At the bottom of my email inbox—a dark and very deep well—I have two requests for jerky (or biltong, the South African version) recipes, in response to the September 2011 post, I’m Converting. I’ve delayed because no two batches of jerky are ever the same. My son, Carson, made a large bunch of jerky a decade ago that still evokes fond sighs. If only we had written down those proportions!

We make jerky from hamburger, using a jerky gun and a food dehydrator. It is easy to mix and easy to chew.  You can make it in the oven, in a smoker, even in the sun if you live in a very hot climate.  It sounds obscene to say, but we make jerky to use up leftover burger in our freezer.  You know, that hunting thing.

Substitutions are allowed. I would never use plain salt in a jerky recipe. My cupboards are brimming with smoked salt and various seasoned salts. The heat in the jerky can come from cayenne, red pepper flakes, hot sauce. Two years ago I had a banner crop of jalapenos, which I dried and ground into red pepper flakes, which I am still using.

You need a LARGE bowl for mixing the ingredients. Wash your hands and plunge them into the meat and spices. Squeeze, twist, turn, squeeze, until it is thoroughly mixed. This would be a “critical” step.

I grew up eating raw hamburger, only one of the bizarre items in my catalog of eccentricities. Hence, I have no problem taking a bite and adjusting the seasonings. If you are normal, you don’t want to do this. Plop a tablespoon in a fry pan and cook it; then you can taste the flavor and correct, if needed.


Recipe A – Hamburger Jerky

4 lbs. hamburger
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 T salt
1 t garlic powder
2 T black pepper
1/2 – 2 t cayenne
1 T onion powder

Mix and refrigerate for 24 hours.

If you don’t have a jerky gun, roll 3/16″ thick, place on racks. Smoke approximately 10 hours. Cut into strips. Store in refrigerator.


Recipe B – Hamburger Jerky

11 1/2 lbs. hamburger
2 T – 3 T liquid smoke
1 T  meat tenderizer
3 T onion powder
2 T lemon pepper
2 T seasoned salt
2 T garlic powder
4 1/2 T red pepper flakes
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Yoshida’s sauce
1 T hot sauce

If you have questions, please ask. I might answer by Christmas 2013.