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.

After road tripping with my family last year 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, after trying many recipes, I found that 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: increasing the sugar in 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.

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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
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. 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.)
  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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Reviews & Comments

  • Excellent marinade recipe!! Instead of using pepper flakes, I chopped up 5 habanero peppers and used a submersion blender to blend everything nicely. I didn’t use the liquid smoke as I made these in a smoker. Perfect spice and excellent taste from the marinade, thank you for the recipe!!!!!!!!

    • — Jonathan on April 29, 2021
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  • This marinade was fantastic! I followed the marinade recipe except for cutting back to just of pinch of red pepper flakes because my fiancé doesn’t like spicy foods. I also added 1/2 tsp. of Insta Cure #1 or Pink curing salt #1 to help prevent bacteria since I was using my charcoal smoker at a lower temperature of 150 degrees. Using applewood charcoal, I smoked them at 150 degrees for the first 6 hours and then at 175 degrees for the next hour and a half (7 1/2 hours total). I would describe the flavor as being close to tasting like sweat teriyaki. I think i will double the batch the next time I make these so I have more to share with family and friends!

    • — Michael P. on April 19, 2021
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  • Made this recipe as a gift to hubby for his birthday as he loves jerky! Our 3 sons were home the day I made it and everyone enjoyed it. Their only comment was to enhance the spiciness of the flavor. Any suggestions? By the way, I had the butcher slice the meat into 1/4 inch thick slices. It took a full 4 hours for it to dry out in the oven. I was a bit worried as I hadn’t specified for the cut to be WITH the grain and the cuts were against the grain. The jerky didn’t crumble as Jenn noted it might with one reviewer below. Next time, I will specify with the grain. Also, a more traditional and longer piece of meat will resort when the cut is with the grain. As a reviewer noted below, I recommend cutting the slices in half before baking.

    • — Margaret on March 9, 2021
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    • Hi Margaret, glad to hear your hubby and sons enjoyed the jerky! If you want to make it spicier, you can increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add a pinch or 2 of cayenne pepper. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 10, 2021
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  • Very good recipe! Excellent flavor. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Mike Read on March 4, 2021
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  • It wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t HATE it, but I didn’t LOVE it either. Very, meh, it’s ok.

    • — Jen on February 23, 2021
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  • This looks fabulous! I’m thinking it would make a nice gift for family and friends. Should be ok to mail right? Especially if I do priority mail? Let me know, thanks 😊

    • — Christine on February 22, 2021
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    • Yes, I think that should work. Hope your recipients enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 22, 2021
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      • Thanks for getting back to me Jen! Made it today and let me tell ya, this batch won’t make it to family and friends, we gobbled it up! So DELICIOUS! Question, do you think it would work with chicken….or better yet with salmon?

        • — Christine on February 25, 2021
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        • So glad you enjoyed it, Christine! I haven’t tried this recipe with other meats but I do think it would work well. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it.

          • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
          • Reply
  • I would also add liquid smoke. It really brings up the flavor and makes jerky even better.

    • — Alexey on February 19, 2021
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  • Jenn, I’m the wife of a cattle buyer, here in Canada. My husband loves his beef and this year he bought a 4H calf (online)at a show he judged (online). I have cuts of beef now that I am not used to using. The stew meat is excellent but after trying 3 recipes I still dislike stew. I tried your jerky thinking this MIGHT help me wade through some packages. WOW! I first made the recipe with a tenderloin roast(excellent jerky but such a fine cut is unnecessary and a waste of a good steak). Then I used an eye of the round(perfect)….I should have let it bake for the 4 hours….but I was worried that it might not be tender….so took it out at 3 hours. It is definitely edible but doesn’t have the ‘chewy’ of beef jerky. THEN I tried it on the stew meat. My husband pounded the meat with a wooden meat hammer. (My grandkids are going to LOVE doing this when we can be together again!) The result is AMAZING! The only thing I can compare it to is the beef version of candied salmon. I baked it for 3 hours. Oh yes….I ran out of soy sauce and used 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce…on two of the recipes. I just finished making it the 4th time….(we sent one full recipe to the grandkids..they loved it, too!)
    My husband takes any of the above versions to the auction market with him (which is not shut down right now). All the other cattle buyers, the auctioneer, and the cook ‘eat it like vultures’, my husband says. They want me to sell it! (Till Easter I am giving up sweets for Lent. I think I am still going to categorize your beef jerky as meat.)

    By the way, Jenn……I have never had a failure with any of your recipes…today I’m going to try the cheese egg bites.

    • — Judy Snyder on February 19, 2021
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  • I have never even thought of making jerky before but this recipe piqued my interest. It was not difficult at all and the result was great. The jerky was tender and flavorful. My whole family has enjoyed it. The only thing I would do different is cut the slices of beef in half before I marinated/baked them so that my pieces were not really wide, but just as easy to do it afterward.

    • — Kim Conte on February 18, 2021
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  • Hello, Jenn,
    I was wondering why you advise to slice the meat WITH the grain instead of AGAINST the grain? When slicing a beef roast, I usually slice against the grain for more tender results. Would the jerky would be too tender and lack the appealing “chew” that makes jerky, “jerky?”

