DIY: Maple-Sage Beef Jerky Recipe

53 Comments

Less is more.

Beef Jerky PrepPeople tend to over-complicate making beef jerky. I have found that if you’re dealing with good quality meat (ideally grass-fed), when it comes to a marinade, less is more. The very first time I made jerky it was from elk and I basically tossed the meat in some spices and then chucked it in the dehydrator. That quickly became an over-spiced mess, though tasty and tender enough for me to eat it all. I knew that the next time I would use a simple liquid-based marinade. So, I followed that flub up with a this sensational recipe that I have recreated here for you today: a maple-sage marinade for beef (or turkey, chicken, whathaveyou) jerky. Maple and sage are a classic flavor combination and I am a HUGE fan of the flavor of real maple syrup, so if you’re not a fan of using something sweet in your jerky, you can leave it out.

I also have a simple garlic & curry jerky recipe I’ll post to my blog sometime sooner than later as well once I re-calibrate it to see how much of everything I used and make it again before I go off the deep end with how much of each spice I recommend you use. I tend to cook and play in the kitchen without much measuring and calculating, so when a recipe ends up tasting good, it means I need to re-create it before I can share it.

Maple-Sage Beef Jerky Recipe

Beef JerkyIngredients

2 lbs of grass-fed beef – still partially frozen for easier slicing (you want a lean cut with easily visible striations – I typically use london broil)
2 Tbsp organic apple cider vinegar - I like Bragg’s brand
2 Tbsp coconut aminos(they’re more expensive online but can also be found at local health food stores, you can use wheat-free tamari if you can tolerate small amounts of fermented soy products)
2 Tbsp maple syrup- organic, grade B (or use honey if you prefer)
1 Tbsp sage sea salt – see my herb salt recipe here
(or use approx 1 tsp each dried sage & sea salt)
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
Dash of black pepper
(more if you like it)
2 Tbsp warm water
Note:
The marinade should be made to-taste, test the flavor before applying to your sliced meat. I find it to be a pretty strong taste just on a spoon/finger dip but that flavor dilutes once over the meat, so you want it to be fairly strong in the marinade. The measurements here are approximate and will vary based on your preferences!

Preparation

  • Blend marinade ingredients in a glass bowl or shallow glass dish with a whisk or a fork.
  • Using a very sharp knife and cutting against the grain of the meat, slice the meat thinly into approximately 1/8″ slices.
  • Place sliced meat into the marinade and allow to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour.
  • Arrange the meat onto the trays of a food dehydrator and heat at 135-145 degrees until the meat is the desired dryness to your liking. This should take approximately 3-5 hours.Note: if you want to use an oven on it’s lowest heat setting you can try that but keep a close eye on the meat as it will likely finish much faster. You may even want to keep the oven door propped open for the dehydrating time. If you have experience with this, please post it to the comments below!

Variations

  • Try using rosemary sea salt with honey instead of sage and maple syrup.
  • If you want to use ground beef, use the extruder tool that comes with your dehydrator or buy one separately. This will save money on the price of your meat and also adds some fat to the snacks you create.

To find grass-fed beef or other grass-fed and pasture raised meats locally, check out EatWild.com or your local farmers markets. To find grass-fed beef or other grass-fed and pasture raised meats online, check out GrasslandBeef.com.

Enjoy & be well!

“Bacon is rad. Gluten is bad.” Sport it on a T-shirt.

Leave A Comment

Comments

Comment using Facebook

Comment using RobbWolf.com

  1. Katie @ Wellness Mama
    May 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I love the idea of maple! It definitely works with ground beef… I’ve made it many times with many variations (cumin and chili powder; aisian spices, etc)
    Also, I don’t have a dehydrator with variable temperature, so I always just make in the oven on lowest setting. Depending on what cut of meat and how thick I slice it, it can take anywhere from 3 hours to 12 hours. I usually put it in late at night and check early morning though.

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Yeah, I think if it’s on the higher heat setting it can finish pretty quickly but I do tend to turn it down and let it go longer sometimes. It really varies a lot for me and I think people all like different levels of moisture left in the meat too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. sarena
    May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Looks great! Thanks. I have made jerky many times but find it needs longer. Maybe the dehydrator makes a difference? I have the excalibur.

    Oh and do you think it will work without the sweetener? I dont sweeten things any longer…..

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      I think it will work fine without the sweetener but perhaps using less vinegar might be in order… I was also considering a couple of spoons full of something like apple juice to break some acidity but to not be as sweet, but I didn’t have any around.

