Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky Strips Using Ground Beef

Thanks for sharing! Share on Facebook1.5kShare on YummlyShare on Google+7Pin on Pinterest4.8kTweet about this on Twitter18Share on StumbleUpon52Print this page

Although definitely cheaper than store bought, making your own homemade beef jerky can still be costly. It all depends on the type and cut of meat used. London broil is one of my favorite meats to make jerky with, but it costs roughly $10-12 a pound (here in Alaska, anyways), so using it on a normal basis isn’t financially feasible. What is financially feasible, however, is lean ground beef. I pay about $10 for 3 pounds of ground beef, and if you factor in another $2-3 for the beef broth, sea salt, and seasonings, I can fill a gallon-size bag about 3/4 of the way full with jerky using this recipe for about $13. That’s a lot of jerky for cheap, cheap, cheap!! 

DSC_0624 (Small)When I set out to create these Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky Strips Using Ground Beef, I didn’t want to use gluten free soy sauce (otherwise known as gluten free tamari) to flavor the meat, nor did I want to use coconut aminos as an alternative (I don’t  care for them and they can be expensive). So I decided to try a liquid mixture of beef broth, molasses, and liquid smoke. I couldn’t believe how perfect it all worked out; these jerky strips are bursting with flavor! 

DSC_0670 (Large)We use this jerky gun to form our ground beef into jerky strips. These are the wider strips pictured below, but after we made a few batches of jerky, we found we prefer the thinner strips (the thinner strips of jerky are in all of the other pictures shown in this post). One tip we’ve found helpful while working with our jerky gun: Keep your meat cold! Cold meat will pass through the jerky gun much easier than meat at room temperature.

And just in case you were wondering, I did throw away the cure and flavor packets that came with my jerky gun. They contain preservatives, MSG, and lots of unhealthy ingredients! 

DSC_0571 (Small)

All my love, and Happy New Year!
Megan (with a long E) 

Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky Strips Using Ground Beef
  • 3 pounds ground beef (use 90% lean meat/10% fat or leaner)
  • 5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 3-4 teaspoons sea salt (we prefer 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
  • 2 teaspoons unsulphured molasses
  1. Place the ground beef, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and ground black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir together the beef broth, liquid smoke, and molasses, and then pour it into the mixing bowl with the ground beef. Stir until well combined.
  3. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Form the meat into strips, about 1/8-1/4” thick, using a jerky gun or by using your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the meat into strips or whatever shape you desire.
  5. Dehydrate in a dehydrator at 145 degrees (F) for 6-12 hours.
  6. Place the jerky strips on paper towels to cool and to absorb any excess fat.
  7. Consume within 24-48 hours at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 7 days. For long-term storage, freeze in an air tight container and consume within 3-4 months.
Recipe Notes from Megan
Q: Can I make this recipe using my oven?
A: I don't see why you couldn't on the lowest temp, but I have not tried it, so I can't say for sure if it will work or not. If you do try it, please come back and let us know if you were successful!

The flavor of this recipe is most comparable to an "original" recipe type of jerky, although not as sweet.

You could easily substitute bison or ground turkey breast for the lean ground beef.

I use the Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Dehydrator and love it (so far, I just got it!). It seems to dry evenly and be very efficient.

This recipe is linked to Make Your Own Monday, Teach Me TuesdayFat TuesdayAllergy Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Frugal Day Sustainable WaysThank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Full Plate ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter, and Gluten Free Fridays

This post may contain affiliate links which I may receive a small commission from (without any additional costs to you). The money earned from these commissions helps me maintain this website. Thank you for your support in this way!  


    • Megan says

      Thank you, Shirley! I’m very pleased that they turned out so well! It’s nice to have a cheaper alternative to actual slices of more expensive meat!

  1. says

    Looks like a very good basic recipe. I have not tried making jerky with broth. I will have to try your recipe!

    My youngest brother and I have been making jerky for years using ground beef, beefalo, or venison. I have a Nesco/American Harvest and my brother has an Excalibur. I use the ground meat method, my brother uses the jerked, cut of meat method. He makes very delicious jerky that I have not been able to master as well as he does, he just has a touch.

    Thank you for the lovely recipe Megan.



    • Megan says

      Hi Joanne,
      Beefalo (what a cool name)? I’m guessing that’s a mix of ground beef and bison? What do you normally season your jerky with?

