Pipi Kaula (Hawaiian Jerky)


Recently I’m become obsessed with homemade jerky, as I have seen the price for the store-bought stuff continue to rise. This recipe has become my personal favorite.

Hawaii has a surprising cowboy culture that began in the early 1800’s. George Vancouver gave 5 longhorn cattle to King Kamehameha, who promptly set them free to roam the island. When the herd had multiplied into the thousands, experts were called in to help control them—the Mexican vaqueros. They brought the horseman’s skill and it’s related arts, including leatherwork, metal work and guitar music (which evolved in to the ukulele craze).   By the mid 20th-century beef was the main export from the Hawaiian Islands, and half of the island lands were devoted to the cultivation of beef. Today that number has greatly diminished, but the Hawaiian cowboy traditions linger on. This recipe is a favorite trail snack of these paniolos.


2 pounds flank steak, frozen for about an hour for easy slicing

½ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Alaea Hawaiian salt

2 tablespoons raw or brown sugar (I leave this out when I am counting calories)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 inch ginger root, grated

¼-1 teaspoon red chile flake

1 tablespoon cinder vinegar

¼ cup pineapple juice


  1. Slice beef into thin strips (about 1/3 inch thick). Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients, and toss to thoroughly coat.   Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  1. Drain marinade off meat and spread out in a single layer on a dehydrator tray, or on a baking sheet that has been lined with a drying rack. Dehydrate for 24 hours, or bake at 175° F for 5-8 hours, until very dry. Store airtight.

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