If you eat meat, chances are that beef jerky is a staple hiking snack! Don’t be scared off or intimidated by keto beef jerky either. In this case, keto beef jerky simply means jerky without sugar and as little carbs as possible – which is arguably the way beef and steak should be.
Even non-keto eaters can enjoy these beef jerky recipes, and hikers can celebrate some of these keto friendly backpacking food ideas. While beef jerky is arguably the best hiking snack, you can grab my complete list of keto friendly hiking snacks here.
Think about it, did you ever go to a restaurant, order a steak, then dump sugar all over it? No! That would just be silly. Why almost pre-packaged of beef jerky you get at a regular grocery store or gas station is loaded with sugar is beyond me.
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience, see my full disclosure for more info.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make your own keto friendly beef jerky at home, in a dehydrator. It’s the only thing we dehydrate all the time – and have never messed up! Ha! Sometimes dehydrating food is more art than science, but if I can manage these recipes, you can too, promise.
My husband has gotten into an awesome habit of always checking for beef that’s on sale whenever we are in the store. When it is on sale, we buy several pounds of it, and that’s pretty much the only time we buy it and make beef jerky. But sales happen often enough that we usually have jerky on hand, ready to grab and go, whether it’s for a hike or just an easy keto snack to take to work or running errands.
Prepping and slicing the beef for keto beef jerky
If you get meat on sale, it’s usually because it’s close to its use-by date. Always check the date on discount meat, as long as it’s still good, you’re good to go! We’ve never had any issues with our jerky going bad 😉 But we do always dehydrate it right away.
Before anything else, stick the meat in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Freezing it a little bit will make it much easier to slice thin rather than trying to slice a big old piece of soft, raw, wriggly meat. You can experiment for yourself whether you like slicing the meat with the grain, or against the grain, we tend to slice against the grain in our house just because that’s how we like it! Try to make each slice about 1/4 of an inch thick, and as uniform as possible to they all dehydrate evenly.
As you’re slicing and cutting the meat, try to cut off as much fat as possible – fat doesn’t dehydrate very well and also shortens the shelf life of your jerky. There will always be some fat left on there and you’ll see it easily once the jerky is done, the fatty parts may still look wet and not dehydrated at all. As far as I can tell, that’s just part of the process. And we’ve also never not eaten all the jerky before it goes bad – who lets their jerky just sit there rotting for months?
Marinating your keto beef jerky
After all your meat is sliced, you get choose and create your marinades! This is pretty much my favorite part of the process, next to trying out the jerky of course to see if it’s done, but that’s not until much later. Choose from one of my tried and true marinades listed below, or experiment and create your own. As I said earlier, it’s really hard to mess this up.
We usually make two or three different flavors per batch of jerky, so split your meat up into different ziploc bags or bowls to marinate them. Add in your flavors of choice, fix it all up to make sure the meat is pretty well covered and let it sit for at least several hours, preferably overnight.
Dehydrating your keto beef jerky
After you’ve let it sit long enough, it’s time to put in the dehydrator. We use and love this Presto Dehydrator, it’s simple, always does the trick and is easy to clean and store. We usually dab the meat a little bit with a paper towel to remove excess drips, and lay out the meat on the dehydrator trays over the sink first, then move the tray onto the dehydrator to help prevent too much sauce/liquid from dripping down onto the bottom of the dehydrator. It’s not the end of the world if that happens, just makes clean up that much easier later.
Then, I set the dehydrator to 160 degrees, and usually set the timer for 5 or 5 1/2 hours, that’s when I start checking and taste-testing to see if it’s done. My husband is not perfect, so usually some pieces may be bigger or thicker than others, the thinner pieces though can usually be taken out at this time. Then I add another 30-60 minutes to the time and keep the rest going.
Unfortunately, I can not give you an exact time when your jerky will be done. That is up to you to decide. Like I said, it should take about 5-6 hours at 160 degrees, but possibly longer if your meat is sliced thicker or you want it a little crispy.
Storing beef jerky
Once the jerky is done, I unplug the dehydrator and let it sit to cool on the racks. After it’s cooled all the way, I store it in ziploc bags or airtight containers in the fridge. It definitely lasts at least a couple weeks this way, but like I said, we eat it pretty quick, so never tested exactly how long before it goes bad. I’ve also taken out small amounts in ziploc bags to take hiking and backpacking and it’s been fine out of refrigeration for several days. But I wouldn’t take it traveling out of refrigeration for weeks on end.
Or you could add oxygen absorber packets to your bags or containers or jerky to help extend the shelf life. I’ve never used them though or felt the need to, so that’s up to you!
Juicy Keto Peppered Beef Jerky
This kind is by far my favorite keto jerky that we make. I mean, I’ve never met beef jerky that I don’t like, but this one takes the cake 🙂
- About 1 lb beef
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
- 3-4 TBSP Bragg’s coconut aminos (or just liquid aminos, they’re cheaper, but I like the taste of the coconut aminos much better!)
Keto Dry Rub Smokehouse Beef Jerky
This is one the absolute simplest recipes, and pretty dang tasty too. I’d say it comes in second to the peppered jerky recipe.
- About 1 lb beef
- 1-2 TBSP Stubb’s bar-b-q seasoning, or any other smokehouse/barbecue seasoning you like
Keto Tequila and Lime Beef Jerky
This was definitely more of an experiment – but it sounded too weird not to try! While I did like this one, I have to say it came in 3rd place, if we’re picking favorites from this last batch.
- About 1 lb beef
- 1tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Onion powder
- 1 tsp Cayenne powder
- 1 oz Tequila
- 1 oz Lime juice
While you’re waiting for your beef jerky strips to marinate or dehydrate, be sure to download this list of other awesome keto friendly hiking snacks to pack for your next trip.
Have you tried these recipes? Let me know how they went in the comments below or feel free to share your go-to keto beef jerky recipe!