How to Make Beef Jerky (Sweet, Spicy, or Peppered)

How to Make Beef Jerky (Sweet, Spicy, or Peppered)
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This has got to be one of my favorite homemade discoveries. A healthy, portable snack packed with protein? You can’t go wrong. Learning how to make beef jerky consists of just two simple steps: marinating and dehydrating. With our 3 options for marinades, you’ll be sure to find a flavor profile to meet your jerky desires. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet, peppery, or a bit of heat, this jerky will deliver.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a package of beef jerky only to set it back down because the price point is a little too high. Making homemade beef jerky is an easy way to save some serious dollars and avoid preservatives that are often found in the packaged options. You can use an oven, dehydrator, or smoker to get these perfectly chewy strips.

Best Cuts of Beef

The primary consideration when picking a cut of meat for jerky is the fat content. You want a lean cut!

Fat goes rancid. Choosing a cut that is lean and tough will give you a longer-lasting product. Look for a roast with minimal fat marbling for the best final texture.

Some great options include:

  • Eye of Round
  • Top or Bottom Round
  • Top Sirloin
  • Flank
  • Tenderloin

Slicing Your Meat

A debate in the beef jerky world is whether to slice your meat with the grain or against the grain.

For a more tender jerky, slice against the grain. This is how you’ll often find packaged jerky.

For jerky that you can strip like string cheese, slice with the grain.

My preference is for against the grain. I find that it lends itself to a better texture that is easier to chew.

If you are slicing the beef yourself, placing the entire cut in the freezer for 1 hour prior to slicing it will make it easier. But, if you ask your butcher to slice your meat for you when you’re purchasing it, I’m sure they will be more than happy to do it for you with their more industrial machinery! Either way, go for a thickness between ⅛” and ¼”. I love that my butcher can easily slice it to a uniform ⅛” thickness for a super tender final jerky.

Marinades

The marinade you choose for your jerky is what’s going to take it from boring to bold. We’ve created three flavor profiles for go-to recipes, but you can experiment with different combinations or proportions of these ingredients.

Sweet Jerky

For 2 lbs of beef:

  • ½ c soy sauce
  • ¼ c + 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Spicy Jerky

For 2 lbs of beef:

  • ½ c soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

Peppered Jerky

For 2 lbs of beef:

  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 c beer
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
how to make beef jerky

How To Make The Jerky

Select Meat- Select a lean cut of meat.

Slice- Cut off any visible excess fat and slice your meat thinly to a width between ¼’ and ⅛”. Your butcher can do this for you, or you can place your chunk of meat in the freezer for an hour prior to slicing for more ease.

Marinate- Choose one of our marinade recipes. Combine the ingredients and add them to a freezer bag with your slices of beef. Let the meat marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours.

Prepare To Dehydrate- Set your dehydrator or smoker to 170 degrees F. If you are using your oven, set it on the lowest temperature possible with the door slightly ajar. Let excess marinade drip off and then place the slices of beef on the dehydrator trays, grill grates, or pans with grates. Make sure the pieces aren’t overlapping.

Dehydrate- The jerky should take anywhere from 2-5 hours to dehydrate. Check occasionally. Your jerky should be firm but still pliable. Let it cool before storing.

How Long Does It Last?

This can vary based on many factors, but generally, you’ll want to steer clear of air, moisture, heat, and fat for the longest-lasting jerky. The longer you intend to store it, the more particular you have to be.

Tips for preservation:

-Avoid excess fat. Fat goes rancid.

-Keep your jerky in a cool, dark location. Avoid placing it near heat sources or in direct sunlight. You can keep your jerky in the fridge or freezer for increased preservation, but I find that they last long enough in the pantry if the proper precautions are taken.

-Use airtight containers for storage. Using mason jars or containers with air-tight lids will reduce its exposure to the air. Jerky can last around a month at room temperature like this.

-Vacuum seal. If you have access to a vacuum sealer either for use with mason jars or vacuum seal bags, this can preserve your jerky for around 6 months. There’s no world in which our jerky isn’t completely devoured by then.

If you notice anything off about the smell, texture, or color of your jerky, refrain from eating it.

Beef Jerky (Sweet, Spicy, or Peppered)

Homemade beef jerky is a healthy, portable snack packed with protein. Choose between a sweet, peppery, or spicy marinade. You can use an oven, dehydrator, or smoker to get these perfectly chewy strips.
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 1 day 4 hours
Course Snack
Cuisine All
Servings 1 lb

Equipment

  • dehydrator or smoker (optional)

Ingredients
  

Spicy Jerky

  • 2 lbs lean beef
  • ½ c soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

Sweet Jerky

  • 2 lbs lean beef
  • ½ c soy sauce
  • ¼ c + 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Peppered Jerky

  • 2 lbs lean beef
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 c beer
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Cut off any visible excess fat and slice your meat thinly to a width between ¼’ and ⅛”. Your butcher can do this for you, or you can place your chunk of meat in the freezer for an hour prior to slicing for more ease.
  • Choose one of the marinade recipes above. Combine the ingredients and add them to a freezer bag with your slices of beef. Let the meat marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
  • Set your dehydrator or smoker to 170 degrees F. If you are using your oven, set it on the lowest temperature possible with the door slightly ajar.
  • Let excess marinade drip off and then place the slices of beef on the dehydrator trays, grill grates, or pans with grates. Make sure the pieces aren’t overlapping.
  • The jerky should take anywhere from 2-5 hours to dehydrate. Check it for doneness every hour. Your jerky should be firm but still pliable.
  • Let it cool before storing. Read the blog post for preservation suggestions.
Keyword dehydrated, everyday, from scratch, meat, natural, preservation

For more meat-from-scratch tips, tricks, and recipes check out our posts on Grinding Your Own Pork, Homemade Italian Sausage, or Homemade Breakfast Sausage.

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