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Thai Beef Jerky Recipe (Neua Dad Deaw)

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This Thai beef jerky recipe with dip sauce is full of authentic flavors just like the ones you find at the street food markets in Thailand. Whether you prefer sun dried beef or deep fried beef, this recipe lets you make the best neua dad deaw with sticky rice right at home!

Thai beef jerky with sticky rice and dipping sauce.

Combine your sun dried meat with a delicious beef jerky dip like nam jim jaew, an easy Thai chili dipping sauce perfect for grilled meats. Don’t forget to include a side of Thai sticky rice, and if you have some extra time, definitely try my Thai pork jerky recipe for a complete authentic Thai dinner.

In this Thai jerky recipe, I’ll reveal all the secrets to making the tastiest dried beef. If you’d prefer to skip straight to the instructions, you can do that below. Happy cooking!

What is beef jerky

Beef jerky is a popular snack made by drying lean cuts of beef to preserve them. This process results in chewy, protein-rich slices of meat that are perfect for on-the-go.

Neua dad deaw

To say beef jerky in Thai, you use the term เนื้อแดดเดียว, or nuea dad deow / neua dad deaw. This phrase directly translates to sun-dried beef, referring to the traditional method of preparing beef jerky in Thailand.

Neua means beef, dad refers to sun, and deow means dried, indicating beef that has been dried in the sun for a day.

In Thailand, dried beef is an incredibly popular snack made by marinating beef slices in a blend of Thai seasonings before air-drying or dehydrating them. Then, the beef can be deep-fried for a juicy version or grilled for a crispy texture.

Neua dad deaw, or Thai beef jerky, served with spicy chili sauce.

My grandfather has been making this exact Thai beef recipe since he was young, and he truly does it the best. Rest assured, this is the best Thai beef jerky recipe you’ll find!

He typically lets the meat dry under the sun for a whole day, or sometimes longer if the sunlight isn’t as strong. However, in Thailand, it’s usually warm enough. The meat can also be flipped to ensure it dries evenly.

His favorite is deep-fried jerky, but sometimes we grill it in our family for a chewier inside and crispy outside. He often enjoys the jerky on its own but usually pairs it with a spicy Thai dipping sauce.

A Thai woman sun-drying beef in a hanging blue mesh drying rack outdoors with lush greenery and banana trees in the background.
This is me sun-drying meat in a traditional blue drying rack!

Pro tip: You can make dehydrated beef in advance and deep-fry it when you’re ready to serve, making it perfect for parties and gatherings!

Thai sun-dried beef variations

Sun-dried beef is especially popular in Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand, known for its dry climate. Many households and Thai restaurants have their unique methods and recipes for making fried beef Thai jerky, like heavenly beef jerky (nua sawan).

In some cases, Thai people leave the beef out in the sun for a day or two, while others only do so for a few hours or just until the outside is dry but the inside retains some moisture. While some families prefer to deep-fry the beef slices, others choose to grill or smoke them.

Another variation is the choice of accompaniment. Some enjoy their jerky with a spicy dipping sauce, while others prefer it plain.

A typical feature of the Thai beef jerky marinade is its simplicity, primarily using everyday key Thai ingredients like fish sauce. In our rural village, we don’t use many spices in our dried beef.

Thai beef jerky dip

Nam jim jaew is a traditional Thai sauce that’s perfect for pairing with all kinds of grilled meats, making it the ideal dip for Thai beef jerky. It enhances the meat with a subtle sweet and tangy flavor and adds a spicy kick. I included the instructions in this recipe since it’s so easy to make.

Top-view of beef jerky dip served in a clear bowl.
This Thai beef jerky sauce is perfect for spicy food lovers!

More Thai dips to pair with this jerky recipe:

Best meat for beef jerky

When selecting meat for beef jerky, opt for lean cuts with minimal fat content to prevent spoilage (fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster) and ensure the best texture.

  • Top round or round steak: Lean cuts perfect for jerky. Trim any excess fat if needed.
  • Bottom round: Flavorful yet requires trimming of excess fat.
  • Eye of round: Known for its minimal fat content.
  • Chuck steak: Viable option, but trim fat thoroughly.
  • Flank steak: Ideal for its lean nature; trim if marbled.
  • Sirloin: Another great choice; ensure it’s lean by trimming excess fat.

Beef in Thailand (Isan)

In rural Thailand, especially in Isan, our beef comes fresh directly from local vendors, not supermarkets. We don’t choose specific cuts; instead, we explain what we’re making and trust the vendor to provide the best cut available. This practice ensures we get the freshest beef!

Local Thai beef vendor presenting fresh beef.
This is the local beef butcher in my village in Thailand.

While supermarkets do offer fine packaged cuts, these are often too expensive for many locals in rural areas. With daily wages ranging from 300-500 THB (about 10 usd) – or sometimes no income at all – residents of small villages primarily rely on local meat vendors or food markets for their beef.

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.


Ingredients for Thai beef jerky labeled: beef, black peppercorns, white sugar, and fish sauce.

Meat

  • Beef – Choose thinly sliced lean cuts with just a touch of fat to ensure the jerky remains tender and flavorful after drying.

Thai beef jerky marinade

  • Black peppercorns – Ground black peppercorns provide a mild, aromatic heat.
  • White sugar – A small amount of sugar is essential for balancing out the saltiness of the fish sauce.
  • Fish sauce – This key ingredient gives a rich umami and salty flavor to the beef marinade.

Beef jerky dip (optional)

How to make Thai beef jerky

  1. Thai beef marinade

    Instructional steps for making Thai beef jerky marinade.

    Use a mortar and pestle to crush the black peppercorns finely. Transfer the crushed peppercorns to a large mixing bowl, and add fish sauce and sugar. Stir well to combine. Add the meat to the bowl and coat it well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.

