Dehydrate Deer Jerky: The Definitive Guide

Jerky is a nutritious snack food that can be made as a survival food as it can be stored for a few years.

Jerky has many versions down its name and is typically made of beef meat. It doesn’t limit to beef, but also includes chicken and most especially the venison.

It’s easy to make a jerky as long as you have a dehydrator at your disposal.

Do you want know how to do it?

Continue reading and learn how to make and how long to dehydrate deer jerky.


Dried meat or jerky has been around for thousands of years with historical records aging back to ancient Egypt. Jerky was prepared simply back then by cutting the excess meat of different animals that can’t be consumed so it won’t go to waste.

To effectively dry each strip, every each of them should be sliced thin. With the aid of sunlight and other flavorings, a jerky was made.

Nowadays, jerky is still around and as popular as ever and probably all kinds of meat can be used. Processing of the jerky may take hours, but it’s worth the time of wait as it comes out really nutrition-packed.

One strip is already bursting with protein and flavorings. A jerky is typically of pure meat with no trace of fat and dehydrated to remove its moisture.

Jerky is a staple food for emergencies or outdoor camping and hiking. It’s a favorite snack for people who don’t have time to cook or not in the situation to cook properly. Jerky doesn’t spoil and can be stored without refrigeration lasting several months if properly done.


Dehydration is the process to make jerky’s shelf life long. Long ago, sunlight was predominantly used as it’s widely abundant and cheap.

Nowadays, technology has innovated that we can dry food inside our homes.

Dehydrate Deer Jerky

Drying is necessary to preserve food for a longer time and thus exposing it to constant temperature kills microorganisms and pathogens that commonly cause food spoilage.

Choosing a dehydrator for inside home use is a simple task. It can either be a commercial dehydrator or a conventional oven. Of course, conventional oven is always around in the kitchen environment, and we’re already very familiar with it.

Though the thermostat can be an issue as you don’t want to cook the meat; but only to dry them for many hours. It’s also not electricity-efficient, unlike the commercial dehydrator.

The latter is designed to dry food efficiently so it won’t eat as much power from the electricity.

Choosing the Venison

Deer hunting season is in again. Of course, it’s a delight for deer hunters not to waste any part of the deer meat and to make as many food dishes to maximize the venison’s potential.

Fortunately, deer jerky is inexpensive and can be done as many times as needed because it is that delicious!

Venison in nature is very lean, and you can see little fat from its surface due to the deer’s daily activity.

Venison is very healthy to eat as their diet wasn’t tainted with chemicals to make them grow and fatten up fast unlike our cows, hogs, and poultry.

To choose the meat, it must be in its most excellent condition and must be lean from the freezer.

After thawing, remove fat if there is any, as it may go rancid in the drying process making your jerky unpalatable. It also spoils the meat and reduces its shelf-life.

How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky

Next is to cut the venison into thin pieces. Preferably slice the meat ¼ inch thick (or less than a centimeter).

You can choose how to cut it, with the grain or against the grain. The former way makes the jerky chewier but is tougher to cut through with a knife.

Cutting against the grain means going along with the muscle fibers of the venison and thus makes the process easier.

Making the Marinade

Make a marinade for the meat from the following ingredients for every one pound of meat:

  • 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Ketchup
  • ¼ tbsp. Black pepper
  • ¾ tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder or 2 small chopped raw garlic
  • ¼ tbsp. Onion powder
  • Red pepper flakes

How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and soak the strips of meat into it. Covering the lid of the bowl, refrigerate the marinated meat overnight or up to 24 hours.

The key here is to make the marinade stick to the meat for the best tasting jerky. So, the longer, the better. After that, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and drain the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 275⁰F for a while and then on a tray, lay the venison strips without overlapping them.

Put them inside and let the heat cook the meat until the temperature reaches 160⁰F. Achieving this temperature is important as it kills the bacteria and other microorganisms that are in the meat.

If skipped, the drying temperature later will be less than this figure and the bacteria wouldn’t be easily killed as they could be heat resistant at a range of 130-140⁰F. At 160⁰F in the oven, remove the strips of meat from the oven.

Dehydrating: How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky?

The next step is the drying process of the venison meat to make deer jerky. Set your home dehydrator up having a temperature control, and set at 135⁰F.

On a single layer, lay the strips on the drying racks again without any piece covering the other.

How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky

This is to dry them uniformly at the same time. Dry them at a minimum drying time of about 8 hours. After which, check the jerky if it’s to your liking and it’s considered done when the color turns black or dark brown.

You can also set the dehydrator at different temperatures ranging from 125-155⁰F with their appropriate minimum drying time. See the table below:

Set Drying TemperatureMinimum Drying Time
125⁰F10 hours
135⁰F8 hours
145⁰F7 hours
155⁰F4 hours

After checking the consistency of the jerky by their bendiness, the jerky should slightly crack but shouldn’t crumble. Remove it from the dehydrator and place them in Ziploc bags. Allow them to cool at room temperature.


The shelf-life of deer jerky depends on how it is stored. At room temperature and inside Ziploc bags (but never in airtight containers), jerky can last from 1 to 2 months. If you freeze the jerky, it should last up to 6 months.


Now that you’ve learned how to make jerky and how long to dehydrate deer jerky, it’s finally time to try it out yourself and discover how easy and a great snack it is.