How To Dry Deer Jerky

When it's time to dehydrate, you gotta know how to dry deer jerky to perfection. Deer jerky can be dried a couple of different ways.

The Perfect Drying Temperature

After the deer meat is marinated, cured and seasoned, it's time to place it in the dehydrator or oven to dry. The ideal temperature for drying jerky is between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If the drying temperature is below 140, the jerky can spoil. Too high, and the venison can become hard and brittle.

Cook Before Drying

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends that all jerky meat be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (red meat) or 165 degrees (poultry) before the dehydrating process begins. This ensures that all bacteria is killed and the end product will be safe for everyone.

Please visit Food Safety of Jerky for detailed information regarding this important subject.


How To Dry Deer Jerky

The Dehydrator Method

Place the sliced venison jerky or the formed ground venison jerky or deer snack sticks onto the dehydrator trays, leaving space for airflow around all the meat edges. A spray of vegetable oil onto the racks will prevent sticking. Make sure none of the meat is touching the edge of the trays. Stack the trays onto the dehydrator and start it up.

Some dehydrators have a fan at the bottom, while others have a side mounted fan. Some have no fan at all. If you have the type with a side fan, rotating is normally unneccessary. But if yours has no fan, or a bottom mounted fan, the trays need to be rotated regularly. Otherwise, you'll end up with extremely dry jerky at the bottom and moist jerky on top. I rotate the uppermost tray to the bottom every hour or so.

How To Dry Deer Jerky - The Oven Method

Whole muscle strips or ground jerky can be dried on a cookie sheet or in a flat pan in the oven. A quick spray of vegetable oil onto the pan will prevent sticking.

If you have a rack with narrow spaces between the rungs, the meat can be layed directly there. Clean up will be something to consider if you do this.

Sliced jerky can be hung from the upper rack to dry, too. A toothpick through one end will support the strips as they hang under the rack drying.

The best way for easiest cleanup is to lay the venison on a sheet of heavy duty foil that's been coated lightly with vegetable oil. Just toss the foil when the jerky is done.

Set the oven temperature at 140-150 degrees if you can. If your oven won't go that low, set it at its lowest setting. In either case, leave the door cracked open to allow the moisture to escape.


When Is It Done?

It could take anywhere from four to eight hours, or more for the jerky to be dried perfectly. There are too many variables to be able to give an exact time. The type of dehydrator, the model, the temperature of the dehydrator, oven or smoker, and the thickness of the meat all will affect the dehydration time.

Sliced jerky is done when the strips are still flexible, and when bent, the meat fibers at the edges break, but the piece doesn't break in two.

Ground meat jerky is done when the strips have shrunk by one-quarter to one-third less than their original size, and have become very firm. Don't let them dry to the point of being brittle.


Deer Jerky Recipes

Visit the following pages for some great recipes...

Whole Muscle Venison Jerky Recipes

Free Venison Jerky Recipes

Ground Venison Jerky Recipes

Ground Deer Jerky Recipes


Knowing how to dry deer jerky will be a real help when it's time to turn that freezer full of venison into tasty deer jerky treats.

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