      Some people just have that touch, don’t they? Kind of like a mom’s cooking… no one can duplicate it! 😉

      Thank you — and you are so welcome!

      • says

        Beefalo is an animal that is bred to be cow and bison/buffalo. (I know we don’t have true buffalo here in North America) The flavor is rich and beefy. The farmer raised them grassfed. I found out about this through the CSA I belong to. Sadly, he has had to retire, and no one wanted to take over the business.

        Five pounds of meat will make approximately one pound of jerky. I use gluten free soy sauce (San-J), and salt. I think the soy adds a depth of flavor. This is one way:

        1/4 cup Soy Sauce
        3 Teaspoons Salt
        Salt free Chili powder blend from Frontier Herbs to taste (2 Teaspoons)
        2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
        2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
        1 Teaspoon dried Oregano
        2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

        Mix well, and put in the jerky gun, and do three shots. Dry on low around 110 degrees until dry and pliable, it depends on the humidity in the house. I do low for the enzymes in the food.

        I also have done the soy sauce, salt, 4 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup, and sometimes add the onion and garlic or not for the salty/sweet and the black pepper. This takes longer to dry and also I use a little higher temperature 125 to 135 degrees to assure good drying.

        My brother brines the meat in a gallon of water, 8 ounces of salt and weigh it down for 12 hours. Dry it off well and then proceed with the sprinkling the meat on both sides, sometimes he uses molasses.

        A good resource to learn that my brother gave me is: Don Holm’s Book of Food Drying, Pickling, and Smoke Curing. By Don and Myrtle Holm. He grew up without refrigeration and this is the things he learned and his family did to have food on the table that would not spoil.



        I if I am drying

        • Megan says

          So interesting! Thanks for sharing the information on the beefalo – and your recipe! I’m always curious how others like their jerky. There are lots of great recipes out there. I’ll have to check out that book too. Again, thanks for the tips, Joanne! 😉

    • Megan says

      Hi Judith,
      I think it would do okay in an oven on the lowest temperature possible (mine goes down to 170 degrees F), but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for certain.

  2. Jennifer says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I would never have thought to try making jerky with ground meat. (I’m not too good at thinking outside the box). We are blessed to have a source of grass fed free range ground beef and have quite a lot this year. I will definitely try this.

  3. says

    Megan, I love this idea. Gluten-free son and I both like to have jerky for on the go protein. I only wish I had the equipment to make this properly! I’m not ready to buy a dehydrator, but I might try it in the oven.

  4. says

    Megan, I love your site and have shared it with many friends. This is the first time I see something on it that I am nervous about: is liquid smoke not a dubious ingredient? I really appreciate your comment on this.

    • Megan says

      Hi Louise,
      Excellent question, thank you for asking! Wright’s Liquid Smoke is gluten free. Wright’s has stated this on their website (you can find it by clicking HERE, it’s in the very first line you’ll see).

      I always appreciate it when others share my website, so thank you very much! 😉

  5. says

    My Sons just love Beef Jerky and this will be a great recipe for them. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  6. says

    That looks like something i can manage and the results look really nice. Thanks for the tip about keeping the meat cold, i will remmeber that. I cant wait to give it a go.

  7. says

    Hi Megan,

    This is the most amazing idea!!!! I am going to try this asap!

    My Gramie used to make homemade beef jerky and it was delicious but so tough. Beef jerky tends to really hurt my jaw. So I cannot wait to make your recipe..

    Featuring this week on AFW!!!


  8. says

    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

    Hope your week is great! Can’t wait to see what you link up this week!

    Cindy from

  9. Stella S says

    Hello Megan,

    LOVE, love, LOOOVE this recipe! <3

    My quest for feeding my family healthier led me to finally buy a dehydrator with my Christmas money. The second thing I made in my new dehydrator, was this recipe. OMG

    My husband and two older teen boys were skeptical when I talked about "the new ground beef jerky recipe". (Uh, Mom, you can't make jerky from ground beef…) And I usually make the recipe as it is written the first time; BUT, I was in a hurry to try out the dehydrator, and had to omit the liquid smoke and beef broth, subbed in some Trader Joe's smoke seasoning, and water for the broth.

    Holy cow! Even with my subs, my guys inhaled it and asked for an immediate repeat!

