Can you make jerky at 180 degrees?

Last Updated on May 24th, 2023

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Jerky was created as a way of preserving meat dating back to the 1550s. There are usually a few different ways to make jerky, and this original method is to basically smoke the meat until it is preserved, while the other method is to dehydrate the meat until it is preserved.

While dehydrating the jerky should be done at a lower temperature, smoking can be done at 180 degrees F. 

However, what temperature should jerky be dehydrated at? How long does it take to preserve meat at 180 degrees F? Let’s discuss everything you need to know about making jerky.

Can you Dehydrate Jerky at 180 Degrees?

When dehydrating the meat to end up with perfectly preserved jerky, you’ll want to keep the dehydrator at a constant temperature of 130 to 140 degrees F. It’s best to maintain this temperature during the dehydration process for around 6 to 8 hours or until completely dried.

What’s considered to be a safe temperature for jerky? And how long does it take to make jerky at approximately 180 degrees F. What are some signs you can ensure your jerky is completely done, preserved, and ready to eat? See answers below.


What Temperature is Safe for Jerky?

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, it’s safest to heat any meat to 160 degrees F and any poultry to 160 degrees F before the entire dehydrating process. Once the dehydrating process begins, it’s best to maintain the temperature enlisted above.

When choosing to smoke the jerky instead of utilizing the dehydrating process, it’s best to keep the temperature anywhere between 150 degrees F and 170 degrees F. However, the temperature can be slightly higher than this. Read more below.


How Long Does it Take to Make Jerky at 180 Degrees?

First of all, it’s not ideal to dehydrate meat at 180 degrees F. It’s possible to smoke your meat up to 200 degrees. 

However, you are risking charring the jerky with the higher temperatures the meat reaches. So let’s discuss how long it will take to make jerky while smoking the meat at 180 degrees.

When smoking your jerky at approximately 180 degrees F, expect that the jerky will take three hours to complete the preservation process. Note that some will take more or less time to cure. It depends on the size of the strips that are being preserved.


How Do You Know if the Jerky is Done?

There are a few different things you are looking out for when checking to see if your jerky is done and ready to be stored or eaten. See the list below.


  • The outer surface of the jerky is dry, with no grease or residue that sticks.
  • The outer layer has a crunch, while the inner contents remain tender.
  • The jerky altogether should have a dry leather-like appearance.


Should You Flip Jerky in a Dehydrator?

Depending on the sizes of the meat strips you are dehydrating as well as the dehydrator you’re using, you may need to slightly adjust the jerky rather than flip it. Some dehydrators do not require you to do anything but stick the contents inside and let the device do its job.

Check with the customer service representatives of the brand of dehydrator you are using or double-check any recipe you might be utilized to preserve your meat in order to determine if the jerky should be flipped.


Final Thoughts on Dehydrating Jerky

Jerky can be made when smoked at 180 degrees F for approximately 3 hours. While it should not be dehydrated at that temperature, a safe temperature would be maintained at 150 to 170 degrees after being heated prior to the dehydrating process.

Suppose the jerky has a dry outer layer with tender inner contents. Inquire any questions about flipping the meat in the dehydrator to the recipe you might be using or even any customer service representatives of the dehydrating device you use.

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