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".
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 Ingredients
- London Broil.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
The meat should register 160 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer.
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.
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.
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.
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, White
I use and highly recommend both of these dehydrator.
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
- 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
- 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.