    I had already bought the same jerky gun, used the wide strip for the first batch, and used the narrow strips for the second. My guys also like the narrow strips better. The jerky gun is the bomb! I will have to order on line for the liquid smoke. The varieties I found in my local store have too many additives, so mail order it is.

    @Joanne, thanks for sharing your recipe as well.

    BTW, my dehydrator cost less than $60. I debated for ONE YEAR whether or not to get one. If you are on the fence trying to decide, don't wait any longer! If you are looking for a way to get healthy meat protein, this jerky recipe alone will change your life. It is that good.

    Thanks for reading my lengthy comment, but I'm on such a high from this success!
    (I just love when you discover a winner)

    • says

      Stella, could you tell me what jerky gun you bought. I’ve been making the strips by hand and it takes a lot of time.

      Much appreciated!


      • Megan says

        Hi Louise,
        Stella said she has the same jerky gun as I do, and you can purchase it by CLICKING HERE.

        I really want to get THIS ONE though. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you’re serious about making jerky this one might hold up better over time.
        😉 Megan

    • Megan says

      You’re comment made my WHOLE day! I’m so happy to hear this recipe was a hit with your family! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. 😉 And thank you for the substitution information too, I’m sure other readers will find it helpful.

      • Stella S says

        Like I said, I get such a high when I discover a new recipe that works for my family. I’m glad my comment made you happy! (happy is good :-).

        In regards to the jerky gun, @louise, the link Megan posted is the same one I have.
        I went and bought the cheaper version because I wasn’t too sure if I would even like dehydrating. One negative aspect I keep reading about it is that the plastic it is made out of is very brittle and will break easily. So, I’ll keep using the cheaper one until it breaks, then I’ll invest in a metal gun.

        I haven’t had a chance to search your site Megan, but do you have a fruit leather recipe that I could use?

        • Megan says

          I don’t have a fruit leather recipe posted yet. I keep experimenting with them though- just haven’t come up with a solid, consistent enough recipe worthy of posting. 😉 Hopefully soon!

  10. Suzanne says

    Hi all,
    If making in your oven just use the gun to make long strips on cookie sheets. Use the lowest temperature and prop a jar lid on the side near the top of the oven door so the oven is slightly open and allows the moisture to leave the oven. What I love about this method is clean up is easy and you can form super long strips and then cut them up later. I have a food dehydrator as well so when I make jerky I do very large batches using both the oven and the dehydrator. I freeze jerky using snack size bags (which I store in the freezer to reuse for the next batch) This way we can just grab a little bag for school or work if we wish.

  11. Anna says

    Ive made this a few times now, a hit in our family! We used deer meat from hunting season. I omitted the beef broth ( wasnt sure why it needed to be there) and used 3qts if meat with the spices suggested. Yum!

  12. Kat says

    Actually we can get buffalo here in North America…it’s hard to find and relatively expensive. My ex-boss and here husband last year butchered both their “buffalo” and they had never been crossed with cow.

    • says

      Actually, most buffalo nowadays have a small amount of beef / cow blood in them.
      Sort of like my many friends who all have a “small” amount of Indian blood in them and they are blonde haired, blue eyed… you’d never know, despite it. It’s just been so far out, that it’s mostly gone, but nonetheless, most buffalo still have minor amount of our domestic cow lines in them.

      Now if you are crossing them again together today with our buffalo and a cow, then it’s a beefalo :)

      Sorry, biology major, had to chime in.

  13. Benji Two-Spirit says

    I made this recipe using ground turkey. It was amazing and the flavor reminded me of my childhood. My friends at work are begging me to make some more. I’m going to be making a big batch this next week before I go hiking in the rockies. Thank you for using an old fashioned simple recipe for a delicious classic.

  14. joanna says

    I made this yesterday and it is the best beef jerky I’ve ever had. Seriously. It has the perfect texture and chew and is not tough like some of the other recipes I’ve made. This will be my go-to from now on!! I had no idea ground beef would turn out so good as a jerky! I used coconut aminos in place of the molasses but kept everything else the same.

  15. Nayab says

    Hi Megan,

    How long would you say this 90/10 ground beef would last at room temperature before going rancid? Also how do you store it?


