Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (2023)

Here at PepperGeek, one of our favorite snacks is beef jerky. We recently got a new dehydrator and have been tinkering around with drying different foods and herbs.

We’ve dehydrated habaneros and other peppers, bananas (yum), and homegrown basil and sage. However, by far the most delicious food we’ve dehydrated thus far is this sweet & spicy beef jerky.

We put together some of our favorite Asian flavors to make a unique, spicy beef jerky marinade that is out of this world. Here, we’ll share the amazingly delicious spicy beef jerky recipe for you to make at home!

Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (1)

Skip Ahead:

  • How to make beef jerky
  • Storing beef jerky
  • Beef jerky shelf life
  • Identifying spoiled jerky
  • *Jump To Printable Recipe*

How To Make Spicy Beef Jerky In The Dehydrator

Once you have a dehydrator, making your own spicy beef jerky is just a few simple steps away. We explored tons of recipes from around the internet, but none of them quite used the right level of spice and flavors.

Many other websites encourage you to experiment with whatever ingredients you love when making jerky, so that’s exactly what we did.

Making beef jerky is as simple as thinly slicing fresh beef, marinading in a salty brine of sauces and spices, and dehydrating the slices for several hours. After the perfect amount of time in the dehydrator (or oven), the beef will be pliable and perfectly tender.

We were amazed at how tasty our spicy beef jerky came out, much better than anything we have tried from the store.

Spicy Beef Jerky Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Flank Steak (or eye of round, top round or bottom round)
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 cloves Fresh Garlic, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Gochujang Paste (Get here on Amazon)
  • 0.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Onion Powder

How To Make Spicy Beef Jerky (Steps)
Jump To Printable Recipe

  1. Flash-freeze the steak for 30-60 min.

    Freezing the steak will make it much easier to slice into even pieces.

  2. Slice the beef into 1/8-1/4 inch slices.

    We prefer to slice against the grain for more tender beef jerky. If you want it chewier, slice with the grain.
    Tip: Cut away any excess fat from the strips. Fat will spoil more quickly than the protein of the beef.Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (2)

  3. Combine spicy beef jerky marinade ingredients in a bowl.

    Mix all marinade ingredients thoroughly to incorporate the gochujang paste and the brown sugar.
    Tip: For better flavor retention, coat the beef with dry ingredients first, then soak in the wet ingredients.
    Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (3)

  4. Combine beef strips and marinade in a baggie.

    Squeeze the baggie with the beef strips and marinade to ensure that all pieces are completely covered in the sauce.Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (4)

    (Video) Korean Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe for the Dehydrator - PepperGeek

  5. Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.

    We don’t like to wait, so marinating at room temperature speeds up the process. If you have the time, marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

  6. Dehydrate for 6 hours at 165°F (74°C).

    Remove the strips of beef from the baggie, allowing any excess moisture to drip off. Arrange the strips in a single row on your dehydrator trays.
    Tip: Halfway through the 6 hours, check the strips and dab away any fat that rose to the surface of the strips with a paper towel.Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (5)

  7. Cool and store in an airtight container.

    Allow the beef to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Store in a mason jar or a freezer baggie. Add a food-safe desiccant packet to remove moisture.
    Tip: If your container fogs up after sealing, it may be a sign that your beef is not dry enough. Remove it and dehydrate it longer. Properly dried beef jerky should crack slightly when bent, but not snap in half.Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (6)

That’s it! You can enjoy the spicy beef jerky fresh out of the dehydrator, or store it in the pantry for up to 2 months. For some more tips about making homemade beef jerky, read more below.

How To Store Homemade Beef Jerky

After you finish marinading and dehydrating your beef jerky, the last thing you want is for it to spoil in just a few days. Take some precautions and make sure you follow these guidelines to storing homemade beef jerky.

  • Use an airtight container. The easiest way to prolong your jerky’s shelf life is to use an airtight container like a mason jar. Freezer baggies will also work fairly well, but sandwich baggies are not ideal.
    Try a Vacuum Sealer if you have a lot of beef to dehydrate. These suck out all of the oxygen and provide an excellent seal for long-term storage.
  • Use oxygen absorber packets. Also known as desiccant packets, these small pouches contain oxygen-absorbing silica gel. Buy food-safe desiccant packets here on Amazon.
  • Store in a cool dark place. The pantry works best for jerky. It can also be stored in the refrigerator, but this may affect the texture of the beef.

