The best homemade beef jerky recipe made with Habanero Peppers is the last and only recipe you will ever make from now on! Learn how to make great tasting beef jerky with this easy to make recipe.
The spicy kick of the peppers and the saltiness of the Sea Salt really makes this the top jerky recipe ever!
📋 Why this recipe works
This is a great tasting jerky because of the original flavor it has beneath the heat from the habaneros. The sugar and worcestershire help with that original flavor and also balance the heat of the peppers. I love spicy jerky, and I really love the flavor of habanero peppers, and this beef jerky recipe checks both of those boxes!
🔪 Slicing the meat
Start with a great lean cut of beef when making this jerky. Making sure to choose a lean cut of meat is important, the cuts below have little fat and are great for jerky.
Best meat to use
- Beef Eye of Round Roast
- Top (London broil) & Bottom Round Roast
- Flank Steak
- Sirloin Tip
- Ground Beef (10% fat or less)
I used Beef Eye of Round when making beef jerky, but you can find a complete list of the best cuts of meat to dry beef jerky here!
The first step of slicing meat for beef jerky is to trim the cut of meat of all visible fat. You can see the white fat in the picture below, just trim that off BEFORE you start slicing the meat.
Fat spoils faster than meat, so the more you get off now, the longer your jerky will be shelf stable.
Now it's time to decide whether you want a more chewy jerky or tender jerky, because the way we slice the meat will determine the final texture.
- Slice ¼" wide strips in the same direction as the grain of the meat for a more chewy jerky
- Slice ¼" wide strips in the opposite direction of the grain of the meat for a more tender jerky
Slice the beef strips in even thin slices so they will dry evenly and be finished at the same time. This is best done with a very sharp knife.
- Wrap the roast in plastic wrap and partially freeze for 1-2 hours to make slicing easier.
For more in depth information and a video showing you how to slice the perfect beef jerky strips, visit my Slicing Meat for Jerky Page.
I didn't use it on this beef jerky recipe, but a jerky slicer is a FANTASTIC piece of equipment to help get even strips when slicing jerky.
This slicer simply clamps down on your kitchen counter making it really easy to use.
Still don't want to slice your own meat? No worries, ask your local butcher to use their meat slicer to slice your eye of round roast ⅛" thick. Most of the time they will be happy to help.
🧂 Making the marinade
This beef jerky recipe has some great ingredients including: garlic powder, sugar, fresh cracked black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and of course some fresh Habaneros!
To make the marinade, just combine all the ingredients that are listed on the recipe card below in a blender and add the fresh Habaneros.
Readers Tip: Substitue ⅓ cup of the water for ⅓ cup soy sauce for a more salty intense flavor.
Blend until the peppers are fully incorporated into the marinade. Smelling this marinade made me say "Oh Wow!" after blending these habanero peppers you see in the picture above. It was a STRONG smelling of fire, heat, and goodness! Ha.
Combine the jerky slices and marinade in a bowl or ziplock bag and marinate for 6-24 hours. I like using a ziplock bag as it seems to allow the marinade to fully coat the meat.
Mix the bag up a couple times during the marinating process to also make sure each piece gets an even amount of these great tasting spices!
I marinated this beef jerky marinade for 18 hours, which was plenty of time to impart it's spicy rich flavor into the jerky.
After marinating, strain the jerky strips in a colander to remove any excess marinade. Place the strips on a paper towel and pat dry to remove even more of the excess marinade that is sitting on the surface. Doing this will help speed up the drying process.
Transfer the strips to your dehydrator trays, oven rack, or smoker racks to dry. I used a dehydrator, but you can also use an oven or smoker when making this jerky.
Dehydrators are an inexpensive and great way to make beef jerky. These machines can vary in price from $50 to $500. A great starting dehydrator is the Nesco Snackmaster which will run under $100.
Place the beef strips in a single layer on the dehydrator trays with space in between each piece of meat. This allows the air to flow around each jerky strip and helps dry faster.
I used my Excalibur Dehydrator for a total of 3 hours at 165°F and 1 hour at 145°F. Make sure the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F to kill any potential bacteria. The 3 hours at 165°F in the dehydrator does the trick.
Smoker (Pellet smoker / Traditional smoker)
Smokers are a fantastic way to make beef jerky. This is the most expensive piece of equipment you can buy to make beef jerky, but they are great for making so much more than just jerky.
Maintain a temperature between 180°F to 200°F and smoke the jerky for 3-5 hours. Start checking the meat after about 3 hours, the time will really depend on the type of smoker you have and how thick the meat was sliced.