  2. Drying beef

    Sun-drying method: Lay the marinated beef slices on a drying rack in direct sunlight. The drying time will depend on the weather conditions. For a slightly juicy bite, a few hours may suffice; for a drier texture, 1-2 days may be necessary.

    Dehydrator method: Preheat your dehydrator to 145-155°F (63-68°C). Arrange the beef slices in a single layer on the trays. The drying time will vary based on the thickness of the slices and the specifics of your dehydrator. Begin checking the jerky after 4 hours, and continue to monitor until it reaches the desired dryness.

  3. Grill or fry beef

    Deep fried beef jerky: Heat oil in a deep fryer or wok to 350°F (175°C). Fry the beef for about 2 minutes or until it turns crispy.

    Grilled: Place the marinated beef on a grill over charcoal. Cook for about 1 minute per side or until the beef is done.

  4. Beef jerky dip (optional)

    Combine fish sauce, fresh lime juice, white sugar, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder in a bowl. Gently stir with a spoon until well mixed. Add coriander or freshly chopped green onions for garnish. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Kitchenware

  1. Thai mortar and pestle (for crushing black corns)
  2. Large mixing bowl (for marinating)
  3. Drying rack or dehydrator
  4. Grill, deep fryer, or air fryer

Serving suggestions

Enjoy your sun-dried, deep-fried, or grilled beef as a protein-rich snack or pair it with one of my other Thai recipes. In Isan, it’s common to pair beef jerky and sticky rice with a spicy green papaya salad, such as som tam pla ra or som tum Thai. Fresh vegetables like cucumbers, yard long beans, Thai eggplants, and tomatoes also make an excellent addition, rounding out this family-style Thai meal.

Garnishing options

Although not traditional, you can enhance the flavors and presentation of your neua dad deaw with garnishes.

  • 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 beef

Beef jerky, when stored properly, can last a long time due to its low moisture content and preservative nature. Transfer your grilled or fried meat to an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to maintain its quality. For longer storage, place it in the refrigerator where it can last for a couple of weeks.

The accompanying dipping sauce can remain fresh for up to one week in the fridge, allowing you to prepare it in advance.

Freezing: If you want to extend the shelf life of your beef jerky even further, freeze the dehydrated meat. Properly frozen, it can be kept for 2–3 months. Thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready.

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.
  • Thai sun-dried beef isn’t just about food – it’s a way of connecting with other people.
  • For many Thai families, making sun-dried meat is an art and tradition that has been passed down through generations.
  • In rural Thailand, we enjoy homemade beef jerky with a cold beer or Thai whisky.

Frequently asked questions

  1. How long to dehydrate beef jerky?

    Drying time varies by method. In a dehydrator at 160°F (70°C), it takes 4 to 8 hours, while in an oven at its lowest setting around 170°F (75°C), it ranges from 3 to 6 hours. Sun-drying or air-drying can take a day or more, depending on weather conditions.

  2. How do you know when dehydrated jerky is done?

    The dehydrating process is complete when the beef is firm and dry but still slightly bendable without breaking. Properly dried jerky should have a uniform texture and should not be overly brittle or damp.

  3. Is this recipe gluten-free?

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

  4. Is beef jerky healthy?

    Beef jerky is a healthy snack when eaten in moderation, particularly if made with lean beef and few added sugars or preservatives. It offers high protein for muscle repair and growth, and is low in fat, making it a nutritious option.

Authentic Thai beef recipes

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Thai Beef Jerky Recipe (Neua Dad Deaw)

Thai beef jerky with dipping sauce, or neua dad deaw, ready to be eaten.
This authentic Thai beef jerky recipe is easy to make for delicious deep-fried or grilled neua dad deaw at home!
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

  • 600 g beef thinly sliced, (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 0.5 tablespoon white sugar

Dipping sauce (optional)

  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 0.5 tablespoon toasted rice powder see notes

Instructions

Marinate

  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush the black peppercorns finely. Transfer the crushed peppercorns to a large mixing bowl, and add fish sauce and sugar. Stir well to combine. Add the meat to the bowl and coat it well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
    600 g beef, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 0.5 tablespoon white sugar

Drying beef

  • Sun-drying method: Lay the marinated beef slices on a drying rack in direct sunlight. The drying time will depend on the weather conditions. For a slightly juicy bite, a few hours may suffice; for a drier texture, 1-2 days may be necessary.
  • Dehydrator method: Preheat your dehydrator to 145-155°F (63-68°C). Arrange the beef slices in a single layer on the trays. The drying time will vary based on the thickness of the slices and the specifics of your dehydrator. Begin checking the jerky after 4 hours, and continue to monitor until it reaches the desired dryness.

Grill or fry beef

  • Grilled beef jerky: Place the marinated beef on a grill over charcoal. Cook for about 1 minute per side or until the beef is done.
  • Deep fried beef jerky: Heat oil in a deep fryer or wok to 350°F (175°C). Fry the beef for about 2 minutes or until it turns crispy.

Spicy dipping sauce

  • Combine fish sauce, fresh lime juice, white sugar, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder in a bowl. Gently stir with a spoon until well mixed. Add coriander or freshly chopped green onions for garnish. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
    1/2 lime, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon white sugar, 0.5 tablespoon chili flakes, 0.5 tablespoon toasted rice powder

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Beef: When selecting meat for beef jerky, opt for lean cuts with minimal fat content, like top round or round steak to prevent spoilage (fat can cause the jerky to spoil faster) and ensure the best texture.
  • Toasted rice powder
  • After dehydrating the beef, you can choose to deep-fry or grill it.
  • Enjoy the beef jerky as a protein-rich snack, or pair it with other Thai food like sticky rice or papaya salad.

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