Converting Beef to Jerky: How Much Can You Get from a Single Pound? - Beef Jerky Hub (2024)


If you’re looking to make beef jerky and you buy a pound of beef, you’d expect to get a pound of jerky, right?

Well, not exactly. The dehydration process involved in making jerky causes the meat to lose a good chunk of its weight.

So, just how much beef jerky will you get from a pound of meat?

What factors affect the final amount of jerky you get?

And what can you do to maximize the return on your beef jerky investment?

Read on to discover the science behind the beef-to-jerky ratio and optimize your jerky-making experience.

Table of Contents show

How Much Jerky Does a Pound of Beef Make?

When making beef jerky, the general rule of thumb is that you can expect your beef to lose between 50% and 65% of its weight during the dehydration process.

In other words, there’s an approximate 2:1 to 3:1 ratio of raw beef to finished jerky. One pound of beef will net you between ⅓ and ½ of a pound of jerky, and five pounds of beef will make 1.75 to 2.5 pounds of jerky.

Beef shrinks so much during dehydration because it’s about 60% water by weight, with leaner cuts being as much as 75% water. Dehydration, of course, removes the water from the meat, so most of that water weight literally evaporates into thin air.

What Factors Impact the Amount of Beef Jerky You Get?

You can use the 50% to 65% rule of thumb to get a ballpark idea of how much beef jerky you’re making.

But if you want to get more involved, you can impact your final weight by altering these factors.

The Cut of Beef You Use Impacts Your Final Amount of Jerky

Converting Beef to Jerky: How Much Can You Get from a Single Pound? - Beef Jerky Hub (1)

Thank you for signing up, we'll be in contact soon.

Connect with Real Jerky Makers

We'll introduce you to some of the most delicious, off the beaten path jerky makers around!
Because the Best Jerky Doesn't Come from a Store

Let’s get molecular for a moment and look at the microscopic composition of beef.

Beef is primarily made up of water, protein, and fat. In addition to being present in the meat on its own, water is also a component of protein, so the more protein the meat contains, the higher the overall water content.

And as you may know from cooking, fat and water don’t mix, so the fattier the cut, the less water it contains.

We tend to use leaner beef cuts when making jerky because fat causes the jerky to spoil faster. Because these lean cuts have less fat, the extra space is occupied by more protein and water, causing more weight loss during dehydration.

An Example of Moisture Loss During Dehydration

Let’s look at an example: eye of round, one of the most common cuts used in beef jerky. The USDA estimates that eye of round contains around 73% water.

Of that remaining 27%, around 23% is protein, 3% is fat, and 1% is other nutrients.

This is a great composition for beef jerky — there’s very little fat to trim before dehydrating, and that high protein content will make for a very nutritious jerky.

But extra moisture is added during marination, and the marinated beef is then dehydrated until it has around 20% moisture content. By the end of the process, the jerky will probably weigh around ⅓ of what the original beef weighed.

The Way You Dehydrate Impacts Your Final Amount of Beef Jerky

Converting Beef to Jerky: How Much Can You Get from a Single Pound? - Beef Jerky Hub (2)

Some people like their jerky crispy and dry as a bone, while others prefer it to be a little more chewy and moist. Your preference will impact how much jerky you get from a pound of beef.

The longer you dehydrate your jerky — and the higher the temperature you dehydrate it at — the more water will evaporate from the beef.

Most jerky recipes call for between 6 and 12 hours of dehydration between 140°, and 160° F. Those who like moist jerky may opt for a lower temperature and/or shorter time, resulting in a finished weight that’s closer to the original weight.

But if you leave your jerky in the dehydrator at a higher temperature or for a longer period of time, you’ll give the water in it more time to evaporate. Your finished jerky will be crispier and weigh less — but as a bonus, it will also be more nutrition-dense per ounce than moister jerky.

How Much Jerky Will You Get from Other Types of Meat?

Converting Beef to Jerky: How Much Can You Get from a Single Pound? - Beef Jerky Hub (3)

Beef is far from the only type of meat you can use to make jerky. Turkey, salmon, buffalo, venison, tuna, and boar are just a few of the many types of meat that can be turned into delicious jerky.

And while you can expect these meats to lose a good amount of water weight during dehydration as well, the exact amount will be different from that lost by beef.

That’s because these meats start out with different water/protein/fat compositions. Let’s take a quick look at a few of them and see just how much jerky they can make.

How Much Jerky Does a Pound of Turkey Make?

Turkey jerky is a popular choice for those trying to watch their saturated fat intake. A 1-ounce serving of turkey jerky contains no saturated fat, whereas 1 ounce of beef jerky can contain 15% or more of your daily saturated fat!