I use a pellet smoker for most of my jerky making, but also make other great tasting smoked meats like baby back ribs, prime rib, and burgers.
Pellet smokers are easy to use and hold temperature within 5 degrees, eliminating you having to stoke a fire which requires a lot of time.
A traditional smoker really gives you the best smoke flavor when making beef jerky or smoked meats. They do require a little more attention than a pellet grill, but you just can't replace that great smoke flavor.
If you enjoy sitting outside drinking beer and playing with fire, than a traditional smoker like this Oklahoma Joe's Smoker is for you!
Using your kitchens oven is the least expensive way to make this beef jerky recipe. Since most kitchens already have an oven, you already have everything you need to churn out fantastic meat treats.
Place the jerky on a cooling rack atop a baking sheet and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. The gap made from the wooden spoon will allow moisture to escape the oven and allow the jerky to dry instead of bake.
Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
Set your oven at it's lowest temperature, 170 degrees to 200 degrees and dry the jerky for 3-6 hours.
🌡️ Testing for when it's finished drying
Jerky is best dried to feel and not only to a specific amount of time. Drying time will vary by method, thickness of the strips of meat, where you live (altitude & humidity), and your specific drying dehydrator/oven/smoker.
Before testing to see if a piece of jerky is finished drying, you must remove it from your oven, dehydrator, or smoker and allow it to cool. If you don't, bending a warm piece of jerky will appear to be unfinished and result in further over drying.
- Remove a piece and allow it to cool for several minutes to room temperature
- The jerky will be finished when it bends and cracks, but does not break in half. You will also see white fibers within the meat when bent.
Here is a piece of my Kentucky Bourbon Beef Jerky Recipe being tested. You can see the white fibers in the meat, a tell tale sign that it is finished drying and ready to eat!
🥡 Storing jerky
To make homemade beef jerky last as long as possible, curing salt will really help as well as keeping the jerky in airtight containers.
- 1 week - Store in ziplock bags and keep in a cool dark place out of the sun, such as a cabinet.
- 1 month - Storage in ziplock bag or vacuum seal. Use curing salt in the marinade and store in the refrigerator.
- 2 months or longer - Vacuum seal, use curing salt, and keep in the fridge or freezer.
I have put together a page on storing jerky and steps you can take to make your beef jerky have an extended shelf life. Check it out!
Yes you can! Choose a ground meat that is 10% fat or less and simply omit the water. Keep everything else the same.
No, you can substitute any pepper or decide to leave the peppers out totally and have more of an original flavored jerky. Feel free to change things up!
No, curing salt does help extend the life of the finished jerky and prevents bacteria but it is not needed. Just make sure the finished beef jerky is heated to an internal temperature of 160°F. Curing salt does give the jerky that classic red color and a distinct taste, so if you decide not to use it, the finished jerky will look and taste different.
👨🏽🍳 Old Pro Tips:
- Trim all fat from the meat for longer lasting jerky
- Use fresh Habaneros for the best flavor, and cut the stem off each pepper. Use 0 peppers for no spice, 1 pepper for mild spice, 2 for medium, and 3 for HOT!
- Use a blender to blend the peppers into the rest of the marinade for more spice and even flavor.
- Use gloves when handling spicy peppers.
- Not smoking the jerky? Add a teaspoon liquid smoke to give the jerky a smoke flavor.
📖 Learn more about making jerky
- 1 lb Eye of round
- 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 whole habaneros (3 if extra hot is wanted)
- 2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup cold water
- ¼ teaspoon curing salt (optional)
- Trim all visible fat from the beef and place in freezer for an hour or two to partially freeze.
- While the meat is in the freezer, combine marinade ingredients in a blender and blend until the peppers have been chopped into very small pieces. Place in a bowl or ziplock bag.
- Remove the meat from the freezer and slice ¼" strips against the grain for an easy chew. Cut with the grain for a more chewy jerky.
- Add sliced beef to the mixture in the ziplock bag or bowl and marinate for 8-24 hours in the refrigerator.
- After the meat has finished marinating, remove from refrigerator and strain excess marinade in a colander and pat dry with paper towels.
- Load dehydrator trays with jerky strips leaving room for air to circulate I used my Excalibur Dehydrator and dried for 3 hours at 165°F and 1 hour at 145°F
- The jerky is finished when it bends and cracks, but does not break in half.
