Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (2024)

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by Mike Hultquist · · 30 Comments · Jump to Recipe

My spicy beef jerky recipe brings it to a whole new level with an extra spicy marinade. Learn how to make beef jerky at home with a dehydrator from the author of "The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook".

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (1)

We're making beef jerky in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. Come along with me to learn how I do it. Jerky is a wonderful snack that is not only filling, but it's also a healthy snack option. Stop reaching for that bag of chips! Grab some jerky instead. Jerky is great for snacking, sure, but also for hiking trips, camping, and energy for running or other sports.

I prefer to make my own jerky at home because store bought jerky usually contains a lot of salt as well as nitrates, and I like to control what goes into my beef jerky.

There are a number of ways to make beef jerky, but for me, the best way is with a dehydrator. In fact, making jerky is one of the most popular reasons for owning a dehydrator. Let's discuss it further.

Making Jerky at Home

People have been making jerky since ancient times. Removing the moisture completely from meats limits all biological activity, which helps to preserve to meat for eating later. Early hunters would lay meat out in the sun to dry, though it isn't the safest method and not recommended today.

A dehydrator helps you keep a steady flow of air around the meat, as well as controlled temperature, which is important for food safety. The USDA recommends making beef jerky only from meats that have been heated internally to 160°F, so my jerky recipe reflect this recommendation.

See the USDA Jerky and Food Safety Recommendations here.

Let’s break down the process for making beef jerky.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (2)

Spicy Beef Jerky Ingredients

  • London Broil.
  • Bourbon.
  • Brown Sugar.
  • Worcestershire Sauce.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Spicy Chili Powder. I used a mix of ghost pepper powder and ground dried scorpion peppers. Or you can use pureed ghost, scorpion, or Carolina reaper peppers for EXTRA SPICY beef jerky (YES!)
  • Cajun Seasoning Blend.
  • Garlic Powder.
  • Onion Powder.
  • Cumin.
  • Salt and Pepper.

How to Make Beef Jerky - the Recipe Method

The Beef. Wrap the London broil in plastic wrap and place into the freezer for about an hour to partially freeze. This will make slicing much easier.

Pull it out, set it onto a cutting board and slice it into ¼ inch strips. Thicker strips will take longer to dehydrate.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (3)

The Spicy Marinade. Add the remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well. I'm using a mixture of bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, lots of seasonings, and some very spicy chili powder.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (4)

Marinate the Beef. Slip the sliced beef strips into a large sealable baggie and pour the marinade over it. Seal it up and massage the marinade into the beef with your hands. Get it in there good.

Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. Do not marinate the beef at room temperature to avoid contamination.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (5)

Cook the Beef. Drain the marinade and throw it away. Spread the beef strips out onto baking sheets and bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (6)

The meat should register 160 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer.

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NOTE: I like to use my ThermoPop meat thermometer from ThermoWorks (I'm an affiliate). Works great!

Dehydrate the Beef. Lay the beef strips out evenly in a single layer onto your dehydrator trays. Use silicone sheets to catch any fats from dripping into the bottom of your dehydrator if you wish.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (8)

Dry at 160°F for 6-8 hours, until dried through. Check them at the 4 hour mark and flip them. Blot them with a paper towel if you see any moisture oozing out. Keep dehydrating. The resulting jerky should be pliable and should not snap when bent with your fingers.
Let them cool, then wipe away any residual moisture.

After they’ve cooled, store them in airtight containers or enjoy them right away.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (9)

Yields about 2/3 pound jerky.