If you follow these guidelines, your jerky will last as long as possible. Without using a curing powder, you can’t expect beef jerky to last the way commercial jerky does. However, 1-2 months is usually plenty of time to enjoy your tasty snack.

Does Beef Jerky Need To Be Refrigerated?

When you buy beef jerky at the store, it is not in the refrigerator section. However, what about after you open it up?

To put it simply, beef jerky does not require refrigeration after opening, though keeping it in the refrigerator will elongate its shelf life. Commercial beef jerky is cured and dried with rigorous standards.

You can usually keep opened jerky at room temperature for 1-2 weeks after opening. If your jerky is homemade, eat it within 1 week of opening.

How Long Does Homemade Jerky Last?

In our household, jerky only lasts a few days (but only because we eat it all). However, shelf life is a different story. Many store- bought recipes include preservatives to keep the jerky from spoiling. You’ll also find a desiccant packet in every bag of store-bought jerky to remove oxygen from the enclosed space.

To put it simply, homemade jerky should last 1-2 months when stored properly (see storage guide above). If you only have common Ziploc baggies, you may end up with a shorter shelf life due to oxygen exposure.

With a proper air-tight container with a desiccant, you can expect at least 1-2 months of safe shelf storage.

A rule of thumb is that the dryer the beef is, the longer it will last without spoiling. Water, oxygen, and fat are the enemies of your jerky, so reducing the content of these three components is essential for long-term storage.

Here are a few tips to help your jerky last as long as possible:

  • Trim the fat. Before you make homemade jerky, you should trim away any and all excess fat from your sliced meat. Fat spoils quickly and can invite molds.
  • Dehydrate at 165°F. By dehydrating at this temperature, the beef will actually cook and any existing bacteria will be killed off. This is critical when not using curing salts.
  • Allow to cool. Cooling is important before you store your jerky. Allow it to come to room temperature (1-2 hours) after dehydrating is finished.

How To Tell If Beef Jerky Has Gone Bad

Spoiled beef jerky will be hard to miss. However, if you’re unsure, check for some of the obvious signs.

Beef jerky that has gone bad will likely smell rancid or have visible signs of mold. Make a note of the date when you dehydrated your beef jerky so that you can reference it later on.

(Video) Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe

If you have opened your jerky and have been munching on it for a week or so, be sure to give it a close look and smell before eating it. If you’re ever unsure if the jerky is spoiled, it is safest to throw it out.

To avoid spoiled jerky, make sure that you have dehydrated for long enough. One of the telltale signs of under-dry jerky is water droplets forming on the inside of your container. If you see water forming on the inside of your container 1 or 2 days after dehydrating, take the jerky out and dry for longer.

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe

With all of the prep-work done, it is time to whip up our delicious spicy beef jerky recipe. With inspiration from Korean cuisine, this beef jerky is sweet, salty and a bit spicy (the way we like it here at Pepper Geek).

Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (7)

Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Print Pin Rate

Course: Snack

Keyword: Beef Jerky, Spicy Beef Jerky

Prep Time: 20 minutes

(Video) Sweet, Hot & Spicy Jerky Recipe

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes


  • Food Dehydrator

  • Sharp Knife


  • 1 lb Flank Steak Beef (Eye Of Round, Top or Bottom Round cuts work as well)
  • 2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Gochujang Paste
  • 0.5 tsp Onion Powder
  • 0.5 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 0.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper Powder


Prepare The Beef

  • Freeze the beef for 30-60 minutes prior to slicing. The stiffness makes it much easier to cut even slices.

  • Slice beef into 1/6" – 1/4" slices, ensuring all are the same thickness. We prefer to go against the grain when slicing, which results in a more tender jerky. Slicing with the grain will give the jerky a tougher texture.

  • Slice away ANY excess fat.

  • Place beef into a sealable baggie.