- Omit Habaneros if you don't want a spicy jerky
- Wash hands before handling meat
- Make Sure to use a blender to incorporate ingredients
- Adjust the amount of peppers to your liking
Frank Netzinger says
I tried this recipe and like it a lot. I will make a hotter version and candy it with simple syrup to balance out the higher heat level. Thank you for all you do...very nice website!
Tried this last night. Only marinated for about 10 hours and substituted our homegrown jalapeños (which are hotter than normal). Not bad but wish I had marinated it longer. It would likely have had more flavor. Dehydrated in my Tribest Sedona dehydrator at 165 degrees for 6 hours (but I didn’t pat it dry either). Seems like the sugar may have made it a tad more tender than It usually gets. Will definitely try it again but marinate it longer. Just started making jerky a few weeks ago but I can’t wait to try another one of your recipes! Thanks for sharing your tips, recipes and experiences! Very helpful for this newbie!
This a Great recipe, everyone likes the stuff. I added a little red pepper flakes, and instead of regular sugar, I used brown sugar, makin another batch as we speak.
Thanks a bunch...Bruce
Great to hear Bruce! Sounds like you found a winner and have your own little tweaks to make it your favorite. Thanks for leaving a comment!
My new favourite! Really good heat, but not so much on the toungue. The fruit flavour from the habanero is amazing. I resisted the urge to tweak and followed the recipe. It needs nothing, but in the name of science I will try the next batch with the optional soya sauce, and double the garlic powder.
E Jones says
If I use curing salt, do I need to reduce any other salt called for in a given recipe?
You can just add the curing salt. It isn't enough to really make the jerky that much saltier.
Just started making this! I’m stoked! I ran out of Worcestershire so I subbed A1, tastes pretty good! I plan on cold smoking and was wondering what you recommend on smoke duration and rest after smoke.
I don't cold smoke jerky as I use the smoker to raise the IT of the meat to kill bacteria. You don't want to over smoke it though, a couple hours is plenty and then letting it rest for a couple hours before packaging.
Jeff Bernstein says
I’m curious about why you cook at 165° for 3 hours and 145° for 1 hour. My Nesco is drying this recipe as I type this!
It doesn’t make a huge difference, but instead of continuing to cook the meat, you are only drying it out with air. Can help have a more pliable jerky.
Tu Johnson says
I’ve made this recipe twice for my few coworkers and me to snack on and the 4 pound batches of top round only a short while. They absolutely love it habanero heat as well.
So before making my next batch of jerky I asked if they were tired of the flavor or spiciness and wanted a different flavor, thinking they would want a change. Instead they said NO!
My 4 pounds is marinating till tomorrow. I marinated 24h prior but will do 20h this time so I can start dehydration by 3pm.
I’m using the soy version with sugar today but used coconut aminos with coconut sugar in other batches.
Thanks for the recipe
Haha. If it's not broke, don't fix it... They know what they like!
Will, I have to say this is a great recipe! I used chicken instead and did it on the oven and it came out awesome. I substituted 1/3 cup of soy sauce as you suggested. I used 2 habaneros on this batch but will increase in the next batch. Thanks!
Glad to hear Mike. Sounds like you like it SPICY over there!
George H says
Dear Will, many thanks for this recipe - is really inspirating for me. I will try it next two days but I'll add a few drops of japan soya sauce, pinch of ginger and cracked smoked red pepper to marinade for more tasty... And without habaneros, 'cause we don't like so hot so. I'll let You know...
I am going to try this recipe today and it says in the paragraphs to use 1/3 cup of soy sauce instead of water for a salty taste. But the recipe says to use a 3/4 cup of water. So since I want to make a substitution, do I use a 1/3 cup or 3/4 cup?
It was a readers tip to replace 1/3 cup of water with 1/3 cup soy sauce. So I would put 1/3 cup soy sauce and about 1/2 cup of water for easy measurements.
I'm looking to try a great recipe but also one that is either low or no-carb. Have you (or anyone else) tried to substitute either Stevia, erythritol, or other ingredients instead of the sugar? Looking forward to trying a number of your recipes!
Thanks in advance!
I have not substituted it, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out!
I use liquid monk fruit and it adds a nice mild sweetness to the jerky. The powder alternatives can sometimes leave an odd chemical taste or other aftertaste.
