Air fryer beef jerky is the best way to make beef jerky at home. Simple and straight-forward, tasty and nutritious. And the best part? No dehydrator required.
How to Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer
Beef jerky makes an awesome snack. It is delicious, healthy, low carb, and portable too!
Air frying makes amazing homemade beef jerky! The recipe is very simple and prep time is minimal, but it does take a bit of organization as you want to marinate the sliced beef overnight (or at least for a few hours) to allow the flavor to develop.
Scroll down for the recipe card for this air fryer beef jerky, or read on for all the details.
What Beef to use for Jerky
The best beef to make homemade jerky is something lean and flavorful.
Top round and bottom round steaks are ideal and what I normally use.
Because the cook time is very long and at a low temp, you can use a cheaper (tougher) cut of meat than if you wanted to quick roast it (a good quality tender cut is better used for an air fryer roast).
A tougher cut means chewier jerky. A tender beef cut will give softer melt-in-the-mouth jerky. So choose a cut of beef appropriate for the type of jerky you want to make.
The marinade I use combines the rich smoky flavor of Worcestershire sauce, honey for sweetness (you can substitute brown sugar), and soy sauce and onion powder for a flavor punch!
You can substitute any other marinade you like or mix up the ingredients if you like. The basic recipe to air fry the jerky is the same.
Some other seasoning flavors to try are:
- Teriyaki beef jerky: soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, ground ginger
- Smoked beef jerky: add some liquid smoke or smoked paprika to the recipe below
- Spicy beef jerky: add some chili flakes to the recipe below
How to prepare beef for jerky
Step 1: Trim the beef. Begin by removing any excess fat from the outside of the beef (this helps with the drying process)
Step 2: Slice the beef. Then you need to slice the beef very thinly, aim for no thicker than 1/4 inch thick.
Partially freezing the beef can make it easier to cut thinly. Alternatively, you should be able to ask your local butcher to slice it for you.
I have also had good results using thin minute steak (Rouladen style beef).
If you are slicing it yourself, use a very sharp knife and slice with the grain (not against as you normally would when carving beef).
You can either make jerky from the full size slices, or cut it into strips or squares if you prefer.
Step 3: Make the marinade. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and add the beef strips, ensuring that they are separated and are all covered by the marinade.
Step 4: Marinate. Cover and place in a refrigerator to allow the beef to marinate. This will take at least 3 hours, though overnight is best.
Step 5: Drain and pat dry. After marinating the beef strips, remove from the refrigerator and drain. They need to be dried thoroughly before air frying.
I drain the beef in a sieve to allow excess marinade to drain away, then pat the beef strips dry with a paper towel.
How to Air Fry Beef Jerky
Step 6: Place beef strips in the air fryer basket.
When you place the beef in the air fryer it is important it is not overlapping as it needs all surfaces exposed so the air fryer can dry it out evenly.
If you only have a small air fryer you may want to use a rack so you can cook twice as much in one go.
Step 7: Air fry the beef jerky.
You need to cook jerky low and slow. To air fry the jerky, you will need to set your air fryer to 210°F (100°C), and cook it for around 2-3 hours. The temperature needs to be low so that the moisture in the beef can evaporate before the beef strips start to burn.
Step 8: Check the jerky.
After around two hours’ cooking time, continue cooking in 15-minute intervals, and check the jerky until it is done (i.e. until all the moisture has gone, but before it chars).
It needs to reach 160°F/71°C to be safe to consume, so check with an instant-read meat thermometer to be sure.
It is difficult to know exactly how long it will take to cook as it depends on a few things including exactly how thick the beef was cut and how efficient your air fryer is, so it is best to monitor it as it gets close to the end of the cooking time.
You can also make this jerky recipe in a regular oven, you just need to lay the jerky on a rack, or turn it often to ensure it dries out evenly.
Air Fryer Beef Jerky
- 1 lb thinly sliced beef steak sirloin steak, round steak [Note 1]
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp chili flakes optional, or add more for spicy jerky
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
- Cut beef slices into strips or squares.
- Add the beef strips to the marinade, ensure that all surfaces of the beef are covered by the marinade.
- Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 hours.
- Remove beef from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place beef strips in air fryer basket in a single layer – ensure it is not overlapping.
- Air fry beef strips until completely dehydrated. Set to air fry at 210°F (100°C) for two hours, then check the jerky. If it is not completely dried out continue to air fry for 15-20 minute intervals until it is ready. It needs to reach 160°F/71°C [Note 2].
- When the jerky is ready, allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
- Beef should be no thicker than 1/4 inch thick. Partially freezing the beef can make it easier to slice.
- Check with an instant-read meat thermometer to be sure.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.
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