        • Megan says

          Hey Sam,
          Maybe if you dehydrated it for longer (to cook the meat more). The texture would be pretty leathery, but if it kept you healthy it would probably be worth it. 😉

  16. Kirsten says

    Just put some of this in the dehydrator, only I changed the recipe a bit. I didn’t have liquid smoke or broth handy, so I skipped the broth and used smoked sea salt instead of the plain salt. Excited to see how it turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Julie says

    Weird question. Can you possibly turn this recipe into a bigger log and slice it like pepperoni. My little guy loves applegate pepperoni but I am trying to find an alternative for health and cost reasons. Thanks!

    • Megan says

      Hi Julie,
      Not a weird question… just a unique one! I think you probably could turn this into a big loaf, but I would mix the meat (omit the beef broth), and then refrigerate it for at least 12-24 hours. Bake the log (in the oven) at 200 degrees for 8-10 hours. Granted, I haven’t tried this, but if I were going to, that’s where I would start. 😉 If you are going to try it, I’d start with a half batch, then you can test the recipe and see if you like it and if it turns out well – that way you’re not wasting 3 lbs of meat the first go-around. Once you have your recipe solid, then double the batch. I hope that’s helpful!

  18. Meredith Massey says

    I loved this recipe! I made it yesterday and just shared the jerky with people at work. Everyone loved it.

    I use My Fitness Pal and am wondering how I should divide up the servings. I think the molasses and the liquid smoke are going to be negligible. Have you ever calculated the nutritional value of this snack?

    Thanks again for the recipe!

    • Megan says

      Hi Meredith!
      I’m happy everyone enjoyed these! They are certainly a favorite in this house. 😉

      I have never calculated the nutritional value. You could certainly do that in My Fitness Pal or Calorie Counter though!

  19. Jeremy says

    I made this recipe a couple weekends ago. I absolutely love it! I have been making a lot of jerky lately and so far this is the best. I have been using flank steak, “ready-to-eat” smoked flank steak (which turned out really Salty, not recommended), and top round steak. Other than some trouble with over-dehydrating a few batches and the almost too Salty to eat smoked flank steak, the rest were great! But I never expected ground beef to turn out so amazing :) The texture was perfect, and the flavor was too! I went with the lower amount of salt and used Canning salt instead of sea salt. Tonight I am making another batch, but I added 1.5 Tbsp of Dean Jacobs hot Chipotle seasoning. I like a little heat to my jerky. We’ll see how it turns out

  20. heartweed says

    I just received this email form Wrights liquid smoke. …..Thank you for your email. The apple flavor in our Wright’s Apple Wood Liquid Smoke contains ethanol, apple essence, water, and proprietary natural flavors. The maple flavor contains propylene glycol, natural smoke flavor, and proprietary natural flavors.

    Yikes ….propylene glycol?

  21. Ande says

    I am looking for a meat that my kids can take in their lunches to school and I am afraid to send things that have to be cold. I am looking for a jerky recipe to solve this problem. I do have a couple questions. Why does the meat have to be so lean? Also what is the purpose of the smoke or is it just for flavoring? Thanks!

    • Megan says

      Hi Ande,
      If the meat isn’t lean, your dehydrator fills with grease – just trust me on this, it’s a mess you don’t want to clean up! As for the smoke, it’s strictly just for flavor. Feel free to leave it out if you’d like, it’s still delicious without it. 😉

  22. says

    Hi Megan, I always wanted to try out a jerky recipe in the dehydrator. Love to use a dehydrator recipes. I am printing this page by the way.

    And I will be preparing it today, will let you how it turns out. I will recommend you to my readers :) .


  1. […] 4. Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky On Paleo we love it when things are easy, and if making beef jerky seems unapproachable for you, this is the place to start. The reason it’s so cheap and easy is because it’s using ground beef rather than steak. This makes it easier to handle, and make it so you don’t have to worry if you’re cutting thin enough strips. You should still spend a bit more and make sure that the ground beef is grass-fed, but overall your total costs should be about the same as the premium style beef jerky sold in packs. If course it does take some of your time, but it’s worth it. […]

  2. […] Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky Strips Using Ground Beef – Allergy … – Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky Strips Using Ground Beef. … Cheap & Easy Beef Jerky On Paleo we love it when things are easy, and if making beef jerky seems unapproachable for you, … Remember To Pack Some Healthy Snacks! | Zing Bars Blog says: […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *