Can You Undercook Jerky?


Last updated on July 31st, 2022 at 04:30 pm

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Jerky is a great snack for wherever you are on-the-go. It is chewy, flavorful, and filling. Jerky can be made with a variety of meats and is the ideal food to bring along on hikes and when you go camping. 

You can buy packaged jerky already made and ready to eat. You can even make your own jerky at home if you have a supply of meat you want to turn into a dried snack. When making jerky, can you overcook it?

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Jerky can be undercooked so you will want to make sure to cook/dry it completely as undercooked jerky could cause bacteria growth. When making jerky you should cook it until it is completely dried out and hardened. For best results when making jerky, dry the meat strips out all the way.

Can You Undercook Jerky?

You can make jerky at home. To cook jerky, you can use a food dehydrator or even your oven to make the dried meat slices. For the oven, you can place some carefully selected marinated meat slices directly on the oven rack with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch the drippings. Or you can put a wire rack on a baking sheet and place the jerky strips on this for a less messy method. 

Make sure none of the jerky is touching or overlapping so they cook thoroughly. 

For a dehydrator, place jerky strips on the racks making sure they aren’t overlapping and leaving spade for air to circulate.

Jerky usually takes a few hours to dry out completely whether you are using an oven or dehydrator. Dehydrating jerky requires low temperatures that slowly dry the food out. So, this will take some time. 

Check the jerky every so often until it reaches the desired texture and temperature. If it is done, let it cool, and enjoy! Remember you should thoroughly cook jerky. 

If the jerky is uncooked it can result in bacteria growth which can make you sick if you eat it. So, do not undercook your jerky.

How Do You Know If Jerky Is Undercooked?

As you can see, if you are wanting to make your own homemade delicious jerky, then there are certain ways to do so. But, you may also wonder, how will I know if the jerky is uncooked?

Jerky is undercooked if it doesn’t bend in the middle. If it cracks in half it is overcooked and if it doesn’t bend it is undercooked. If the jerky isn’t hardened then this also means that it is undercooked and should be dried for longer.

So, you will know that jerky is uncooked if it isn’t dried out and hardened all the way. It will be dry and leathery in appearance and will be chewy but not too tough to taste. 

Fully cooked jerky will bend in the middle without breaking apart. If it doesn’t bend then it is undercooked and needs to be dried out for longer. 

You should also check the temperature of the jerky to see if it is completely cooked. Once you think it is done, check to make sure that the internal temperature is at 160 degrees (165 degrees for poultry) Fahrenheit. If so, it is finished cooking. 

If the jerky is undercooked, put it back into the dehydrator or oven to dry out some more.

Can You Get Sick From Undercooked Beef Jerky?

The yummy dried meat strip snack is perfect for outdoor trips or really just whenever. I already mentioned that you shouldn’t undercook jerky, but why? Can you get sick from undercooked jerky?

You can get really sick from eating undercooked jerky. Salmonella and E. Coli are bacterias in undercooked meat that can make you extremely sick. So, be sure to thoroughly cook your jerky and check that it isn’t undercooked to avoid getting sick.

Jerky is simply dried meat strips. For some, they like a more tender jerky and may wonder if it can be undercooked for easier chewing. But, you should not undercook jerky. Meat contains moisture and because of this, eventually it will go bad. 

When you dry out the meat and make jerky, this gets rid of all of the moisture which could grow bacteria. Undercooked jerky has a high chance of developing bacteria. 

This bacteria could cause Salmonella and E. Coli poisoning, making you very sick. Jerky should be dried out all the way and fully cooked. When cooked thoroughly it will be hard in texture and dark in color. Jerky is supposed to be rubbery and chewy and shouldn’t be undercooked.

Final Thoughts

Jerky shouldn’t be undercooked. Thoroughly cook the jerky until it becomes darker and hardened. Jerky should be totally dried out to prevent bacteria from growing. 

Moisture in the jerky can cause this and undercooked jerky has more of a chance of harboring harmful bacteria.  This could make you sick if you eat undercooked jerky. 

Make sure you cook the meat strips correctly and don’t undercook it and you can enjoy some yummy jerky.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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