Texas beef jerky, made in an oven

Beef jerky DSC6424

I’m on a diet. One day I woke up and suddenly all my clothes felt snug. I bought two pairs of jeans to tide me over until I lost the weight, but one day I woke up and those felt snug. I was at a crossroads—I could go buy even larger jeans or lose the weight. I opted for the latter.

I’m not much of a follow-the-rules kind of person so the thought of adhering to a strict diet automatically raises my internal rebel. Tell me that I can’t have something and I’ll want it even more—that’s human nature. But after much research I learned that there was one diet I could follow—the South Beach diet.

I decided to go with South Beach because it seemed easier than the other diets—no counting calories, just eating as much as I want of the right kinds of food. And thankfully, the right kinds of food are things I love—fresh vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, eggs, and nuts; forbidden during the first two weeks are sugar, fruits, breads, alcohol, and fatty protein. I admit that it’s been difficult seeing the tail-end of the summer fruit at the market and not being able to indulge, but thankfully there are plenty of fresh vegetables to keep me and my stomach satisfied.

Texas beef jerky, prepared in the oven | Homesick Texan

One of the tenets of phase one is to eat a couple of snacks a day, with one of the acceptable snacks being beef jerky. Even though beef jerky is popular in Texas, I couldn’t remember the last time I had some. Though when I went to buy some and looked at the label, I saw that all packaged versions of jerky had sugar in their list of ingredients. And since this is not allowed on phase one, I realized that I’d have to make my own batch.

At first I thought this was going to be a complicated process, but do you know how easy it is to make beef jerky at home? Seriously, it’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. Not to mention it’s very impressive. Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can easily make beef jerky in the oven. Casually mention that you’re making beef jerky and everyone’s eyes will get wide and they’ll say, “Really? Cool!” and then of course they’ll ask you for a piece.

Now, I say this after ruining my first batch and instead of making beef jerky making beef crackers (which actually aren’t all that bad, just not what I was expecting) so there is a bit of trial and error involved with the drying portion of the beef-jerky-making program. But even so, the flavor of the botched batch was spot on and the best beef jerky I’d ever tasted.

And that’s the main reason why you want to make you own beef jerky (or if you prefer, turkey, chicken or salmon jerky): flavor. You have complete control over how the jerky will taste; in my case, I was looking for something that was super spicy because that’s what I enjoy.

Texas beef jerky, prepared in the oven | Homesick Texan
Starting with a basic marinade that’s made up of Worcestershire sauce, water, garlic, salt, and pepper, you can layer it with other flavors, such as chili powder, cayenne, chipotle, Chinese five-spice powder, ginger, liquid smoke, or whatever you desire.

I’ve already lost a couple of pounds, so here’s hoping I’ll be able to fit into my nice clothes in time for my brother’s wedding in a few weeks. Thankfully, I have homemade beef jerky to help me meet my weight-loss goal.

Beef jerky DSC6424
5 from 2 votes

Texas beef jerky, made in an oven

Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 pounds boneless beef top round, fat trimmed, partially frozen
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne


  1. Slice the partially frozen beef into long strips about 1/8 of an inch thick. Mix all the other ingredients together, except for the cayenne.

  2. Place the beef in the marinade and let it sit, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours. After the beef has marinated, wipe off the excess liquid and pieces of minced garlic and place on foil-lined sheets with no overlap. Sprinkle meat with cayenne pepper.

  3. Cook in the oven at 175° F for 3 hours and then turn over strips. Cook for another 2-3 hours or until it has a dry and leathery texture. (You don’t want it so brittle that it snaps.

  4. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.

  1. Brave Sir Robin

    Yum. The boys are always on me to do this. There is a local guy who comes by my office every couple of weeks selling homemade jerky and it is divine.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I may just do it!

  2. boy – I’ll have to try your method. Last summer I made my first and only batch of beef jerky, by following a recipe from wiki-how. The recipe said to use vinegar, which suffice to say, wasn’t that great. My jerky ended up like little briquettes. The only plus side was that I was willing to eat them and no one asked for a piece. 🙂

  3. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Great way to use those super-lean cuts of beef that, when cooked, often have no flavor. You’re adding lots of good flavors to the jerky, and the texture will give you something to chew on that will make your mouth feel satisfied. I’m saving this recipe!

  4. Amy C Evans

    oh my god, my husband is going to LOVE ME! thanks for this. and re: clothes feeling snug, story of my life! no more homemade peach ice cream for us, huh? that sucks. hard.

  5. Homemade salmon jerky actually sounds good to me! I wonder if the drying time would be shorter for salmon than beef?

  6. Culinarywannabe

    I can’t believe homemade beef jerky is this easy! I don’t know what I thought it would involve, but I was imagining something way more complicated than this. Wish I would have known about this a year ago when I tired SB. I made it 2 weeks, then binged on bananas and a whole baguette!