Lisa B Januska says
I'm new to dehydrator Jerky making, and I'm planning on using my Ninja Foodi dehydrator setting to give it a go. Not sure if you've ever seen, or heard of a Texas original store called Bucee's, if not,, it's a sight to be seen,, they have everything, plus they make their own Jerky and its mighty fine, the best I've ever had is a black pepper one. The finished product is a 6-7" stick and what I like to do, is cut it in 1/4" tabs. So the stick on one end is about an 1" and other end is tapered to1.5-1.75" in diameter. When I cut it, it nearly has the texture of a piece of beef tenderloin, it's super supple, and tender, not chewy in the least. They sell it for $20.lb, so usually I pick up one of the largest sticks and can cut up to close to 20 of these squares, that and a boiled egg or 2 is my breakfast. I'm curious if with your experience cooking Jerky, have you ever tried a more expensive cut of meat, and how that turned out for you? I don't think I want to buy a tenderloin at todays market value prices, but wondering if you have any ideas on how to get close to my description in texture? I'm eager to try your recipe mixes and either use the hubs smoker, or my Ninja, thank you for any thoughts to my question!!!
Definitely know Bucees! Lived in Texas for almost 20 years and always stop on any road trip. It sounds more like biltong, which is made totally different from beef jerky. The problem with using more expensive cuts for jerky is that they normally have more marbling of fat which is not what you want when trying to make it store for a long period. You could try making small batches and eat it quickly if using fattier meats.
STEVE CZEMODAN says
Made this recipe today in my Bradley Digital smoker,( I omitted the hot peppers, found fresh ground black had enough spice) only took 5hrs to come to perfection!!! Love this recipe & page THANK YOU! Will definitely be trying more recipes soon.
Great to hear Steve!
Hello! A new subscriber. Your recipe sounds amazing. But if I don’t have habanero peppers, can I use powdered? If so how much? Thanks a million!
You can use powdered for sure! I would start with a small amount, like 1/4 tsp and taste the marinade. Adjust as needed. Let me know how it turns out!
I have not got to try this recipe yet I do not have a dehydration unit can rhis be made on a pellet stove/oven? Thanks in advance!!
Definitely. Check out my post on smoking beef jerky for more information.
This is my go-to jerky recipe. My husband and my friend will NOT let me make anything else. LOL
I don't use curing salt, and I sub Scotch Bonnet peppers instead of habañeros. They're the same on the Scoville scale but have a unique flavour and aroma. (Think Jamaican food). It is fantastic. I use 3 peppers per recipe, and either do a double or triple batch. It takes most of a day to dehydrate it all.
I then vacuum seal it, and store in the fridge and freezer.
Thanks for this fantastic recipe!
LOVE scotch bonnet peppers. Can be hard to find, not common at local grocery stores. Glad they are enjoying it!
Scom Anon says
The daughter-unit says this is the best batch I've made yet. So tough to let it finish it's last hour without nipping at it from the air fryer 🙂
Next time around, I am thinking about replacing the water with either cooking Sherry or Marsala. How do you think that would work ?
Sherry might turn out well, I like using beef broth instead of water as well to give it a little flavor. Try it and let me know how it turns out!
Scom Anon says
I've really been looking forward to making this recipie, I LOVE habeneros. I have a teenage daughter that is quickly becoming a hot food convert.
Quick question Will: It sounds from reading the recipe, the stems get removed, but other than that, the habaneros go into the blender whole ? If I was supposed to seed them before blending, I didn't want to miss that step.
Many Thanks !
Just cut the stem off and put in whole, no need to seed them! I hope you enjoy it!
Pam Greer says
We love spicy jerky! So this is perfect!
Fantastic beef jerky recipe, tastes amazing
Richard Kleini says
I have used your recipes before and loved the results! This time I noticed that my Nesco dehydrator only goes to 160° tops. I must assume that it will still be safe, right?
It's always good to check your own dehydrator and make sure that it reaches 160F, but I have found the Nesco Snackmaster & Nesco Gardenmaster to both dehydrate the meat to 160F internal.
Have been using this as a base for months with moose and/or rib eye. If I can't find fresh peppers then I use my five pepper hot sauce, pop instead of sugar. Made it true to the recipe the first time except I had Scotch bonnies instead of habaneros, it was delicious.
Daniel A. says
This is just like my go to recipe. By far a fan favorite at work.
2-3 habaneros and 3 jalapenos (blended)
1/2 cup soy
1/2 cup worcestershire
honey or brown sugar
few splashes of Louisiana hot sauce
with the marinade being so salty, i only need 2 hours, then smoke 2-3 hours, and finish on dehydrator.
This one is the best so far I tried from the site! 🙂 I completed total of 3 recipes but this one will be one of the best!
