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Citrus Bourbon Turkey Jerky

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With July 4th just days away, some real American jerky is in order to celebrate the birth of a new nation! That only means one thing, Bourbon…

Citrus Bourbon Jerky with american flag with glass of bourbon

I picked up a bottle of Bourbon a couple of weeks ago to drink with some friends and figured it would make some great jerky.

So why Bourbon? Why is that associated with 4th of July? Well Bourbon can ONLY be made in the United States. If it is made anywhere else in the world, it can not be labeled Bourbon.

Slicing the Meat

I made this recipe out of Turkey, but this would also work great with beef. Start with turkey breast, it can be purchased at your local grocer store.

Turkey breast in packaging

Turkey breast is extremely lean and works great for jerky. Slice the turkey breast in 1/4″ wide strips trimming any visible fat away from the meat to prevent spoilage of the jerky. Fat spoils faster than meat, so getting off as much fat now will really extend the life of your jerky. 

Turkey breast sliced for jerky on cutting board

Make sure you slice the strips the same thickness, this way all the jerky strips will finish dehydrating at the same time. Wrapping the turkey breast in saran wrap and partially freezing for 1-2 hours will help harden the meat and make slicing even strips easier. 

Making The Marinade

This is a fun marinade to make… Mainly because you can drink the BEST ingredient. No, i’m not talking about the orange juice, I’m talking about the Legent Bourbon.

Legent Bourbon

Bourbon is a huge part of American history. So the Birthday of the United States deserves a recipe that features something that can only be produced in America. This particular bourbon is unique because it was made by a Jim Beam master distiller who partnered with a Japanese blender.

Even though this is the star of the marinade, other great ingredients such as orange juice, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes also make this jerky the great tasting snack it is.

Citrus Bourbon Marinating

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag and mix well. Since this recipe does not have any whole peppers, blending in a blender is not needed.

Related Page: Dozens of Great Tasting Jerky Recipes – Click Here

Add the earlier sliced meat strips to the marinade and mix around so all the strips are evenly covered. Allow the strips to marinate for 6-24 hours in the refrigerator. The longer the better! Do NOT marinate the meat at room temperature, always marinate in the fridge to prevent the meat from spoiling.

Drying The Jerky

Once the meat has finished marinating, strain any excess marinade in a colander. I marinated this turkey for a total of 20 hours before straining. The longer the marinade process, the more intense flavor the jerky will have! 

Citrus Bourbon Strained

Before adding the meat to your dehydrator, oven, or smoker; lay out paper towels placing the meat strips on top. Pat dry the strips to remove even more of the excess marinade. This step will help speed up the drying process and prevent the meat from being ‘sticky’ after it has finished drying.

Bourbon jerky on paper towels

If your dehydrator does not reach 165°F, pre-heat the meat in your oven to kill any potential bacteria from the jerky. 

Citrus Bourbon Jerky on oven rack

I pre-heated the turkey in my oven on an oven rack. It took 20 minutes at 300°F to reach an internal temperature of 165°F. If you have the turkey directly on the pan, the cooking time will be closer to 10 minutes. Heating this way will change the consistency of the jerky making it a little harder and not as tender.

Bourbon jerky on dehydrator tray

After pre-heating the strips, I placed them on my Nesco Dehydrator trays to be dehydrated. I dehydrated these for a total of 4 hours at 145°F. I would recommend taking a piece out and letting it dry to room temperature every so often and checking to see if it is done. Four hours was just about perfect for these pieces of jerky.

You can also use your oven or smoker to make this jerky. For more in depth instructions on drying your jerky, check out my Jerky Making Methods Page.

Related Page: Dehydrator Reviews – Click Here

Testing For When The Jerky Is Finished

While drying the jerky, you want to start testing to see if it has finished at about the 3-4 hour mark. Take a piece of jerky out of the dehydrator, oven, or smoker and allow it to cool for 5 minutes to room temperature. 

Bend the jerky in half; it should bend and crack but not break in half. You will also see white fibers in the meat. The fibers are really visible when a piece is ripped in half.

Citrus Bourbon bending

If the jerky is not finished, continue drying for another hour and repeat the same process until the jerky is finished. 90% of the jerky i make is finished within 4-6 hours when using a dehydrator or oven and 6-9 hours when using a smoker. If pre-heating the meat in the oven, drying time can be as little as 2.5 hours.

The jerky turned out really good. An intense citrus flavor from the lemon and orange juice really shines in this meat snack. The bourbon is nice and subtle, not too intense and overpowering. This very light, citrus, and sweet jerky is something you definitely need to make for your upcoming 4th of July party!

Citrus Bourbon Jerky with flag and bourbon in a glass

Storing Jerky

To make the jerky last as long as possible, curing salt will really help along with keeping in air tight containers. I have put together a page on storing jerky and steps you can take to make your jerky have an extended shelf life. Check it out!

Old Pro Tips:

  • Trim all fat from the meat before marinating for longer lasting jerky once it’s finished drying
  • Use curing salt or celery juice powder to extend the life of the jerky
  • Marinate closer to 24 hours for the most intense flavor
  • Use your favorite Bourbon to tailor the taste of this jerky to your liking

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For more in depth directions on how to dry your jerky, visit my page Jerky Making Methods or click on the pictures below. 

Learn how to make Beef Jerky in a dehydrator. It's easy, fast, and delicious! | Jerkyholic.comLearn how to make beef jerky in a smoker. Great tasting and better than store bought jerky! | Jerkyholic.comHow to Make Beef Jerky in an Oven

Citrus Bourbon with american flag and bourbon with lemon
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Citrus Bourbon Turkey Jerky

Intense citrus, sweet, and bourbon flavor makes this such an amazing tasting jerky you will never want to share.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword bourbon, Jerky, Turkey Jerky
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 5
Calories 173 kcal
Author Will


Lean Turkey Breast


  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly cracked
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp curing salt Optional


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag and mix well.
  2. Trim all visible fat from the turkey breast and slice ¼" strips

  3. Add sliced turkey breast to the mixture in the ziplock bag or bowl and marinate for 8-24 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. After the meat has finished marinating, remove from refrigerator and strain excess marinade in a colander.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 300F.
  6. Place turkey strips on a baking rack on top of a aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the strips reach an internal temperature of 165F.

  8. Remove from the oven and dry with you favorite jerky making method. I used my Nesco Dehydrator and dried for 4 hours at 145F.

  9. The jerky is finished when it bends and cracks, but does not break in half. Allow to cool for an hour before storing in an air tight container.

Recipe Notes

Old Pro Tips:

  • Trim all fat from the meat before marinating for longer lasting jerky once it’s finished drying
  • Use curing salt or celery juice powder to extend the life of the jerky
  • Marinate closer to 24 hours for the most intense flavor
  • Use your favorite Bourbon to tailor the taste of this jerky to your liking
Nutrition Facts
Citrus Bourbon Turkey Jerky
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 173 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 49mg16%
Sodium 909mg40%
Potassium 369mg11%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 125IU3%
Vitamin C 14.9mg18%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1.2mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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