My dogs love their daily treats but the healthy choices at the pet food store are expensive and they don’t last long. Although I often make my own dog cookies, including this low-fat dog cookie recipe, I’m always looking for variety. A friend recently suggested homemade sweet potato jerky for my dogs – and it sounded so easy: “All you do,” she said, “is dry slices of sweet potato to a crunchy consistency”.
I loved the idea of using a single food source, especially one that packs a nutritious punch without grains or additives. Sweet potatoes offer high fiber, phosphorus, beta carotene, vitamin A, C and B6, plus iron, fiber and magnesium; all great additions to your dog’s diet. With high carbohydrates too, as with any other treat, you should serve dried sweet potatoes slices in moderation, keeping the serving size appropriate for the size of your dog.
Oven Dried or Dehydrator?
A Food Dehydrator is on my bucket list but, alas, not in my kitchen yet. However, I do have an oven and a few cookie sheets – and that’s all you really need for this, apart from the sweet potatoes themselves. (For dehydrator use, please see video instructions below.)
How to Make Dried Sweet Potato Jerky
Wash the sweet potatoes and set them out on your cutting board. To cut a potato lengthwise, slice a small piece off the bottom and stand the potato up on this cut end.
Use a sharp knife to cut slices from the potato to a maximum thickness of one quarter of an inch. Any thicker, and I found that the slices take too long to dry. Slightly thinner pieces worked the best for me, ending up nice and crunchy throughout.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray. Set the sweet potato slices on the baking sheet, close together but not touching.
Set an oven rack close to top (I used the second slot down) and turn the oven onto its lowest setting. Mine went down to 175°F, although I think that I will try 200°F next time to cut down the drying time. Place the baking sheet(s) into the oven and let the sweet potatoes remain in the oven until dry. Mine were in the oven all day, about ten hours, at which time I turned off the oven and left the sweet potatoes inside overnight.
Come morning, those sweet potato slices had turned into sweet potato jerky. Some of the thicker slices (about 1/4 inch) were still just a little pliable, meaning they were somewhat bendable – like jerky (my sheltie’s favorite)- while the thinner pieces (about 1/8 inch) were dry and crunchy – more like potato chip treats (the definite preference of my daughter’s yorkie poo). Ok, I admit, I tried them too – and I liked the crispy potato chip style.
Here’s a photo of our dogs enjoying their sweet potato treats. They were both eyeing the oven and aware of the delicious baking smell, long before the treats were ready.
I’m unsure how long these sweet potato treats will store at room temperature, but I wouldn’t keep them out longer than a week. They will keep longer in a sealed container in the fridge or for months in the freezer. I’ve given my sheltie these sweet potato slices directly from the freezer which makes even the thicker jerky pieces more crunchy. Jacey loves them all!
» Video instructions to make Thin Oven Dried Sweet Potato Chips (with Coconut Oil and Cinnamon)
Drying Sweet Potato Slices in a Dehydrator
Here’s a short video (2.58 minutes) showing how to make thin sweet potato chips in a dehydrator. The instructions call for “blanching” the slices before placing the dehydrator, but in fact the slices are simply placed in cold water for a minute to help prevent discoloration, and then dehydrated for about 10 hours at low temperature.