Air Fryer Beef Jerky: How to Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer

Air Fryer Beef Jerky: How to Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer

You want to try making your own jerky at home, but you don’t have a jerky dehydrator or smoker. But you do have an air fryer, which poses an interesting question: can you make beef jerky in an air fryer? The answer may surprise you - yes, you absolutely can!

While the air fryer presents unique challenges like space and temperature control, our step-by-step guide on how to make beef jerky in an air fryer demystifies the process. 

We bring more than 100 years of experience in crafting the best beef jerky in the world, so you can trust that you’re in the right place. If you want to get some inspiration on how to marinate and season your meats, try the best beef jerky recipe right here at Mahogany Smoked Meats. 

Can You Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer?

First things first - can you make beef jerky in an air fryer? The answer is a resounding yes! Making air fryer beef jerky is not only possible but also offers several benefits. Let's delve into the advantages and some important considerations to keep in mind before we walk you through how to make beef jerky in an air fryer.

Advantages of Using an Air Fryer Over Alternative Methods

While some might view utilizing an air fryer as a makeshift solution, there are compelling reasons to opt for this device when making beef jerky. These reasons encompass:

  • Efficiency and Speed:

    Air fryers operate by circulating hot air around the food, ensuring a quicker drying process than traditional dehydrators or ovens. This results in your beef jerky being ready in a shorter time frame, making it a convenient option for speedy snacking.

  • Consistent Cooking: The air fryer's technology ensures even heat distribution, reducing the chances of unevenly cooked jerky. Each piece gets an equal amount of heat, resulting in a uniformly dried batch.

  • Flavor Enhancement: Air fryers are excellent at locking in flavors. The rapid air movement intensifies the marinade's taste, imbuing the meat with deeper, more robust flavors that might not be as pronounced with other drying methods.

  • Energy Efficiency: Compared to using a full-size oven, air fryers are more energy-efficient. They require less electricity and heat up quickly, contributing to lower energy consumption for your jerky-making endeavors.

Considerations and Limitations With Air Fryer Beef Jerky

All that being said, it’s important to be aware of the good and the bad when using an air fryer to make beef jerky. There are a few considerations you’ll need to keep in mind as you get started:

  • Size and Capacity: Air fryers typically have smaller capacities than dehydrators or ovens. This means you'll be working with smaller batches of jerky, which might not be ideal for those looking to make large quantities at once.
  • Temperature Control: While air fryers are great for cooking, their temperature settings might be higher than what's traditionally used for dehydrating meat. It's crucial to find the lowest possible setting and adjust cooking times accordingly to avoid overcooking.
  • Moisture Management: Air fryers excel at removing moisture, which is key for making jerky. However, this can sometimes lead to overly dry jerky if not monitored closely. Regular checks during the cooking process are essential to achieve the desired texture.
  • Limited Space for Air Circulation: Unlike dehydrators, air fryers have limited space for air circulation around the meat strips. You need to arrange the meat in a single layer without overlapping to ensure even drying.
  • Trial and Error: Each air fryer model is different, and it might take a few tries to perfect your technique. Factors like meat thickness, air fryer capacity, and specific model settings can all influence the final product.

The good news, though, is that many of these challenges can be overcome with the right guidance. So, how can you make beef jerky in an air fryer yourself? 

How to Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer: Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to make beef jerky in an air fryer is a straightforward process that can yield delicious results. From choosing the best cut for beef jerky to selecting the best temp to dehydrate jerky, we’ll cover everything you need to know to feel confident and capable of making air fryer beef jerky below. 

Selecting the Right Cut of Meat

Whether we’re talking about the best cut for beef or what parts of elk do you use for jerky, this first step is perhaps the most important. It influences not only the final taste and texture, but the steps you take in making your jerky - from dehydration temperature and time to preparation.

In our century of experience, we’ve found that choosing lean cuts of beef for your jerky is best. Ideal options include top round, bottom round, sirloin tip, or flank steak. The less fat, the better, as fat does not dry out and can cause the jerky to spoil faster.

After sourcing the meat there’s a bit of prep work to be done. Freeze the beef slightly to make slicing easier. Aim for consistent thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Uniform thickness ensures even drying. We have a guide on how thick to cut jerky if you’d like to learn more.

Marinating Your Beef

The marinade is crucial for flavor. Combine ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a touch of liquid smoke for a classic jerky flavor. For a spicy kick, add red pepper flakes or hot sauce.

Marinate the beef slices for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, in the refrigerator. This allows the meat to absorb all the flavors fully.

After marinating, drain off excess liquid and pat the beef slices dry with paper towels to remove surface moisture. This step is essential for proper drying in the air fryer.

Remember, our jerky recipes yield the most tantalizing flavors you’ll ever experience. If you’re looking for inspiration, we encourage you to buy beef jerky online and taste the difference yourself!

If you’re feeling creative, we also have an array of elk jerky recipes, buffalo jerky recipes, and other jerky types. Let’s move onto the next step in how to make beef jerky in the air fryer.

Air Fryer Settings and Preparation

With your jerky marinated and ready to air fry, it’s time to get your air fryer plugged in and set up. Preheat it to the lowest setting, ideally around 160°F to 180°F. If your air fryer doesn’t go this low, set it to the lowest temperature available.

We recommend that you lightly spray the air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking and ensure easy cleanup. This will save you a headache later on.

