Doc's Best Beef Jerky


A homemade beef jerky marinade made with soy sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, and spices makes the most flavorful beef jerky ever! I have been making jerky for years and I concocted this recipe by trial and error. Everyone says it is the best jerky they've ever had! My dehydrator is designed for jerky and takes about 4 hours to dry the meat. This could also be done in the oven or using other dehydrators, just check your manual for correct times as each machine is different. I hope you enjoy this jerky as much as my family and I do. Store in an airtight container or resealable bags.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
4 hrs
Additional Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs 20 mins

If you like store-bought jerky, you'll absolutely love this homemade beef jerky. It's the best on the internet, if we do say so ourselves! All you'll need is some round steak, our irresistible beef jerky marinade, and a dehydrator to make this top-rated recipe.

Overhead angle looking at strips of beef jerky on a cutting board

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

What Is Beef Jerky?

Beef jerky is lean, trimmed beef that has been cut into strips and dried. Drying (or dehydrating) meat with heat and salt slows bacterial growth dramatically, stretching its lifespan by many months. The word "jerky" comes from a Quechua word: "Ch'arki," which literally means "dry, salted meat."

What Is Beef Jerky Made Out Of?

This beef jerky is made from steak cut into thin strips and marinated in a sweet-savory marinade made with spices, sauces, and seasonings that you probably already have on hand. Some beef jerky recipes can be made in the oven, but this one requires a food dehydrator.

Beef Jerky Marinade

What makes this beef jerky marinade so absolutely irresistible? The combination of sweet, savory, and umami-rich ingredients. This marinade is a beautiful blend of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.

How to Make Beef Jerky (With a Dehydrator)

Truly, it couldn't be easier to make this beef jerky. You'll find the full, step-by-step recipe below — but here's a brief overview of what you can expect:

Marinate the Beef

Arrange beef strips in a single layer in a glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix together all of the marinade ingredients until they're well-combined. Pour the marinade over the beef, cover, and place in the fridge for 8 hours or up to overnight.

Pound the Beef

Remove the strips from the marinade and place them between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound the beef to 1/8-inch thickness with a meat mallet.

Dehydrate the Beef

Dry the beef in a dehydrator set to the highest setting for about 4 hours, or until the jerky is done to your liking.

Best Cut of Beef For Jerky

Avoid anything with a high fat content — the more fat there is, the harder it'll be to achieve the dry and chewy texture you're after. Plus, fatty cuts will cause the jerky to spoil more quickly. Choose a fresh, lean cut instead.

This recipe calls for round steak. You could use sirloin or flank steak, but they'll be a bit pricier.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?

Homemade beef jerky doesn't last quite as long as commercial beef jerky. We recommend enjoying this jerky within three months for the best texture and flavor.

How to Store Beef Jerky

Store your homemade jerky in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a month. Move it to the fridge to extend the shelf life by a couple more months. If you invest in a vacuum sealer, you could make your beef jerky last for up to a year.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"We raise cattle, and I routinely use a dehydrator to make jerky from our freezer full of fresh beef," says Wendy James Ashworth. "Today I made this recipe as well as my family's reigning favorite jerky recipe. In a side-by-side taste test, this recipe was declared (5-0 votes) as the new favorite!"

"You might as well double this recipe to start with," advises cheri. "This is by far the best basic jerky recipe out there. As is, it is GREAT and it leaves room for tweaking without destroying the results. Add a teaspoon of ground or crushed red pepper for a little kick. Bump up the sugar or add honey for a sweeter side."

"It is amazing," raves Jeremiah Tyson. "I also added some habanero flakes from my garden to a portion of the beef and it came out with a perfect taste and that slight sizzle I was looking for. I might just have to go get more meat and get this started again!"

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams



  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika

Beef Jerky:

  • 2 pounds beef round steak, cut into thin strips


  1. Gather all ingredients.

    Overview of ingredients measured out to prepare beef jerky

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. Prepare the marinade: Combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a glass bowl.

  3. Place beef strips in a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Pour marinade over top; toss until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

    Overhead view of a bowl with beef strips in marinade in beef jerky preparation

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Remove beef strips from the bowl and place between two pieces of plastic wrap; pound to 1/8-inch thickness.

    Overview of beef strips between plastic to be pounded for beef jerky prep

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

    Overhead shot of pounded beef strips in beef jerky prep

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  5. Arrange pounded beef strips in a single layer on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at the dehydrator's highest setting until jerky is done to your liking, at least 4 hours.

    Overhead view of beef jerky strips laying on the dehydrator tray

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios


Place steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting. Slightly frozen meat will be easier to cut into thin, consistent slices.

Use sweet or smoked paprika if desired.

If you don't have a dehydrator, try baking the jerky on the lowest rack of your oven at 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) for 2 to 3 hours.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

228 Calories
14g Fat
5g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 228
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 57mg 19%
Sodium 733mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 362mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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