Teriyaki Beef Jerky is a staple snack in our pantry. Tender beef strips marinated in a sweet and tangy homemade teriyaki sauce. I prefer my jerky smoked, but I’ve included variations for using your oven or dehydrator as well.
How to Make Teriyaki 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.
I own a meat slicer, and have sliced my own meat for jerky before. 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 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. I’ve also heard people mention that slicing with the grain can cause your jerky to fall apart, but I haven’t experienced that personally. In fact, all of the pictures for this recipe are of jerky that is sliced against the grain and it held up great with an awesome bite.
Teriyaki Beef Jerky Marinade
Once your meat is sliced and ready to go, it’s time to build the teriyaki marinade! With all good marinades, you need a balance of sweet, savory, and spicy. This has all of the right elements with a slight Asian inspired flare. I recommend marinating your jerky for 8-10 hours, but many people prefer to marinate for 24 hours (or even 48) to really strengthen the flavors. This will make the jerky quite a bit saltier too, so keep that in mind.
An optional addition is to add 1 teaspoon of Instacure #1 (also called Prague powder #1 or Pink Salt) to the marinade recipe. 1 teaspoon of cure will distribute through the marinade and cure up to 5 pounds of meat. Because this recipe calls for a 2-3 pound roast you can get away with using 1/2 teaspoon of cure. If you are making 5 pounds, double the entire marinade recipe and add 1 full teaspoon of the curing salt. The cure will extend the shelf life of the beef jerky and also make it shelf stable.
If you don’t use the curing salt, your finished jerky will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight bag. If you do use the cure, your jerky can last up to 2 weeks at room temperature in an airtight bag.
Dehydrating Teriyaki Beef Jerky
I have several smokers at my disposal and my favorite for jerky is my pellet grill. I can maintain temperatures around 160-180 degrees. This allows the jerky to slowly cook through while smoking. If you’re without a smoker, you can still dehydrate your jerky in your oven by laying out your jerky on a cooling rack that has been set on top of a baking sheet. 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. I like to do this by placing a wooden spoon in the door to keep it propped open. It’ll just be missing that reddish color and smoky flavor.
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. Most will dehydrate jerky in a few hours, very similar to using an oven.
The real secret, whether smoker, oven, or dehydrator, is to prep your jerky before drying. Removing the meat from the marinade and patting off the excess moisture 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 something, now is a great time to dust with some additional sesame seeds.
Teriyaki Beef Jerky Recipe
- 1 2-3 pound eye of round roast sliced thin against the grain
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger sliced
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Transfer the sliced beef to a gallon sized zip top bag and pour in the ingredients for the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat and refrigerate for at least 8-12 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Preheat your smoker or oven to approximately 170 degrees F.
Remove the meat from the marinade and dry each strip thoroughly by laying on paper towels. 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 may need to move pieces around on the grates if some are dying faster than others. You are looking for jerky that is firm and still slightly pliable, but not soft and squishy. 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. The jerky will last 2 weeks in the fridge.