Boom! That's it, my friends! You now have your own wonderful spicy homemade beef jerky. Tasty, isn't it? Surely better than anything you can get in the store.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Choose Quality, Lean Beef.Lean meats are best for longer storage. Fat does not dry completely and will spoil more quickly. I love London Broil for making beef jerky. Other good cuts include leaner flank steak, eye of round, bottom round, top round and sirloin tip. Use the freshest, best quality you can find for the best beef jerky.
  • Freeze Beef to Make Slicing Easier. Partially freeze the meat in the freezer before slicing. This will help make slicing it much easier. Just don't freeze it all the way through.
  • Slice Beef Uniformly for Better Drying. Slice the meat into ¼” strips and 5 to 6 inches long. Slice against the grain for chewier jerky. Make them as even as possible so they dehydrate uniformly.
  • Marinating Time. Marinate the beef overnight in your chosen marinade. Marinades bring in the flavor and help tenderize the meat. If you lack time, marinade at least 5 hours, but overnight is best for deeper flavor. Alternatively, use a dry rub instead.
  • The Heat Factor. I am using superhot peppers to make my beef jerky EXTRA spicy. I have dehydrated ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, and Carolina Reaper peppers on hand for such recipes. If you feel those are too spicy, use peppers to your own heat level preference. If using fresh peppers, just grind them up in a food processor and use them in the marinade. Use 3-4 fresh pods. Consider jalapeno peppers for some heat, serrano peppers for a decent level heat, habanero peppers for a nice heat level, or go all the way like I do.
  • Cook the Beef First. Cook the beef either by steaming it or roasting it in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 160°F as read by a food thermometer. I prefer roasting, as it is easiest. You can also smoke the meat in a smoker for extra flavor. Cooking the meat first is recommended by the USDA.
  • Dehydration Times for Beef Jerky. Times can vary a lot, depending on the moisture content of the meat, the chosen meat, temperatures in the house and other various factors, so check on the meat after 6 hours or so. You may also need to check the meat several times through the drying process to blot off any fats or liquids that rise up from the strips. Use a paper towel to dab it dry and continue dehydrating.
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Storing Beef Jerky

Make sure your jerky is dried completely. Store it in vacuum sealed bags or airtight containers. Homemade beef jerky isn’t made for long term storing, but it will keep for 1 month in a pantry, 6 months in the refrigerator, and 1 year in the freezer. If you’d like to make jerky for long-term storage, consider adding nitrites to the marinating stage or curing the meat before dehydrating.

That's how I make beef jerky at home, my friends. I hope you enjoy it!

Go Get a Dehydrator!

If you do not yet own a dehydrator, I urge you to order one up. I LOVE my dehydrators (yes, I own two) and use them all the time. They're essential for making leathers, jerky, spice blends, preserving in general and more. Here are links to the two that I personally own (Affiliate Links, my friends! FYI):

The Nesco is a smaller dehydrator that is perfect for general home use:Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, WhiteSpicy Beef Jerky Recipe (11)

The Excalibur is a larger 9-tray dehydrator that is ideal for larger batches:Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator (from Amazon)Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (12) or Buy a Dehydrator Direct from Excalibur (I am a proud affiliate!)

I use and highly recommend both of these dehydrator.

The Spicy Dehydrator Book

I hope you'll check out my cookbook for lots more dehydrator recipes! Here is the link: The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook, by Michael Hultquist.

Try Some of My Other Popular Dehydrator Recipes

  • How to Dehydrate Chili Peppers and Make Your Own Seasonings
  • Homemade Bagel Chips
  • Spiced Dried Apple Chips
  • Citrus Lemon-Lime Salt
  • Strawberry-Serrano Fruit Leathers
  • See all of my Dehydrator Recipes
Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (14)

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (15)

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Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe

My spicy beef jerky recipe brings it to a whole new level with an extra spicy marinade. Learn how to make beef jerky at home with a dehydrator from the author of "The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook".

Save Recipe

Course: Appetizer

Cuisine: American

Keyword: beef, Carolina Reaper, dehydrator, ghost pepper, jerky, scorpion, spicy

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Dehydration Time: 8 hours hours

Calories: 337kcal

Author: Mike Hultquist

Servings: 6

Tap or hover to scale

5 from 6 votes

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds London broil
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy chili powder - I used a mix of ghost pepper powder and ground dried scorpion peppers - Or you can use 3-4 pureed ghost scorpion, or Carolina reaper peppers for EXTRA SPICY beef jerky (YES!)
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wrap the London broil in plastic wrap and place into the freezer for about an hour to partially freeze. This will make slicing much easier.