Prepare The Marinade

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

  • Pour the marinade over the beef in the baggie.

    (Video) Step-by-Step Guide: Sriracha Honey Beef Jerky

  • Massage the beef slices in the baggie, ensuring all of the slices are completely coated in the marinade.

  • Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. You may also set this in the refrigerator and marinate for up to 10 hours.

Dehydrate The Beef

  • Set your food dehydrator to 165°F (74°C).

  • Place beef slices on dehydrator trays, first allowing any excess liquid to drip off the slices.

  • Dry for 3 hours at 165°F (74°C) and blot away any fat juices from the slices.

  • Dry an additional 3+ hours at 165°F (74°C) or until the beef jerky is leathery.

Store The Jerky

  • Store in an airtight container with a food safe oxygen absorber for 1-2 months.

  • Once opened, consume within 1 week.

I hope your spicy beef jerky recipe comes out as perfectly tender and delicious as ours did! If you make this jerky, please leave a star rating and review with your thoughts on the flavor.

Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky Recipe - Amazingly Delicious - Pepper Geek (8)


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

(Video) SWEET & SPICY TERIYAKI DEER JERKY! (5 Second Marinade)


What is the best meat for beef jerky in a dehydrator? ›

The best cuts of meat for beef jerky are Top Round, Bottom Round, Lifter and Pectoral, but a variety of cuts can be used such as Flank Steak and Skirt Steak. These cuts of beef check all the boxes for beef jerky—economical, lean, and full of flavor.

How do you make beef jerky taste better? ›

If you do happen to like sweeter beef jerky, just add 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the marinade. And if you like a spicier beef jerky, I recommend sprinkling some crushed red pepper flakes on top of the jerky as it cooks.

What is the best cut of meat to use to make 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.

How long to marinate jerky before dehydrating? ›

Place the whole bag into the fridge to thoroughly marinate for up to 24 hours, but no fewer than 4 hours. The longer you marinate, the deeper your flavor and tenderizing action. The most convenient process is to simply refrigerate overnight and start your next step, the drying process, on the following day.

Can you leave beef jerky in a dehydrator too long? ›

It is not recommended to leave jerky in the dehydrator for longer than 5 hours. If you follow the instructions above, the sweet spot for dehydrating beef jerky in the dehydrator should be 4 hours or 5 hours if your raw meat was exceptionally succulent.

Can you overcook jerky in a dehydrator? ›

Today, using dehydrators or ovens are recommended safe drying methods and are ideal to sufficiently heat and dry the meat strips without overcooking them.

Why add vinegar to jerky? ›

35ml apple cider vinegar: Acids are essential for food safety since they inhibit the growth of microbes. This ingredient will not just add a distinct taste but help ensure your jerky is safe for consumption.

How much jerky does 1lb of meat make? ›

You can understand why, since processing jerky takes time, and a pound of meat only produces about 1/4-pound of finished jerky. However, it really is a manageable process that you can do at home.

Should you tenderize meat before making jerky? ›

Are you wondering, “Do I need to tenderize meat before making beef jerky?” Yes, you do — and the best way to do it is with a marinade. Marinating meat tenderizes it and adds flavor before you make that tasty jerky. Your marinade needs to contain at least one acidic ingredient, like vinegar, wine or soy sauce.

What is the cheapest meat to use for beef jerky? ›

Eye of Round

It's very lean but with just a bit of interior marbling. Additionally, the grain runs in just one direction — lengthwise — so it's easy to cut into strips. Finally, it's a low-cost cut, making your eye of round jerky an economical snack.

Is it cheaper to make your own beef jerky? ›

Making your own beef jerky at home is not only incredibly simple, but it is also much much cheaper than buying store-bought jerky. Plus, you'll be able to control all the ingredients that go into making it; no weird stabilizers or unpronounceable additives.

How long does homemade jerky last? ›

Homemade beef jerky, on the other hand, should last one to two months if you store it in an airtight container after making it. If you store beef jerky in a Ziplock bag in your pantry, it'll last about a week. And, if you store your beef jerky in the fridge, you can expect it to last one to two weeks.

