Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky (2024)

Easy to make Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky has no preservatives and you can adjust the heat to your preferences. So much better than store bought!

Beef jerky is one of our favorite things to experiment with and create. Owning a food dehydrator opens up a world of flavor combinations for jerky and making your own is both better for you and satisfying!

Homemade Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky is one of our favorites. The sweet and salty elements are the perfect combination and you can make it as spicy (or not) as you want with fresh jalapeno peppers. Using this recipe as written, the heat is understated in the background. Delicious and perfectly balanced!

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The Secret to Making Flavorful Beef Jerky

It can be an art to get beef jerky just right. The first time that I made this version, I worried it would be too spicy so I had cut the spicy stuff in half and I only marinated it for 12 hours. This was a mistake! Once I dehydrated it, I realized that the flavors didn’t have enough time to really develop.

Flavorful beef jerky needs both a flavorful marinade and a long soak time.The meat needs to be in the marinade for long enough that it can soak in all of those flavors.

I learned my lesson. Now when I make jerky I put the meat into the marinade and put it into the refrigerator and leave it for an absolute minimum of 24 hours, even up to a week! The longer the marinate, the better the jerky!

The USDA has a great page on Jerky and Food Safety if you want to check it out!

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TEN TIPS FOR MAKING BEEF JERKY:

  1. London Broil (Top Round) makes a very tasty jerky. Strips need to be cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. NO THICKER THAN THAT.
  2. How you cut the meat determines the final result. Cut it evenly, thinly, and against the grain.
  3. Marinate, marinate, marinate. What you put the meat in and how long you leave it there for really determine the final result. Marinating under 12 hours is not going to get you the taste you want. You have to let the meat take in the flavor. You can’t rush it. You have to pay attention. Move the meat around while marinating and turn the bag repeatedly while it marinates. A ziploc bag is a great thing for marinating as it is pliable and the meat can be moved around without opening the bag.
  4. Be careful with salt. Salt seems to be the first thing that gets soaked up into the meat. You can’t take it out once it’s in. Too salty = bad. Use garlic POWDER and onion POWDER, not the salt versions.
  5. Taste and smell your marinade. If it is tasty before adding the meat, the jerky will turn out great.
  6. Marinate in the refrigerator. No one wants food poisoning.
  7. A food dehydrator is a good investment. The oven can be used but it is harder to get a great end product and it takes longer.
  8. When a recipe says it’ll take 5 hours, start checking it at an hour and a half. Timing depends on temperature, thickness and moisture, not what a cookbook says.
  9. Don’t be afraid to move the meat and the trays around. Also, don’t be afraid to remove the thinner pieces that are done before the thicker ones. No one is perfect when cutting meat into strips. Check often!
  10. And finally, don’t ever put meat in the dehydrator and go to bed, thinking it will be done in the morning. If you do this, you will get over dried jerky that will most likely be inedible. After all that marinating time, it is really sad to have to throw it out!
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What if I don’t have a Dehydrator?

I get asked a lot if you can make jerky in an oven. Of course you can! You would prepare and marinate the meat exactly as above but instead of putting it onto dehydrator trays, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will preheat to. Usually this is 170 – 175 degrees F.

Position the racks to the upper-middle position. Line two large baking sheets with foil and then place a wire cooling rack onto each. This allows the meat to have some air flow. Lay the marinated beef strips out onto the wire racks and bake until it is dryer and considerably less spongy than it was going in.

Much like a dehydrator, it is important to pay attention to the meat by moving the jerky around and rotating the trays. Feeling the jerky with your fingers is the best gauge of doneness. Cooking times vary upon the thickness of the meat and this process can take anywhere from 2-5 hours. Enjoy!

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The best meat to use for Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky begins with a lean cut of meat, cut into strips. We use London Broil, which is a fancy name for a smaller beef top round roast (eye of round). It is important that the meat is lean and that it does not contain bones.

We use about 1 1/2 pounds at a time, sliced into strips between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, any large fatty parts removed. You can cut it yourself or ask the supermarket butcher to do it for you.

Cut it against the grain because it makes the jerky more tender. Once it is cut, set it aside until the marinade is ready.

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What you’ll need to make Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

  • Beef top round roast (London Broil)
  • Minced onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey
  • Ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Liquid smoke
  • Apple juice
  • 2-3 Fresh Jalapeno peppers
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How to Make Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky is so simple to make! Homemade Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky is one of our favorites. The sweet and salty elements are the perfect combination and you can make it as spicy (or not) as you want with fresh jalapeno peppers. Delicious and perfectly balanced!

This can be made in the oven, but we prefer to use an electric food dehydrator. We have included oven guidelines on the recipe card just in case.

