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Thai Beef Jerky Recipe (Neua Dad Deaw)

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Top-down view of Thai beef jerky with dipping sauce, sticky rice, a mortar and pestle, and decorative flowers.

This recipe for Thai beef jerky with dipping sauce replicates the authentic taste enjoyed at a street food market in Thailand. Whether you prefer the traditional method of sun-drying the meat or the convenience of using an oven or air fryer, you’re in for an amazing meal.

Combine the beef with my flavorful homemade Thai chili dipping sauce for grilled meat and a side of Thai sticky rice for an authentic Thai dinner. For slow-cooked beef, try my Thai beef stew recipe.

Close-up of Thai sun dried beef slices with nam jim jaew dipping sauce.

What is Thai beef jerky

Thai beef jerky, also known as “neua dad deaw” in Thailand, is a popular Thai snack made by marinating beef slices in a mixture of Thai seasonings before air-drying or dehydrating it. After dehydrating, the jerky gets deep-fried or grilled briefly to give it a crispy texture.

how to make Neua dad deaw

My grandfather simply mixes beef slices with salt and MSG, and then places the meat in a drying rack or on top of a round bamboo basket.

Neua dad deaw with Thai chili dipping sauce.

He lets the beef sit for a whole day, or even longer if it wasn’t a sunny day. Optionally, the meat can be flipped occasionally to ensure even drying.

Then, he deep-fries or grills the beef just briefly, making his Thai beef jerky chewy on the inside with a crispy outside. Sometimes he enjoys the meat on its own and sometimes with a spicy dipping sauce.

PS. If you’re looking for a busy weeknight recipe, this popular Thai dish ain’t that. Although, you can dehydrate the meat in advance and deep-fry it when you’re ready to serve.

Thai sun-dried beef variations

Living in Isan, the northeast of Thailand and home of Thai beef jerky with its hot and dry climate, I can tell you that many households and Thai restaurants have their own preferred methods of preparation.

Psst, make sure to try some of my other authentic Thai Isan cuisine recipes, with Thai bamboo soup and nam tok moo.

Some Thai people prefer to leave the beef out in the sun for a day or two, while some leave it out for just a few hours or until the exterior is dry, with still some moisture in the meat.

Top-down view of Thai beef jerky with dipping sauce.

Some households deep-fry the beef slices, while some prefer to grill or smoke the meat.

And some families prefer to combine it with a dipping sauce, and some don’t.

But what’s typical for the Thai beef jerky marinade is that it’s made with key ingredients of Thai cuisine, like fish sauce. We don’t use a lot of spices in the dry beef, at least not in our rural village.

As for me, I think it pairs great with a spicy sauce.

Thai beef jerky dipping sauce

Nam jim jaew is a traditional Thai sauce which we love to pair with all kinds of grilled meat.

Top-down view of nam jim jaew dipping sauce with Thai beef jerky.

It’s the ideal Thai beef jerky sauce, flavoring up the meat with a subtle sweet and tangy flavor and a spicy kick.

Making it is a breeze since there’s no cooking involved, so don’t skimp on it.

More Thai dips you can pair with this jerky recipe:

What type of meat is used for Thai beef jerky

Choosing the right cut of beef for making sun-dried beef is important for the texture and flavor of your jerky.

I suggest opting for a lean cut of beef with a low fat content. There has to be just a little bit of fat, though, else the beef might become too dry.

Top round or round steak and flank steak are lean cuts, ideal for making Thai sun-dried beef. If needed, you can trim some fat from your flank steak if it’s marbled.

Sirloin, eye of round, bottom round, and chuck steak are other viable options. Remember to trim excess fat if there is too much.

Slice the meat into thin strips against the grain for a tender chew.

Beef cuts in rural Thailand

Let me share a little insight from rural Thailand, Isan.

Here, our beef comes fresh, straight from local vendors in the villages, so not from supermarkets.

We don’t get to pick the perfect cut. We simply tell the vendor what we’re making, and then it’s in their hands to give us the best cut they’ve got.

While we do have fine packaged cuts of beef in supermarkets, those are quite expensive for some Thai people. Definitely not suited for most locals in rural Thailand.

With a low wage of 300-500 THB a day (or no income at all) going to the local meat vendor or local food markets is the best option for most people in the small villages.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Bird's eye view of recipe ingredients; beef, black peppercorns, white sugar, and fish sauce.
  • Beef – Thinly sliced lean cuts with just a little bit of fat are the base of this recipe.
  • Fish sauce – Gives the beef slices an umami and salty taste.
  • Black peppercorns – Adds a subtle hint of spice.
  • White sugar – Just a little bit of sugar is needed to balance out the salty flavor of fish sauce.

Cooking instructions

  1. Marinate the beef

    Instructional images for making the Thai beef jerky marinade.

    Use a mortar and pestle to crush black peppercorns. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add fish sauce and sugar, mix well. Add beef slices and coat thoroughly. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

  2. Dehydrate the beef

    Sun drying beef in a drying rack.

