Beef Jerky Variations You Could Try This Season


jerky variations

Winter is coming, deer season is just around the corner, and many will start butchering meat. That means it’s meat jerky time and lots of jerky variations to try.

A few months ago, we featured our basic guide on how to make meat jerky. One good thing about this basic marinade recipe is that it allows you to tweak and make your own meat jerky variation. Or you can deconstruct a famous concoction and apply it to meat jerky. Or you can swap a different meat instead of using the common beef.

In this article, we will share with you different jerky variations which we hope you’ll love. Again, you’re free to make some iterations to suit your taste or preference.

But before that, allow us to repeat here our basic jerky recipe which you could start with, followed by the jerky variations you could try at home.

If you are a beginner, we’d recommend starting off with making beef jerky. The familiar taste of beef will allow you to perfect your marinades since you can decipher the various flavors. Beef is also easily accessible which is why beef jerky is more common.

Basic Meat Jerky recipe

Ingredients

  • 1½ – 2 pounds of lean meat
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon hickory smoke-flavored salt

Steps

  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Place meat slices in a shallow bowl or pan.
  • Pour in the marinade until meat is covered with the mixture.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours or better if overnight. Take note that the longer it is marinated, the tastier it could get.

If you prefer to heat the meat before drying, bring meat in marinade to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. If meat slices are more than ¼ inch thick, it may take more time. Check the internal temperature of the meat if it reaches 160°F. When done, drain well and pat them dry using paper towels.

Arrange the meat slices on drying trays without touching or overlapping. Put a piece of aluminum foil or tray below the bottom rack to catch drippings.

Dry the meat until a piece starts to crack but does not break when bent (approximately 10 to 24 hours if the meat is not heated in a marinade). Begin checking samples after 3 hours. Turn the meat strips over occasionally to prevent them from sticking on to the tray. Once drying is completed, pat off any oil with clean, absorbent towels, and let it cool. Remove meat slices from the rack and let it cool.

If the meat slices were not heated in a marinade before drying, place them on a baking sheet, close but not touching or overlapping. Heat in an oven for 10 minutes at 275°F until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160°F. Thicker strips of jerky may require a longer time.

Before we proceed to the jerky variations, please take note that we will not repeat some procedures like the preparation of the meat slices, the pre-treatment, and post-treatment. We will just share the marinade recipes because the dehydration process is basically the same.

RELATED ARTICLEA Beginner’s Guide on How to Make Jerky

Barbecue Style Jerky

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of lean meat just like the basic recipe we have.
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chili or red pepper flakes to taste

Steps

Combine soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, onion powder and garlic powder in a bowl. Add the meat slices into the marinade. Refrigerate overnight. After putting the meat slices on dehydrator trays, sprinkle dried chili flakes on meat slices to the level of heat you prefer.

Beef jerky

Bloody Mary-inspired Flavor Jerky

This recipe calls for 2 pounds of lean meat. This is what we mean by deconstructing a famous concoction and applying it as meat jerky variations.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bloody Mary mix
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon dried tomato powder
  • ½ tablespoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Steps

Combine Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire, horseradish, salt, and pepper. Add the meat into the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Combine dried tomato powder, celery salt, cayenne, and Cajun seasoning in a bowl. Sprinkle the dry spice mix on each side of the meat before placing them in the dehydrator.

Cajun Style Jerky

This recipe calls for 3 pounds of lean meat. Feel free to adjust the measurements if you have less meat available.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay® Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

Steps

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Marinade meat making sure it is completely covered with the mixture and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Old Bay alternative mix

If you don’t have Old Bay® Seasoning at home, try mixing the following spices and store in an airtight container:

  • 1 tablespoon celery salt (1/2 tablespoon ground celery seed and 1/2 tablespoon salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch ground dry mustard
  • 1 pinch ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground ginger

Coffee Marinated Jerky

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark roast coffee, brewed
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground coffee
  • 5 tablespoons of liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt

Steps

Combine the ground coffee, chili powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, kosher salt in a bowl. Break up any clumps and mix until everything is evenly blended. Set aside.

Brew two cups of coffee and let it cool down to room temperature. Add liquid smoke. Add about 2/3 of the spice rub to your marinade and save the rest for later. Mix it thoroughly. Add the meat slices and marinade it making sure that it is completely soaked in the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Before drying, use the remaining spice rub. Sprinkle it lightly on each strip as you put them on the dehydrator trays.

Homemade Venison Jerky

Soda-brined Meat Jerky

This recipe calls for 1 pound of lean meat. If you have more meat, adjust the measurement by multiplying it with the meat’s weight.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of softdrinks or soda of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Prague powder #1 (a.k.a. pink salt or curing salt)

Steps

In a bowl, combine soda, sea salt, pepper, and Prague powder and mix well. Add the meat slices into the mixture and marinate for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

If you see some fatty foam on top of the liquid, you may take it off. Those are excess fats that reacted with the soda.

If you want to have a distinctive soda taste, increase the amount of soda and heat the meat with the marinade. The reduction process will allow the soda’s flavor to seep into the meat before drying.

Sweet and Spicy Jerky

This recipe calls for only 1 pound of lean meat. If you have more than a pound, multiply the measurement with the weight of meat that you have.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Steps

In a bowl, combine all the liquid and spice ingredients. Put the meat in a resealable plastic freezer bag and pour marinade over the meat, making sure that the marinade covers the meat. Refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours.

Teriyaki Style Jerky

This recipe calls for 5 pounds of lean meat. Feel free to adjust the measurements if you have less meat available.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Soy Vay® Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 2 cups Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

Steps

In a bowl, combine the Worcestershire, soy, teriyaki, liquid smoke and molasses. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, and sesame seeds. Combine well. Marinate the meat, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours

Whiskey Meat Jerky

This recipe calls for 2 pounds of lean meat. Make the necessary adjustments in the measurements, if needed.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups root beer
  • 1 cup whiskey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

Steps

In a bowl, mix the ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved. Marinate the meat slices making sure the meat is completely covered with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Final Thoughts

Overall, these recipes will allow you to discover and further appreciate jerky. We hope that we inspired you to create your own magical jerky variations at home. Let us know how your food experiment went and share it with our readers.

If you are considering purchasing a food dehydrator, check out our recommendations.

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