Do you need to flip jerky in a dehydrator? ›

You do not need to rotate the trays very often if you are using a Weston Dehydrators, but it doesn't hurt to move them around. Round dehydrators definitely require tray rotation.

Can you marinate jerky too long? ›

What's important to note is that there really isn't a problem with letting your beef soak in your marinade for longer than 18 hours, and there honestly isn't any worry about allowing the marination process to go on for “too long.” Quite the contrary, what people need to be concerned about is not letting their jerky ...

How do you know when jerky is done? ›

Jerky should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (165°F for poultry). Arrange dried jerky strips in a single layer on a baking sheet, not touching or overlapping. Place in an oven preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin checking the temperature using a bi-metallic food thermometer at 10 minutes.

Why is beef jerky so expensive? ›

Why is beef jerky so expensive?

How do you keep jerky moist? ›

How do you keep jerky moist?

What happens if you cure jerky too long? ›

What happens if you cure jerky too long?

What is the best temp to make jerky in a dehydrator? ›

After heating to 160 °F or 165 °F, maintaining a constant dehydrator temperature of 130 to 140 °F during the drying process is important because: the process must be fast enough to dry food before it spoils; and. it must remove enough water that microorganisms are unable to grow.

What happens if you cut jerky too thick? ›

"If it is too thick it will be chewy, and if it is too thin, it will become very tough," Thomas explains. So what's the right size? He says you should aim for your slices to be about one-quarter-inch thick.

Can jerky be pink in middle? ›

Your finished jerky may still have a fresh red hue if you used curing salt in your marinade. This is normal and a sign that the curing salt did its job — but if you didn't use curing salt and your jerky is still a lighter red or pink, that's a sign that it's undercooked.

Does Worcestershire sauce tenderize meat? ›

Does Worcestershire Tenderize Meat? Yes, Worcestershire sauce is a great meat tenderizer. It has vinegar in it, which breaks down the meat fibers. It's highly concentrated, so it penetrates deep into the steak for more flavor.

What do they put in beef jerky to keep it fresh? ›

Most commercial producers use a cure consisting of sodium nitrite to extend the life of their jerky to 1 year. This prevents bacteria that could survive in meat that is only dried and not cooked. It is not a requirement to use a cure and most homemade recipes do not include one.

What temp kills bacteria in jerky? ›

Making Jerky From Ground Meat

Be sure to follow the dehydrator manufacturer's directions carefully when heating the product at the end of drying time. Again, an internal temperature of 160°F is necessary to eliminate disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, if present.

How much salt do you put in a pound of jerky? ›

How much salt do you put in a pound of jerky?

How long does it take to dehydrate 2 pounds of jerky? ›

How long does it take to dehydrate 2 pounds of jerky?

Can I make beef jerky and sell it? ›

Can I make beef jerky and sell it?

What is a natural meat tenderizer for jerky? ›

Fresh pineapple juice - Fresh pineapple juice contains the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain works well as a meat tenderizer.

What is the white powder on beef jerky? ›

Salt on Beef Jerky

The white, powdery substance on the outside of beef jerky can sometimes be salt. Salt is an essential ingredient in beef jerky. It serves as a natural preservative. Salt is soluble in a liquid solution and is absorbed into the meat.

Do you have to marinate meat for jerky? ›

If using a jerky cure and seasoning, it's very important that you marinate your meat for at least 8 hours.

Which is better turkey jerky or beef jerky? ›

Some people have different needs that require different dietary supplements. People low on iron might benefit from beef jerky, people who want more protein should try turkey, and people who want fewer carbohydrates should try beef jerky.

What is the most tender cut of beef? ›

Considered the most tender cut of all, a filet mignon is taken from the center of the beef tenderloin. It is lean yet delivers a melt-in-your mouth, buttery succulence.

How thin do you slice meat for jerky? ›

Whether you're using a knife, a meat slicer, or a tool specifically designed to slice your beef jerky, slicing in the wrong direction with any of these instruments will result in a chewy piece of beef jerky. The general advice is to slice the meat both thin (1/8 - 1/4" thick) and against the grain.

