This easy to make homemade Black Pepper Beef Jerky is delicious! With a low, subtle heat, it is tender and flavorful with no added preservatives!
Beef Jerky is one of our favorite things to create. It is so expensive in the store that it is crazy satisfying to make your own for cheaper and there are SO MANY FLAVOR POSSIBILITIES!
Our little tribe of camping friends and neighbors are our taste testers and this latest experiment got a big thumbs up from all of them. This one is going into regular rotation for us!
The Secret to Making Flavorful Beef Jerky
The thing with beef jerky is that it requires both a flavorful marinade and soak time. The meat needs to be in that marinade for long enough that it will soak in all of those flavors. Sometimes the flavors need some tweaking and refinement and a few retries before it is just right and I’m not going to lie – getting jerky just right is kind of an art.
The first time that I made jerky, I was so excited to make it that I only let it marinate about 12 hours. The result was that the jerky was fine but it wasn’t flavorful. Like not at all. It was just kind of… boring.
Now when I make jerky I put the meat into the marinade and put it into the refrigerator and leave it for an absolute minimum of 24 hours, sometimes up to a week! Typically, around the 72 hours I am super happy with the result.
You need to find what’s right for you but the longer in has time to take in the marinade, the deeper the flavors of the jerky! Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your happy place!
The UDSA has a great page with all sorts of facts about Beef Jerky here.
TEN TIPS FOR MAKING BEEF JERKY:
- London Broil (Top Round) makes a very tasty jerky. Strips need to be cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. NO THICKER THAN THAT.
- How you cut the meat determines the final result. Evenly, thinly, and against the grain are key.
- Marinate, marinate, marinate. What you put the meat in and how long you leave it there for really determine the final result. Marinating under 12 hours is not going to get you the taste you want. You have to let the meat take in the flavor. You can’t rush it. You have to pay attention. Move the meat around while marinating and turn the bag repeatedly while it marinates. A ziploc bag is a great thing for marinating as it is pliable and the meat can be moved around without opening the bag.
- Be careful with salt. Salt seems to be the first thing that gets soaked up into the meat. You can’t take it out once it’s in. Too salty = bad. Use garlic POWDER and onion POWDER, not the salt versions.
- Taste and smell your marinade. If it is tasty before adding the meat, the jerky will turn out great.
- Marinate in the refrigerator. No one wants food poisoning.
- A food dehydrator is a good investment. The oven can be used but it is harder to get a great end product and it takes longer.
- When a recipe says it’ll take 5 hours, start checking it at an hour and a half. Timing depends on temperature, thickness and moisture, not what a cookbook says.
- Don’t be afraid to move the meat and the trays around. Also, don’t be afraid to remove the thinner pieces that are done before the thicker ones. No one is perfect when cutting meat into strips. Check often!
- And finally, don’t ever put meat in the dehydrator and go to bed, thinking it will be done in the morning. If you do this, you will get over dried jerky that will most likely be inedible. After all that marinating time, it is really sad to have to throw it out!
What if I don’t have a Dehydrator?
I get asked a lot if you can make jerky in an oven. Of course you can! You would prepare and marinate the meat exactly as above but instead of putting it onto dehydrator trays, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will preheat to. Usually this is 170 – 175 degrees F. Position the racks to the upper-middle position.
Line two large baking sheets with foil and then place a wire cooling rack onto each. This allows the meat to have some air flow. Lay the marinated beef strips out onto the wire racks and bake until it is dryer and considerably less spongy than it was going in.
Much like a dehydrator, it is important to pay attention to the meat by moving the jerky around and rotating the trays. Feeling the jerky with your fingers is the best gauge of done-ness. Cooking times vary upon the thickness of the meat and this process can take anywhere from 2-5 hours. Enjoy!
How to Make Black Pepper Beef Jerky
Beef Jerky is so simple to make. It can be made in the oven, but we prefer to use an electric food dehydrator.
Guidelines for using an oven are included below, just in case you don’t have a dehydrator and want to give this recipe a try.
Beef Jerky begins with a lean cut of meat, cut into strips. We use London Broil, which is a fancy name for a smaller beef top round roast (eye of round). The meat should be lean and not contain bones.
We use between 1 – 2 pounds at a time, sliced into strips between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, any large fatty parts removed.
You can cut it yourself or ask the supermarket butcher to do it for you. Cut against the grain to make the jerky more tender. Once cut, set it aside until the marinade is ready.
There are a lot of ingredients in this marinade but everything seems to contribute to the balance of flavors.
In a zip top bag, combine the marinade ingredients until they are all blended together.
Add the meat and push it around to get it well coated.
Place the bag into the refrigerator and marinate the meat for at least 12 hours, moving the meat around in the bag and flipping the bag occasionally to ensure that all meat gets flavored.
The jerky strips go into the dehydrator and are spread out to allow air flow. Use as many trays as necessary to accommodate the meat.
The amount of time that the jerky will take until it is ready is really determined by the manufacturer of each machine. The highest heat setting should be used – typically 160 degrees F. I rotate the trays about every 45 minutes or so, checking the meat to see how it is coming along.
One of the best things about making your own jerky is that you can decide just how dehydrated you want it. One way to check is by doing a poke test. The jerky shouldn’t be completely dried out. It should still be just a little spongy and bounce back a little when you poke it. It likely will reach this stage after 3 – 4 hours in the dehydrator.
Smaller pieces will take less time than larger ones so you can remove individual pieces as they are done, leaving the bigger pieces in for longer if they need it. The meat will shrink as it dehydrates.
Once sufficiently dried, remove to resealable container or large zip top bag and allow to rest and cool before sealing.. Store in a cool place or the refrigerator for up to a month. Enjoy!
Other Favorite Easy Jerky Recipes
Worcestershire Beef Jerky – Our most requested jerky recipe with a a bold flavor that is undeniably good!
Spicy Dr. Pepper Beef Jerky – delicious, Sweet and tender With a low, subtle heat and a bold beefy flavor.
Teriyaki Sweet Hot Beef Jerky – Jerky with a sweet Teriyaki flavor and just the right amount of heat.
Herbed Beef Jerky – Marinated in fresh onion, horseradish, herbs and soy sauce… YUM!
Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky – Deliciously balanced between sweet & Spicy!
Black Pepper Beef Jerky
- 1 pound London Broil sliced into jerky strips large fat removed
- 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup beer or Beef Broth
- Trim excess fat and connective tissue from jerky strips.
- Place all remaining ingredients into large bowl or Ziploc bag and stir or squeeze to combine.
- Add jerky strips and distribute through the marinade, making sure the meat is coated evenly.
- Refrigerate for 24 – 72 hours, up to a week, turning bag occasionally.
- Lay the jerky strips out on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Blot tops of strips with paper towels, removing as much as possible.
- Lay jerky strips on dehydrator trays with room between for air flow. Use as many trays as necessary.
- Turn dehydrator on to highest setting and allow to dehydrate according to manufacturers directions, rotating trays periodically.
- When jerky has been dehydrated sufficiently, remove from trays and allow to cool. Enjoy!