wikiHow to Make Venison Jerky

One Methods:Microwave version

Do you love jerky but want to break out of the classic beef box? If your answer is yes, try out some delicious venison jerky. Scroll down to Step 1 to learn how you can make a healthy, at-home version that will keep for one to two months.


  • 2 lbs (907g) deer meat cut into 1/2 x 1/4 inch (12.7mm x 6.35mm) thick strips; use only the best pieces


  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 cup chopped raw garlic
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes liquid smoke (to taste)
  • Other optional seasonings, including:
    • 1 bottle of Dale's steak seasoning
    • 1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce
    • Salt


  1. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 1
    Understand the safety implications before commencing. Drying meat at home carries risks if the bacteria are not adequately destroyed. As such, it is important to take all safety precautions during the preparation of venison jerky.[1]
    • When raw meat or poultry is dehydrated at home — either in a warm oven or a food dehydrator — to make jerky which will be stored on the shelf, pathogenic bacteria are likely to survive the dry heat of a warm oven and especially the 130 to 140 °F (54 to 60 °C) of a food dehydrator.[2]
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before commencing. Repeat hand washing throughout the process. Wash all implements and items used thoroughly as well.
    • Ensure that the venison has been kept refrigerated at 40 °F (4 °C) or slightly below.
  2. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 2
    Mix together all ingredients for the marinade. Place in an easily poured container.
  3. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 3
    Pour the marinade over the meat. Leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Either place it into a container with a lid, or Ziploc bags work just as well.
    • The venison pieces should all be cut the same thickness, with the standard being a 1/4 inch (6.35mm).[3] This ensures that the venison jerky pieces will all cook evenly at the same time.
    • In line with USDA advice, consider steaming or cooking the venison to 160ºF (70C) before dehydrating it.
  4. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 4
    Remove the venison pieces from the fridge. Drain well.
  5. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 5
    Preheat the oven at a very low setting of around 200ºF (95C).
    • Place the meat strips either directly onto the oven racks (line the base of the oven with foil to catch splatters), or placed on a cooling rack sitting on a cookie sheet brushed lightly with vegetable oil. Another neat alternative is to pierce each piece of venison with a toothpick and hang it from the upper rack of the oven.[4]
    • Place in the oven and leave to dry. This will take about 4 to 6 hours. If you've laid the jerky flat on a cookie sheet, it's important to turn the jerky about halfway, to ensure that it dries evenly. Otherwise, if it's hanging or sitting over the rack, it's good to stay.
    • It's a good idea to leave the door open just a few inches or centimetres to allow the moisture to escape.[5]
  6. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 6
    Remove from the oven once dehydrated. Leave to cool completely before placing into airtight storage; there should be no moisture present at all. Consume within 1–2 months.[6]

Microwave version

  1. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 7
    Use the microwave rather than the oven if preferred. After marinating the strips, hang over a microwave roasting rack. Set the microwave oven to high. Cook for 4–6 minutes. For every half a minute after 4 minutes, stop the oven and check the consistency and color of the jerky. When it changes from brown to dark brown and looks like jerky (leathery), it's ready.
  2. Image titled Make Venison Jerky Step 8
    Store as outlined above.


  • If your jerky is too crunchy, it's likely that you had the oven temperature cranked up too high.
  • The marinade can be made sweet and mild, or hot and spicy. Just add your favorite spices and flavorings. There are many marinade variants; use the one that best fits your needs and tastes.
  • If using frozen venison, defrost it in the fridge, not on the bench.
  • If cutting your own slices of venison for making the jerky, it is easier to cut when the meat is still partially frozen. Take care when cutting, and remember to thaw only in the refrigerator.
  • Jerky weighs around one fourth its original raw weight.
  • If using a food dehydrator to dry the venison jerky, use a dehydrator with an adjustable temperature dial that will maintain a temperature of at least 130°F (55C) throughout the drying process. Follow the dehydration instructions provided with your dehydrator if you do choose this method.
  • Note that how the meat is sliced affects the ease of eating the jerky. Venison that has been sliced across the grain is easier to bite off than venison that has been sliced along the grain, which is chewier.[7] However, venison sliced across the grain won't be as visually appealing because it tends to break off more easily.
  • Jerky can be dried in a smoker if you have one. Follow the instructions for your smoker, or your experience of using it; keep the temperature to at least 150ºF (65ºC).[8] Only smoke lightly as the smoke can turn the venison bitter in flavor. It will take around 4 to 8 hours to dry in a smoker.


  • Do not make the mistake of leaving the meat out of the refrigerator to marinate; if this happens, the meat will have to be discarded.
  • It is not recommended to dry jerky using the sun. The bacteria are not sufficiently destroyed by this process.
  • Know the source and quality of the venison used because there are special considerations when making homemade jerky from venison or other wild game. According to Keene and others, "Venison can be heavily contaminated with fecal bacteria — the degree varying with the hunter's skill, wound location, and other factors. While fresh beef is usually rapidly chilled, deer carcasses are typically held at ambient temperatures, potentially allowing bacteria multiplication."[9]

Things You'll Need

  • Marinade bowl or jug.
  • Marinating container, or Ziploc bag
  • Oven rack – be sure to clean it well prior to, and after, use
  • Foil
  • Cookie sheet, cooling rack (optional) - tongs for turning over venison strips
  • Toothpicks (optional)
  • Oven mitts (for cleanliness as well as for heat)
  • Oven or dehydrator

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