This all-purpose beef jerky marinade recipe has a wonderfully balanced sweetness that is perfect for dehydrating or smoking.
Jerky lovers may be surprised at how easy it is to make your own beef jerky at home with this flavorful marinade. Best of all, making your own is way cheaper than store-bought jerky, and gives you complete control over the flavor.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Beef round roast - You can substitute another lean cut of meat. Avoid anything with too much fat and connective tissue. The best cuts of beef are top round, bottom round, and London broil.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Soy sauce
- Balsamic vinegar - Red wine vinegar would also work. Or you can substitute hot sauce for some sweet and spicy beef jerky.
- Brown sugar - Honey can be substituted.
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Liquid smoke - This isn't needed if using a smoker or pellet grill.
- Garlic powder - You can substitute 4 minced garlic cloves, but dried seasoning will have more even coverage.
- Onion powder
- Cayenne pepper - Crushed red pepper flakes are also great.
- Pink salt - Also called, Prague powder, it contains sodium nitrate as a preservative to prevent dangerous bacteria from forming during long cooking sessions at low temperatures.
How to make it
To make this beef jerky marinade recipe combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.
Slice your beef roast into thin strips of meat with a sharp knife or meat slicer, then place the beef slices in the marinade overnight in the refrigerator. For the most even coverage, I prefer to use a plastic storage bag.
The next day, drain the beef from the excess marinade and place them evenly on a wire rack in a smoker or dehydrator set at 140 degrees, leaving separation for airflow. The drying process in a smoker may take up to 9 hours, but the airflow in the dehydrator should finish the jerky strips in 3-4 hours.
Storing Beef Jerky
When properly dried, beef jerky can be stored at room temperature for a long time. This homemade beef jerky recipe can have a shelf life lasting 1-2 months when kept in an airtight container or a large ziploc bag.
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Beef jerky marinade
- Dehydrator or smoker
- 2 pounds beef round roast (cut into thin strips)
- ⅔ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ⅔ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (omit if smoking)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅖ teaspoon pink salt (optional)
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and pink salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Place the thinly sliced strips of beef in a gallon storage bag and pour in the jerky marinade. Set in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours.
- Set your dehydrator or smoker to 140 degrees and drain the beef strips from the marinade.
- Set the jerky slices evenly across the racks, leaving space between them for airflow.
- Beef jerky in the dehydrator will finish in approximately 3 hours. Jerky in the smoker may take 9 hours. Check the jerky hourly, it is done when it is dry to the touch and cracks slightly when bent.