Making Marinated Jerky Dog Treats
Of all the (many) treats we make, jerky is one of the easiest and healthiest, and our dogs absolutely love it. There is absolutely no need to marinate at all. In fact, straight up plain and simple jerky (usually beef) is our go-to meaty dog treat. However, variety is the spice of life! Rather literally, in the case of this jerky recipe.
In our experience, light marinades or wet rubs with dog-friendly ingredients don’t make a notable difference to the jerky (with the exception of acid marinades for fish jerky). And the dogs seem more than happy with or without! Marinades can tenderise, but the primary function of short term marinating is to add scent and/or flavour. Dry rubs do this as well.
Anytime you see a marinade here on the blog, it’s optional. For the basics on plain simple and doggone delicious jerky, see our post on how to make easy DIY beef jerky treats for dogs.
Coconut Spice Marinade Inspiration
From Toasted Granola to Tasty Jerky
Oli and Humphrey go wild whenever I’m baking homemade granola, loving the scent of toasting coconut and sweet subtle spices. I use a version of Cookie + Kate’s homemade granola recipe from the Love Real Food cookbook (affiliate link) that’s I’ve tweaked to our personal preferences over time.
And on the subject of personal preferences, I think the dogs prefer this beef version over wholegrain oats. Haha! The boys love it so much that we’ve made it a few times now, which is a rarity indeed in our experimental household. We have both a marinated jerky and a dry-rub option for you in the recipe below. I love any treat that give old Oli the “crazy eyes” and have also been using this jerky as an extra high-value treat with our senior dog stroller (aka the jerky wagon).
Marinade and Messes
Any marinade or rub with chunky add-ins can get a little messy when dehydrated. The downside of the sweet scent and flavour of coconut is that some of it may come off of your jerky after it’s dried and/or during storage. I tapped my crumbs into the boys’ dinner bowls, much to their delight. If that’s an issue for you, you can (of course) omit the coconut from the recipe. Easy!
DIY Dehydrated Coconut Spice Beef Jerky Dog Treats
Beef Jerky Dog Treats with Optional Coconut Spice Marinade or Dry Rub
You can adjust the volumes and/or amount of any ingredient to better suit your dog or personal preferences. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can place your meat on a wire rack over a lined baking tray and use the oven to replicate the function of a dehydrator. Note that it is recommended to pre-heat meats to ~75C then dehydrate at ~60C. Refer to the safety information and links below.
- Lean quality beef (or other suitable meat of your preference)
- 1-2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Marinade only: 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup fine desiccated coconut (applied after marinating)
This can be scaled up/down depending on the volume of your beef and/or diluted with water or other suitable liquid for a more liquid marinade. Alternatively, it can be made without the apple cider vinegar as a dry rub.
Making the Treats:
Preparing the meat:
- Slice meat into thin strips or small pieces, trimming off any excess fat if required. For chewier jerky, slice the meat with the grain. For more tender jerky, slice against. Thicker strips will be chewier, but will take longer to dehydrate thoroughly. If you find it difficult to slice your jerky meat, slicing from frozen may help.
Marinating or dry rub (optional):
- Wet marinade method:
- To marinate, combine the marinade ingredients in a non-metallic/non-corrosive dish.
- Mix with the prepared beef to ensure thoroughly coated.
- Cover the container and place in the refrigerator to marinate (4 hour recommended minimum and no longer than 24 hours). Mix periodically to ensure all the pieces get a nice bath in the marinade.
- Remove from refrigerator and drain excess marinade.
- Add coconut and rub to thoroughly combine.
- Dry rub method:
- Place the beef in a suitable dish or container.
- Add dry rub ingredients, including coconut.
- Mix together and rub to thoroughly combine.
- Resting is optional. If resting for more than a brief pause, refrigerate for food safety.
Preheating for added food safety (optional):
If pre-heating (see note below), do this after marinating and before dehydrating.
Dehydrating the prepared beef:
- Once ready to dehydrate, arrange the prepared pieces onto the dehydrator tray. Maximise your layout for volume and 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. The dehydration time will depend on your machine as well as how thick your particularly jerky pieces are, but I generally find mine takes around 6 hours, prep method and size depending. 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.
Dehydrated Beef Food Safety
If your dehydrator has a suitable meat/fish setting, the jerky should be ready to serve once the dehydration is complete. However, to be extra safety conscious, you can use pre-heating and/or post-heating as added precautions. You can read more about jerky safety via the FSIS.
Dehydrated Beef Jerky Treat Making Tips and Tricks
- There are a variety of jerky recipes on the blog, but a great starting point is the comprehensive post on making and storing homemade jerky and other dehydrated dog treats. It will take you through the basics of dehydrating treats, different types of dehydrated treats, food safety, and treat storage tips.
- For safety, start with a quality lean meat, practice safe food handling, and dehydrate with care using meat appropriate dehydrator settings or oven temperatures. You can read more about jerky safety via the FSIS.
- Although jerky is often kept at room temperature, we freeze and keep small quantities in the fridge to be on the safer side. Since homemade dog jerky doesn’t use preservatives and isn’t heavily salted like human jerky, it’s more vulnerable to spoilage. See our storage tips for dehydrated dog treats for more information.
Recipe and Ingredient Tips and Tricks
- Ceylon cinnamon (“real” cinnamon) is usually the recommended form of cinnamon for dogs, if used. In addition to being doggone delicious and fragrant, cinnamon offers some great health benefits to dogs (and people); however, it’s not suitable for everyone. Pregnant/nursing dogs in particular should not be given cinnamon.
- I often give our boys turmeric in treats or as a straight-up sprinkle on food. Pepper improves absorption of the circuminoids in turmeric. I sometimes include a little pepper in our treats even if not using turmeric, since we like to mix-and-match a wide variety of treats and foods.
- Once dehydrated, the coconut will be dried onto the beef, but some of the may loosen during handling. Not a biggie when using pocket bags, treat jars, etc. that are easy to shake out (our dogs suggest over their bowls…) and clean, but something to be aware of all the same. You can always skip the coconut, if you wish.
Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our blog archives. You can also use use the category and tag labels above/ below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest or use our internal search tools to find something specific. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas from treats that we’ve made ourselves for our pets, but different animals have different preferences (likes/dislikes), just like people. 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.