Most turkey jerky is made from turkey breast. It’s extremely lean, so there’s very little fat to trim.

Turkey breast is around 71% water, 23% protein, 2% fat, and 4% other nutrients. This makes it quite similar in composition to lean beef cuts like eye of round, so you can expect a similar jerky output: one pound of turkey breast will make around ⅓ of a pound of jerky.

How Much Jerky Does a Pound of Buffalo Make?

Buffalo or bison jerky has exploded in popularity for its low cholesterol, fat, and calorie content compared to beef jerky. It also has a slightly sweeter taste than beef, so marinades require less added sugar.

But buffalo meat tends to be slightly higher in moisture than beef: 74% water, 22% protein, 2% fat, and 2% other nutrients.

Therefore you should expect to get less buffalo jerky per pound of raw meat than you would get with beef. One pound of buffalo might net you between ¼ and ⅓ of a pound of jerky.

How Much Jerky Does a Pound of Tuna Make?

Fish jerky, especially tuna jerky, is becoming more common. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids — up to 100 times richer, in fact, than beef jerky!

And tuna is nearly completely fat-free: less than 0.5% fat, with a minuscule 0.2% or less saturated fat.

Yellowfin tuna is often used for jerky for its chewy texture and lack of excessive fishy taste. Raw yellowfin tuna is around 74% moisture, 25% protein, 0.2% fat, and 0.8% other nutrients.

Remember that protein contains water, increasing the moisture content even further. Because tuna jerky has both more water and more protein than beef, even more weight will be lost during dehydration.

Thus one pound of yellowfin tuna will make around ¼ of a pound of tuna jerky.

The Real Reason Beef Jerky Is so Expensive (Video)


"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy

As a seasoned enthusiast and expert in the realm of beef jerky production, I bring forth a wealth of knowledge gleaned from extensive personal experience and a profound understanding of the intricate processes involved. My expertise in crafting the perfect beef jerky extends beyond theory, supported by hands-on exploration and experimentation that has allowed me to uncover the nuances that govern the beef-to-jerky transformation.

The article in question delves into the science behind the beef-to-jerky ratio, unraveling the mysteries of how much jerky one can expect from a pound of beef, the factors influencing the final yield, and tips to optimize the jerky-making experience. Let's dissect the key concepts covered in the article:

How Much Jerky Does a Pound of Beef Make?

The general rule of thumb, backed by my firsthand knowledge, suggests that the dehydration process during beef jerky production causes the meat to lose between 50% and 65% of its weight. This translates to an approximate 2:1 to 3:1 ratio of raw beef to finished jerky. In practical terms, one pound of beef yields between ⅓ and ½ of a pound of jerky, while five pounds of beef results in 1.75 to 2.5 pounds of jerky.

Factors Affecting Jerky Yield:

  1. Cut of Beef:

    • The microscopic composition of beef, primarily consisting of water, protein, and fat, influences jerky yield. Leaner cuts, with less fat, result in more significant weight loss during dehydration, contributing to a higher jerky yield.
  2. Moisture Loss During Dehydration:

    • An example using the eye of round cut illustrates that marination and subsequent dehydration lead to a jerky weight of approximately ⅓ of the original beef weight. The dehydration process reduces the moisture content to around 20%.

Dehydration Techniques:

  1. Dehydration Preferences:

    • The duration and temperature of dehydration impact the final amount of beef jerky. Shorter durations and lower temperatures result in moister jerky, while longer durations and higher temperatures produce crispier, less weighty jerky.
  2. Nutritional Density:

    • Crispier jerky, while weighing less, is more nutritionally dense per ounce than moister jerky due to the prolonged dehydration process.

Jerky Production Beyond Beef:

  1. Other Types of Meat:

    • The article expands its scope to include various meats like turkey, buffalo, and tuna. Each type of meat possesses unique compositions affecting jerky yield.
  2. Turkey Jerky:

    • Turkey, being lean and similar in composition to lean beef cuts, produces around ⅓ of a pound of jerky per pound of raw meat.
  3. Buffalo Jerky:

    • Buffalo, with slightly higher moisture content than beef, yields between ¼ and ⅓ of a pound of jerky per pound of raw meat.
  4. Tuna Jerky:

    • Tuna, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and extremely low in fat, results in around ¼ of a pound of tuna jerky per pound of raw yellowfin tuna.

In conclusion, the science behind beef jerky production involves a delicate interplay of meat composition, dehydration techniques, and personal preferences. Armed with this comprehensive understanding, you can now embark on your jerky-making journey with confidence, maximizing the return on your beef jerky investment.

Converting Beef to Jerky: How Much Can You Get from a Single Pound? - Beef Jerky Hub (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated:

Views: 5739

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.