Beef jerky happens to be one of my husband’s favorite snacks, and I sure love some homemade beef jerky as well. When our dehydrator died over a year ago, I realized that we wouldn’t have jerky for some time.
At Christmastime, I researched new choices for an air fryer for my husband. He has one, but he wanted a second. That’s when I found out that the Nina Air Fryer has a dehydrating function as well, so I thought we might be able to kill two birds with one stone!
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We love our Ninja blender, so I figured their Air Fryer would have to be top quality as well. The Ninja Air Fryer performs four functions: air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate. The first three functions I assumed would work quite well, but I doubted its ability to dehydrate.
It’s an Air Fryer. How well could it dehydrate?
So, my husband and I decided to give it a try. First, he chopped up a banana and tried to dehydrate the slices. Surprisingly, it worked well! The bananas looked and tasted just like dehydrated banana chips you might purchase at the store.
When we received an extra round steak from our local farm share, we decided to make some beef jerky in the Ninja Air Fryer. After all, if it wasn’t good, we wouldn’t be upset because it does prefer the other three functions just as we hoped.
We are a fan of its other three functions. It’s stronger than the other Air Fryer we use, so we burned a few things at first. After we learned how to use it right, it quickly became our favorite choice so far.
Making Beef Jerky In An Air Fryer
My husband loves to come up with new recipes. While I cook from scratch and bake a lot, he finds just as much joy as I do when it comes to cooking. He came up with this recipe, and it’s quite tasty!
Of course, you can use any recipe for beef jerky that you like. The most important part is that you follow steps 3, 4 and 5. Cutting and placing the meat is important as well as understanding how quickly this Air Fryer is at dehydrating.
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup hot sauce
- 1 TSP onion powder
- 1 TSP garlic powder
- ½ TSP black pepper
- ½ TSP oregano
- ½ TSP cumin
- 1 to 2 pounds round steak (or your preferred beef cut)
1. Combine the Ingredients in a Bowl
The first thing you need to do is combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. The bowl needs to be large enough to hold all of the marinade and the meat.
You can adjust the spice of this marinade by changing the hot sauce. If you aren’t a fan of spice, try a basic hot sauce from the store. My husband likes everything to be as hot as possible, so he used a spicier hot sauce that I make myself.
Also, we used regular soy sauce, but if you use low-sodium soy sauce, you might want to add a bit of salt. The salt is needed to kick up the flavor profile of the beef jerky.
2. Cut The Meat Into Chunks
Next, you want to cut the meat into chunks. Unlike a regular dehydrator, the Ninja Air Fryer is just a single, small tray, so you can’t use long strips. Instead, it’s better to use small 1 to 2-inch chunks of meat.
Make sure the meat chunks aren’t too thick. You don’t have to make the chunks perfect. Just pay attention to the size. Ones that are too thick need to be sliced thinner.
3. Let The Meat Marinate
The first time that my husband made this jerky, he let the meat marinate for 6 hours, and it was tasty. For our next batch, we left it in the refrigerator for 12 hours overnight, and it was even better. The flavor was very evident and strong.
Don’t be surprised when you get the marinated meat out of the refrigerator in the morning and the marinade is mostly gone. The meat will soak all those yummy flavors up! Let it soak as long as you want, but the longer it marinates, the better.
Try to get the best quality meat that you can. We use grass-fed, organic beef round steak. We’ve used a variety of cuts–eye of round and bottom round are our favorite cuts for jerky.
4. Lay On The Ninja Air Fryer Tray
After the meat marinates, it’s time to place the meat on the tray. It’s not huge at all, so I was concerned about how close I could put the chunks together. I went against my first instincts and put the chunks closer together than I would in a normal dehydrator.
My instincts were wrong – for once. The strong air circulation in the Ninja Air Fryer gets between the meat perfectly fine, so don’t be afraid to put them closer than you might assume is a good idea.
5. It’s Time To Dehydrate
One major difference you’ll notice between dehydrating in an Air Fryer and a dehydrator is that the Ninja Air Fryer seems to take less time.
We put the temperature on 165℉ for 8 hours, but we could’ve done it for 6 or 7 hours instead. Halfway through, I recommend flipping the meat chunks and moving them around the tray to make sure everything is dehydrated as evenly as possible.
That’s it! I have to say, we are quite impressed by the dehydrating function on the Ninja Air Fryer. The only downside is that you have to dehydrate in smaller batches. You wouldn’t be able to make large quantities of jerky at one time. However, since it dehydrates much faster than other dehydrators I’ve used, it makes up for its small size.
We plan to keep using the Nina Air Fryer for dehydrating purposes. I have plans to try other foods such as onions, garlic, and tomatoes to see how well it does!
There are tons of things you can make with an air fryer. For more ideas, check out the Ninja Air Fryer Cookbook.
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