipe, and either marinate, or mix the ingredients.
You’ll find a great recipe for cut strips in this Old Fashioned Deer Jerky Recipe, and one of my favorites for ground meat in this Teriyaki Venison Jerky Recipe (you can swap the deer for beef in either of these recipes). Or you can find a recipe on Jerkyholic.
Transfer your meat to wire racks
We’re going to use racks for maximum airflow. If you use cookie sheets, you’ll need to turn your jerky multiple times for even drying.
If you’re using sliced meat, you can be less picky about the type of wire rack you use, and may even be able to drape jerky strips over a (clean) oven rack.
In either case, place a cookie sheet under your jerky to catch potential drips.
Turn your oven down to the lowest heat setting
If your oven has a warm setting, use that, if not, just turn your oven down as low as it will go.
Put your jerky in the oven and prop the door open. Opening the door allows the heat to carry the moisture from your meat up and out of the oven, as well as keeping the temperature lower.
Ideally, your temperature won’t go higher than 160ºF, so it’s a good idea to have an oven thermometer inside the oven so you can keep an eye on the real temperature.
If you don’t have one, no big deal, just keep in mind that if your jerky cooks, rather than dries, it will not be shelf-stable. So if you suspect that this is the case, you’ll need to store it in your refrigerator, and it should last there for up to two weeks.
Let your jerky dry at least 8 hours. If your jerky is especially thick, it could take up to 16 hours. For me, it’s easiest to leave it in the oven overnight.
That’s all there is to learn how to make jerky in the oven!
Even though we actually do have an electric dehydrator, I’ve actually been using the oven method this winter while we’ve been using the oven to help heat the kitchen (did I say we remodeled our house last summer? We’re actually still working on it, and the heating system still needs some work!), and I love it!
Have you ever made jerky in the oven? I’d love it if you would share your tips in the comments below!
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