It's a damn good one!
Zac Frampton says
I just used 1 habanero and it seemed to give plenty of heat, next time I'll probably double the recipe and still use just 1 habanero though. Anyone using more than 2 of them must have burnt out taste buds. I don't use them much but I like habenero heat, kind of a slow burn. I increased the salt a little to 2 tsp of kosher salt. Not sure why sea salt would be any different, salt is salt. No one has been able to convince me otherwise.
Just the right amount of sugar to not make it sweet and the Worcestershire isn't overpowering .
As far as the temp, I use my pellet grill on low smoke, about 160 degrees for about 3 hours, smoky and delicious. The only problem with smoking it is that it gives the jerky a stronger aroma so you can smell it as soon as you open the bag and it attracts the other carnivores ;).
"attracts the other carnivores" Haha! I'm glad it turned out well. How do you like that pellet grill? Thinking about getting one...
Have you made the Sweet Heat Sriracha Jerky? It has a heat that is more mixed in to the meat and same taste as Habanero.
Super good man, used this recipe for 5 lbs. and multiplied it by 5x! I used 6 Habaneros.
Nice! Hopefully the spice was just right.
This is my 4th recipe from your site in about 3 weeks, these are the first jerky recipes i've ever made and I can see its an addiction lol. While I was at the store today picking up Habaneros for this i also saw a Manzano chilli. I looked it up on my phone and found it is a larger not as hot varient of the same kind of flavor I like in a Habanero so I'm trying one of those in the mix, I'll let you know how it goes. keep up the good work on this site!
I'm interested to see how those Manzano chilies taste, let me know. I will have to keep an eye out for some.. Thanks for the comment Steve!
Can you clarify this for me? If I use the curing salt do i need to heat the jerky up to 165, or does using the curing salt take care of that? I'm not clear on whether the curing salt makes it safe to eat without heating it to 165 or if the curing salt just makes it shelf stable longer.
It is good practice to heat the jerky to 165F even if using curing salt. Curing salt will further prevent the possibility of bacteria surviving and as you mentioned, will make it shelf stable for longer.
This is a great recipe! I dehydrate my left over chilies from my garden, then grind them up in my coffee mill, each variety separately , of course. The dried powder is great, just a pinch is all you need. The jerky came out great, just the right amount of heat.
Great to hear Elaine!
Deirdre Charbonneau says
Hi! i'm trying this out right now 🙂 i had 3 lbs of round roast so i tripled the ingredients. When I blended the habanero, some of it flipped into my eye so I kinda cursed you a bit, but then after the firey pain subsided I forgave you. It's marinating right now, but I'm hopeful this is a good recipe 🙂 thank you for making this website with all the great recipes.
Haha. You gave me a good laugh! How did it turn out?!
anthony monk says
Gday from Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns north QLD Australia, had a crack at your recipe, i used brown sugar and a bit extra for sweetness 2x habaneros ended up mild to medium heat, marinated for 2 days, i used maple timber and beach wood in my smoker and smoked for 5 hours, family,friends and the jerky connoisseurs among them "love it" and are lining up for more, this recipe is a winner! thanks Will for putting it out there, regards Tony
Thanks for visiting from the other side of the world! Glad it turned out to be such a hit. Cheers!
Holy mola this was good! I used this recipe for my first time making jerky on my oil drum smoker. I started with 3lbs of eye of round and doubled the recipe. I only used 2 habaneros and it still had some strong heat. I think they were some good ones. Going to try this again soon. Thanks for the recipes!
Glad it turned out great! Thanks for checking out my site!
Alfredo Romero says
Hello Will I’m thinking about trying your recipe with fish, do you recommend any modifications? I don’t how much salt should I put for fish. Thanks in advanced
I have never made this with fish, but I would stick to the recipe as is. Let me know how it turns out!
Loved the recipe, I used it as my first batch and it turned out better than I expected. I found my flaws after rereading the recipe and will blend the marinade next time. I have question though, 1/4 took about 10 hours to properly dry in my Excalibur at 165, would this be because it has been rather humid lately?
Yeah, anything with peppers is better when blended. 10 hours seems like a really long time for an Excalibur dehydrator. Humidity could add additional time, thick slices adds more as well. 10 hours still seems pretty long. Make sure when you are testing the jerky by taking a piece out and letting it cool to room temperature before testing it. Cool 5 minutes, then bend it to see if it cracks as well as looking for white strands in the meat. If you don't let it cool before testing, it's easy to over dry it. With 1/4" slices and using my Excalibur, 4-6 hours normally does the trick.
