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.
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.
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