Cooking Process and Times

Place the beef slices in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Ensure they don't overlap, as this can cause uneven drying.

You may be wondering how long to dehydrate beef jerky. The process varies depending on temperature and the specific cuts of meat you’re air frying. That being said, it generally takes about 2 to 4 hours. Start checking the jerky after 2 hours and continue to cook until it reaches your desired level of dryness.

Halfway through the drying process, flip the beef slices and rotate the position of the racks if you're using multiple racks. This ensures even drying. 

Tips on Storing Beef Jerky 

Once you’ve done the bend test and see that your air fryer beef jerky is finished, turn the device off and pull the tray out. Allow the jerky to cool completely before storing. This prevents moisture buildup, which can lead to spoilage.

Even if you’re not preparing a bulk batch, proper beef jerky storage is critical. Use airtight containers or zip-lock bags. Removing as much air as possible will prolong its shelf life. 

For extended storage, keep the jerky in the refrigerator. How long does beef jerky last, you ask? While air fryer beef jerky can last up to 2 weeks at room temperature, refrigerating can extend its life. You can also consider vacuum sealing your jerky. This can extend its shelf life for several months.

But, can you freeze beef jerky to preserve it even longer? Yes, you sure can - but beef jerky does go bad, so it’s important to always check for the signs of expired beef jerky to stay safe.

There you have it - how to make beef jerky in the air fryer. We hope this guide leaves you feeling eager and capable of your next steps. 

We have similar guides on how to make fish jerky or how to make pork jerky if you want to try something a bit out of the box. But if you’re still looking for air fryer beef jerky recipes for inspiration, continue reading below.

Looking for Inspiration for Your Air Fryer Beef Jerky Recipe?

Creating beef jerky in an air fryer opens a world of culinary creativity. Whether you prefer classic flavors or innovative twists, there's a wealth of options to explore. We’ll share a few of our favorites below.

Classic and Innovative Recipes

Here are 5 great air fryer beef jerky recipes you can try:

  • Classic Smoky Jerky: Embrace tradition with a classic smoky beef jerky recipe. Combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper for the marinade. This blend offers a timeless smoky flavor that's always a hit.
  • Spicy Kick Jerky: For those who love a little heat, create a spicy marinade with ingredients like hot sauce, chili flakes, or cayenne pepper. Balance the heat with a touch of honey or brown sugar for a flavor that sizzles.
  • Sweet and Tangy Jerky: Mix things up with a sweet and tangy marinade. Use ingredients like pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, and a hint of brown sugar. This recipe offers a delightful contrast of flavors that's surprisingly refreshing.
  • Herb-Infused Jerky: For a more subtle and aromatic flavor, try an herb-infused jerky. Mix dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano with your basic marinade. This gives a gourmet touch to your jerky, reminiscent of fine dining experiences.
  • Garlic Lovers' Jerky: If you're a fan of garlic, create a garlic-heavy marinade. Combine minced garlic or garlic powder with olive oil, soy sauce, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. This recipe is simple yet incredibly flavorful.

These are all great options - but nothing beats trying the real thing and putting your own unique spin on it. So, if you're seeking inspiration, Mahogany Smoked Meats offers an array of choices that can spark your imagination.

Gain Inspiration By Shopping at Mahogany Smoked Meats!

At Mahogany Smoked Meats, we offer a wide range of beef jerky that can inspire your home cooking. Our selection includes traditional hickory smoked jerky, perfect for understanding the classic jerky taste and ideal for replicating or building upon in your recipes.

Or, step over to the wild side with our unique flavors like Teriyaki or Peppered jerky as a base for your culinary experiments. Whatever you go with, you can rest assured you’re getting high-quality, lean cuts of meat and the right balance of flavors.

One thing you won’t be able to replicate in your beef jerky air fryer recipe, though, is our unique mahogany wood-smoking process that we’ve perfected over the past 100 years and counting. This technique, coupled with our small batch process, results in the most tantalizing tastes you’ll ever try.

We have other snacks like beef jerky, too, including elk jerky, buffalo jerky, wild boar jerky, fish jerky, and more. 

Exploring the range at Mahogany Smoked Meats isn't just about enjoying great jerky, it's about gathering ideas and inspiration for your own creations. Each product we offer is a testament to the art of jerky making and can provide valuable insights into flavor combinations and seasoning balances.

So, take a look around and see which variety catches your eye as we wrap up our guide on how to make beef jerky in an air fryer!

Wrapping up Our Guide on How to Make Beef Jerky in an Air Fryer

So, can you make beef jerky in the air fryer? As we wrap up our guide, it's clear that making beef jerky in an air fryer is not only feasible but also an exciting way to explore different flavors and textures. 

From selecting the right cut of meat to marinating and the perfect cooking process, your air fryer can be a gateway to homemade jerky perfection. 

You can learn more about the world of jerky in our blog. We have resources on topics like beef jerky nutrition, can pregnant women eat beef jerky, is beef jerky healthy, calories in beef jerky, how much protein in beef jerky, is beef jerky good for weight loss, history of beef jerky, is beef jerky gluten-free, is beef jerky keto, and more.

Otherwise, it’s time to get the best healthy beef jerky online at Mahogany Smoked Meats. There is no better place to buy jerky online, whether you’re looking for the best fish jerky or the best buffalo jerky. Taste the difference yourself today!