    • — Karen on February 18, 2021
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    • That’s exactly right. I tried cutting the beef both ways and I found that if you cut it against the grain that the finished jerky almost gets too tender and a bit crumbly.

      • — Jenn on February 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • My 1st try at homemade jerky–fantastic! Jen, you never fail. Better than store bought jerky. Highly recommend.

    • — Phung on February 16, 2021
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  • I love this recipe! I used venison as the meat, therefore very tender, so I did not use the tenderizer. It is a very good tasting marinade. Not too sweet or spicy. I did make 2 additions : one half cup of liquid smoke, and 1 tsp. ground celery seed powder. Thank you for such an easy , have on hand ingredients style recipe 🙂

    • — Katy Christianson on February 3, 2021
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  • This is by far the best beef jerky! So easy to make. Thanks Jenn

    • — Sharon K on February 3, 2021
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  • Hi Jen – I can’t wait to try this recipe out. It was perfect timing too. We were cleaning out the attic and found the Ronco Food Dehydrator that my husband bought back in the 90’s. I forgot we even had this and it still works. I know that your marinade will be perfect to try it out again.

    • — Laura on January 31, 2021
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  • I made this today, as directed and it’s fantastic! I marinated the meat 12 hours and used the ingredients listed. No complaints here. Easy, clear directions, very tasty. Thank you Jen!

    • — Michele on January 31, 2021
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  • The Beef Jerky recipe is the BEST jerky recipe I have ever found ! It is quick and easy to make with no extra kitchen equipment necessary. My pilot husband loves taking it on long flights for a quick boost of protein and sugar. It’s easy to share with his co-captain as well . We freeze it in small baggies for a quick take along snack. Will make this one for years to come.

    • — LuAnn Pitts on January 31, 2021
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  • This is a great recipe and easy to make. I also found that you can add some other great and tasty variations by adding 12 ounces of fruit juice like apple cider or mango and habanero pepper. You can easily change this to a teriyaki version by omitting the paprika, Worcestershire and red pepper and adding in some powdered ginger (I also like about a tablespoon of fresh minced ginger too). Thanks for a Great Recipe!

    • — Brian Loke on January 31, 2021
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  • Hi Jen,
    Made this the smell AND taste was wonderful. My husband doesn’t eat beef. However, he does eat Venison. He took a little piece and decided he had to make some as well . This will be our go to jerky recipe. I never have to buy store bought again. Thank’s again.

    • — Carla on January 30, 2021
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  • Finally! This has been on my to do list for so long.

    • — Drew on January 30, 2021
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  • My husband loves beef jerky and is rather opinionated on what makes for tasty jerky. I’ve never made it before and am thrilled that he thinks this is some of the best he’s had! Thanks Jenn- great easy recipe.

    • — Mindy on January 30, 2021
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  • Today we made this beef jerky recipe exactly as it is written. It is delicious. We did have to bake it longer than indicated but it is wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • — BJ Foster on January 29, 2021
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  • This recipe makes great homemade beef jerky. The balance of seasonings was perfect; just the right level of ‘sweet heat’. I sliced the beef too thin and will correct that on my next batch. And yes there will be a next batch!! Just terrific!!

    • — Jim C on January 29, 2021
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  • I cannot wait to try this recipe! You’ve made it sound so easy. Thank you for testing this recipe out and perfecting it! Looking forward to making it as soon as I collect all of the ingredients.
    Thank you.

    • — Rhonda on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • OMG Jenn! This was so easy and I am just at the 3 hour mark and couldn’t resist a taste. So yummy and my house smells great! I tested early because I am using convection which cooks faster but I am going to let it go up to another hour to dry out a bit more. I used dried crushed chipotle peppers instead of plain red and the added smokiness is yummy. Yay! No more cruising the jerky display at store waiting for a ‘sale’. I used sirloin tip roast which was on sale for $3.48/lb. I may have to go get more!

    • — Deb Morgan on January 29, 2021
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  • We made this beef jerky today – literally just pulled it out of the oven!! It is SO delicious! I’m so glad you went on this quest, we will surely be making this time & time again.

    My only footnote is that it took us 5 hours for desired texture. Not a big deal. It could be our preferences, oven or slice size!

    • — Meredith on January 29, 2021
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  • Tried this and it was so delicious. I love the fact that it was tender without being to tough or chewy. The marinade added great flavor! Thank you.

    • — Charles Makarewicz on January 29, 2021
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  • The email containing this recipe arrived 2 days before my youngest son left to return to college for the semester 🙁
    He LOVES beef jerky, so the timing was perfect to make this for him in time for him to take to school. He, his roommates, and the friends with whom I shared the recipe said, unsolicited, that it’s the best they’ve ever had.
    I followed the recipe to a T and would not change a thing.
    The recipe makes a lot and, despite seeming difficult to make, the recipe was easy to follow and didn’t require much active time to prepare. The house smelled amazing while it was cooking and the flavor is outstanding!
    I typically do not care for any type of “jerky”, and was only making it for my son, but I loved the sweet, savory spiciness of this and now I am a convert! I did freeze a little for when my other sons visit, so I’m eager to see how it is after being frozen.