I will try the cooling method before bending next time. I have an order of 20lbs top round cut 1/8" to pick up. Im going to make a lot of this as I loved the flavor and now that I know to blend it should be better.
I’m confused, why would you ask the butcher to cut 1/8” slices, but if you take the roast home you cut 1/4” slices?
If you have a butcher slice it, they will use a meat slicer that can get even thin slices of 1/8" that is VERY hard to do when slicing with a knife by hand. That's why 1/4" is often recommended when slicing your own jerky meat. The thickness also depends on what you prefer. Some people love thicker pieces of beef jerky and others paper thin extremely dried jerky. Test out different sizes and thicknesses and see what you like best!
Bill Harvey says
I've made two 3 lb batches of this and really like the flavor. I went a bit conservative on the habaneros in the first batch, using 1 per pound. The result wasn't hot enough for my liking. I think have have this current batch pretty dialed into my taste. I made the following modifications...
- 1/3 cup soy as substitute for 1/3 cup water
- Two habaneros with seeds per lb
- Brown sugar in place of white sugar
- Marinate 15 hours minimum, stirring every 5 hours
- Dehydrate at 150 for four hours.
The heat from the peppers really does mellow substantially during the marinating process, so you cannot judge the heat from the freshly made marinade. Thanks for the recipes. I hope to try more soon.
Glad you liked it Bill. It's crazy how spicy the marinade can be and then the jerky just be somewhat spicy. Sounds like you perfected this recipe to your liking!
Lance Robbins says
Thank you sir...what a great recipe for jerky with a punch of heat. This is my "go to" for jerky. I made a slight tweak and use Minute Made tropical blend instead of the water. I've add 1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper. I also use 1 tbsp of worcestershire and 1 tbsp of Dale's steak seasoning (instead of the 2 tbsp of worcestershire). I do 3 habaneros but when I double the batch, I use 7. It's amazing how quickly it disappears once it is finished.
This is definitely a great recipe! Glad you have found one that you like. I will have to try it with some juice instead of the water. Good jerky goes fast! Ha.
Love this recipe. With 3 habaneros it’s just right for heat. I’ve started to add a Guajillo chili into the mix for a bit of extra flavour.
This is my favourite recipe but I’ve tried a few from your site and I’m yet to find one I don’t enjoy. Keep up the good work it’s very much appreciated
This is one of my favorites as well! Glad you are enjoying the site!
Hi Will, Making this recipe now with mango instead of the water. Cant wait to try it. Only 4 hours to go. Hey Will, what does the cure stuff do ? Thanks Mike.
Nice. Let me know how it turns out! The cure helps kill bacteria and prolong the life of the jerky.
Chris J says
I'm used to using a recipe with heavy amounts of soy sauce and worcestershire. I was a little bit skeptical when I smelled the marinaded meat on this recipe, since it didn't have that strong, salty smell that I'm used to. After drying, it turned out fantastic--easily in my top 5 jerky recipes. All that flavor without a boatload of sodium is a good thing. Planning on subbing at least 1/2 of the water with mango nectar soon to see how the mango habanero version tastes, since it seems to have rave reviews in the comments.
Glad you liked it Chris! This is one of my favorites as well! Let me know how it turns out with the mango nectar, I'm interested to hear your results.
Worst recipe I’ve tried. the taste is horrible. The heat is fine. Should have probably just did the Alton Brown recipe and blended in a couple hobanaros. I will be giving this batch away. Hopefully someone will like it.
I'm surprised Paul, I really loved this recipe. I guess everyone has different tastes. Hope you find another one you like!
Paul Rogers says
I have tried other recipes you posted. And I do like them a lot. I am a big jalapeño fan but habanero has a flavor I have decided I don’t like. Thanks for replying.
Don’t usually leave feedback on recipes, but man this was excellent.
Followed the recipe almost exactly, made using 3lb bottom round, tripled the marinade, used 9 habenero peppers, subbed mango nectar for the water, blended marinade, let sit 24 hours in the marinade, smoked with peach wood.
Couldn’t be happier with the results. Perfect level of spice for me and just the slightest hint of mango flavor. Not fruity or sweet at all.
Thank you very much for the recipe.
No problem Ray! Glad you found one that you like. I love this recipe too!
Cody lott says
Hi Will, question for you, if I wanted to cook this recipe but my dehydrator only goes to 160, do you still recommend the same dehydrate time? Or would I need to adjust it? Thanks!
