New Mexico Style Jerky Sheets

New Mexico style jerky sheets, also known as New Mexican jerky or carne seca, are a unique variation of traditional jerky that originated in the southwestern United States, particularly in the state of New Mexico. These jerky sheets are distinctively different from the typical strips or chunks of jerky found in other regions.

Here’s what you need to know about New Mexico style jerky sheets.

1. Thin and Flat

New Mexico style jerky sheets are thin, flat, and typically larger in surface area than traditional jerky strips. They are often cut into rectangular or square shapes, resembling sheets of dried seaweed sheets.

2. Marinated and Air-Dried

The meat used in New Mexico style jerky sheets is typically marinated in a flavorful mixture of spices, herbs, and seasonings, which may include ingredients like chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, and various peppers.

 After marinating, the meat is air-dried using traditional methods such as hanging or laying it out in the sun. This slow-drying process allows the flavors to intensify and the meat to develop a tender yet chewy texture.

Depending on where you live, air drying may not be an option. You can make this jerky using a dehydrator or oven set at low heat. A smokehouse would produce some awesome flavors.

3. Regional Flavors

New Mexico style jerky sheets often feature regional flavors that reflect the culinary heritage of the southwestern United States. These flavors may include the smokiness of chipotle peppers, the heat of New Mexico chilies, or the earthiness of cumin and coriander.

4. Versatile Snack

New Mexico style jerky sheets are a versatile snack that can be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into various dishes. They can be crumbled or chopped and used as a topping for salads, soups, or tacos, adding a flavorful punch to the dish.

5. Cultural Significance

Carne seca, or dried meat, has a long history in the southwestern United States and holds cultural significance for many Native American and Hispanic communities in the region. It was traditionally prepared as a way to preserve meat for long periods and was often used as a source of sustenance during times of scarcity.

6. Popular in New Mexico Cuisine

New Mexico style jerky sheets are a staple in New Mexico cuisine and are commonly found in local markets, roadside stands, and specialty shops throughout the state. They are prized for their robust flavor, chewy texture, and versatility in cooking.

7. Homemade Variations

While commercially produced New Mexico style jerky sheets are readily available, many people also enjoy making them at home using traditional recipes and methods passed down through generations. Homemade versions allow for the customization of flavors and seasonings according to personal taste preferences.

When I owned My Jerky Shop, I shipped a lot of jerky to every State in the USA and beyond. I learned a valuable lesson: Do not ship New Mexican jerky sheets in padded envelopes. They would arrive in little pieces, like a crushed bag of potato chips. They had to be shipped in boxes because they were so dry.

New Mexico Style Jerky Sheets on a cutting board witha ring of salt around it.

They were always good sellers. I believe we had two different brands, and they were very different from any other jerky in our store, which we had over 170 types.

Overall, New Mexico style jerky sheets offer a delicious and distinctive twist on traditional jerky, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of the southwestern United States, and delighting taste buds with their bold flavors and tender textures.

There is one recipe below, but you should check out the page of New Mexico Style Jerky Recipes. You’ll find the link below.

A pile of New Mexico Style Jerky Sheets.
New Mexico Style Jerky aka Carne Seca

This recipe is very basic and has just two ingredients. It is an excellent high-protein snack, a great way to preserve meat, and it can also be used in meal preparation. Beef is traditional in New Mexico, but you can use buffalo or any game meat. I’ve even heard rumors that this style is being made from poultry. Experiment! And let us know.

Traditional New Mexico Style Jerky Sheets, aka- Carne Seca

Two Ingredients
  • Top Round (but you can use other lean cuts)
  • Salt – just under 2 teaspoons per pound of meat. Non-iodized salt.

Preparing the meat: Clean the meat of any silver skin, fat, and basically anything else that is not meat.

Slice the beef very thin—one-eighth of an inch. The best way to do this is with a meat slicer. For this style of jerky, you want to cut against the grain.

Spread the meat out and salt both sides as evenly as possible. Use all the salt. (See the note about Salt on the Ingredients for Jerky page)

Cover or put in a zip-lock bag and let marinate or cure for a couple of hours.

If using a dehydrator. Set the temperature to 100° to 110°. Check it after 12 to 18 hours.
If you set it at 170° to 175° it will take 5 to 8 hours.

To test for doneness, take a piece out and let it cool. Bend it in half, and you should see the meat turn white on the fold.

Other options are sun drying or using a drying box. Both these methods can take from 36 to 72 hours. The heat, strength of the sun, and humidity levels will affect the drying process.

The challenge with using your home oven is most modern ovens can’t be set at such a low temperature. However, some of the recipes call for a 175° F oven.

Check the link below for the article on Dehydrating Meat for Jerky. Scroll down to the section for Methods of Dehydrating Meat to learn more about the alternate methods.

This jerky does not need to be refrigerated. Allow it to cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Dehydrating Meat for Jerky – All types of methods of drying meat.

New Mexican Style Jerky Sheets – Chili peppers are an integral part of Southwestern cuisine.

Smoking Meats for Jerky – Meats prepared in a smoker can’t be beat…

Homemade Beef Jerky – the title says it all…