A fork, knife and various spices

How to Soften Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is healthy, delicious and packed with nutrition. There’s no surprise it’s so universally popular!

But when you neglect beef jerky, it becomes hard and loses flavor. It can also get too dry if you leave it to dehydrate for just a little too long. As a result, it loses its chew.

Want to know how to make beef jerky softer so you can still enjoy it? Or maybe you want to learn how to make store-bought beef jerky softer (to be frank, some brands are pretty leathery). 

Read on to find out more.

[Related: Is Beef Jerky Healthy?]

How to Soften Beef Jerky

So, you’ve made beef jerky, but it's too dehydrated. That doesn't mean you have to toss it in the trash! With a few simple tips, you’ll know how to make hard beef jerky soft.

We don't want you left in the dark. That’s why we’ll share several ways to return jerky to its ideal texture.

So, what's the secret? It’s rehydration!

Sounds simple, right? Well, we’re happy to tell you that it is. Here are six ways to rehydrate beef jerky so you can save its delicious flavor.

Microwave Jerky

Using a microwave to rehydrate jerky is quick, easy and efficient. However, you should follow some simple tips so that you don’t spoil your snack.

Here’s how to soften beef jerky using a microwave:

  • Add a small amount of water to a container — keep the jerky separate.
  • Make sure you leave the container’s top open slightly to allow air in.
  • Place the jerky on a plate, then put the plate in the microwave with the container of water next to it.
  • Lay a wet paper towel over the jerky (optional but recommended).
  • Microwave the jerky on high heat for 60 seconds.

But make sure you don’t overheat it — it’ll become tough again.

[Related: How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?]

Soak Jerky

It takes slightly longer to soak jerky than to microwave it, but it still doesn’t take much work. All you’re doing is dipping jerky in water (or another liquid) until it softens.

When soaking jerky, leave it in the liquid for 15 to 30 minutes. You can use boiling water for quicker results. If you keep the liquid at room temperature, aim for closer to 30 minutes. 

Either way, make sure all the jerky is immersed so that every bit softens.

When the time’s up, remove the jerky and set it on a paper towel. Leave it on the paper towel for a few minutes to allow any excess liquid to absorb. If the beef jerky still feels slightly tough, place it back in the liquid for another few minutes.

Here are three other liquids besides water you can use for soaking:

  • Soup
  • Broth
  • Wine

Traditionally, you can use Worcestershire sauce, too.

Refrigerate Jerky

Using the refrigerator to soften beef jerky is easy. Before you start the process, grab the overdry jerky along with some of your favorite vegetables and a resealable bag.

First, place the jerky in the resealable bag with either whole or chopped vegetables. Some veggies that go great with jerky are potatoes, carrots and celery. But really, use whatever you like most!

The real benefit of using vegetables is that they add moisture (and flavor) to the jerky. And of course, the moisture is what softens the jerky. If you’re not a real vegetable fan, you can put damp paper towels instead of veggies in the bag.

Next, seal the bag completely and stick it in the refrigerator. Leave it overnight. This method may require a little more time and patience, but it’s great for getting refreshed, perfectly textured jerky.

Finally, dig in and enjoy the next morning!

[Related: Where Does Beef Jerky Come From? Beef Jerky History]

Cook Jerky With Noodles

Whipping up beef jerky with noodles can give you a tasty, easy-to-make meal. Learn how to make store-bought beef jerky softer using this method.

Add the jerky to a bowl of noodles, and then pour boiling water over it. You can savor your meal as a jerky soup when the jerky’s soft or save some for later. If you have lots of jerky left, remove it from the bowl after 30 minutes so it doesn’t become soggy.

When cooking jerky with noodles, watch closely so the jerky doesn’t get too soft. When you get the jerky at your desired chewiness level, you’ve got a wholesome meal. That’s one of the great things about beef jerky — it’s more versatile than you might think.

It’s a great on-the-go or at-home dish, too. If you’re on a tight schedule, beef jerky with noodles can be perfect for a satisfying, quick meal.

And feel free to spice it up with garlic, salt, pepper and whatever else you enjoy. Try soy sauce to make it moist and salty. Adding your own personal touch will make your beef jerky with noodles even more delectable.

[Related: Explore Different Types of Jerky Recipes With Our Tips]

Make Homemade Jerky Stew

Traditional beef stew is a favorite, and you can put your own twist on it by making beef jerky stew!

Here’s how to soften up beef jerky while creating a delicious homemade stew:

  • Cut up vegetables of your choice — classics include potato, carrot, onion, celery and green bell pepper, but you can use practically whatever veggies you want.
  • Chop up the jerky into small pieces.
  • Place the vegetables and jerky into a large pot.
  • Pour stock or gravy (usually beef stock, but again, you can be creative) over the jerky and veggies until covered.
  • Leave the dish to cook on medium heat for about an hour — usually until the veggies are to your preferred tenderness.

You can also make beef jerky stew in a slow cooker. You’ll want to use low heat. When dinner rolls around, it’ll be steaming hot and ready to spoon up. 

[Related: Is Beef Jerky Keto-Friendly?]

Sauté Jerky

You can also sauté too-dry beef jerky. When you get creative in the kitchen, you add fun as well as a nice bite to your jerky.

Follow this method to learn how to soften store-bought beef jerky via sautéing:

  • Add the jerky and chopped or sliced onions to a pan with a touch of butter for taste.
  • Cover the pan with a lid — leave a slight gap to allow air in.
  • Flip the jerky regularly while heating.
  • Sauté the jerky longer to increase its softness (but don’t burn the onions).

Keep a close eye on it to make sure you don’t sauté it too much. Then, you’ll have jerky that’s just the right texture for you!

Explore the Jerky Universe

Now that you know how to soften beef jerky, are you inspired to learn more? 

If so, the Jerky Universe is your new stomping ground. Explore our blog, then follow us on social and subscribe to our newsletter below!


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