How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky: The Ultimate Guide

How Long to Dehydrate Deer Jerky

Deer jerky is a popular and delicious snack that many people enjoy. It provides a great way to make use of the meat from a deer and also serves as a healthy alternative to processed snacks. If you’ve never made deer jerky before, one of the key considerations is the dehydration process. In this article, we will explore how long to dehydrate deer jerky to achieve the perfect texture and flavor.

The Basics of Dehydrating Deer Jerky

Dehydrating deer jerky is a process that involves removing the moisture from the meat, which helps preserve it and gives it a chewy texture. To dehydrate deer jerky, you will need a food dehydrator, which is a machine specifically designed for this purpose. The dehydrator allows for even airflow and temperature control, ensuring that the jerky dries uniformly.

Before you begin the dehydration process, it is essential to properly prepare the meat. Start by cutting the deer meat into thin, uniform strips. This will help ensure that the jerky dries evenly and at the same rate. Ensure that the strips are no thicker than a quarter of an inch as thicker pieces may take longer to dehydrate.

Next, it’s time to marinate the deer meat. While the marinade itself does not impact the dehydration time, it adds flavor to the jerky. You can use a pre-made marinade or create your own using a combination of spices, herbs, and liquid ingredients like soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Marinate the meat for at least 12 hours, or even overnight, to allow the flavors to infuse properly.

Setting the Right Temperature and Time

Now that your prepared deer meat is ready to dehydrate, it’s time to set the appropriate temperature and drying time on your food dehydrator. The standard temperature range for dehydrating deer jerky is between 145°F (63°C) to 160°F (71°C). This temperature range helps kill bacteria that can cause spoilage while still preserving the quality of the jerky.

When considering how long to dehydrate deer jerky, it is crucial to ensure that it is fully dried to prevent any risk of bacterial growth. On average, the dehydration process can take from 4 to 8 hours, depending on various factors such as meat thickness, humidity levels, and individual dehydrator models. It’s always recommended to check the jerky periodically during the drying process and adjust the time accordingly.

Once the jerky is fully dehydrated, it should be firm and dry to the touch, with no remaining moisture. However, be careful not to over-dry the jerky, as it can become too tough and difficult to chew. Remember that the jerky will continue to dehydrate slightly once it is removed from the dehydrator, so it’s better to slightly under-dry it rather than overdrying it.

Storing Your Deer Jerky

After successfully dehydrating your deer jerky, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its freshness and flavor. The best way to store deer jerky is in an airtight container or resealable bag. Make sure to remove any excess air from the packaging to prevent moisture build-up, which could lead to spoilage.

For long-term storage, you can also vacuum-seal your deer jerky, which will help keep it fresh for an extended period. If stored correctly, homemade deer jerky can last for several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the storage conditions and the humidity level in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions For How Long To Dehydrate Deer Jerky: The Ultimate Guide

How Long Does It Take To Dehydrate Deer Jerky?

Dehydrating deer jerky typically takes around 4-6 hours, depending on the thickness of the slices and the dehydration temperature.

What Temperature Should I Set For Dehydrating Deer Jerky?

To ensure proper dehydration, set the temperature of your dehydrator to 160°F (71°C). This temperature will kill any potential bacteria while preserving the jerky’s flavor.

How Do I Know When Deer Jerky Is Fully Dehydrated?

Properly dehydrated deer jerky will be firm to the touch, with no visible moisture or flexibility. It should snap easily when bent but not break completely.

Can I Dehydrate Deer Jerky In The Oven?

Yes, if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven to dehydrate deer jerky. Set the temperature to 160°F (71°C) and place the slices on a wire rack for even airflow.


Dehydrating deer jerky is a rewarding process that allows you to transform fresh meat into a delicious and shelf-stable snack. By following the steps outlined in this article and paying attention to the recommended dehydration time and temperature, you can create jerky that is perfectly dried and bursting with flavor.

Remember to experiment with different marinades and seasonings to find your preferred taste. With a little practice, you’ll be able to make mouth-watering deer jerky that will impress your family and friends. Happy dehydrating!

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