  7. That’s all well and good, but it’s a tad easier (albeit not tastier) for me to “step into a Slim Jim”.

    Is there anything you won’t try…congrats on the lbs.

  8. My husband has been making beef jerky for about eight years now, ever since I took him to the Oak Ridge Smokehouse in Schulenburg, on our way to San Antonio. He couldn’t figure out why I was making such a big deal about beef jerky, until he tried theirs.

    The recipe he settled on is a bit different – it uses Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, Liquid Smoke, black pepper and crushed red pepper. I think he may use a touch of cayenne as well, but I’m not sure.

    He started out making it in the oven, but before long he bought a dehydrator with six racks. Last Christmas I gave him an electric meat slicer, a mini version of the kind you see in a deli. It makes quick work of the slicing, especially since he usually makes a double batch!

    He loves jerky so much that we are never without it in our house – lucky me! I like to have it with breakfast as well – a much healthier alternative to bacon or sausage.

    Slim Jim is absolutely no comparison to homemade, Mike! None of the mass marketed store

  9. Oops! Cut myself off there. To finish my sentence, none of the mass-marketed jerky you find in the store compares to homemade.

  10. YAY – thank you for this! I’m in the same [pudgy] spot, needing to lose some weight, and South Beach has worked so well for me in the past. I’ll be making this over the weekend, it sounds so good…

  11. I saw your reference to salmon jerky and thought about a product I see in many Canadian airport duty free shops. I am not sure of the producers name, but it is called "Indian Candy" which combines smoked salmon & maple syrup and is more jerkylike than smoked salmonish. I purchased some as a gift I was going to give a friend in DC, only to find I needed a late night snack in my hotel room . This "candy" was absolutely heavenly.

    I highly recommend it.Pricey, but memorable.

  12. ~Madeline~

    Congrats on losing a few! Beef Jerky is one of my favorite things on earth. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  13. Your beef jerky looks amazing. I admit I had no idea it could be this easy to make, but now I simply must try it! And big cheer for the pounds we’re all losing together!

  14. Rip Ford

    I have some friends who are doing the Atkin’s diet and they’re going to love this seeing as beef jerky is one of the few snacks they’re allowed apparently.

  15. Lisa Fain

    Brave Sir Robin–Hope you try it–you’ll be surprised at how simple it is!

    Marina–That’s so strange that the recipe said to use vinegar–it seems any acid would make it dry.

    Lydia–Yep, it’s kept me and my mouth very happy!

    Amy–There’s always homemade peach frozen yogurt.

    Lisa–That’s a good question–probably since it has less mass.

    Culinarywannabe–Oh no! Though I know what you mean–every time I pass fruit my body screams, “I WANT!”

    Mike–Sure, it’s easier, but there’s no comparison!

    Lissa–Wow! That’s some serious jerky making y’all have happening! I bet it tastes wonderful!

    Lori–Yep, the SB seems to be working so far. It’s an excellent diet.

    Tommy–Oh yum! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for this!

    Kalyn–I know? It just takes time and patience, that’s all. And a big Hip Hip Hooray for us indeed!

    Rip Ford–Anyone on a low-carb/low-glycemic diet will enjoy this, just be sure to make it with lean beef.

  16. Lisa- I cannot wait to try your recipe for jerky. Finding a high protein snack that I can eat has been the hardest aspect of doing South Beach. Jerky to the rescue!

    And this morning- day 13- I pulled on a pair of favorite jeans and didn’t feel like a stuffed sausage. Progress!

  17. Thanks – I’ve been looking for a non-dehydrator version of jerky to make my fiance… he loves the stuff!

  18. Something that I never considered making at home. Great idea! I’m looking forward to hearing how your South Beach dieting goes. I’m right behind you.

  19. Michelle

    Interesting, and great job with the weight loss!! I’m a fellow Texas wandering with my Navy hubby, and we are always on the lookout for good Mexican food. We never find it, but we keep looking! 🙂

  20. Sounds delish; I’ll have to try my hand at making it one day. Love your recipes, they always inspire me, or make me hungry, or both!

  21. I haven’t made jerky in at least ten years. You make me want to try again, but I like your recipe better. Hot, hot, hot! 😉

  22. Oh you inspire me! I’ve canned salsa and now I can make beef jerky! Yeah for resourcefulness.
    Oh and I have made the vow to stay in the pairs of jeans I own. Journalism doesn’t pay enough to have a huge wardrobe.

  23. Anonymous

    like fajitas, do you slice against the grain? or do you find it doesn’t make a difference? next time you’re in the san antonio area, there’s a gas station on the south end of downtown boerne. they make their own jerky and dried sausage. the jerky comes in large chunks the size of a glue stick and encrusted in crushed black peppercorns. always worth the trip.