    • — Kim Nurick on January 29, 2021
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  • My husband made this jerky last week. The directions were very straightforward and the end result was fantastic! It’s never going to last for a week in this household. Thanks for another incredible recipe.

    • — Ruth on January 29, 2021
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  • Very good flavor on some pre-sliced round (couldn’t find a hunk of eye of round, but I will!). Since I like the taste, next time I’ll add some teriyaki and additional red pepper flakes.

    • — Pete on January 29, 2021
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  • This recipe for making jerky is not as intimidating as I had originally thought. Amazing flavor with a nice kick at the end. A must make for sure.

    • — Arielle Lynch on January 28, 2021
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  • As a surprise for my carnivorous husband, I decided to make this. I have never tried any jerky recipes before and was a little bit apprehensive. Followed the easy instructions, measured well and went for it.

    NOT disappointed, it turned out incredibly tasty, tender and was a huge hit with my man and with me even though I usually avoid jerky. Well, not anymore! I can’t wait to share when we can actually see our family and friends again. Wonderful results, thank you Jenn.

    • — Donna Gordon Pike on January 28, 2021
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  • Oh my gosh, I’m not even a big meat eater and I want to try this. I just bought a dehydrator and this will be the first recipe I’ll be trying out.

    • — Lori on January 28, 2021
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  • Hello Jenn,

    Can I use an Air Fryer to make this beef jerky?

    Thanks,
    Kristine

    • — Kristine on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kristine, I believe it’s possible to make beef jerky in an Air Fryer but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say for sure. The oven method works so well, I’m not sure I’d mess with it!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • This looks like a great recipe. Going to watch for that cut of beef. I’ll bet I can use the recipe and instead of baking in oven, use our smoker?!

    • — Shannon R on January 28, 2021
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    • I do think that’d be good!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
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    • Feels so similar to my mom’s recipe; Less spice and more texture. Recommended – very very lovely.

      • — Matthew Knezevich on January 29, 2021
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  • Previously, we had always used flank steak and a dehydrator; this recipe featuring eye of round and the oven is a game changer. No more occasional fatty strands plus it is evenly roasted and – most important – delicious. Thanks, again, Jenn.

    • — Jean on January 28, 2021
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    • A great, easy to follow recipe!
      Give it a try!

      • — Nick on January 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • Simply delicious! This was my first time making jerky and reminds me of all my road trips up to Mammoth and stopping along the way at all the beef jerky pit stops. I made half a batch as directed and the second half added cumin paprika and a little bit of turmeric. Both came out amazing!!!

    • — Robert on January 28, 2021
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  • Great recipe! Easy to follow! I used less soy in mine due to my tastes but I made a batch at full recipe strength and it was a hit at work! The freezing before cutting advice is great, I learned it years ago to make shabu shabu. Thank you for this!!!

    • — Rob on January 28, 2021
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  • Made this and was really good. I’d been looking for a recipe that makes jerky without using a smoker,,!, thanks

    • — Merlee on January 28, 2021
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  • Thanks for a great jerky recipe. I did a half batch as written and for the other half I omitted the chili flake and added sambal for heat. Both were fabulous.

    • — John M on January 28, 2021
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  • I made this delicious recipe and very pleased with the results. I shared it with extended family also. I set my timer for every hour so I could check the doneness of the pieces. I am hooked on trying new recipes during Covid and Jenn’s site provides quite a few new recipes for me to try out.

    • — Susan Seva on January 28, 2021
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  • I was very interested to read this recipe since I make my own jerky too. As part of the reason I do so is to eliminate the sugar in jerky, this recipe wasn’t right for me. Mine is much simpler. I lay the meat out on racks (those cookie racks you stack), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put it in the oven at 180 degrees F overnight (for about 8 hours). My result is more crispy, its almost like meat chips.

    • — CY G on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sounds amazing!
      Im not a fan of paprika . Could that be omited or swapped out for something else? Thanks .

      • — Gina L Green on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Gina, You could replace it with a teaspoon of liquid smoke or just leave it out.

        • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
        • Reply
  • Easy to make and the family loves it! I am so happy to have found an easy and tasty jerky to make.

    • — Anne on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband is a huge beef jerky fan and takes pride in his special recipe. As soon as I saw this recipe pop up in my email I forwarded it to him asking what he thought. Well, he gave it a try and it turned out to be the tenderest, most flavorful beef jerky he’s made yet! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Catherine on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • 5 stars!
    This was my first attempt at making beef jerky and it turned out perfect. My husband attempted a different jerky recipe and used the smoker for umpteen hours – that was nowhere near as good as this recipe!
    The flavor of this jerky is great- a little bit sweet with a bit more tang/kick/spice to it. If you prefer it one way or the other, add a little bit more!
    I found I needed to use 3 pans in the oven compared to 2 mentioned in the recipe.
    I plan to make this again as it is a great “traveling snack” to have on hand.
    Thanks Jenn!

    • — Jaclyn on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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