Sweet Java Beef Jerky is the newest sensation in homemade jerky. Sweet, savory, and rich with the tiniest kick, this is the jerky you can’t stop snacking on!
Java Beef Jerky
If you have read my post for Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky, much of this post will be a repeat for you. If this is your first time to my site or trying out homemade jerky on your own, read on!
This post is so full of jerky knowledge, it should probably be a book. We are going to be talking cuts of meat, slicing tips, marinating basics, and dehydrating vs. smoking. I’m going to give you all of the info you need to master making perfect jerky from home.
Years ago I worked in recipe development for Traeger Grills and published a recipe for Coffee Break Jerky. That base recipe still serves as inspiration for this one, but I’ve been working on it and tweaking it for about the last 5 years and I think it’s pretty much perfect now! I hope you enjoy it!
Best Cuts of Meat for Beef Jerky
Let’s start with the best cuts of beef for jerky-making. Begin with a nice roast with very little fat marbling. For this batch, I used a London Broil. Another amazing choice is an eye of round roast. Other options that work well include a top round, sirloin roast, or rump roast. These last three do have a bit more fat/gristle, but they are often a budget-friendly option.
If you’re into making ground meat jerky, check out my recipe for Ground Beef Jerky. This requires a jerky guns and a little extra effort, but the result is absolutely delicious!
How to Slice Meat for Jerky
Now that you’ve got your cut of meat selected, let’s talk about getting that perfect jerky thin slice!
I own a meat slicer, and have sliced my own meat for jerky before. I understand this is not an option for many. 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! 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 folks prefer slicing with the grain because once it is dry you get those nice long strands of jerky that you can tear off and work through. I’ve also heard that slicing with the grain can cause your jerky to fall apart, but I haven’t experienced that personally. It might be best to try out both and determine what you like best.
Sweet Java Jerky Marinade
Now while you can purchase marinades pre-made, these marinades lack that little extra somethin’ somethin’ you get with a homemade marinade. Specifically, the sweet, savory, heat flavors from this Sweet Java Beef Jerky marinade are one of a kind. It’s like a meat party in your mouth! The real basis for any great marinade, in my opinion, is a good combo of flavors. Savory, sweet, spice. Perfection!
Here’s what you’ll need for this marinade (scroll below to the recipe card for full amounts):
- Brewed coffee
- Soy sauce
- Dark brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Morton TenderQuick
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
This marinade calls for Morton TenderQuick. This is an instant curing powder with small amounts of salt and sugar mixed in, usually available in grocery stores or online. The correct ratio is 1 Tablespoon per 1 pound of meat. The recipe, as written, calls for 2 Tablespoons for 2 pounds of meat.
If you like to use other curing salts in your jerky you can use 1 level teaspoon of Prague Powder #1 or instacure #1 in the marinade recipe. This proportion cures up to 5 pounds of meat. If you increase the recipe beyond 5 pounds, you will need an additional teaspoon of the cure.
The jerky with Morton TenderQuick will last up to two weeks on your counter. If you want to skip adding the cure entirely, add one level Tablespoon of Kosher salt in place of the 2 Tablespoons of curing salt. This jerky will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
How to Make Sweet Java Beef Jerky
Finally, let’s talk cooking method. You can make beef jerky in a smoker, dehydrator, or oven.
- Smoker. I have several smokers at my disposal and my favorite for jerky is my pellet grill. Feel free to make your jerky on whatever smoker you have, just ensure it can maintain temperatures around 160-180 degrees F. This allows the jerky to slowly cook through while smoking.
- Dehydrator. If you are using a dehydrator, please read the instructions accompanying your machine. Every dehydrator works differently and the timeline will be unique to your machine.
- Oven. If you’re without a smoker or dehydrator, you can still dehydrate your jerky in your oven. Lay out the jerky on a cooling rack before cooking. Follow the same time and temperature listed in the recipe, but leave the door of your oven slightly cracked so the moisture can escape and your jerky can dry properly.
The real secret, whether smoker or oven. is to prep your jerky before drying. After you marinate your meat, remove it from the marinade, and pat off the excess moisture. This step is crucial for even cooking. I like to layer my jerky strips between paper towels and thoroughly pat dry. If you want a little extra spice, now is a great time to dust with some additional black pepper.
Finally, be sure to use a thermometer to gauge the doneness of your meat. You don’t want any pieces to be removed from the oven, smoker, or dehydrator if they are under 165 degrees F. I use a good instant read thermometer to monitor my temperatures.
More Beef Jerky Recipes
I’m all for making ALL THE JERKY. And I can’t pass up trying all the different flavors and varieties. If you’re like me, you’ll love these other tasty jerky recipes from Hey Grill Hey:
Sweet Java Beef Jerky Recipe
Ready to become a backyard BBQ hero? Join my members-only group The Grill Squad for full access to all my meat, rubs, sauces, and meat buying masterclasses, podcasts, and so much more. It’s an amazing community of grillers that will help support you and increase your confidence of all things BBQ.
Sweet Java Beef Jerky
- 2 pounds London Broil beef roast (sliced thin against the grain)
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
Sweet Java Jerky Marinade
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 1 cup cola
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Morton TenderQuick
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Make the marinade. Add all ingredients for the marinade into a non-reactive bowl (no metal) and whisk to combine.
- Marinate the meat. Immerse the sliced beef roast into the marinade and stir to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker (or oven) to 170 degrees F.
- Prep the jerky. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry each strip thoroughly by laying on paper towels. Sprinkle with black pepper.
- Smoked the jerky. Transfer the strips to the grill grate, jerky rack, or cooling rack, and 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.
- Steam, store, and enjoy. 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. The jerky will last 3-4 days on the counter or 2 weeks in the fridge.