    Sun-drying: Place marinated beef on a drying-rack in the sun. Drying time depends on weather. Some prefer to dry for a few hours, so the beef is still a bit juicy inside, while others prefer 1–2 days in the sun for a dryer consistency.

    Dehydrator: Preheat dehydrator to 145-155°F (63-68°C). Lay beef slices in a single layer on the trays. Drying time varies on the thickness of your slices and the type of dehydrator. After 4 hours, start checking the jerky occasionally.

  3. Grill or deep-fry

    Grilling: Place beef on a grill over charcoal, cooking for 1 minute per side, or until done.

    Deep-frying: Preheat oil in a deep fryer or wok to 350°F (175°C). Deep-fry for 2 minutes, or until crispy.

How to serve

Enjoy your sun-dried, deep-fried or grilled beef as a protein-rich snack, or combine it with other dishes.

In Isan, we often pair neua dad deaw with Thai sticky rice and a spicy green papaya salad like som tam pla ra or som tum Thai. Fresh vegetables are also a great complement for this family Thai-style meal.

Garnishing options

Although not traditional, you can enhance the flavors of this dish and the presentation.

  • Toasted sesame seeds: For a nutty flavor and a subtle crunch.
  • Fresh herbs: Chopped green onions or cilantro for refreshing flavors.
  • Lime wedge: Sprinkle with fresh lime juice for a tangy flavor.

How to store Thai jerky

Transfer your beef Thai jerky to an airtight container and store it in a place that is cool and dry, away from sunlight. Alternatively, extend the shelf life by storing in the refrigerator. It can last a couple of weeks in the fridge, but it’s best to consume it within a couple of days.

The dipping sauce can be stored for up to one week in the fridge, so you can easily make it ahead of time.

Freezing instructions: After dehydrating the meat, you can freeze it for 2–3 months. Just thaw in the fridge when you’re ready to enjoy it, then deep-fry or grill it.

Fun facts

  • In Isan, we have the lovely tradition of sharing our food with other people. Thai-style beef jerky is a perfect example of this Thai tradition. It’s a dish or snack we love to eat with our friends and family. In our rural village, we often gift some to our neighbors and family.
  • Beef jerky in Thai translates to “neua dad deow” (เนื้อแดดเดียว). With “neau” meaning beef, “dad” meaning sun, and “deow” meaning dried, together they refer to beef that’s been sun-dried for a day.
  • Thai sun-dried beef isn’t just about food – it’s a way of connection with other people.
  • For many Thai families, making beef jerky is an art and tradition that has been passed down through generations.
  • In rural Thailand, we often enjoy homemade beef jerky with a cold beer or Thai whiskey.
  • Moo dad deaw (Thai jerky pork) is a delicious pork variation of Thai sun-dried beef, which is often made with more spices and a bit more sweet.

Frequently asked questions

How long should Thai beef jerky dehydrate?

The drying time depends on the method you will be using. In a dehydrator, it can take 4 to 8 hours set at 160°F (70°C), or 3 to 6 hours in an oven set to its lowest temperature, around 170°F (75°C). Sun-drying or air-drying can take up to a day or more, depending on the temperature and humidity.

How do you know when dehydrated jerky is done?

The dehydrating process is done when the beef is firm and dry. You should be able to bent it slightly without breaking it. Properly dried jerky will have a uniform texture and should not feel overly brittle or damp.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

This recipe is gluten-free, but make sure to double-check the labeling of your ingredients.

Is this recipe authentic?

There is not one “true recipe” for Thai beef jerky, but this is a recipe we use within our Thai family.

More Thai beef recipes you’ll love

If you love this Thai beef jerky recipe, please leave a star rating and/or a comment below!

Thai Beef Jerky Recipe (Neua Dad Deaw)

Top-down view of Thai beef jerky with dipping sauce.
This recipe makes delicious Thai beef jerky, and you can choose to deep-fry or grill the meat.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 21 ounces beef
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar

Instructions

MARINATE

  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush black peppercorns. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add fish sauce and sugar, mix well. Add beef slices and coat thoroughly. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

DEHYDRATE

  • Sun-drying: Place marinated beef on a drying-rack in the sun. Drying time depends on weather. Some prefer to dry for a few hours, so the beef is still a bit juicy inside, while others prefer 1–2 days in the sun for a dryer consistency.
  • Dehydrator: Preheat dehydrator to 145-155°F (63-68°C). Lay beef slices in a single layer on the trays. Drying time varies on the thickness of your slices and the type of dehydrator. After 4 hours, start checking the jerky occasionally.

COOK

  • Grilling: Place beef on a grill over charcoal, cooking for 1 minute per side, or until done.
  • Deep-frying: Preheat oil in a deep fryer or wok to 350°F (175°C). Deep-fry for 2 minutes, or until crispy.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • After dehydrating the beef, you can choose to deep-fry or to grill it.
  • Enjoy the beef jerky on its own as a protein-rich snack, or pair it with other Thai food like sticky rice or papaya salad.

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