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Beef jerky is a staple snack in our pantry. This homemade Sweet and Tangy BBQ Beef Jerky is a family favorite. Don't worry, it's not hard to make, and I'm giving you different ways to make it even if you don't have a dehydrator.
How many people LOVE beef jerky? I'm not talking about the super dried-out kind that takes you an hour to chew. I'm talking about that sweet and tender melt-in-your-mouth treat that usually comes in tiny bags at the convenience store and often costs an arm and a leg. Not to mention that it usually has some gluten or grain-containing ingredients.
How do you make Beef Jerky?
Beef jerky is really easy to make.
- Thinly slice your choice of beef.
- Marinate the beef.
- Dehydrate it until your preferred dryness, and enjoy!
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What's the best beef to make beef jerky?
One of the biggest questions I always get when I share my jerky recipe with people. I've made it all kinds of beef. But my favorite type of meat has been either top-round roast or flank steak. The trick to a good cut of meat is to find one that is lean and make sure you cut off as much excess fat that may be present on the cut of beef.
Note: If you leave chunks of fat still attached to the beef when you marinate, it will yield little ball-like mounds of hard fat, and trust me, no one wants to eat that.
Good Beef Cut Choices
- Flank Steak
- Eye of the Round
- Top Round
- Bottom Round
- London Broil
Just make sure that you pick a lean cut and trim off the excess fat as you slice the beef.
Slicing Beef Jerky
When it comes to jerky, there are two main ways you can cut your meat that will yield a different texture depending on what you prefer. You can cut it with the meat's grain for a more chewy jerky, or you can cut it against the grain of the meat for a more tender jerky. I prefer a more tender jerky, so I will always cut my beef against the grain.
I like to cut my meat to about ⅛ - ¼ in thick. When it is really thin, it tends to dry out a lot faster, and too thick will cause the cooking times to increase.
Tip: When prepping the meat for slicing, place it in the freezer for about 30 min - to an hour, depending on size. This will help stabilize the cut of beef, making it easier to get more uniform slices of jerky.
If you have a friendly butcher at your local store, you can always ask them to do this step for you as well.
Sweet and Tangy BBQ Beef Jerk Marinade
This is where your jerky gets its flavor, so I recommend making sure that you allow enough time for this. I prefer to let my jerky marinate overnight, but you can get delicious flavor after a few hours if you don't want to wait that long.
There are SO many different beef jerky marinades out there, and I use different recipes depending on my mood, but this recipe is straightforward, and one my kids tend to ask for the most. It's a little smoky and a little sweet, and when I make it, it never lasts long.
- Choice of Beef
- Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce
- Steak Sauce
- Brown Sugar or Honey
Dehydrator vs. Oven
Honestly, this is a question that I get a lot because many people don't have a dehydrator, and I'm here to tell you that's okay. Trust me, before I bought one a few years ago, I didn't have one either, and I was still making beef jerky all the time in my oven.
Tips and Tricks
If using my dehydrator, I tend to put mine on medium for about 6 hours. I wouldn't say I like the way mine works on high personally, but if you have a dehydrator, play around with the settings to see what yields the best results for what you like. I have this dehydrator.
If you are using the oven, I find that placing the jerky on top of a wire rack over a sheet pan, it cooks more evenly than if I were to lay it on a sheet pan.
I find the dehydrator method yields a more consistent result over time, but the oven will do just fine. Go with whatever cooking method works best for you. I've included both cooking instructions for the dehydrator and the oven for the beef jerky below.
With all that said, it's time to make some beef jerky for yourself. Toss all the ingredients into a bowl or storage bag to marinate together until you are ready to cook it up. Fair warning ----- Your house is going to smell AMAZING, and your family will continue to ask if they can eat it yet while this cooks!
More Easy Snacks
Sweet and Tangy BBQ Beef Jerky
- Dehydrator or Oven
- 2 to 3 lbs Eye of Round Roast or choice of beef
- ½ C Coconut Aminos or gluten-free soy sauce
- ½ C Steak Sauce I use Primal Kitchen or Steve's Paleo
- ½ C Brown Sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Thinly slice the steak into strips about ⅛-¼ in thick. (see tips above for how to get more tender to chewy jerky.)
- Transfer the steak to a bowl or storage bag of choice.
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients until combined. Then pour the ingredients into the steak tossing or stirring to make sure that all the steak is coated with the mixture.
- Seal and place in the fridge for at least 30 min or overnight.
- If you are cooking with a dehydrator. Place the jerky pieces into a single layer on the different trays of the dehydrator. Then follow the dehydrators instructions for how long to cook the jerky. You want it dry, yet firm and little pliable. My dehydrator takes about 6-8 hours on medium
- If you are cooking the jerky in the oven, heat the oven to 175 degrees F. Placed a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Lay the strips of beef on top of the cooling racks in a single layer. Bake until the beef jerky is dry, firm but still a little bit pliable. This process should take about 4 hours in the oven.
- Place the jerky in a sealed container and refrigerate up to 1 month. (If it lasts that long in your house.)
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag a photo #grainfreetable or @grainfreetable on Instagram. I'd love to see what you come up with!
Originally Posted 08/6/2019
Louisa redman says
Is this recipe for 2-3 lbs or two thirds of a pound?
Sara Vaughn says
It's two to three lbs. You can use less if you want more marinade on the meat or less if you like. I like to make sure the meat is cut and covered in the marinade, so there are no areas left not marinated.
Daniel Mielke says
There is an error in your description. You say cutting with the grain makes it more tender when in fact it is the opposite. I think you got them mixed up.
Sara Vaughn says
Thanks for catching that, Daniel. You are correct; that is what it's supposed to say; I've updated the post.
Linda McCallum says
Grrrrr….I just made the marinade and thought that is ALOT for 2/3 lb …..then read comments ….PLEASE UPDATE THE RECIPE TO SAVE FRUSTRATION. I was planning to do 3 lbs with different marinades … I hope this is good because I will use it for more meat than I intended…will update after making it. 🤞
Which Primal sauce do you use? Wegmans has a variety of flavors, barbecue, mustard, citrus, cooking marinade sauce.
Sara Vaughn says
I use steak sauce. It says steak sauce on the bottle. You can use BBQ if you want or another flavor. I suggest using one you like the flavor of if you can't find the steak sauce. I have to order mine where we live.