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. That’s why this ground beef jerky is so popular with my readers. It provides a large quantity of beef jerky, while remaining affordable.
I pay about $10-15 for 3 pounds of lean ground beef (here in Alaska, anyways). 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 of jerky using this recipe for about $13-18. That’s a lot of ground beef jerky for a great price!
Making Jerky with Ground Beef
When I set out to create this ground beef jerky recipe, 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). Instead, I decided to try a liquid mixture of beef broth, molasses, and liquid smoke. I couldn’t believe how perfect it all worked out; this beef jerky recipe is so flavorful without any soy ingredients!
Many readers have written me saying they have successfully substituted the lean ground beef in this recipe with another lean ground meat, like deer, moose, or bison.
Purchasing a Jerky Gun
We own a metal jerky gun, but have previously owned a plastic one. While the plastic jerky gun was much cheaper, it was extremely frustrating to use and didn’t work as well as the metal one.
Yes, you can make this recipe without a jerky gun, but I personally wouldn’t want to, nor recommend it. The jerky gun ensures consistent strips of beef, while trying to form even strips by hand is nearly impossible.
Tips for Using a Jerky Gun
- Keep your meat cold! Cold ground beef will pass through the jerky gun much easier than meat at room temperature.
- Go for thinner strips vs. wider strips of beef jerky. They dehydrate quicker and are much easier to form (even using a jerky gun!).
- If your jerky gun comes with a double flat nozzle (shoots out 2 strips of jerky at a time vs. one), stick to the single nozzle (shoots out 1 strip of jerky). The double nozzles have a tendency to not push out the ground beef consistently, so you’ll get one thick strip of beef jerky, and one super skinny one. Jerky strips at different thicknesses will not dehydrate evenly. Plainly said, the thicker jerky strips will need to dehydrate longer, while the thinner strips will dehydrate faster. As an example, here is a picture of the double flat nozzle. You can see that the strip on the right is coming out thicker than the strip on the left.
- When loading a jerky gun, instead of filling the entire barrel at once, push the plunger to the end of the barrel, and gradually fill the barrel little by little. If you think of the jerky gun as a tube, with a stopper that pushes the ground beef out (forward), push the stopper all the way forward. Now pull the stopper back 2 inches, and fill the first 2 inches with ground beef, pull the stopper back another 2 inches and continue filling the jerky gun this way, little by little, until the tube is full. This helps eliminate air pockets from forming in the ground beef jerky mixture. Air pocket cause the jerky gun to push out the ground beef inconsistently.
- Use a small offset spatula or a butter knife to cut off the flow of jerky mixture from the jerky gun.
- My family personally prefers jerky strips that are about 5-6 inches long. Instead of shooting the jerky strips out of the jerky gun at this length, we shoot out 10-12-inch strips, and then use an offset spatula or butter knife to “cut” the strips in half before dehydrating. This “cut” doesn’t penetrate all the way through, but it makes it easy to simply break the long strips in half once dehydrated.
Making Beef Jerky in the Dehydrator
I use an Excalibur dehydrator (model 3926TB) with temperature control, and a timer. This way I can set the hamburger jerky to dehydrate and not have to worry about it going for too long and drying out (I do this knowing already about how long my Excalibur takes to dehydrate a batch of jerky).
Rotate your dehydrator trays once or twice during the dehydration process. This ensures all the trays dehydrate evenly.
It is extremely important to use lean ground beef (I find 93% lean 7% fat is perfect) to make this recipe. Any ground beef that is higher in fat will leave grease droplets all over the inside of your dehydrator.
Storing Ground Beef Jerky
Consume within 12 hours at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 7 days. For long-term storage, freeze in an airtight container and consume within 3-4 months.
Other Must Try Gluten-Free Beef Recipes:
Ground Beef Jerky Recipe
- 3 pounds ground beef (use 97% lean/7% fat)
- 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 molasses
- Place the ground beef, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and ground black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir together the beef broth, Wright's Hickory Liquid Smoke, and molasses, and then pour it into the mixing bowl with the ground beef. Stir until well combined.
- Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
- 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.
- Dehydrate in a dehydrator at 145 degrees (F) for 6-12 hours.
- Place the jerky strips on paper towels to cool and to absorb any excess fat (if there is any).
- Consume within 12 hours at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 7 days. For long-term storage, freeze in an airtight container and consume within 3-4 months.
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.
*Did you make this gluten-free beef jerky? Please give it a star rating and leave an honest review below!
Don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @allergyfreeak and #allergyfreealaska with your sugar free beef jerky pics!