  • Pull it out, set it onto a cutting board and slice it into ¼ inch strips. Thicker strips will take longer to dehydrate.

  • Add the remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slip the sliced beef strips into a large sealable baggie and pour the marinade over it. Seal it up and massage the marinade into the beef with your hands. Get it in there good. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

  • Drain the marinade and throw it away. Spread the beef strips out onto baking sheets and bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. The meat should register 160 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer.

  • Lay the beef strips out evenly onto your dehydrator trays.

  • Dry at 160°F for 6-8 hours, until dried through. Check them at the 4 hour mark and flip them. Blot them with a paper towel if you see any moisture oozing out. Keep dehydrating. The resulting jerky should be pliable and should not snap when bent with your fingers.

  • Let them cool, then wipe away any residual moisture.

  • After they’ve cooled, store them in airtight containers or enjoy them right away.

  • Yields about 2/3 pound jerky.

Notes

Heat Factor: HOT. If you are using either ghost pepper, scorpion pepper, Carolina Reaper or other superhot chili peppers, you will certainly get some nice heat here. If you'd like milder beef jerky, skip these and go with milder peppers to your own preference.

Storing Beef Jerky: Make sure your jerky is dried completely. Store it in vacuum sealed bags or airtight containers. It will keep for 1 month in a pantry, 6 months in the refrigerator, and 1 year in the freezer.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 36gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 205mgPotassium: 759mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 1940IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 5mg

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (16)

Did You Enjoy This Recipe?I love hearing how you like it and how you made it your own. Leave a comment below and tag @ChiliPepperMadness on social media.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Reply

  1. Mike Reitano says

    Curious could you add some water and use this for a chicken wing brine and then put them in a rotisserie basket and grill

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Mike, absolutely, or even as a wet rub. It's great for many proteins. Enjoy.

      Reply

  2. Kaladin says

    This looks great! Two questions. What would you recommend doing to tone down the spice a bit? I want to make this for a hiking trip and I have some friends that aren't so enthusiastic about spicy as I am. Have you ever tried making salmon jerky? I've never made it, but it sounds amazing. I've done some smoked salmon before, and I wonder if I could smoke the salmon first, to get that smoky flavour, and then dehydrate it to make it longer lasting.

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Thanks! You can dial it back by skipping the hot chili powder, and going easy on the Cajun seasoning blend. Use sweet paprika with some garlic powder in place of the Cajun blend. Yes, I have dehydrated salmon. It's a very oily fish, but can be done. You need to keep wiping off the oils, and it doesn't last as long. I have a recipe for this in my Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook.

      Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Thanks so much, Bob! I love it!

      Reply

  3. Palladini says

    Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (18)
    My goto beef jerky in the food Dehydrator is
    3 cups soy sauce
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup liquid smoke
    I sometimes add crushed chilis for heat.

    About a decade ago, My neighbour brought over 20 pounds of steaks and asked to make several versions of jerky, so 1/5 went to the recipe above and researched smoked jerky recipes and made 4 different marinades, soaked the rest of the meat, did this all overnight, next day put the meat in the Food Dehydrator and in my electric smoker. I gave the finished jerky to him, and he took it to work, about 10 guys worked there and they tried it all and all agreed the best stuff was the Food dehydrator jerky

    Reply

    • Mike H. says

      Thanks for sharing - great story!

