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Homemade Chicken Jerky & Sweet Potato Chews
Homemade Chicken Jerky

Dehydrating food is all the rage these days — great for summer’s fruit, berry and vegetable bounty, and for making sumptuous, healthy treats for your dogs (not to mention yourself). While it’s possible to dehydrate food in an oven, it’s much more efficient and convenient to use a dehydrator. And making it in your own home means you don’t have to worry about contaminants or adulterated ingredients. (We hear you can also make yogurt in a dehydrator — wouldn’t your dog love that!)

Here’s a recipe for every dog’s favorite: chicken jerky. Before you start, make sure you have a very sharp knife. Also, partially frozen meat is easier to slice, and the thinner the slices, the less time they take to dry.

• 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil

• Your choice of dog-friendly seasonings: parsley, rosemary, sage (preferably fresh and chopped very fine)

• Rinse the chicken breasts and remove any fat, which slows down the dehydrating process and will shorten the jerky’s shelf life.
• Slice the chicken into strips about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick; slicing with the grain will make the jerky even chewier.
• Coat the strips with oil and seasonings.
• Place the strips on the dehydrator tray, spacing them evenly; make sure they do not touch. The drying process depends on adequate airflow between the strips.
• Put the tray in the dehydrator, turn it on and set the temperature for 140 degrees.

It will probably take between 3 and 12 hours for the strips to fully dry, depending on how thick you cut them and the exact temperature of your dehydrator. After the first hour, start checking the strips on an hourly basis. To determine the dryness level, remove one strip from the dehydrator, cut into it with a sharp knife and examine the inside. When the meat is completely dried, you won’t see any moisture and it will be the same color throughout. If it needs more time, put it back in for another hour. As it gets closer to being finished, check every half hour.

When your chicken jerky is done, store it in air-tight containers; zip-lock bags work great for this. Refrigerate the containers for an even longer shelf life.

Sweet Potato Chews
Thoroughly wash and peel sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potato into 1/4- inch slices by cutting down the middle lengthwise.

Dehydrate at the highest setting 145-155 until done. Drying approximately 6-8 hours will leave them with a chewy texture. For crunchier treats dehydrate longer until the desired consistency. 

This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 70: Jun/Jul/Aug 2012
CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Szabo and Lena's Pal | August 2 2012 |

Remove a piece of jerky and put it into a covered glass dish..or plastic bag and watch for condensation. If a lot of condensation appears (large droplets) the jerky could use more time drying.

Submitted by Szabo and Lena's Pal | August 2 2012 |

Test Jerky for "Doneness"

Remove a piece of jerky and put it into a covered glass dish..or plastic bag and watch for condensation. If a lot of condensation appears (large droplets) the jerky could use more time drying.

Submitted by A Lee En | February 10 2013 |

Does it have to be chicken breast tenders? Could you use thighs instead?

Submitted by A Lee En | February 10 2013 |

Could you use chicken thighs instead, or does it have to be tenders?

Submitted by Sam | April 8 2013 |

You can, but as the article already mentioned that fat slows down the dehydration. Thighs would be tastier with its higher fat content, but the leaner chicken tenders might be the more practical/healthier option. I have been making my doggie treats for quite some time and noticed that the leaner the meats the longer I'd be able to store them. ;)

Submitted by MPRG | October 26 2013 |

I love these recipes...simple and healthy:) But what if you don't use a dehydrator? What would the temps and cook times be for convection ovens?


Submitted by Szabo and Lena's Pal | January 30 2014 |

The lowest level you can...I replaced my oven recently and find I can set the temp to 170--that's just a tad higher than the highest temp on my dehydrator. Good luck. Just experiment and try to keep an eye on things when you're in "discovery mode". Your dogs will love your mistakes almost as much as your successes. Best of all, you take control of the treats your dogs get and what's in them. Lately I've convinced my dogs that they have to be extra good to get a ...wait for it..... bowling with BRUSSEL SPROUTS. okay, my dogs are weird, but, I'm happy to have them enjoying proteins, fruits, veggies and carbs just about equally.

Submitted by kevin | March 13 2014 |

The problem with this recipe is, bacteria such as salmonella wont die in a dehydrator unless it gets to 165 degrees. Anything under that you take a chance of feeding salmonella chicken to your dog. You would be in the same boat as buying treats from China.

Submitted by cindi | April 20 2014 |

I was wondering about preparing these in the dehydrator and then finishing in the oven to be sure they reached 165? Or start them in the oven for an hr then finish in the dehydrator to get that chewy jerky texture?

Submitted by Crunchybarkery | June 22 2014 |

That's incorrect, for chicken jerky you only need to dry it with 70℃. For pork meat however, you will need to boil it first before u dry it.

Submitted by Mair | June 18 2014 |

I was afraid of using raw chicken so made mine out of chicken breasts that I boiled or roasted. It was hard to get them dry enough --- but they usually became brittle. I used a single temp dehydrator.

Submitted by Jan | September 9 2014 |

Why would you be afraid of using raw chicken? Dogs digestive systems are built for dealing with bacteria. If you still feel that raw chicken is not the way to go, try par boiling it by placing the chicken briefly into boiling water. Pets generally get sick from bacteria when their system is already compromised. Here's an interesting read regarding feeding raw. rawfed.com/myths/bacteria.html

Hope that helps!

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