Beef jerky is a famous, delicious, and filling snack worldwide, particularly in the United States. However, buying it at the store can be excessively costly.
You might not have thought beef jerky could be made at home, but it can! Not only is it a simple process, but you will save money and have better quality jerky to eat as well.
In this article, we will teach you all the basics of marinade for beef jerky to make a next-level delicious snack. Hungry yet? Read on to the next section to get started!
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1. Traditional Beef Jerky Marinade
This recipe is for a traditional beef jerky marinade and is also made from common ingredients you probably already have sitting in your pantry!
Traditional Beef Jerky Marinade Ingredients
- ¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- One tablespoon of garlic powder
- One tablespoon of onion powder
- One tablespoon of black peppercorns
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- Select a lean cut of beef and place it in the freezer for 1-2 hours to make it easier to work with. Trim excess fat from the outside of the meat and use a sharp knife to break down the cut into thin, even slices. The slices should each be around ¼ inch thick for the best results.
- Combine the marinade ingredients (Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt) in a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Stir the mixture until the salt dissolves and the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Cool to room temperature.
- Move the sliced beef and the prepared marinade to a shallow dish or a large ziplock bag. Be sure to spread the meat out into a single layer and to cover all surfaces of the meat entirely with the marinate.
- Transfer the baking dish or bag to the lowest shelf in your fridge (in case of leaks) and let sit for 12-24 hours.
- When you are ready to cook your jerky, remove it from the marinade and briefly let the slices dry on a piece of paper towel. Since the goal of making beef jerky is to dehydrate the meat, you want to make sure you remove any excess moisture at this stage of cooking.
2. Sweet and Spicy Jerky Marinade
Are you looking to make more than a basic jerky and level up your flavor profiles? This recipe is balanced with sweetness and just the right amount of heat to make it an irresistible snack. It is similar to the traditional beef jerky marinade, with the addition of a few extra ingredients that are major flavor enhancers.
Sweet And Spicy Jerky Marinade Ingredients
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup soy sauce (or tamari)
- Two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Two tablespoons of liquid smoke
- Two teaspoons of onion powder
- One teaspoon of garlic powder
- Two teaspoons of steak seasoning
- One tablespoon (or more, to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
- Choose a lean and thin cut of meat to work with, such as chuck steaks. You will need about 2 pounds of meat for this recipe. Use a meat mallet to pound the steak out into a thin, even thickness, roughly ¼-⅛ inch thick.
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk well until each component is well mixed. Using ½ cup of dark brown sugar and one tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes, provide this marinade with a balanced sweet and spicy tang. However, if you prefer more or less sweetness or spice, feel free to adjust these amounts to taste.
- Combine the pounded meat and the prepared marinade in a ziplock baggie. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat with your hands. Take care to ensure that the meat is completely coated on all sides with liquid.
- Place the bag in the fridge and let the marinade work its magic for up to 24, but no fewer than 4 hours.
- When ready to cook your jerky, remove the bag from the fridge and the meat from the bag. Place the meat on a metal wire rack to let excess liquid drip off. The meat should be as dry as possible before you dehydrate it using your chosen method.
- If you don’t have liquid smoke, you may omit it from this recipe. It is not essential but does lend a charred, smokey flavor to the jerky that takes the flavor profile to the next level.
- If you want to experiment, feel free to substitute dark brown sugar for another type of sweetener. Good options for this recipe would be molasses, light brown sugar, or even maple syrup.
3. Coffee Beef Jerky Marinade
Who doesn’t love the nutty, chocolatey, smokey flavor of coffee? It’s the perfect flavor for stepping up your ordinary beef jerky. Read on to learn our recipe!
Coffee Marinade Ingredients
- 1 cup freshly brewed, unsweetened coffee
- Three tablespoons finely ground coffee
- Two tablespoons of liquid smoke
- Two teaspoons of kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Coffee Marinade Recipe
- Prepare the beef by trimming off excess fat and slicing it or pounding it into even thickness, about ¼ inch thick.
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl, and mix until homogenous. Be sure to use room-temperature or cold coffee for this step.
- Transfer the meat and the marinade to a ziplock bag and shake or massage to ensure that the beef is surrounded by liquid on all sides. Place in the fridge for between 12 and 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, drain and dry the meat and discard the excess marinade.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, you will learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about marinating beef jerky!
How long should you marinate beef jerky?
The ideal timeframe for marinating beef jerky is between 12 and 24 hours. If you are in a rush, you should marinate the meat for no fewer than 4 hours. Marinating the jerky is what infuses it with flavor and tenderizes the cuts. It is a simple, essential step that should not be skipped!
Does jerky need to be marinated?
It is possible to make jerky without marinating it; however, doing so is not recommended. The marinade is not only what gives jerky its classic, irresistible flavor. The salt in the marinade also helps to cure the meat, making it safer to consume by reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.
What do you soak jerky in?
You can soak jerky in a flavorsome liquid called a marinade to enhance the flavor of the meat and create a tasty, homemade snack. Refer back to the previous section of this article to learn easy recipes that will take your beef jerky to the next level!
Can you marinate jerky for too long?
The ideal time to marinate jerky is between 12 and 24 hours. But what happens if you forget, get caught up in other tasks, or can’t get to them for different reasons? Your jerky is not necessarily ruined if it marinates for longer than 24 hours.
The maximum amount of time you should marinate jerky is 48 hours. After two days, the liquid marinade may start to break down the fibers in the meat, making it mushy and unappealing.