Peppered Beef Jerky

February 4, 2020

This Peppered Beef Jerky recipe is packed with classic jerky flavor and a black pepper kick. It’s the perfect recipe to try if you’re making beef jerky for the first time. While I prefer to dehydrate my beef jerky on my smoker, I’ve included adaptations in this recipe so you can make it in an oven or classic dehydrator as well.

stack of peppered beef jerky on a wooden cutting board

Best Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is one of my favorite things to make, be it on the smoker, in the oven, or in a dehydrator. Jerky is that awesome meaty treat that you can take with you anywhere – camping, hiking, work, school, and more!

Before you dive into making your own beef jerky, let’s talk a bit about selecting the right meat to make into jerky. This step is key. You want to get the right meat to ensure your jerky comes out the right texture.

When selecting cuts of meat for making beef jerky, 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!

Slicing Meat for Beef Jerky

Once you have your meat selected, you’ll 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!

slices of beef jerky on the grill grates of a smoker

Beef Jerky Marinade

Marinade is another important element in making beef jerky come out amazing. The marinade used in this recipe 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 altogether 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 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. To figure out exactly how to cure the meat properly, check out this post on Curing Meats Safely.

How to Make Beef Jerky

For full ingredients and instructions on how to make this amazing peppered beef jerky, scroll below to the printable recipe card. Here’s a quick rundown on how to make your own beef jerky at home.

  1. Marinate the meat. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a large zip top bag. Add the sliced meat to the marinade and gently toss or massage the bag to evenly coat all sides of the meat. Place the marinating meat in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
  2. Prepare to dehydrate. Remove the strips of meat from the bag and place them on paper towels. Pat dry with more paper towel. Preheat your smoker, oven (with the door cracked), or dehydrator to 170 degrees F. Place the jerky strips on the grill grates, jerky rack, or cooling rack and season the top of the jerky with additional pepper (this is optional if you want extra pepper flavor).
  3. Make the beef jerky. Smoke/cook/dehydrate the jerky for 2-3 hours. This time will vary depending on how thick your jerky slices are. Thicker pieces may take up to 4-5 hours, so plan accordingly. Begin checking your jerky after the first hour. You want jerky that is firm but still pliable. If you bend it and it breaks, you’ve cooked it too long.
  4. Store and enjoy. Place your dehydrated beef jerky in a fresh zip top bag while it is still warm, but do not seal the bag all the way. Allow the jerky to steam a bit in the bag (this locks in moisture and makes your jerky oh-so good). If you added curing salt to your marinade, this jerky will last on the counter for a few weeks. Without the salt, store the jerky in the refrigerator.

hand holding a stack of beef jerky

More Beef Jerky Recipes

If you love making beef jerky as much as I do, you’ll love all my recipes for beef jerky available on Hey Grill Hey! From sweet to spicy, we’ve got it all. Check out a few favorites below:

Teriyaki Beef Jerky
Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky
Sweet Java Beef Jerky

Peppered Beef Jerky Recipe

This recipe was created for you, backyard griller! Here at Hey Grill Hey, we’re in the business of helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipes here on my website (browse the Homepage for inspiration) on InstagramYouTube or our Facebook Page.

Making good food should be easy, and Hey Grill Hey is here to help! Over at Patio Provisions, we have sauces, rubs, and more to save you time and energy when you’re busy at the grill. Check it out today!

peppered beef jerky

Peppered Beef Jerky

This Peppered Beef Jerky recipe is packed with classic jerky flavor with a black pepper kick. It's the perfect recipe to try if you're making beef jerky for the first time. While I prefer to dehydrate my beef jerky on my smoker, I've included adaptations in this recipe so you can make it in an oven or classic dehydrator as well.
4.95 from 17 votes
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cook Time : 2 hrs
Marinade Time : 8 hrs
Total Time : 10 hrs 10 mins
Servings : 8
Calories : 168kcal



  • 2 pounds eye of round roast (sliced thin against the grain)

Peppered Beef Jerky Marinade

  • 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


  • 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.


If you prefer to add curing salt to you marinade, read this post on Curing Meats Safely.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 427mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 156IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 3mg
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**This post was originally published April 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

peppered beef jerky

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66 thoughts on “Peppered Beef Jerky

  1. I may have misunderstood? In video you said 1 tsp cure #1 for 5lbs of meat?? Recipe is for less than half that amount, but still using 1 tsp of cure.
    Love your recipes!!

    1. Hey Mary- you heard correct, the 1 teaspoon of curing salt is good for UP TO 5 pounds of meat. We’re also using a wet cure, which can change things a little too. The amount in the recipe ensures that too little cure isn’t used to prevent spoilage. Hope that helps!

  2. Loved the jerky video !! Except … even though you properly identified the Prague Powder No.1 etc. You then went on to clearly call it a sodium NITRATE. Prague Powder is sodium NITRITE . As you likely know they are NOT the same , and I am only calling you on this because this is SUCH a confusing issue on so many forums and I feel the slip up on your video just adds to this confusion. Love your work, hope I’m not being too anal in bringing this up, but I am a true believer in the use of curing additives – and if were gonna use them let’s use the right one.

  3. I watched the video and then looked at the directions. In the directions you have beef stock or beer. I didn’t see that step in the video. Do you add that before the instacure?

    1. That step was towards the end of the marinade steps in the video, sorry you missed it. You can add it before the instacure if you want, it doesn’t really matter, just as long as it gets mixed in before the meat goes in.

  4. I find that I am very sensitive to Prague Powder or any other sodium nitrite powders. I throw up after eating anything cured with them from home made jerky to home cured hams. I have a pound of Morton’s Quick Cure and another brand I can’t use.

      1. I love all your recipes and make them all gluten free which is so simple since they have gf beef stock and soy sauce. You should let it be known about the gf option when making your awesome videos, thanks Suzi

  5. I’ve been trying and trying to make jerky for the men in my house, so I’ve gone through a lot of meat, marinades, recipes(even one from an “award-winning” jerky website…), spices, and money! I gave up and just went with marinating it in Bold and Spicy and making them live with it….UNTIL I TRIED YOUR PEPPERED JERKY! Hallelujah! The men said it was the best jerky I’ve made. I was complimented 4 times(highly unusual), and each time I gave you the credit (I wanted them to know YOU were the Meat Master =D). I can’t tell you how excited and relieved I am to be back in the jerky game and this time with confidence and success!

  6. Finished this today. Wow so good. Having a hard time staying out of it. I tried a different recipe the first time. It wasn’t good at all. Came across this and figured what the hell. I didn’t have any brown sugar so I just used a small amount of sweetener. It turned out perfect. Hopefully there will be some left when the hubby get home. Thanks so much

  7. I will buy the meat and all the ingredients tonight, will cook tomorrow morning. I will let you know. I think is going to be awesome. I love beef jerky. Great job with the video presentation.

  8. Susie I just watched your jerky recipe video, here is a little tip to everyone about using the zip top bags, roll the top of the bag back over it self, that will hold it open for you and help it stand up also

  9. I soaked my meat overnight. Going to dehydrate in the oven today. I forgot to add the beef stock. I hope it still turns out. I just realized I missed that part this morning ????????????

      1. I didn’t ever know to dilute jerky marinade, will try this next time, I can use waaaaay less other liquids. Thank you so much. Everyone loves my “potent” jerky so hers isn’t ruined. Never make it past a day before it’s gone, glad my assumption of shelf life was so limited is corrected. Christmas I do at least 10 pounds. Great recipe!

  10. great tasting jerky, the best i ever had. I make a sweet & tangy KC style BBQ sauce can i add it to this recipe for a bbq flavor.
    Thank you

      1. Is there a style of beer that’s best for this receipt?

        The Winco store has beef sliced for Carne Asada packaged and ready to go. The butcher says it’s the same thickness(#2) but it seems thicker to me. But slightly thicker is better, in my humble opinion. I’ve made this three times now, each batch bigger than the last because everyone loves it. Great fuel for backpacking!

  11. Great jerky, 3rd batch now. To appeal to a larger base I think you should mention that Just about all your recipes are either gluten free or just a simple modification to makes it gf. They now have gf soy sauce and gf beef stock. Love your videos and the funny outtakes. ????

  12. i used 1 1/4 tsp of cure #1 for little over 3lbs of beef is that to much cure i figured the recipe was 1 tsp per 2 lbs so i did 1 1/4 for 3lbs

    1. Any beer you’d like! Go for something from a micro-brewery if you can. I know it’s not a micro but I like using Guinness to cook with.

      1. Thanks, I’m using a Helles style Munich Lager, it’s marinating now, going to make it tomorrow, I’m sure it will be amazing, the marinade certainly tasted good!

  13. Amazing jerky made it twice already I cut the sugar and used low sodium soy in half just personal taste. The first time i used the thin lean side of a brisket and turned out incredible the second time i used inside round i did not prefer it came out crumbly might try not cutting with the grain might give it a better chew.

    1. You can use a jerky gun to shape the ground beef. Other than that just follow the recipe and guidelines in this post to make sure it’s as dehydrated as you like it!

  14. 10 /10 recommend!!! Great jerky came out nice and tender and the marinade has a nice blend of sweet to heat. I added a squirt of my bbq sauce as well for flavor. Thank you for an easy but delicious recipe. I really liked the tip of sealing while it is warm to keep the jerky moist!!! This was my first time and I will definitely use this again! Thank you!

  15. This was by far the best recipe I have tried. I picked up 3 lbs of meat and had my butcher slice it for me. Did all the prep day before. Started early this morning. I also ground pepper on a few slices and added pepper flakes on a few for a lil more spicier. I didnt over do it with more pepper added. I was very pleased with original recipe I found here. Also pleased with added pepper. Thanks for the great peppered recipe. I loved it.
    175 degrees
    3 hrs smoke time
    Cherry wood

  16. Hi. I just started using my dehydrator and used a modified recipe of this. I used ground beef and pushed it through a press. I did not add the beer and lessened the liquids to the ground grass fed ground beef and it was delicious! I did use the prague salt.
    I will certainly be looking for more recipes!

    1. They’re supposed to be pretty thin, but each slicer is a little different. It ends up being about 1/8th of an inch

  17. This is an easy and awesome recipe. My whole family LOVES it. last time I made it without the preservatives and half of the sugar just because I’m trying to be as health conscious as possible and it didn’t change the taste at all in my opinion

  18. Heygrillhey…..first time I made jerky and used your recipe. ..OMG..
    Thinking ahead of not turning out and a waste of the beef for dog treats. .loll…Oh how I was SO WRONG..
    Made 6lbs on the first go at it using the recipe with the curing salt thinking it would move slow and go to waste. …come to find out did not need the curing salt as it was all gone in 2.5 days with WERE CAN I GET SOME MORE. ..LOLL. Now have family n friends ordering it faster than I can make it…like 8-10lbs at a time……EVERYONE says best jerky they have had including myself. ..that being said…thanks amillion sharing your recipe …its a KEEPER for shure. …any chance you might have a recipe for pork jerky. ..or just substitute pork ensted using beef with this recipe. .thxs. .mike

  19. I made this recipe this past weekend. Excellent flavor. I smoked it using a blend of apple, maple, hickory and jack daniel barrel wood pellets. The flavor turned out phenomenal. Brought what little I had to work and everyone loved the flavor.

  20. I have a question. I’m new to all this and hopefully someone can get back to me soon. You mention that “not everyone likes to cook with beer”, if I do what kind of flavor is it adding? I don’t drink beer so I have no way to be prepared what the flavor is going to do? Do I want to go with the beef stock instead or is the dark beer going to give a nice taste?

    1. This recipe will hold it’s own without the beer. To get the best idea of the flavor it’d add, take a sip or two of the beer and decide if you’d like the taste. I like to use beer with this one.

  21. Wow!! I have been entertaining using your website and everyone has loved every dish I have made. Thought I would give jerky a try and will be doing more in the future, turned out amazing!

  22. My whole family LOVES this recipe! I’ve tried a couple others and they’re good but this is by far our favorite.

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