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The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

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The best homemade beef jerky recipe made with Habanero Peppers is bound for greatness! 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! This Dragon Fire Beef Jerky recipe quickly jumped to the top of my list of hundreds of jerky recipes I have made over the years.

Beef Jerky in brown bag with habanero peppers

Slicing The Meat

Start with a great cut of beef when making this jerky. I used Beef Eye of Round, but you can find a complete list of the best cuts of meat to dry beef jerky by clicking here!

The first step of slicing meat for 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.

Eye of Round Roast on cutting board

Slice the meat with a very sharp knife either with the grain for a more chewy jerky or against the grain for a more tender jerky. 

Slicing meat for jerky on cutting board with sharp knife

Slice even strips so they will dry evenly and be finished at the same time. You can wrap the roast in plastic wrap and partially freeze for 1-2 hours to make slicing easier.

I didn’t use it on this recipe, but a jerky slicer is a FANTASTIC piece of equipment to help get even strips when slicing jerky.

Beef Jerky slicer slicing beef for jerky onto a cutting board with knife

Making the Marinade

This 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 1/3 cup of the water for 1/3 cup of soy sauce for a more salty intense flavor.

Beef Jerky marinade in blender with habanero peppers

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.

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

Beef Jerky strips on cutting board with marinade

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 marinading process to also make sure each piece gets an even amount of these great tasting spices!

Drying The Jerky

After marinading, 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.

Beef jerky strips in colander

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. Check out my page on different ways to make jerky to find the best one for you!

The beef marinated for a total of 18 hours before I dried them in 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.

Related Page: Dehydrator Reviews

Beef Jerky on dehydrator trays

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. How did it turn out?! AWESOME!!! It’s the best beef jerky you will find! My wife always wants me to make this jerky for her, it is just THAT GOOD!

Beef jerky in brown bag with three habanero peppers

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 for longer lasting jerky
  • Use fresh Habaneros for the best flavor, and cut the stem off each pepper. Use 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.

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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

The best beef Jerky in paper bag with habaneros

The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

The best beef jerky recipe made with Habanero Peppers is bound for greatness! The spicy kick of the peppers and the saltiness of the Sea Salt really makes this the top jerky recipe ever! This Dragon Fire Beef Jerky recipe quickly jumped to the top of my list of hundreds of jerky recipes I have made over the years. 
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Course: Beef Jerky, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef jerky, best beef jerky, Habaneros, Jerky, jerky recipe
Type: Beef Jerky
Flavor: Spicy
Servings: 5
Calories: 184kcal
Author: Will


Lean Meat


  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 whole habaneros 3 if extra hot is wanted
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 tsp 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.
  • Dry with your favorite jerky making method. I used my Excalibur Dehydrator and dried for 4 hours at 165F.
  • The jerky is finished when it bends and cracks, but does not break in half.


Make Sure to use a blender and adjust the peppers to your liking.


Serving: 0.15lb | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 683mg | Potassium: 268mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 6.6mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 2.6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

You Might Also Like:

Best Cuts of Beef for Jerky

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The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe


  1. Michael Huss says:

    2 stars
    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!

    • Will says:

      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.

  2. Jeff says:

    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!

    • Will says:

      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!

  3. Jasmine says:


    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!

    • Will says:

      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!

    • kitchenwitch90 says:

      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.

  4. Josh says:

    5 stars
    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.

    • Will says:

      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!

      • Garrett says:

        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!

      • Garrett says:

        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

  5. Truong says:

    5 stars
    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!

    • Will says:

      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.

  6. 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.

    • Will says:

      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.

  7. Keith says:

    5 stars
    Hey bro,
    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!

  8. Alisa Cianciolo says:

    5 stars
    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!

  9. Brad S says:

    5 stars
    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.


  10. Billy says:

    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.

    • Will says:

      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!

  11. 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.

    • Will says:

      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.

  12. Tj says:

    5 stars
    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?

  13. 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!

    • Will says:

      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.

          • Cody says:

            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!

          • Will says:

            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!

  14. Ray says:

    5 stars
    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.

  15. Paul says:

    1 star
    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.

      • Paul Rogers says:

        4 stars
        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.

  16. Chris J says:

    5 stars
    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.

    • Will says:

      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.

  17. Mike says:

    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.

  18. Nimda says:

    5 stars
    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

  19. Lance Robbins says:

    5 stars
    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.

    • Will says:

      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.

  20. Bill Harvey says:

    4 stars
    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.

    • Will says:

      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!

  21. Kyle says:

    5 stars
    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?

    • Will says:

      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.

      • Kyle says:

        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.

  22. 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

  23. Patrick says:

    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!

  24. 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

  25. 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.

  26. Elaine says:

    5 stars
    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.

  27. katie says:

    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.

    • Will says:

      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.

  28. steve says:

    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!

  29. Zac Frampton says:

    4 stars
    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 ;).

    • Will says:

      “attracts the other carnivores” Haha! I’m glad it turned out well. How do you like that pellet grill? Thinking about getting one…

    • Steve says:

      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.

  30. Mitko says:

    5 stars
    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!

    Thanks Will!

  31. Daniel A. says:

    5 stars
    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
    garlic powder
    onion powder
    black pepper
    red pepper
    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.

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