How much jerky does 4lbs of meat make? ›

Four pounds of fresh, trimmed meat will yield 1 pound of jerky, a lightweight dried meat product. Suggested cuts include lean beef round, flank, chuck, rump, or brisket.

Is it OK to eat beef jerky everyday? ›

In short, though beef jerky is a healthy snack, its best consumed in moderation. Most of your diet should come from whole, unprocessed foods. Though beef jerky is healthy, avoid eating too much of it, as it's high in sodium and may come with the same health risks that are linked to eating processed meats.

Is a dehydrator or smoker better for jerky? ›

SMOKED OR DEHYDRATED JERKY - WHICH IS BEST? There are many differing opinions on the best way to cook and dry jerky, but if you have a smokehouse that is able to control the relative humidity, then starting and finishing in the smoker is going to give you the most consistent and the most tender piece of jerky.

How long will beef jerky last in a Mason jar? ›

Dry Canning – Though the process takes time, dry canning jerky in mason jars keeps jerky fresh for up to a year. The flavor of dry canned jerky is preserved better than jerky stored using any other method because neither air nor moisture is removed during the process.

Can beef jerky last 10 years? ›

Like most things, beef jerky will eventually expire. However, when properly sealed, beef jerky can be good for up to a year in the pantry or fridge and up to two years in the freezer. If kept in the pantry, you should eat unsealed beef jerky within the first few months.

What happens if you don't refrigerate beef jerky? ›

The simple answer is because it doesn't have enough moisture to support the growth of bacteria. Bacteria need water to grow, and jerky has very little water content thanks to its production methods. As a result, jerky can last for months without refrigeration - as long as it's stored in a cool, dry place.

Is curing salt necessary for jerky? ›

Using curing salt when making jerky is not essential, however it does have a lot of great benefits. Using curing salt correctly helps to reduce the chance of harmful bacteria growing on meat and ensures a safer curing process. It also improves flavour, colour and extends the shelf life.

Can beef jerky be done in 3 hours? ›

Dry Out The Meat

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.

Do you put oil in jerky marinade? ›

The best beef jerky marinade!

You need: Soy sauce. Olive oil. Liquid smoke - this adds the perfect slightly smoky flavor to the jerky!

What do you add to jerky to make it last longer? ›

Cure. The use of a cure, either artificial or natural, can extend the shelf life of a beef jerky past the standard one year. The cure prevents the growth of bacteria which can cause the jerky to spoil. Common cures are sodium nitrate, Prague Powder, and celery powder.

How long do you let jerky soak? ›

How long do you let jerky soak?

Should I pat jerky before dehydrating? ›

Should I pat jerky before dehydrating?

What kind of meats are good to dehydrate? ›

Meat and seafood to consider:
  • Ground beef.
  • Deli meats like lean ham, turkey and roast beef.
  • Canned or pressure-cooked chicken.
  • Canned tuna.
  • Cooked shrimp.
  • Imitation crab.

Should you flip beef jerky in a dehydrator? ›

For best results in dehydrators with vertical air flow, rotate trays at least every 2 hours, moving the tray closest to the heat to the position farthest away from the heat. While jerky will typically take many hours to dry fully, begin checking it after about 3 hours to avoid over-drying.

Do you cook meat before dehydrating for jerky? ›

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat.

How long will dehydrated beef jerky last? ›

Generally, commercial beef jerky is best enjoyed within one year. However, to enjoy the jerky's premium flavor and textures, we recommend consuming it within six months of purchase. Homemade beef jerky, on the other hand, should last one to two months if you store it in an airtight container after making it.

What foods do not dehydrate well? ›

What foods do not dehydrate well?

What are the disadvantages of dehydrating food? ›

What are the disadvantages of dehydrating food?

Can you dehydrate meat too much? ›

Can you dehydrate meat too much?

Is jerky better in the oven or dehydrator? ›

Is jerky better in the oven or dehydrator?

Do you add water to jerky? ›

Do you add water to jerky?

Is jerky better in a smoker or dehydrator? ›

Is jerky better in a smoker or dehydrator?


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