Every dehydrator is different, so the time will vary on each one. You can totally leave it at 160F, just start checking it at about 4 hours to see if it's done. Some dehydrators will say only 160F but actually heat up hotter than that. I have a dehydrator that goes to 165F and one to 160F. ***Update*** I see you mentioned that you are using the Nesco in another comment. The cook time is dependent on how thick you slice the meat, so as mentioned before... start checking at 4 hours..
Cody Lott says
would you recommend changing temperature at hour 3 as in the recipe , or just do 160 for 4 hours then check to make sure its cooked through? The meat is 1/4" thick. thanks so much for your help.
You can change the temp at hour 3 with a thickness of 1/4".
What do you recommended for the first 3 hours then the last hour? Sorry for all the questions, just don’t want to mess up my first batch! Thanks again!
No problem. Have it up at 160F for the first 3 hours and then you can turn it down to 145F for the remaining time (might be an hour, might be longer...). Check it after 3.5hrs total (it might take less than 4 hours) to see if it is done. Take a piece out, let it cool for 5 minutes, and bend it. It should bend and crack but not break in half. If it's not finished, put it back in with the others and keep drying for another 1/2 hour. Just keep checking every 1/2 hour to hour until it's finished. It should turn out good. I love this recipe!
Seems like an awesome recipe. I have 2.5 lbs marinating right now. I'm going to try it on the smoker. Any suggestion on wood chips or would you say no wood chips?
I would go with hickory chips, they are my favorite.
Little bit of hickory flavor. But since I had nearly 3 lbs I used 6 habaneros. Oooh man its spicy but I love it! Love the site man I've tried this one and rig hand. Both are delicious. My gf tried the marinade beforehand and she thought the habanero seeds were pieces of garlic. Haha she spit it all over the kitchen floor.
Brad Sukut says
I use hickory with this recipe. Ever since I found this recipe, I haven't done jerky any other way. Even my friends love it and fellow jerky makers are begging for my recipe.
It's a good one, no doubt about that!
Kerry Delaney says
Guys at work keep telling me we want hotter jerkey. So I figured this would be a good one to try. Starting with 3 peppers per pound and after just a taste of the marinade I needed two cups of milk. Will update when done.
Ha! Let me know how it turns out. I remember the marinade being SUPER hot but the jerky turning out a little less spicy than the marinade. I am interested to see how yours tastes!
Kerry Delaney says
Thanks Will came out fantastic I sold the 3 4 Oz bags I had within 5 minutes of giving samples out and have ordesigned for more. It was hot but as you said it did cool off a bit from the taste test before.
Yea i know its its 25 years old. But thanks for the link
Sean Neate says
I have an old dehydrator that has no fan. Was wondering how to do this jerky in the oven?
No fan? Doesn't sound like much of a dehydrator! Ha. Check out Making Jerky in an Oven.
Hi Will. Haven't been on your site or made any jerky in some time. I see more new recipes. I was going to make your Habanero Tabasco but when I saw your Dragon Fire I changed my mind. Sounds very interesting. My question is, if I use liquid Habanero sauce in place of the whole peppers how much would you say I should use to maintain the heat? Keep the receipes comming, I'm running out of paper wrighting them down.
You can't go wrong with either of those recipes. I love them both! I am not sure what the ratio of habaneros to the liquid would be. I would recommend putting in a tsp and then taste. If it's not that hot, add some more... I'll keep making them as long as you guys keep trying them!
Brad S says
Wow! Finally a recipe with some heat to it!
I actually doubled the recipe and doubled the habaneros . That was probably a mistake. Next time I will have to just use two or three. Great recipe though.
Glad you liked it Brad. This is definitely a fantastic recipe!
Alisa Cianciolo says
I bought a dehydrator and this was my first recipe of making my own beef jerky. It was awesome, it came out perfect and the heat was incredible. I will be trying more of your recipes!
Awesome! Thanks for letting me know. I love this recipe too!
Once again thank you for a awesome recipe! I have been making jerky for years and have books, how to's, websites, manuals etc etc. Finally someone is sharing recipes they have actually made and ate 🙂 Your other fans suggested mango and no water. I tried both and the mango was supreme. Also it wasn't a sticky jerk either(don't like that). Yes and Yes on the blender. Say no to liquid smoke on this recipe or really any other!! Let everyone know when your gonna publish a book because I will be the first to buy it 🙂 Make it a hardback so I can put it on my coffee table!
