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These homemade chicken jerky, beef jerky, and salmon jerky strips are great for dogs and people, though we created them specifically for the dogs in our lives. They’re just the kind of chewy, satisfying dog treat your happy hound will go wild for. And with no weird added preservatives, excess sodium, sugar, or carbs, you can feel good about sharing them with all your four-legged friends anytime.
To make these dog jerky treats, all these you need is some lean protein and a dehydrator (or your home oven, set at its lowest setting). In 4-8 hours, you can have a cheaper, healthier alternative to store-bought jerky.
Choose the leanest meats you can find for the healthiest dog jerky with the longest shelf life.
Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs
Yield 3 Trays
You can use this recipe with any lean meat you have on hand. If you're pressed for time (or just don't enjoy handling raw meat) check your grocery store for packages of meat sliced thin or in strips ready to go.
- A lean cut of beef like flank steak with little or no marbling
- Chicken breast or thigh (there will some fat trimming for thigh but we all know it's tastier than breast!)
- Salmon (it's a fatty fish so you'll want to keep this jerky in the fridge but your dog will go WILD for the flavor). Check for bones and remove with tweezers.
- Any white fish. Check for bones and remove with tweezers.
- Game meat (the USDA recommends you freeze game before dehydrating to eliminate E Coli bacteria and any potential parasites. Additionally, you will want to dehydrate a little longer to ensure the meat is cooked fully.)
- Lamb or mutton is a tasty option if you find it on sale.
A marinade is completely optional, of course, but makes this jerky into a recipe that works equally well for dogs and people. We use low-sodium ingredients and do not add sugar to ensure that this treat is as healthy as it is tasty. You can make as much or as little of this marinade as you need.
- 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup liquid aminos (this is like low-sodium, gluten-free soy sauce you can find in the health food section of your grocery store. You can substitute with low-sodium soy sauce if you can't find this product in your area)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- A splash of fish sauce
- A pinch of powdered ginger
- Optional: 1-2 drops liquid smoke
- We used a Nesco Snackmaster Pro Dehydrator but your oven on the lowest setting works fine, too.
- Ziplock bag or glass or ceramic container for marinating
- If you're using your oven, you'll want to place your meats onto racks on baking sheets, or a sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheets.
Mix up your marinade. You will need one batch of marinade per pound of meat.
Prep your lean meats by first removing all visible fat and discarding.
Slice your proteins into whatever shape you like, bearing in mind that:
- Thinner cuts will dehydrate faster
- Uniform sized pieces will dehydrate at the same speed for even doneness
- Cutting with the grain will make a chewier jerky treat
- Cutting against the grain will make a less chewy jerky treat
Place your protein in the marinade, stirring to make sure everything is evenly covered.
Marinate in the refrigerator for 4-24 hours.
When you're ready to dehydrate, preheat your dehydrator to 160 degrees F, or your oven to 160 degrees F or your lowest setting.
Remove all the trays from your dehydrator. You don't want to get raw meat juice all over the trays you aren't using and it will increase airflow dramatically.
- Strain protein from marinade, patting dry with a paper towel.
- Place sliced meats onto trays, making sure to leave enough room between every piece for good airflow.
- Place trays in the dehydrator leaving good space between each tray if you can.
Set timer for 4 hours.
Check for doneness at 4 hours for the dehydrator, 3 hours if you're using the oven since the temp will likely be higher.
You want to see the meat shrunk by at least half, dark and consistent in color, and dry all the way through. The meat should bend but not feel rubbery or puffy (chicken, I'm looking at you.)
When meat is completely cooled, store in an airtight container.
Thoroughly clean your dehydrator trays and the inside of your dehydrator, the bottom shelf will get sticky and you don't really want these flavors transferring to your next cooking project!
Jerky will keep for one week on your counter or two weeks in the fridge. If you want it to last for a couple of months you could use a vacuum sealer. But we're pretty sure your dog will help you make it disappear in a matter of days, if not hours.
Courses Healthy Snacks
Cuisine DIY Dog Treats
Did you make this recipe?
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What the Heck Is a Dehydrator?
A dehydrator like the one we use in this video is a very handy, relatively inexpensive kitchen gadget we love for making dried treats of all kinds. This includes fruits, veggies, and meats.
However, you can definitely make homemade jerky in the oven, as specified in the recipe. Just be sure to go low and slow.
Homemade Dog Jerky Treats are Great for Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys can get boring with the same old stuffing. A high-value reward like jerky dog treats can breathe new life into an older toy. Get the cookie pickle here.
Homemade Dog Treats
Homemade dog treats have no preservatives, which is great for your dog, but means they won’t last as long as store-bought options. Be sure and store your DIY dog cookies and treats in an airtight container, and use your treats within a week or two at most. The less moisture in your dog treats, the longer they’ll last, so be sure and bake thoroughly for longer shelf life.
Dog treats are not a replacement for nutritionally balanced dog food. Treats should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet (though they might be the best part.)
More Great Homemade Dog Treat Recipes