I wasn't quite sure what to call this jerky? Gluten-Free Beef Jerky? Low-FODMAP Beef Jerky? Easy Paleo Beef Jerky? Refined Sugar-Free Beef Jerky? Tasty Beef Jerky (now there's a winner)? Because all the names fit. I settled on "Easy Soy-Free Beef Jerky" because I think that's what makes this recipe a standout.
Most jerky you buy contains soy sauce—some use tamari (which is gluten-free soy sauce), some do not (so read those labels). This particular recipe uses coconut aminos, a slightly less salty coconut-derived replacement for soy sauce.
After much trial and error I have come to learn that the making of jerky is an art. The subtlest of alterations to a recipe can have a profound effect on the final taste. What I really like about this coconut amino-based jerky recipe is that no one ingredient is overpowering, and there's a perfect balance of sweet and salt.
I've been making big batches (3-4 pounds of meat at a time) because having a high-protein snack at the ready keeps me from scarfing my way through a bag of corn chips—and I'm never at a loss for what to pack the kids for a school snack.
When making jerky, choose a very lean cut of meat. Fat (even dried fat) will go rancid—that's why I refrigerate my jerky for added insurance (I'm kind of paranoid that way). Top round steak, flank steak and rump roast are the best cuts for making jerky. About half the time I will use bison.
Finally, a tip for slicing meat: freeze meat for a short time, but not until it is frozen solid. This makes it easier to make those thin slices. To make jerky that the kids can chew, I cut slices ACROSS the grain about 1/8" thick. If you prefer gnawing on your dried meat, slice WITH the grain into 1/4" by 5" strips.
Easy Soy-Free Beef Jerky Recipe
2.5 pounds very lean beef, bison or wild game trimmed of all fat (see Notes)
1/2 cup coconut aminos (like this one)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons gluten-free liquid smoke (like this one)
2 tablespoons salt
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- Combine coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, sugar, liquid smoke, salt and ginger in a large glass container with tight-fitting lid or in a large zip-top bag.
- Close and shake until most of the sugar and salt has dissolved. Set aside.
- Slice meat (see notes).
- Add meat to the brine, seal, toss and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, turning once or twice.
- Preheat dehydrator at its highest setting (my Excalibur's is 165˚F).
- Drain off brine, discard slices of ginger and arrange strips of meat on dehydrator trays.
- Place trays in dehydrator and dehydrate 4-6 hours at your dehydrator's highest setting (my Excalibur's is 165˚F).
- How do you know when jerky is done? Test a strip for dryness by letting it cool to room temperature then slightly bend the jerky. The meat should crack, not break, when bent. It should be firm, but flexible. If it snaps it was dehydrated too long. It will still taste fine, it just may be a little crispy. If it doesn't crack, dehydrate until it does. After a batch or two you will get the hang of it.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy within a week or two.
Round steak, flank steak, or rump roast are the best cuts of meat for making jerky. For easy-to-chew jerky, slice meat against the grain, into approximately 1" wide by 4" long by 1/8" thick strips. If you prefer gnawing on your dried meat, slice WITH the grain into 1/4" by 5" strips.