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The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

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

The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

After road tripping with my family and sampling jerky from gas stations along the way — and spending a small fortune on it — I resolved to come up with a good homemade beef jerky recipe. The good news is that beef jerky is surprisingly easy to make and doesn’t require any special equipment other than a standard oven, baking sheets, and wire racks. However, most homemade jerky isn’t nearly as tender as the store-bought kind. That’s because commercial jerky producers use special equipment and curing preservatives to make their signature jerky.
Finally, after falling down an internet rabbit hole of pitmaster video tutorials, I learned the secret to making tender jerky at home: adding plenty of sugar to the marinade. The extra sugar not only helps preserve the meat but also locks in moisture. This recipe makes a salty-sweet, smoky jerky with a chewy yet tender texture, similar to the well-known brands.

What You’ll Need To Make Homemade Beef Jerky

When making beef jerky, it’s important to start with a well-trimmed, lean cut of meat, as fat does not dry out and accelerates spoilage. An eye of round roast is ideal; it’s affordable, accessible, lean, and easy to trim. Before slicing, pop it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours; it will be much easier to cut.

The marinade contains soy sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, and unseasoned meat tenderizer. Meat tenderizer contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down meat tissue. You can find it in the spice section of your supermarket (I use McCormick).

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Slice the Meat

slicing the meat for beef jerky
Slice the meat between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick with the grain. If the roast is too thick to slice easily, cut it in half horizontally before slicing.
slicing the meat

2. 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.

marinade for beef jerky

Whisk until evenly combined and the sugar is dissolved.

whisked marinade

3. Marinate the Beef

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 ziplock 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.

marinate the beef

4. Dry Out The Meat

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 centermost positions.
Arrange the marinated meat on the wire racks in a single layer.

marinated beef on wire rack

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.
cooked beef jerky

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.

video tutorial

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The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

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

Servings: 12 to 14 servings
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes, plus at least 12 hours to marinate

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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 ziplock 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.
  4. 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 centermost positions.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Note: Pop the meat in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours before slicing; it will be easier to cut.
  8. Note: Meat tenderizer contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down meat tissue. You can find it in the spice section of your supermarket. (I use McCormick.)

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Comments

  • I always use a dehydrator, which is the best way to make consistant beef jerky. I also am surprised that this recipe says to cut your beef with the grain?? Against the grain will provide you with a more tender piece of jerky, just like cutting any quality steak. I use about 1/3 of the brown sugar that it calls for, add hot sauce with the liquids and use a decent amount of cayenne pepper along with the other seasonings suggested here. All in all this is a good recipe to get you started and one that can be easily tweeked to the individuals taste and heat tollerance. I also use low sodium soy sauce to decrease the amount of salt in the recipe and it turns out great everytime. I made the mistake of sharing and now I get asked to make it all the time!! It’s fun but it is a process!!

    • — Tom on September 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • Too sweet, not enough spice. Maybe next time cut back on brown sugar, add some cayenne pepper.

    • — Bill F. on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • Wayyy too sweet. Will halve the sugar next time.

    • — Huey on August 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious

    • — Shmily on August 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Very good flavor, but not spicy enough. I threw in two habaneros (threw in a blender with the soy sauce) and it was perfect.

    And don’t just toss the meat in the marinade, make sure to massage in for at least a minute. Found it made a pretty big difference.

    • — Dan Kritzer on August 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • Instead of using an oven, could you dry it out using a wood pellet smoker on the same temperature?

    • — Scott on July 31, 2023
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    • I haven’t made this on a smoker, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on August 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is verry good. A little bland though. I added a teaspoon of cayenne . After it was dried, I cut it into 1 inch squares with scissors. I then added 2 teaspoons of KC bbq rub and a quarter teaspoon of Willis Heat Wave to sprinkle in baggie. Then shake and put in freezer. Fantastic stuff. I make a 1 gallon baggie per month. I’m addicted.

    • — Mark Magnani on July 23, 2023
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  • how long can it last up to?

    • — Maison parker on July 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • It will keep at room temp for about a week. You can refrigerate or freeze it for longer storage.

      • — Jenn on July 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • Outstanding on 3 lb London broil in an Excalibur, 155F for 5 hours.

    • — Denise on June 28, 2023
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  • OMG! This takes me back nearly 50 years when we could buy tender, tasty jerky from the corner store – with COINS!

    • — Dexter on June 22, 2023
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  • I’ve used this recipe for my pork jerky and it is the best I’ve had. I use the leanest portion of the loin, trimmed to nearly zero fat. I soak the pork loin in my own brine recipe for two days then slice it with or against the grain to a thickness between an eighth and a quarter inch, then basically follow the directions in this recipe. The only difference is the source of meat and the brining process. It’s a less costly alternative to beef and you won’t be disappointed.

    • — Mark R on May 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe for Beef Jerky, was absolutely the best I ever had! Easy, Sweet, Salty, Spicy all rolled into a mouth watering treat! Thank you for sharing!!!

    • — Jamie Rhea on May 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe is delicious, but to help cut back on the very salty recipe, we added 1 cup of apple juice, and used eye of round with our first batch with the apple juice, and this turned out really good. We made it again, and used London Broil this time, with the apple juice, and it turned out even better! We just adjusted some of the seasonings (not the salty meat tenderizer) to make up for the added apple juice, and it turned out absolutely delicious, and it more closely resembles the stuff you get in the store as far as texture goes. The taste of this recipe is far superior to the stuff in the store, and has more quality ingredients than all the high fructose corn syrup and other unpronounceables in it! We also store in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life, and can get it to last about a month. That is, if we do not eat it all, first! Great to take camping!

    • — Patricia on April 24, 2023
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  • This is the only recipe I use for beef jerkey!! It is amazing!! I use a smoker instead of the oven for that smoke flavor!!

    • — Mindy on April 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Tasty tender and my favorite jerky recipe.

    • — Dale Grantham on April 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Nice recipe. But no help in the ingredient list and measurements. It kept sending me to a website for products to purchase.

    • — James on April 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi James, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2023
      • Reply

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