Monday, 2 May 2016
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{RECIPE} DIY Jerky Treats for Dogs: 3 Ways!

This month's Monday recipes are all about the meat! Our recipe shares are often a mix of fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, and other doggone delicious ingredients; however, meat is a very important part of our dog's daily diet - even if it isn't part of mine.  Today's meat treat is very simple and one we make on a regular basis - jerky. Our dog-friendly jerky has no added salt, preservatives, or mystery ingredients. Just plain high-quality meat.

Homemade natural beef jerky dog treats

📅 In the years since writing this post, we've experimented with a lot of different dog treats and recipes, including some yummy jerky variations with marinades and rubs, but plain and simple jerky remain a solid go-to favourite.  There is always a batch or two in the freezer for ready-use healthy high value treats. There now are a variety of jerky recipes on the blog, but a great starting point is the (newer) comprehensive post on dog treat dehydration and storage for homemade jerky treats (and more). It will take you through the basics of dehydrating treats, different types of dehydrated treats, food safety, and treat storage tips.  

Dehydrating DIY Jerky for Dogs

Cut and marinate or season (optional) your meat in preparation for dehydrating - see ideas below. Optional: Pat lightly before placing on dehydrator trays to reduce liquid and make dehydrating and tray clean up a little easier. 

Once ready to dehydrate, arrange on racks. Maximise your layout for volume/efficiency, but make sure to allow some space for good air circulation through the racks for efficient and consistent dehydration.

Dehydrate according to your specific dehydrator's settings/instructions for dehydrating meat. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can substitute an oven-safe baking/cooking rack, drip tray, and a fan-forced oven, noting that it is recommended to pre-heat meats to ~75C then dehydrate at ~60C (refer to the safety link below). 

The dehydration time will depend on your machine as well as how thick your particularly jerky pieces are, but I generally find mine take 4-6 hours. Make sure that your meat is cured thoroughly. It will turn colour, firm up, become dry to the touch, but still have some chewy flex.

Allow to cool thoroughly before storage. Since homemade dog jerky doesn't use preservatives and isn't heavily salted like human jerky, it should be eaten within a few days of making or frozen (my preference) for longer storage. Dehydrated meat stores very well when frozen as it has already been stripped of moisture which mean that it isn't as vulnerable to freezer burn as typical frozen meat.

Tips and Tricks:
  • For safety, start with a quality lean  meat, practice safe food handling, and dehydrate with care using meat appropriate dehydrator settings or oven temperatures.  Although jerky is often kept at room temperature, we freeze and keep small quantities in the fridge to be on the safer side. You can read more about jerky safety via FSIS.
  • You can use fresh or thaw from frozen meats. Shop for sales or get friendly with your neighborhood butcher. You want safe quality meat, but tougher cuts are a-ok for jerky and keep it lean. You don't want fatty marbled meat: harder to dehydrate, less healthful, and a higher risk of going rancid.
  • For chewier pieces, slice the meat with the grain. For more tender jerky, slice against. Thicker strips will be chewier, but take longer to dehydrate thoroughly. If you find it difficult to slice your jerky meat, slicing from frozen may help. Thicker strips will be chewier, but take longer to dehydrate thoroughly. You may find it easier to slice meat from whilst frozen or partially-frozen for firmness.
  • You can make jerky straight-up with plain meat, or marinate it a little in a splash of citrus juice or apple cider vinegar and/or a gentle rub of dog-friendly herbs. Combos our dogs enjoy include turmeric and pepper, rosemary, lemon and parsley, and pretty much anything else they can get their mouths on - including deliciously plain meaty goodness. No need to be fancy to please these boys!  :)

Easy Jerky Dog Treat Ideas with Different Cuts of Meat:

DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Snacking Strips:  Trim your muscle meat to remove any visible fat.  Slice into small evenly sized strips.  Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional) and dehydrate. This style of treat works well for large lean cuts of just about anything. Shortcut? Schnitzel cuts (thin and very lean) are an absolute breeze to cut into strips, no freezing required!

 Making homemade beef jerky strip dog treats with dehydrator

DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Nibble Nuggets  Trim your muscle meat to remove any visible fat.  Chop into small evenly sized nuggets. Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional - see tips below) and dehydrate.  This style of dehydrated treat works well for meats that are header to source, trim, slice into long lean strips - I find it works particularly well for lamb.

Making homemade beef jerky nugget dog treats with dehydrator
DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Jerky Sizzlers  Skip the cutting all together and buy lean meat in pre-cut "sizzle steak" style. Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional) and dehydrate.  This style of treat is quick, convenient, and the dogs absolutely love them!  These large flat treats are space-hogs on the dehydrating rack, but they dehydrate quite quickly.

Making homemade beef jerky sizzle steak dog treats with dehydrator
ðŸĶī Hungry for more tasty treats?  You can explore from our treat navigation page, hop straight into our homemade dog treat ideas in the blog archives, search the blog from our sidebar, or use the labels below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what's suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

Jars of homemade jerky strip dog treats with different seasonings


  1. These look absolutely delicious, I can't wait to try these. Of course I will have to purchase a dehydrator. But I think that DIY dog treats will be the perfect reason to buy one!!!! And I think my two little mutts would agree!

    1. It is soooo simple, Sarah. Bug and Moo will help no doubt - our boys guard the dehydrator closely...desiccating a bit themselves from drooling through the long long wait. :)

      You can also dehydrate in a normal oven (fan forced works best) but a dehydrator is pretty handy if you're going to do it on a regular basis. Better energy efficiency, too. Ours is just a simple one bought on sale, and it gets quite a workout and works great! Dehydrated meat is (of course) the dogs' favourite, but it is also very handy for plenty of other dog and non-dog dehydrating such as chopped veggies, fruit slices, herbs, and even flowers.

    2. We humans must have our toys too! And we're coming upon summer It will just be too warm to keep the oven running for that long! Have you tried dehydrated Sweet Potatoes. We did those in the oven, and the dogs loved them!

    3. We have! Humphrey loves them but Oli only tolerates them. :( I'm thinking of trying a seasoned version to see if that lures him in; however, I have discovered that he is much keener if they get a quick toasting (e.g. pop them into the toaster-oven for the last few seconds with whatever I'm toasting/grilling) so that they are warm-not-hot but smell toasty. Mooohahaha...

  2. I had no idea this was so easy! Thanks! I agree with Sarah I think I need to go shopping for a new toy. :-)

  3. Hey, is it possible to dehydrate in an oven instead of the dehydrating machine? also what will the temp be and for how long does it need to be in the oven. Thank you

    1. Hi Sandhya! :)

      As noted above, dehydrating can be done in an oven instead of a dehydrator. A close simulation of a dehydrator is using an oven-safe baking/cooking rack over a drip tray (all around air contact instead of flipping on a lined pan). Fan forced (convection) oven settings can also help with airflow and even heat distribution.

      The temperature settings and time depend on what you're dehydrating and the size/thickness, but FSIS dehydration safety advice recommends pre-heating to ~75C/165F and then maintaining ~60C/140F through the dehydration cycle.

      Check out our overview on
      Making Homemade Dehydrated Dog Treats for more tips and links.

      Hope that helps!


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