Here’s a recipe for bourbon beef jerky that you can make at home, with just an oven. It’s affordable and delicious, you’ll never buy store-bought again!
So, at a family dinner last weekend, I was talking with my grandpa about making beef jerky. It’s something that I wanted to try for a long time, mainly because my favorite brand is six dollars for a pretty small bag, and also because… I mean it’s beef jerky. It’s delicious, and would be an awesome thing to add to the “I can make this” list. So, I bought a pound and a half of top round beef from the grocery store, and decided to have at it while I had two days off in a row. Seeing as that probably won’t happen again for a very, very long time, I had to prioritize. Oven-dried bourbon peppered beef jerky made the top of the list.
Anyway, you can season this beef jerky any way you please. The marinade can be made of essentially any seasonings. My grandfather said he uses brown sugar for a sweeter jerky. This past week, I made my beef jerky two ways; one with this bourbon pepper and a rare scorpion pepper that I had on hand, and another smaller batch of chimichurri-seasoned jerky. Both tasted great, one was smokier and spicier and one was garlicky and fresh and green. The bourbon peppered is what you see in the photographs here. You can find a thousand and one ways to season beef jerky on the internet, so try a few different ways to see what tastes best to you. Whatever you choose for the marinade, remember to come back here for the process, because I can proudly say that my jerky is the BEST! So, here’s how:
Bourbon Peppered Beef Jerky Recipe
- 2-5 pounds beef, a brisket or top round is fine. Something leaner is better for the drying process, thought lately I’ve been buying bottom round roast and just trimming the fat off with a sharp knife. If you think you’ll be devouring this jerky within a few days, a tiny bit of fat left on actually yields incredible flavor.
- 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 3-5 dashes liquid smoke
- 1-1/2 teaspoon bourbon pepper (yes, you can use black pepper and a splash of bourbon, too)
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt (it helps dry it out)
- 1-1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- Any additional spices you choose, I chopped up a rare Peach Scorpion Pepper that I got when I was on the judging panel for the Second Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo a couple weeks ago.
- First, place your beef in the freezer for one hour or so, so that it’s easier to slice. After about an hour, take a sharpened knife and slice it fairly thinly, about 1/4″ slices, against the grain. Trim off any fat that you see.
- Next, prepare your marinade, mix it together in a bowl large enough to hold all of the sliced meat. Once ready, stir the beef into the marinade and make sure it’s coated really well. Wrap it up in saran wrap, and store it in the fridge overnight.
- Next day, preheat your oven to 170, this is the best temperature for drying, rather than cooking, and will ensure it at least gets hot enough to kill any bacteria in the meat, rather than incubate it and make it worse.
- Line the bottom of your oven in tin foil, so that any drips don’t make a mess of the oven. Then, lay out your beef on the oven rack as you see. It’s a little tedious, but it will be worth it. Cook your beef in the oven for about 4-6 hours, depending on how good your oven works, your exact cut of meat and the slices’ thickness, it’s going to vary a little bit. Two very important things to keep in mind: The first, is that you must cook your jerky with the oven door held open a bit by either a crushed can or a wooden spoon, so that the air / moisture can get out. Next, about half way, you may want to flip the jerky pieces. They can be a little tricky to rebalance, but the parts touching the metal wrack won’t have been exposed to the air enough to dry out. It won’t be that hot in the oven, so you can stick your fingers in there alright, for the most part. But seriously, don’t burn yourself. If you do, it’s not my fault.
- Step by step images available on the blog.