Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky
- Ready in: Prep: 20 M, Cook: 2 H, Passive: 8 H, Total: 10 H 20 M
- Complexity: medium
How to make the Best Beef Jerky ever! Right at home.
Step by Step Directions
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half. You should have just over a cup of marinade. Chill the marinade completely.
Transfer the sliced beef to a gallon-sized zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, or overnight.
Preheat your smoker or oven to approximately 170 degrees.
Remove the meat from the marinade and dry each strip thoroughly by laying on paper towels. Transfer the strips to the grill grate, jerky rack, or cooling rack and smoke/cook for 2-3 hours (depending on the thickness of your slices, some thicker pieces can take 4-5 hours). Check often after the first hour to be sure your jerky is drying evenly. You are looking for jerky that is firm and still slightly pliable, but not soft. If you bend your jerky and it breaks, you've cooked it a little too long.
Place the finished jerky in a gallon zip-top bag while it is still warm. Don't seal closed all the way. The jerky will steam in the bag slightly and this step will make the jerky moist. The jerky will last 3-4 days on the counter or 2 weeks in the fridge.
Smoker: I have several smokers at my disposal and my favorite for jerky is my pellet grill. I can maintain temperatures around 160-180 degrees. This allows the jerky to slowly cook through while smoking.
Oven: If you’re without a smoker, you can still dehydrate your jerky in your oven by laying out your jerky on a cooling rack before cooking. Follow the same time and temperature listed in the recipe, but leave the door of your oven slightly cracked so the moisture can escape and your jerky can dry properly. It’ll just be missing that reddish color and smoky flavor.
Dehydrator: If you are using a dehydrator, please read the instructions accompanying your machine. Every dehydrator works differently and the timeline will be unique to your machine.
ALL METHODS: The real secret, whether smoker, oven, or dehydrator, is to prep your jerky before drying. Removing the meat from the marinade and patting off the excess moisture is crucial for even cooking. I like to layer my jerky strips between paper towels and thoroughly pat dry. If you want a little extra spice, now is a great time to dust with some additional black pepper.
LAST NOTES: If you like to use curing salts in your jerky you can use 1 level teaspoon of Prague Powder #1 or Instacure #1 in the marinade recipe. If you cook the recipe as is, it will last in your fridge for up to two weeks in a zip top bag (if you don’t eat it all before then). If you use curing salt, it will last up to two weeks on your counter.