Our pantry is stocked with beef jerky. This homemade Sweet and Tangy BBQ Beef Jerky is a favorite among the family.
Don’t worry, it’s not difficult to make, and I’ll show you how to make it even if you don’t have a dehydrator.
How many of you adore beef jerky? I’m not talking about the extremely dried-out variety that takes an hour to chew.
I’m referring to that sweet and tender melt-in-your-mouth treat that comes in tiny bags at the convenience store and frequently costs an arm and a leg.
Not to mention that it usually contains gluten or grain-based ingredients.
WHAT’S THE BEST BEEF TO MAKE BEEF JERKY?
One of the most common questions I get when I share my jerky recipe. I’ve cooked a variety of beef dishes. But my favorite cuts of meat have always been top-round roast or flank steak.
The key to a good cut of meat is to find one that is lean and to trim away any excess fat that may be present on the cut of beef.
Note: If you marinate the beef with chunks of fat still attached, it will yield little ball-like mounds of hard fat, which no one wants to eat.
SLICING BEEF JERKY
When it comes to jerky, there are two main ways to cut your meat, each of which will produce a different texture depending on your preferences.
You can cut it with the grain of the meat for a chewier jerky or against the grain of the meat for a more tender jerky. Because I prefer a more tender jerky, I always cut my beef against the grain.
I like to cut my meat to be about 18 to 14 inches thick. It will dry out much faster if it is too thin, and it will take longer to cook if it is too thick.
Tip: Before slicing the meat, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on size. This will help to stabilize the beef cut, making it easier to get more uniform jerky slices.
If your local store has a friendly butcher, you can always ask them to do this step for you as well.
SWEET AND TANGY BBQ BEEF JERK MARINADE
This is where your jerky gets its flavor, so make sure you leave plenty of time for it.
I prefer to marinate my jerky overnight, but if you don’t want to wait that long, you can get a delicious flavor after a few hours.
There are so many different beef jerky marinades out there, and I use different recipes depending on my mood, but this one is simple and one of my kids’ favorites.
It’s a little smoky and a little sweet, and it never lasts long when I make it.
- Beef of your choice
- Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos
- Sauce for Steak
- Honey or brown sugar
DEHYDRATOR VS. OVEN
To be honest, I get this question a lot because many people don’t have a dehydrator, and I’m here to tell you that’s fine.
Trust me, I didn’t have one until a few years ago, and I was still making beef jerky in my oven all the time.
BEST TEMPERATURE TO SMOKE BEEF JERKY
The ideal temperature for smoking beef jerky is 160-180°F. This allows the beef to dehydrate while remaining uncooked.
You can go up to 200°F and be fine, but much hotter and you risk drying out your jerky.
MAKING YOUR BEEF JERKY MARINADE
You should make your marinade the night before you plan to make your beef jerky. Marinating the meat overnight ensures the best possible flavor.
For beef (or any lean red meat), combine the following ingredients in a large plastic bowl – it’s critical not to use a metal bowl because the acids in the marinade can react and spoil your meat – the amounts shown are for approximately 2.5lbs of beef round.
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
PREPARING YOUR BEEF
Most importantly, you should cut your protein against the grain. This will ensure that your finished jerky has a nice bite without being overly tough.
That’s the thing about jerky; when done properly, it should be a little soft and have some give when you bite through it.
You don’t want to be yanking on it with your teeth like a super chewy toffee. If you slice against the grain, you’ll get stringy, tough, and chewy jerky.
While that will still taste delicious, it will be a major jaw workout for you! I like to slice my jerky about a third of an inch wide and half an inch thick.
That is, the grain should run across the widest part of your slice from left to right (or right to left).
Once all of your protein has been sliced, combine it all in a plastic bowl with your prepared marinade, cover with cling wrap, and place in the fridge overnight.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- When I use my dehydrator, I usually set it to medium for about 6 hours. Personally, I don’t like how my dehydrator works on high, but if you have one, experiment with the settings to see what produces the best results for what you like. This is the dehydrator I have.
- If you use the oven, I find that placing the jerky on top of a wire rack over a sheet pan allows it to cook more evenly than laying it on a sheet pan.
- The dehydrator method produces a more consistent result over time, but the oven will suffice. Choose the method of cooking that works best for you. I’ve included both dehydrator and oven cooking instructions for the beef jerky below.
- With that out of the way, it’s time to make some beef jerky for yourself. Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl or storage bag to marinate until ready to cook. A word of caution! Your house will smell AMAZING while this cooks, and your family will keep asking if they can eat it yet!
Frequently Asked Questions
To make jerky at home, you don’t need a dehydrator. With these simple steps and our tasty recipe, you can make beef jerky on your gas grill. To create a jaw-exercising chew, jerky is essentially a drying process rather than a cooking process. As a result, low temperatures are required.
Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 225°F and smoke the jerky for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Our smoke vaults come with one jerky rack, but you can add more if you need more cooking space.
So, how long can you marinate beef jerky? Yes, but in general, you should limit the amount of time you leave your meat in the marinade. This is due to the fact that beef can spoil after as little as 12 hours of marinating.
While top round, bottom round, pectoral, and lifter are typically the best cuts for jerky, other cuts such as flank and skirt steak can also be used. All of these beef cuts are lean, economical, and flavorful. Let’s take a look at some different cuts of meat and learn how to select the best ones for making beef jerky!