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Slice the meat into strips against the grain, making them between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Trim excess fat, large gristle and connective tissue from jerky strips and discard. Set the jerky strips aside.

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Create the marinade by placing all of the remaining ingredients into a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Stir until well combined.

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Place the jerky strips into a shallow baking dish or large zip top bag. Pour the marinade over the top of the jerky strips.

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Stir, making sure the meat is coated evenly.

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Cover or seal the large zip top bag and refrigerate for 24 – 72 hours minimum.

For a deeper, more intense flavor, marinate in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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During the marinating time, stir occasionally. When ready to dehydrate, remove from the refrigerator and discard marinade.

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Spread the jerky strips out on paper towels to remove excess moisture.

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Blot tops of strips with paper towels, removing as much marinade as possible.

Lay the jerky strips on dehydrator trays, leaving room between for air flow. Use as many trays as necessary.

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Turn the dehydrator on to highest setting (we use 160 degrees F) and allow the strips to dehydrate according to manufacturers directions. Check on the jerky every so often and rotate the trays.

Once the jerky has been dehydrated, remove it from the trays and allow to cool.

One of the great things about making your own jerky is that you can decide just how dehydrated you want it. Our preference is to dry it to the point where it bounces back a little when poked. In our dehydrator, this is usually around the 4 hour mark.

Store in a zip top bag for up to a month. Enjoy!

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More Easy Jerky Recipes you might like

Worcestershire Beef Jerky – Our most requested jerky recipe with a bold flavor that is undeniably good!

Herbed Beef Jerky – Marinated in fresh onion, horseradish, herbs and soy sauce… YUM!

Black Pepper Beef Jerky – This easy to make homemade Black Pepper Beef Jerky is delicious! With a low, subtle heat.

Teriyaki Sweet Hot Beef Jerky – With a sweet Teriyaki flavor and just the right amount of heat, Teriyaki Sweet Hot Beef Jerky is super easy to make at home!

Spicy Dr. Pepper Beef Jerky – delicious, Sweet and tender With a low, subtle heat and a bold beefy flavor.

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Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

Easy to make Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky has no preservatives and you can adjust the heat to your preferences. So much better than store bought!

5 from 8 votes

Print Pin Rate

Prep Time: 1 day day 15 minutes minutes

Dehydrator Time: 6 hours hours

Total Time: 1 day day 6 hours hours 15 minutes minutes

Servings: 1 pound

Calories: 1761kcal

Equipment

  • Dehydrator

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef top round roast (London Broil) sliced into jerky strips
  • 1 tbsp minced onion dried or fresh
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers sliced, seeds left in

Instructions

  • Slice the meat into strips against the grain, making them between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Trim excess fat, large gristle and connective tissue from jerky strips and discard. Set the jerky strips aside.

  • Create the marinade by placing all of the remaining ingredients into a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Stir until well combined.

  • Place the jerky strips into a shallow baking dish or large zip top bag. Pour the marinade over the top of the jerky strips and stir, making sure the meat is coated evenly.

  • Refrigerate for 24 – 72 hours, up to a week, stirring occasionally. When ready to dehydrate, remove from the refrigerator and discard marinade.

  • Spread the jerky strips out on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Blot tops of strips with paper towels, removing as much marinade as possible.

  • Lay the jerky strips on dehydrator trays, leaving room between for air flow. Use as many trays as necessary.

  • Turn the dehydrator on to highest setting (we use 160 degrees F) and allow the strips to dehydrate according to manufacturers directions, rotating trays periodically.

  • When jerky has been dehydrated sufficiently, remove from trays and allow to cool. Store in a zip top bag for up to a month. Enjoy!

Notes

OVEN DIRECTIONS: This recipe is specific to a food dehydrator. If you want to prepare it in the oven, preheat to 170 – 175 degrees F. Position the racks to the upper-middle position. Line two large baking sheets with foil and then place a wire cooling rack onto each. Lay the marinated beef strips out onto the wire racks. Bake 2-5 hours, checking often , flipping meat and and rotating trays until jerky is dry and firm yet pliable. Cooking times vary upon the thickness of the meat and this process can take anywhere from 2-5 hours. Enjoy!

Nutrition *

Calories: 1761kcal | Carbohydrates: 145g | Protein: 214g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 499mg | Sodium: 10771mg | Potassium: 4631mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 118g | Vitamin A: 962IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 414mg | Iron: 26mg

* The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.

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    Michelle Mundy

    As a busy working mom with kids on the go, I know how important it is to be able to make simple and delicious meals using everyday ingredients. The recipes shared here are family friendly with easy to understand step by step instructions. Tried and true, from our family to yours. Welcome to The Recipe Bandit! Click here to read more about me.

Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky (2024)
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