Sondre Berg says
I'm trying out this reciepe later today. I've been searching around the web and finally found something that looks delicious. If I'm reading this right I don't need liquid smoke, right? It's a hazzle locating LS in Norway.
It looks like I am probably too late and you have already made this recipe, but LS is not necessary. Let me know how it turns out! I love this recipe.
Hey Jerky man! Just wanted to say I just made a batch of this and I am in love with it. I made a small modification and substituted the water for mango nectar and it complemented the spiciness from the peppers perfectly! Thank you for doing this page. I look forward to trying more of your recipes!
This is one of my favorites too! Great flavor. I used some mango nectar in a recipe the other day and really liked the flavor it gave. Not real strong, but just enough.
If I am making this with ground meat would you just recommend removing the water?
Yep, just leave out the water or only put in a couple Tbsp to help the meat bind together. The other thing to remember when making ground jerky is that all of those habaneros are going to be in the meat where as when making a marinade for whole muscle jerky, a lot of them are left in the bag when draining the pieces of jerky meat. So.... it might be VERY spicy with 2 blended up habaneros in 1 pound of ground meat. BTW, I love this recipe!
I thought about either reducing the habanero for that reason and also possibly trying to strain out the extra bit of habanero to prevent getting a blast of heat while eating it. Sounds great and also thinking of trying with a bit of mango too! Thanks for feedback!
I am also thinking to reduce the salt since I am mixing in the ground meat. I think using curing salt and ~1/2 tsp of salt would be enough. Dont want it to be too salty tasting
If I was going to use Morton's tender quick as a curing salt, would you recommend removing the sea salt?
To cure a pound of meat it required a good amount of TQ, so I would leave out the sea salt. You should get enough salt flavor from the TQ.
Made this once, used five habaneros. It was spicy, real spicy. But not spicy enough. I have a second batch marinating now, with five habaneros, habanero powder, scotch bonnet pepper sauce, crushed red pepper, and fresh garlic in addition to the powder. Trying to kick the heat up! Fantastic recipe, everyone loves this stuff.
That's hot! Ha. I just picked up some ghost peppers and Carolina reapers. Both marinating now, smells super hot!
Do you have a recipe for a sweet and spicy jerky? My family asked for mango habanero, but I have no idea how to go about incorporating mango. Thanks for the help!
I would make this recipe and add a mango to it. You also might be able to find some mango juice and add that to the recipe. Just make sure to blend all the ingredients in a blender well. Let me know how it turns out!
Blend the mango in with the blended peppers. They do have a lot of moisture so you'll have to adjust for that. But I did half a mango blended with about 3-4 habanero peppers. It came out greay.
I'm about to try this recipe out, but I'm making about 5 lbs. should I just multiply everything in your ingredients by 5 or or should I go a little extra on them? Can't wait to try it!
I would just multiply everything and it should turn out good. The only thing I'm not sure about are the habaneros. I don't know if you are going to need 10 of them, maybe... It seems a little overkill. I would make the marinade with 6 and taste it. I did notice that the jerky didn't turn out as hot as the marinade was when I tasted it, so I would make the marinade to where you want it and then add a couple more habaneros. So if 6 habaneros tastes hot enough, use 8 of them. Make sure you blend all the ingredients in a blender to get the heat from the peppers. Let me know how it turns out and how many habaneros you used!
Hey Will, I decided to only make 1 pound for now, it turned out awesome. Killer recipe man.
Michael Huss says
Followed to the t, used 3 habenaro(quartered them to expose the seeds to the marinade, in hope of more spice). Used venison instead of beef and was quite excited to smoke this. Pretty disappointed, going to try again minus the sugar and double the habanaro, maybe triple. Also think I'm going to skip the c water. I'll update after next try, feel like this could be awesome with a little tweaking!
Hey Michael, sorry to hear it didn't turn out great. I noticed you mentioned that you cut the peppers in quarters. I went back to check the recipe and noticed that I talked about blending the peppers in the recipe post, but NOT on the actual recipe card. I updated that information. This is probably why it wasn't that spicy. Blending the peppers and other ingredients in a blender really brought out the spice and allowed all the small pieces to stick to the meat real well. Sorry about that man. I really liked this jerky, try blending it and let me know how it turns out.
Jimmy A. James says
I was needing to talk to the Jerky King. I also make jerky and live in CO. Maybe we can link up and chat sometime.
Cool man. What part of CO do you live in. I have been here a year and love it so far!