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How to Make Sugar Free Beef Jerky at Home

Our family loves beef jerky. We regularly eat it as an afternoon snack and sometimes as part of a “grazing” lunch (no pun intended) if we’re busy and working on a big project. Beef Jerky is a great high-protein snack but it can be SO expensive! Jerky made from grass-fed beef can be as much as $22 a pound or more.

Finding sugar free beef jerky? Nearly impossible. There is so much sugar in prepared foods and it is typically not even real sugar.

Commercially made jerky often contains nitrites and sulfites that leave me feeling unwell. I avoid them at all costs to avoid migraines and digestive upset. 

Currently, I pick up a roast about once a month from our local butcher shop that sources all their grass-fed beef within our state. It isn’t my first choice, but it is the best we have available right now.

I am currently researching nearby farms that raise beef, hoping to buy a half in the fall. The next step after that is raising our own, which isn’t totally out of the question. We have a couple of neighbors with pasture that would be perfect for a steer or 2 and are happy to let us use their pasture in exchange for a quarter. Such a deal!

sugar free beef jerky

Equipment to Make Sugar Free Beef Jerky

Sugar free beef jerky is very easy to make. The only special equipment you need for this is a dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can try to do it in the oven at the lowest temperature. Unfortunately, it will likely cook rather than dehydrate. You have to watch it very closely.

There are a lot of great dehydrators out there. My first one was a hand-me-down that my parents didn’t use. You can also find them at garage sales and thrift stores if you aren’t ready to invest in one. I use and LOVE my Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator.

Sugar Free Beef Jerky Ingredients

The seasoning for this jerky is very flexible.  Like it spicy?  Add more cayenne. I’ve found that I like just a little more pepper and cayenne than this mix, but the kid is adverse to spicy, so I tone it down a bit for him. 

This batch of jerky, using a 3 pound top round roast, finished at 1.7 pounds when dehydrated. This works out to a cost of about $15/lb. If you use a different cut of meat you can save even more money. I find round roasts (Eye of Round, Top Round, or Bottom Round) provide the best balance of value and tenderness. Making jerky at home is more cost effective and you have total control over the ingredients. 

Below the recipe is a video I made walking you through the process.  Enjoy!

beef roast for jerky

Sugar-Free Beef Jerky

Making your own jerky is a definite cost savings and you have total control over the ingredients.
Course Snack
Keyword beef jerky, jerky, protein, snack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 20 minutes


  • Dehydrator


  • 3 lb top round beef roast or bottom round
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar preferably raw
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika


  • If your roast is fresh, put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours until firm but not frozen solid. If it is already frozen, allow it to partially thaw.
  • Slice the roast to desired thickness. The thicker the slices, the longer the required drying time.
  • In a large bowl mix oil, vinegar, and spices. Add meat and stir to coat.
  • Cover, or place in zip top bag in a smaller bowl (to conserve refrigerator space) and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.
  • Dehydrate based at manufacturer's recommended temperature for 12-24 hours, depending on thickness of slices. I have an Excalibur 9-tray that recommends 145-155 degrees. It is possible to dehydrate this in the oven, at its lowest temperature, but you will need to check it frequently to prevent over drying.
  • Store finished jerky in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how quickly you eat it. It will spoil within a couple days at room temperature as it contains no preservatives.

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