Homemade Venison Jerky…Oh yeah

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time but one thing or another kept getting in the way. Primarily I would forget to take pictures each time we made jerky. Finally, I think I’ve got it all.

This post is two-fold. It gives me a chance to rave about our venison (deer) jerky (which is awe-SOME!) and to recommend some of our favorite kitchen gadgets.

Let’s start with the Nesco American Harvest Jerky Gun. (Angelic chorus of awesomeness.) If you’re interesting in making your own jerky, you’ve GOT to get one of these babies. It is a time-saver and so easy to use.

Simply stuff your meat mixture into the body of the gun…

and shoot your strips of jerky out onto the dehydrator.

It helps to have an assistant to cut the end of the strip. (I use a butter knife.)

I’m getting ahead of myself a little but I was just so excited to show you that. 🙂

Here’s the skinny on how to make the jerky.

We use venison, front shoulders and shanks. We cut the meat into cubes and use the food grinder attachment on our KitchenAid Mixer to grind it. Check this handy tip: surround your attachment with syran wrap to minimize the juices and drips from flying all over your kitchen. (We had our fair share of messy episodes before devising this fix.)

Nesco makes blends of spices to make things easy and you get some with your purchase of the gun but they can also be purchased separately; each packet is made for one pound of meat. They have different flavors like teriyaki, cracked pepper and garlic, even a hot and spicy, but we like the original flavor best – it gives us a good base to then add our own special touches. Don adds about 1 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 tbsp red pepper flakes to it. We like our jerky spicy!

After grinding the meat, we mix the spices and ground meat together well and then run it all through the grinder a second time.

Then we just stuff the jerky gun and shoot the strips onto the dehydrator. See how easy this is?! The whole process from grinding to plugging in the dehydrator, takes us 30-45 minutes. I’m sure it took longer the first time. We’ve done it enough now that we’ve got it down.

The jerky gun comes with different tips for either flat or rounded jerky. We’ve made all three types and we prefer the round strips the best because it allows us to fit the entire batch into the dehydrator. The strips take up more space and fill up the dehydrator faster.

We use a Nesco Food Dehydrator and it works wonders. We also have the Nesco Fruit Roll Sheets. These are a MUST HAVE when using the dehydrator. Without them, foods stick to the trays and make removal difficult as well as cleanup a nightmare. With the sheets, the food comes right off and the sheets are much easier to wash than the plastic trays. Dehydrating fruit for trail mix or as a stand alone snack is a snap with this too.

The dehydrator can be a little noisy (just a blowing wind noise) so if you’re thinking of doing this for the first time, you might want to set it in a room away from the rest of the house. We usually let our jerky go for about 7 hours before we check it. If I remember right, this batch actually went for about close to 10 hours. The strips were a little fatter than in the past I think.

And that’s it! Homemade venison jerky. YUM!

*I have not been compensated in any way for the product recommendations in this post. I am simply sharing personal opinions of products we love.

If we’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat? 
~ Tom Snyder



  1. I have been thinking of getting a dehydrator just to do fruit. Thanks for the recommendation! And I take it Don finally got a deer on his hunting trip?


    1. Not yet – I wish! No, this was our last package of meat from last year that we made jerky week a couple weeks ago. We got the dehydrator at WalMart, it was only like $30. I think they still sell it or a newer model but last time we looked it wasn’t easy to find. It wasn’t in the kitchen appliances aisle – it was it’s own display out on the floor between rows and not right by the applicances. Just fyi.


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