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!
- 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
- Flash-freeze the steak for 30-60 min.
Freezing the steak will make it much easier to slice into even pieces.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.