  24. Just found out I get 48 hours in Austin mid October!!! YeeHaw!! It’s been 11 years since I relocated to Seattle. There are probably new places since I left. Where would you eat if you only had 2 days?

    Suggestions welcome! Diet be damned…..

  25. This sounds delicious! Who doesn’t love jerky! good luck with the diet, when we met up, you looked great so you must be doing something right!

  26. D. Laine D'Angelo

    What kind of Liquid Smoke do you guys use? I’ve found two by Colgin, and another called Wrights Liquid Smoke…

  27. Texasann

    I LOVE beef jerky and the good stuff is so expensive. I stop at Chappel Hill on the way to Austin just for their jerky. Well, that and their jalapenio sausage dog on a homemade bun.

    My sister and niece have been on a low carb diet all summer and have had great success. They said the hardest part has been no margaritas. When we go to Mexican restaurants they take a bag of pork skins to dip in the queso. That’s just counter intuitive to me, but when I get back from Amsterdam next week I’ll join you! Especially since I can make my own jerky!

    As always, you are my hero!


  28. Texasann

    Oh, I forgot to say that my friend made venison jerky last year. He laid the beef strips directly on the wire racks in the oven. It was divine!

  29. I just made some beef jerky too!

  30. Annie K. Nodes

    I love beef jerky and had no idea it was that easy. I always believed you needed some special “jerky” machine. Now I know.

    Good luck with the low-to-know sugar thing. I did it when I was preggers and it’s tough, but boy, did I have lots of energy.

  31. Wait, wait. Seriously? Beef jerky is that easy? I totally have to make a batch for my sister, who loves beef jerky the way normal people love… normal things. Of course, I’ll save some for myself.

  32. tastymealsathome

    Totally easy! We love beef jerky – thanks for the inspiration!

  33. I used to like jerky back in Texas, and then I bought the South African equivalent (biltong) in London. It can be quite spicy, but there is a rankness to it I didn’t quite like. Now I’d not be so keen on anything that chewy as it gets stuck in my teeth.

  34. I’m always excited by your creations and adventures in the kitchen.

  35. I used your biscuit recipe today since featured your recipe and I wanted you to know the recipe was a success!! Nice, puffy biscuits to go with scrambled eggs was the perfect Labor Day breakfast here in Houston. Thanks.

  36. I love your blog – and your commenters too ! Your recent post about carnitas haunts me to no end . I’ve been tagged to tell 6 quirky things about myself – and would love to pass it on to you . Thanks for all of the deliciousness ! w

  37. Nazarina A

    I thought that it took a long time to make jerky( Curing)but I sure would like to try yours. My brother-in-law( the jerky hogger) will be so happy

  38. HiHoOhio

    How delish!

  39. Anonymous

    I was in Sonora last winter at a restaurant in Guymas and they deep fried this stuff. IN LARD! And gave it to me WITH THOSE GIANT SONORAN WHITE TORTILLAS!! I don’t want to say it was the best meal I have ever had, but it was the best meal I have ever had in Sonora, and my mom lives there.

    I’m jsut saying.

    Bruce Dearborn Walker

  40. Claudine

    I missed reading your site over the last few weeks and am thoroughly depressed about Las Manitas. Where else can you walk through the kitchen on your way to the best seats in the house? Glad you are blogging again!

  41. keen wanderer

    Is South Beach diet expensive to do??

    I wanna try it but…my budget is holding me back =D

  42. Changed a few things simply because I didn't have some ingredients on hand (nor could I find them in the shops). Aside from the minor alterations, it was such a treat, sooooo yummy – a refreshing find for a jerky lover far from texas!
    Thank you for posting the recipe. (…and all the others…I'm going through and will try several I'm sure!)

    Perth, Western Australia

  43. Vakker Kvinne

    Has anyone made this with salmon? Beef is very expensive where I live but salmon is very cheap. Would love to try this with salmon!

  44. Evening

    I've not even read the recipe yet but I'm delighted. The only 'diet' I want to be on is a low glyemic diet. I managed to do it for 10 days in a row late in 2004 but have yet to get back on it. Too much cooking/work for one who suffers from chronic fatigue. I wish I had some buddies like you do to help out. Thank you for your Blog.

  45. poets and explosions

    I'm so happy I found a beef jerky recipe that doesn't involve a dehydrator! ours just officially died and I've been craving jerky like mad.

  46. Anonymous

    i just wonder, is 175F or C? thanks! sounds delicious.

  47. Lisa Fain


  48. Karolynn

    Sounds so good. I am on a diet too. Seems like I will always be on a diet.

  49. beef jerky that fits in with a diet, now thats a great idea!

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