Can Beef Jerky Be Undercooked? (Pink in the Middle? Explained!)

Beef jerky is a snack made by dehydrating pieces of lean beef meat so that there won’t be nearly any moisture left. Unfortunately, that means it isn’t being cooked in the traditional way, and therefore many people don’t understand how exactly it is with it. For example, many wonder about this:

Can beef jerky be undercooked? Yes, beef jerky can be undercooked when you don’t dehydrate it for long enough. But telling what undercooked means explicitly is much more complicated with jerky than with traditionally cooked meat. 

So how do you tell undercooked jerky from the actually done? And is there an actual problem with eating undercooked jerky? Keep reading, and you’ll understand everything you need to know about this weird topic!

Can Beef Jerky Be UndercookedPin

Is undercooked jerky safe?

As with any other undercooked meat, eating undercooked jerky isn’t a safe thing to do; undercooked jerky may contain tons of bacteria (the two most common are Salmonella and E. Coli) that may hurt you. 

How do you know if jerky is undercooked?

It is, but there’s a slight problem – telling whether your jerky is thoroughly done or undercooked is a challenging task. You can test it by taking a small piece and bending it over in half; if any moisture squeezes out of it, the jerky isn’t done yet.

However, the nature of jerky preparation makes it hard to be entirely sure your jerky is indeed done and entirely safe to eat. But as always, we’ve got a little trick for you. 

If you want to be entirely sure that your jerky is fully cooked and free of bacteria, the easiest thing to do is to heat the beef to 160°F (71°C) for a while before starting the actual dehydration.

Can beef jerky be pink in the middle?

Once you dehydrate your jerky, the absolute majority of moisture should be out of the meat, which usually makes it look dark. But the color of your jerky depends on many factors, including the cure you used, so yeah, jerky can be pink in the middle.

Related: Beef Jerky Is Still Moist

Should beef jerky be pink inside?

But should it be? Well, not really, but if the pink inside your beef jerky isn’t the light pink of raw meat, you don’t need to worry since it is most likely the result of curing the meat.

What happens if you eat undercooked jerky?

As we’ve already mentioned, undercooked jerky may contain tons of bacteria (the two most common are Salmonella and E. Coli), and they may make you feel sick. 

Can you get sick from undercooked jerky?

With that in mind, it is fair to say that eating jerky that hasn’t been fully cooked most likely won’t cause you any health problems at all. Still, it is better to be safe than sorry, don’t you think?

Is beef jerky technically raw?

No, beef jerky isn’t technically raw, even though it hasn’t been cooked in the traditional way either. The dehydration process used to make jerky simply does basically the same thing. Additionally, it also drains the moisture out of the jerky, which gives it the signature ability not to turn bad quickly.


Beef jerky can be undercooked, and the undercooked jerky may contain some potentially harmful bacteria. The problem is that telling whether jerky is fully done or not is a challenging task. Therefore, to ensure that your jerky is safe to eat, it is best to heat the beef to 160°F (71°C) before starting the actual dehydration.


Image credits – Canva

You May Also Like