This peppered beef jerky recipe is packed with classic jerky flavor with a black pepper kick. I prefer to dehydrate my beef jerky on my smoker, but I’ve included adaptations to make it happen if you’ve got an oven or classic dehydrator as well.
How to Make Peppered Beef Jerky
Let’s start with the best cuts of beef for jerky-making. I try to pick a nice roast with very little fat marbling. My first choice is an eye of round roast. After that, I think a top round, sirloin roast, or rump roast would also work well. These cuts do have a bit more fat/gristle, but a lot of times the price is right so I don’t mind. This recipe also works great with venison, so don’t be afraid to branch out a little and give it a try!
Next, you need to get that perfect jerky thin slice. If you plan on slicing your own meat, I recommend putting your roast in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. The chilled roast will be more firm and you will get a much better result with more even slices. If you aren’t slicing at home, find a good butcher and buy your roast from them. They will be more than happy to do the slicing for you! I typically tell the butcher at the counter that I am planning to make jerky and need my slices at about a “2” setting on their slicer.
Now, here is a point of debate for jerky makers. Slicing with or against the grain?? I slice my jerky against the grain. In my opinion, this makes the jerky easier to chew and eat. Some people prefer cutting with the grain because once it is dry you get those nice long strands of jerky that you can tear off and work through. The important thing is that you make jerky that you like to eat. The flavor in this peppered beef jerky will be the same whether it is against the grain or with, so you decide!
Peppered Beef Jerky Marinade
This marinade combines all of the key elements to help add flavor and tenderness to your final jerky product. There are elements of salt, sweet, acidity, and bold seasonings to make sure you get a mouthful of flavor with every single bite. There are a few optional and additional pieces to this marinade that I wanted to cover here so you can get the best result possible.
Brown sugar- I like to balance my salty jerky with just a little hint of sweetness. The amount called for in the recipe will not give you a sweet jerky at all, but it will balance out the savory and black pepper flavors. If you want to reduce the sugar, you can cut it in half. I don’t recommend eliminating it all together though.
Beer- I know not everybody likes cooking with beer, so feel free to substitute the beer for beef stock. This will add an extra element of saltiness to the jerky, so maybe don’t let the jerky marinate past 8 hours if you make this substitution.
Curing Salts- Using instacure #1 (also labeled as Prague Powder or Pink Salt- please not this is not the same as Himalayan pink salt) is an optional step. What the cure does is act as an additional preservative for the jerky. If you use the curing salt, your jerky will be shelf stable and safe to eat at room temperature for several weeks. If you skip the curing salt, your jerky will still be partially preserved by the smoke/dehydration, however I recommend storing in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Uncured jerky will last several weeks in the fridge.
Peppered Beef Jerky Video
Peppered Beef Jerky Recipe
- 2 pounds eye of round roast sliced thin against the grain
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons black pepper
- 1 cup beer or beef stock
- 1 teaspoon instacure #1 (also labeled pink salt or Prague Powder #1) optional
In a large zip top bag, combine all ingredients for the marinade. Mix well to dissolve the sugar.
Add the sliced eye of round to your marinade and toss gently in the bag to coat all sides of the meat with the marinade. Refrigerate 8 hours, or up to 24 hours. The longer it marinates, the saltier and stronger the flavor will be.
Remove the strips of marinated beef from the bag and place on paper towels. Pat dry.
Preheat your smoker, oven (with the door cracked), or dehydrator to run at around 170 degrees F. Transfer the strips to the grill grate, jerky rack, or cooling rack and season the top with additional black pepper, if desired.
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. If you added the curing salt, the jerky will last a couple of weeks on the counter. If you did not add in the curing salt, it will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.