      Reply

  4. J. David Lewis says

    Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (19)
    I not big on sweets but I try always to make as penned the first time (going like on HOT peppers.)
    I COMMENT is about the Carbohydrates (KETO you know, LOL-not real seriously but lost 40# in year during covid and helps keep it off) with your Ingredients, how can there be 23 grams of such; only Carb I see in recipe would be from sugar. Am I missing something? Nutritional Info is per serving, yes? I have enjoyed YOUR posts for years and you are I of 8 or so blogs I have compiled my PC Cookbook
    by COURSES, Deer Camp, Bay House, etc and you are in ever section I bet. Thank You, David

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Thanks, David. According to my nutritional estimator, the majority is in the brown sugar, 108g for the whole batch. Yes, 23g is estimated per serving. This isn't really all ingested, and all estimated anyway so best to do your own calculations for certainty. You can also easily replace the brown sugar with a preference. I appreciate it! Glad you're enjoying my recipes!

      Reply

  5. Davin says

    How does one measure temperature of 1/4" meat?!?!
    I think a visual interpretation would be more helpful.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      With a meat thermometer. Yes, it is a very thin slice. Try it in multiple locations.

      Reply

  6. Jacob Sitt says

    I can’t find any of those peppers what can I use instead

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Jacob, try using cayenne powder, which has a decent level of spice and heat. It's much easier to find. Or you can order spicy chili powders online. I hope this helps.

      Reply

  7. Paul Nielsen says

    Wake me up in a naked one but this was the most unfair tble thing I've ever try or it's recipe I've ever tried in my entire life

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Sorry to hear, Paul. There are many ways to make beef jerky. Sounds like this isn't your favorite way! Best to you, sir.

      Reply

  8. Charlie says

    Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (20)
    I have already marinated 2 batches of this marinade and another for 24hrs, the different recipes have different cook times at the same degrees, what should i follow?

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Thanks, Charlie. You can bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F first, or until the meat registers 160 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer. Then dehydrate them for 6-8 hours at 160 degrees F until dried through. Let me know if this answers your question.

      Reply

  9. Natalie says

    Hi! What should I sub for bourbon? Sadly I am allergic to it!

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Natalie, you can skip the bourbon and compensate with the other ingredients, or go with rum or tequila. Let me know how it goes.

      Reply

  10. Jeremie says

    Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (21)
    Since you published this recipe, I've been waiting for enough time to make it. Done this week-end ! With flank steak, reaper and numex.
    Crispy and hot, bourbon and sugar turn the beef up in a great candy! Another too addictive treat, Mr Hultquist!! 😉

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Great! Yes, jerky is a great snack, especially when it is nice and spicy. Glad you enjoyed it, Jeremie.

      Reply

  11. Sandra D says

    I like the idea of adding some spice - I think I'll put some crushed red peppers in my recipe which is: a hand full of brown sugar, soy sauce to almost cover, a drop or two of smoke. I marinade it overnight. I've never heard of pre-cooking it, so I don't do that. Dehydrate over night, flipping the next day and let it go until dry. I make this every year for Xmas presents for the beef jerky lovers. I keep mine for a long time - it doesn't go bad.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Sounds wonderful, Sandra! I love your marinade choices. The USDA recommends cooking the beef first before dehydrating. Just an FYI. So it was important for me to include that step. I'm sure yours is AWESOME!! Enjoy it!

      Reply

  12. Chris says

    I’ve just made the marinade for this and it’s now in the fridge for 24hrs before the dehydrating stage. The only problem I had was that I didn’t have any Cajun spice mix (I thought i had some) so instead I’ve used some Malaysian spice mix. No idea how it will turn out..
    thanks for the recipe Mike - even if I didn’t follow it 😉

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      I'm sure it will come out great, Chris! Let me know how it turns out for you.

      Reply

      • Chris says

        Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe (22)
        Yep, it turned out great. The only problem is that it will be gone soon, I can’t leave it alone. I will be making it again and I might also try it with venison and wood pigeon.

        Thanks again ????

        Reply

        • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

          I hear you, Chris. Let me know how the venison and wood pigeon turn out. Sounds great!

          Reply

  13. greg says

    Can you make the beef jerky with the brown sugar. I don't like a sweet jerky?

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Absolutely, Greg. Feel free to skip it. There are many different ways to make the marinade. Happy to help you adapt it. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      Reply

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