Beef Jerky

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Here is a recipe for an easy, homemade beef jerky marinade made with soy sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, and spices makes the most flavorful beef jerky recipe ever! Beef jerky is lean, trimmed beef that has been cut into strips and dried. Drying or dehydrating the meat with heat and salt slows the bacterial growth dramatically, and in turn, stretching its viable lifespan by many months.

While this recipe uses beef, however, one could use deer, elk or bison. Recipe still works. What makes this beef jerky marinade so absolutely irresistible? The combination of sweet, savory, and umami-rich ingredients. This marinade is a beautiful blend of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. 

Jerky was a form of preserving meat that the Quecha Indians, a South American native tribe, originally from the ancient Inca empire, used as far back as 1550. They called it charqui, which literally translates into “dried meat”. The Spanish Conquistadors realized this was a great way to preserve meat. Source

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Beef Jerky


This is the best homemade beef jerky recipe, and it’s easy to make without any special equipment.

  • Author: Once Upon a Chef
  • Prep Time: :30
  • Marinade: 12:00
  • Cook Time: 3:00
  • Total Time: 15:30
  • Yield: 1214 1x
  • Method: Oven


  • One 3-pound eye of round roast (see note), trimmed of fat and silver skin
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned meat tenderizer (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Slice the meat between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick with the grain. (If the roast is too thick to slice easily, cut it in half horizontally before slicing.)
  • Make the marinade: In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, meat tenderizer, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder. Whisk until evenly combined and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the meat to the marinade and toss until all of the pieces are evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a large zip lock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight. Toss the meat (or flip the bag) once or twice to be sure the meat marinates evenly.
  • Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Place a wire rack over each pan. Preheat the oven to 175°F and set two oven racks in the center most positions.
  • Arrange the marinated meat on the wire racks in a single layer. Bake, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom midway through, until the meat is dried out, 3 to 4 hours. To determine if the jerky is thoroughly dried out, take a piece out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature. It should be dry to the touch, leather-like in appearance, and chewy but still somewhat tender.
  • Store the jerky inside an airtight plastic container, Ziploc bag, or airtight glass jars. Properly dried jerky will keep at room temperature for about one week. Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.


  • Pop the meat in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours before slicing; it will be easier to cut.
  • Meat tenderizer contains Bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down meat tissue. You can find it in the spice section of your supermarket.  Bromelain is an enzyme extract derived from the stems of pineapples, although it exists in all parts of the fresh pineapple. The extract has a history of folk medicine use. As an ingredient, it is used in cosmetics, as a topical medication, and as a meat tenderizer. 
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