  3. sarena
    May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Oh I just reread and saw the comment about leaving the sweetener off. Oops!!

  4. Cam MacLellan
    May 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    looks/sounds delicious! But I will do it in the BBQ with some wood chips to smoke it up a bit.

  5. Casey P
    May 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve done jerky quite a bit in the past using ground elk and the Cabela’s “Jerky Blaster” kit. Essentially, it’s a caulking gun for meat (like the extruder tool you linked) and a set of nesting wire racks that set over a drip pan, and can be dried in the oven (since I don’t have a dehydrator).

    For making it in the oven, 200 degrees for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours total seems to work just right. You CAN turn the strips after an hour, but I usually don’t bother. I also leave the door closed on the oven just to keep the whole house from gaining 10 degrees in the process. DEFINITELY make sure you’ve got a pan of some sort under the meat (but have the meat elevated above the pan) to catch fat drips – especially working with ground meat.

    My next jerky-making run will be on my pellet grill…I just need to decide which type of wood to use.

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks for the feedback on oven heat/timing. I know people will want to do this in the oven as not everyone has a dehydrator!

  6. Cubicle Warrior
    May 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Looks great! I’ve always wanted jerky but had to ditch the packaged food. I sometimes can feel the preservatives in my system, and it’s not a great experience.

    Looking to try this soon!

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Awesome. I definitely trade all the nasty stuff in packaged food for a bit of maple syrup any day!

      If anyone doesn’t want to make their own and would rather buy 100% grass-fed jerky, there is a local gal here in SF I know from my Paleo Meetup group who makes it- http://www.grassfedjerkychews.com is her site.

  7. sarena
    May 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    It’s in the dehydrator as we speak! Thanks.

  8. DJ
    May 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Does dehydrating meat have any adverse effects on the nutritional content? The reason I ask is because I’ve been trying to work more offal into my diet. I just got a huge portion of buffalo and it came with a heart. I haven’t yet decided how to prepare it, and I was considering making jerky out of it. I just don’e want to lose what’s good for me in the process.

    Thanks for the recipe,
    D.J.

  9. Sarah
    May 13, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Could you recommend a good dehydrator? I am just getting started on my Paleo journey and can see how helpful a dehydrator will be to make meat ahead of time for quick meals and snacks. Thanks!

    • Robb Wolf
      May 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      I have a Hamilton beech…really solid.

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 18, 2011 at 12:45 am

      I think we linked to one in the post there. That’s the one I have and it’s easy to use and works well. I like it and several of my clients have gotten it too. Oh, and my cat likes to sit next to it ;)

  10. Kendra
    May 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I’ve seen several recipes for homemade jerky around the web, but no one ever talks about storage of the finished product. I’m assuming the frig since there are no preservatives, but that seems so inconvenient.

  11. Becky Leppard
    May 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

    My DIL just linked this article to me as I have 3 pounds of GF groundbeef in the fridge getting ready to make into jerky.

    I am super intrigued by the gun. Do you, Rob or Diane have one of these? I looked at the reviews on Amazon and there were some comments that the plastic didn’t hold up well. Do you have experience with this particular gun and is the plastic holding up well? I love the price of only $15-$19; but what seems to0 good to be true may be, so thus my inquiry.
    Becky

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      May 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

      I am ordering one very soon! I don’t know that I expect it to last for forever at $15-20 though… just sayin’

  12. Eating bad in South America this week
    May 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Don’t forget the dental floss, especially if eating this on the go. I have a little extra space between two of my teeth and the jerky seems to lodge in there.

    I also like how the recipe above does not suggest 160 degrees, which many contemporary recipes have as of late.

  13. Amanda
    May 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I made this over the weekend and it is excellent. I got the 5-tray Excalibur as a wedding gift not too long ago, and this was my first dehydrating project. Followed the recipe almost exactly. Except I used fresh sage and some fresh thyme too. Some of the thicker/bigger pieces took longer, maybe 7 hours. My only recommendation would be to let it marinate longer to get a deeper flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. April
    May 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    When I tried to make jerky, it ended up as beef chips. Is that from dehydrating too long? Cutting the meat too thin? (I bought it from the Asian grocery pre-sliced. It was probably 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick.) The cut of beef?

    I’ll try this recipe and see if the same thing happens. Kitchen experiments!

    • Robb Wolf
      May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Might be too long and or too high of temperature. I’ve had similar results.

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      June 17, 2011 at 6:33 am

      Yeah, a batch I just made did the same thing. I had it on 145 in the dehydrator for 6 hours and it was too hot for that much time and the thickness I had sliced the meat. Keep tinkering!

