Beef jerky is a dude-food staple: filling, high in protein, addictive as hell. But it’s easy to go overboard when you’re popping the gas station stuff, which is often loaded with ingredients like MSG, nitrites, maltodextrin, and sodium erythorbate.
Luckily, it’s easy to make a far superior version at home, thanks to a new crop of dehydrators that in one day can turn cheap cuts of meat into jerky with tasting notes that are more steakhouse, less Sunoco. There are benefits aside from better flavor: When you make jerky at home, you can tweak its sodium and sugar content to your liking and dial in the perfect amount of “snap” by adjusting the temperature or timing of a recipe. (You can find our favorite basic method here.) Another upshot: Your house will smell deliciously great for days (sorry, Fido). Once you’ve mastered beef, you can move on to make salmon jerky, fruit leathers, and vegetable chips so good that they’re worth planning a weeklong backpacking trip to eat. Almost.