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Beef Jerky
–Ancient Recipe–

The famous beef jerky or also known as machaca in Northern Mexico, is a tradition that endures. The beef jerky is a very old recipe, typical from the states of northern Mexico where it was prepared by the Tarahumaras and the Apaches .

...more than a recipe is a meat preparation technique (also used in other foods like fruits and vegetables) through the dehydration.

– This technique was developed as a
food preservation method due to the desertic and adverse weather that exists in northern Mexico.

The beef jerky is of hard consistency and it has curvy shape (similar to pork rinds). Its flavor is
special , strong and different – it can be served as a snack, as a main course or beef jerky chunks can be sprinkled over soups and salads.

One of the northern typical dishes consists of shredded beef jerky mixed with egg, better known as
machaca with egg. This breakfast is also accompanied with refried beans and tortillas.

About the Recipe

  • In this recipe you will learn how to make the beef jerky in an “artisanal" way. However other options are also offered as you can prepare the beef jerky in a dehydrator or in the oven. The one you choose will be fine.
  • If you prepare the beef jerky in a room you will have to be creative because the beef is hung.
  • The beef jerky can be prepared with any beef cut but the best ones are the thin cuts that have little fat like the pulpa negra, the sirloin or the beef tenderloin.
  • The beef will have a slight sun cooking process, for this reason you will have to prepare it in a sunny day.
  • The preparation time is long and this depends of the beef dehydration option that you choose. It can take from to 2 days.
  • The recipe is for 1.1 lbs of beef jerky.


  • 1.1 lbs of Beef
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1½ tablespoons of Salt

  • Cookware

  • 1 Work Table
  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Large Plastic Bag
  • 20 Clothespins (Option 1)
  • 1 Fan (optional) (Option 1)
  • 1 Beef Dehydrator (Option 2)
  • 1 Baking Sheet (Option 3)

  • Directions

    Prepare the Beef

    1. Remove the fat of 1.1 lbs of beef.
    2. Cut into long, narrow and thin strips; the beef with the one you worked.

    It is very important that the thickness of the strips is very thin, so the beef jerky is easier to chew.

    1. Sprinkle uniformly over the both sides of all the beef strips that were cut 1½ tablespoons of salt, until it has a small salt layer that covers the beef. If necessary add more salt.
    2. Take all the beef strips to the sun, put them on a work table and let the sun and the salt cook them for about 3 - 30 minutes, until they turn to a light brown color. Preferably cover the beef with 1 large plastic bag to protect it from animals and insects.

    The time range varies so much because it is a process that depends of the sun and the humidity. We recommend to be guided by the beef color and not by the time.

    1. Turn all the beef strips that were cooked and repeat the previous step.

    Don’t overexpose the beef to the sun because it turns to a green color and it will no longer be useful

    1. Sprinkle over the both sides of all the beef strips some pepper and continue with the option that you prefer...

    Option 1 – In a Room

    1. Take all the beef strips into the shade, in a fresh and airy room.
    2. Hang all the beef strips with some clothespins.
    3. Leave the beef strips dehydrating for about 48 hours, until they are well cooked, completely dehydrated and they turn to a brown color.

    A fan can also be put in the room to accelerate the dehydration process.

    Option 2 – In a Dehydrator

    1. Put in a beef dehydrator all the beef strips, without overlaps.
    2. Leave the beef strips dehydrating from 2 to 6 hours, until the beef is well cooked, completely dehydrated and they turn to a brown color.

    Option 3 – In the Oven

    1. Preheat the oven to 160º F.
    2. Put in a baking sheet all the beef strips, without overlaps.
    3. Introduce in the oven the baking sheet and leave the beef strips dehydrating from 1 to 3 hours, until they are well cooked, completely dehydrated and they turn to a brown color.

    A Tasty Beef
    Apache and Tarahumara Style

    Beef Jerky

    Tip: To give more flavor and a better consistency to the beef jerky you have to put a salsa.

    Did you like the Beef Jerky?

    Other Topics that will Interest you

    Mexican Food History.
    The Human Sacrifices and the Mexican Food.
    Mexican Food Color.
    Prehispanic Cookware.


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    More Info

    The “Nesco Food Dehydrator" is the device that you need to prepare beef jerky and other recipes that require dehydration... because it also dehydrates fruits and vegetables. Its air circulation system in between trays is excellent, the food dehydration is done rapidly and in between the trays the flavors don’t mix.

    If you decide to prepare the beef jerky in the oven you will need a good baking sheet, like the Nordic. This sheet is made of aluminum, it is large, it bakes and heats uniformly and it is easy to wash.

    To make the beef jerky cuts you need very precise cuts and you can only achieve them with an excellent knife like the “Victorinox Knife". This knife has very good handle and balance, it is very sharp and your cuts will be perfect.