      • Paleogranny
        November 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        Diane, is at least 145 still the recommended heat for killing e coli and any other “bugs”?

    • Paleogranny
      November 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      If the meat is sliced thinly with the grain instead of across the grain, you won’t get beef chips but the jerky will be chewier. But if presliced very thinly across the grain you might marinate less time in addition to dehydrating for a shorter period of time.

  15. Steven
    May 19, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Alton Brown makes beef jerky using a “chilling” technique. He cures his jerky strips in a brine/marinade with both salt and acid. (he also makes his own liquid smoke which is pretty ingeniously simple.) He then uses cotton corrugated air filters, a box fan, and two bungie cords to actually dry out the jerky.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfI0NKl-Kq0

    Planning on trying it out, soon.

    • Steven
      May 19, 2011 at 6:31 am

      He uses Cellulose filters, not cotton.

  16. Karen
    May 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Seems like you could replace the extruder or caulking gun tool with a pastry bag. That’s a zip lock bag with a hole cut in the corner – then you add the ground meat & squeeze it out. All you’re trying to do is make little logs of meat, right? What can your fancy tool do (or do better) than the pastry bag?? Has anyone compared the oven method with Alton’s method? I don’t have or plan on buying a dehydrator.

    What size logs of ground meat would work in either of the two above non-dehydrator methods?
    Thanks!

  17. Mary
    June 1, 2011 at 5:26 am

    I made this last night, and it’s fabulous. I have it in the fridge now, but I am wondering how I am supposed to store it, and how long it should remain good.

    • Diane @ Balanced Bites
      August 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      Sorry for the delayed reply! I usually don’t worry about how long it will last since I am sure I eat it far before that… but I am guessing at least a couple of weeks depending on how dry you make it. More dry = lasts longer. And I would keep it in the fridge unless you’re out on a trip… I am guessing a few days out is fine for it without vacuum sealing.

      • FJB2
        November 20, 2011 at 6:47 pm

        WE KEEP OURS IN THE FREEZER DOUBLE BAGGED IN ZIP LOCKS LASTS UP TO 1 YEAR BUT WE MAKE 20-40 LBS. AT A TIME TIZ THE SEASON TO HUNT DEER WE MAKE 3 DIFFERENT KINDS KEEPS ALL THE FAMILY HAPPY I AM INTERESTED IN TRYING THIS MAPLE SYRUP RECIEPT ON A SMALLER SCALE FOR THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE AN EXTRUDER THAT AFFIXES TO THE GRINDER AND SQUEEZES OUT 3PIECES AT ONCE ON A PIECE OF WAXY LIKE PAPER THEN WE PLACE THEM IN THE DEHYDRATOR

  18. Renee
    September 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Whole Foods is having a sale on grass-fed london broil which I find perfect for making jerky. And they slice it for you if you ask. I stock up when it’s on sale ($6.49/lb. today!) I wing it on the marinade each time, but it usually includes some reduced apple or pineapple juice, coconut aminos, garlic and onion powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Sometimes I add powdered or fresh ginger, paprika, chili powder, Trader Joe’s African smoke seasoning in the grinder… I marinade overnight, blot dry, lay out on racks over cookie sheet, and dry it in a 150 degree oven for about 4 hours or so. I prop the oven door open to let out the steam. So convenient for travel, after school snacks, etc.

  19. Tracy
    October 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I wonder how much of the marinade you would use for ground beef. Obviously less, but you can’t taste it to check. Hmmmm

  20. Leighgrace47
    May 1, 2013 at 6:44 am

    I have a batch of this in my dehydrator right now and it smells delicious! My husband is concerned about the safety of me eating it though, because I’m pregnant. I’m craving red meat often and know to stay away from sodium nitrate so I thought making my own beef jerky would be a quick any-time fix. Now I’m wondering if its the right way to go. Perhaps my hubby just wants more for himself (wink) but does anyone have any thoughts on the safety of homemade beef jerky for pregnant women?

  21. Leslie
    January 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    When I make jerky, I use a very similar recipe (coconut aminos, garlic powder, onion powder, dash of salt, pepper) and marinade for 24 hours. I heat the meat at 350F for 10 minutes, then dehydrate at 145F for about 4 hours. Will sit on the shelf fine for about 2 weeks, but when I make a big batch, I freeze some of it. Buying grass-fed beef, and accounting for the cost of the marinade ingredients, and comparing that to the finished weight, it comes out to about the same cost as the cheapest jerky you can buy at the market, and about half the cost of the high quality jerky I find online.

Leave a Reply