Jerky dog treats are a favourite of Humphrey and his dog pals. These ginger dry rub beef jerky treats use an optional dog-friendly spice mixture as a dry rub marinade. We often make plain unseasoned jerky treats, but today we’re spicing it up a little. Let’s take a look at dry rubs vs. marinades and how you can easily customise your own special dry rub mixture for making jerky dogs treats.
Plain vs. Seasoned Homemade Jerky Dog Treats
Jerky is one of the easiest and healthiest treats that I make for Humphrey. Straight up plain beef jerky is our go-to jerky treat. But, variety is the spice of life and sometimes we like to mix it up with different scents and flavours. In our experience, light marinades or wet rubs with dog-friendly ingredients don’t make much texture difference to the jerky (with the exception of acid marinades for fish jerky). Marinades can tenderise, but the primary function of short term marinating or seasoning is to add scent and/or flavour.
Anytime you see a marinade or a rub used with a jerky treat 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.
Marinades vs. Dry Rubs
What’s the Difference Between and Marinade and a Dry Rub?
Most marinades are wet mixtures, using water, juices, oils or other liquids with or without extra seasonings. Dry rubs are just what they sound like, using dry herbs, spices, and other seasonings for scent, tastes, and (in some cases) texture. Which is better? It all depends on what you’re cooking and your personal preferences, as well as the favourings. Some seasonings are naturally wet.
Marinades vs. Dry Drubs for Dog Jerky Treats
There’s no need to try to tenderise meat for jerky dog treats and we’re not trying to create juicy cooked meat like grilling or roasting. Any extra liquid is just waste that needs to be drained away and/or dried during dehydration, and that lead me to start playing with rubs instead of marinades for jerky dog treats. When I cut up meat for making jerky treats, it usually has enough natural wetness that “marinating” with a dry rub instead of a liquid marinade works great. Unlike a dry rub for grilling or cooking human foods which is usually applied shortly before cooking, I like to let the meat rest in the fridge with the rub to infuse flavours before transferring the meat to the dehydrator. It acts like a marinade, but requires less prep and results in less juicy mess for dehydrating. Win win.
Anything dog-safe that suits your pup’s palette could be an option for creating a jerky marinade or rub, but we do have a few words of caution. For dehydrated treats, it’s best to avoid anything oily. Anything that leaves a sticky residue might not be to your liking either if, like me, you often pack pocket bags of dog treats for walks and other adventures. Similarly, be careful with ingredients that might stain, like turmeric. Washing it off dehydrator trays is a nightmare! Most dog-friendly dry seasonings are handy options for seasoning marinades or mixing rubs, but remember that anything chunky or flaky might not stay stuck in place after drying.
DIY Dehydrated Ginger Dry Rub Beef Jerky Dog Treats
Beef Jerky Dog Treats with Optional Dry Rub
This isn’t really a jerky recipe, since you can adjust the volumes and/or amount of any ingredient to better suit your dog or personal preferences. It’s more as a guide on how to combine some doggone delicious scents and flavours to create simple easy dry rubs for making special seasoned jerky dog treats. See the selection notes above for ideas, and there are more tips at the end of this post.
- Lean quality beef (or other suitable meat of your preference)
Optional Dry Rub: The quantities below are indicative only, based upon the pictured batch of ginger dry rub beef jerky treats. You can easily adjust the quantities to suit your beef volume and personal preferences (and dog preferences). The calibrated eyeball is a-ok for measuring dry rub ingredients. Don’t season too heavily, though. This is about adding some hints of scent and flavour, not overwhelming it. Dogs are very happy with tasty beef jerky plain, too. Let that meaty goodness keep its starring role.
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
Making the Dry Rub Jerky 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.
Applying the dry rub (optional):
- Place the prepared sliced beef in a suitable dish or container.
- Add dry rub ingredients.
- 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 before dehydrating. Pre-heating is an optional step to ensure your meat hits the right temperature while it’s still wet, before the main dehydration process begins. You can do this after rubbing and resting, or immediately after rubbing if you don’t want to rest and infuse. Or just jump straight in if you’re not using an optional rub.
Dehydrating the prepared beef:
- Once your beef is ready to dehydrate, arrange the prepared pieces onto the dehydrator tray. Maximise the layout of the pieces for volume and efficiency, but allow space for good air circulation through the racks for efficient and consistent dehydration.
- Dehydrate according to your dehydrator’s settings/instructions for dehydrating meat. The time will depend on your machine as well as how thick your 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.
Food Safety for Dehydrated Beef Jerky Dog Treats
Starting with quality ingredients and practicing good food handling is important for food safety no matter what you’re making, jerky included. And safe storage and handling after prep will help to keep things safe for your pups and the people handling their treats.
If your dehydrator has a meat/fish setting, you can skip the extra heating steps and your jerky treats should be ready to serve once the dehydration is complete. However, to be extra safety conscious, as noted in the options above, you can included additional safety steps and/or temperature checks. You can read more about jerky safety via the FSIS. When making jerky for humans, they recommend pre-heating as an added safety step to make sure that you get a suitable temperature early in the process, while the meat or fish is still wet. You can use this as an added safety measure when making beef jerky for dogs, if you wish.
Dogs usually have a more robust gut than we humans, but don’t forget that you’ll be handing the treats, so a little extra caution might still be warranted. Personally, I don’t preheat when making beef jerky dog treats, but I do with some other types of meat. You can see an example of the heating extra steps in action, including photos, in our post on how to make dehydrated salmon dog treats. Post-heating is something that I sometimes do for extra crunch with fish as well, but not with chewy beef jerky strips.
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, preheat for added-safety (optional), 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 like to freeze ours 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.
- Pepper improves absorption of the circuminoids in turmeric. No you didn’t miss it, there’s no turmeric in this dry rub. Although feel free! It would go well with this flavour combo, but turmeric jerky would stain my pocket treat bags or running wristlets. And my white dehydrator trays. Eek! 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.
Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our blog archives. You can use the category and tag labels 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.