When Barli is learning a new skill–or when I want Tiki or Barli to REALLY pay attention to me, I always rely on one kind of treat: liver. The strong scent of liver gets their attention and holds it. Liver is inexpensive and liver jerky dog treats involve just one ingredient: liver!
Liver jerky is easy to pop in your dog walking bag, cut into tiny training treats, break up to use in a stuffable dog toy or just treat your dog at the end of a long day!
What You Need
You can make liver jerky for your dog in your oven or in a dehydrator. If you have a dehydrator, you’ll find a recipe here on DogTipper for dehydrated chicken livers; follow it using beef liver to create liver jerky.
But I know that most of you will be using your ovens to create liver jerky–and it’s easy to do!
You’ll need two cookie sheets or a half sheet pan and parchment paper.
You’ll use one pound of liver for this recipe. I always purchase calf liver rather than beef liver because calf liver will contain fewer contaminants. (The liver, after all, filters the blood.) If you can find organic liver, that’s great.
While I love giving our dogs liver treats, it’s important to remember to never give more than 5 percent of your dog’s diet as liver. Too much liver can cause vitamin A toxicity, which can affect the dog’s muscles and bones.
But liver is a great source of high-quality protein. It’s also rich in essential fatty acids and provides many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B vitamins (especially B12), iron, folic acid, copper, and zinc. Liver contains Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a substance that helps provide energy to cells and has antioxidant properties.
So, like most good things in life, moderation is key when it comes to liver dog treats!
Making the Jerky
First, preheat your oven to its lowest setting…which might be 180 degrees F, 170 degrees F or even 200 degrees F. They’ll all work!
Next, rinse the liver.
You’ll now want to cut the liver into strips about the width of your finger or a little less. If you’d prefer to give the jerky as individual treats, you can cut the liver into small squares.
I used a raised baking rack to allow the heat to get under the liver and further dry the meat. I greased the rack with olive oil…but, for all future jerky, I’m going to simply cook it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
The liver is so soft that it “melts” on the rack and really becomes difficult to get off the rack in one piece.
(Tiki says she doesn’t care if it comes off in one piece or not!)
Now, pop the jerky in the oven…and wait…
You’ll cook the liver a minimum of three hours…and that is for pliable jerky strips that are soft enough to use as pill pockets, if you need to.
Every two hours, flip the jerky to ensure that both sides are cooking evenly.
If you want the jerky to be crispy, you’ll need to plan on cooking it five to seven hours, depending on the size of your slices, thickness of the liver and the humidity.
For very dry jerky, crack the oven door after you are done baking and allow the jerky to cool in the oven.
That’s it! One ingredient, a few hours of cooking time–and you will create a drool-worthy treat!
- 1 pound calf or beef liver
- Preheat oven to its lowest setting--somewhere between 170 and 200 degrees F.
- Cut liver into 1/2 to 1-inch strips.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place liver strips on cookie sheet.
- Bake for three hours for pliable jerky, 5-7 hours for crispy jerky.
- Level of crispness will depend on thickness of jerky, width of treats and humidity level.
- For very dry treats, after baking, leave jerky in oven with oven door cracked to cool completely.
- Refrigerate for up to five days.