The BEST Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

Jerky lovers, look no further! This is THE BEST beef jerky recipe on the internet, I would bet my life on it! I worked really hard on this recipe until I got it just right, and DAMN it is goooooood.

I’m not kidding when I say this is the best jerky recipe. I’ve sold and shipped hundreds of bags of this jerky to friends and family over the last couple of years, and I came so close to starting my own jerky business. Unfortunately, there are TONS of regulations on selling beef, so I gave up on the idea. But I really feel like people need to try this jerky, so I am giving away my recipe in its entirety! No secret ingredients withheld. As long as you have a dehydrator and some patience, you’re about to bless your home with the world’s most addictive jerky.

On a scale from 1-10, I would rate this at an 8 for the average person in regards to spice level. The heat is from the habanero peppers and crushed red pepper. To make it less spicy, just reduce the amount. I have some friends that actually request it to be even spicier, so I’ll add some cayenne pepper into the crushed red chili that goes on the jerky right before dehydrating. 


What is the best cut of meat for beef jerky?

As with most things, this answer depends on preference. I have tried making jerky with at least 5 different cuts of beef, and my favorite has been eye of round

Leaner meat is always better for making jerky. This is because too much marbling (fat) will cause the jerky to spoil faster. But if you’re planning to finish your jerky within a few days, a little more marbling is ok with this recipe! 

Fat tends to stay tough during the dehydration process, and that’s another reason why we avoid it. However, citric juices can help to break down the fat enzymes and make them more tender and palatable. My marinade has orange and grapefruit juice, and I have tried it on a cut that had more fat in it than usual. It still turned out so good! Just remember that it still doesn’t rectify the issue of freshness. You must finish the jerky within a few days or it will spoil. 

Best cuts to try:

  • Eye of round– most tender and my favorite cut. It is inexpensive, has very little to no fat, and is easy to cut/consume with or against the grain.

  • Bottom round– the least tender of the rounds. Tends to have more marbling in it than the other rounds, but it is still a good cut of meat for jerky.

  • Top round– very similar to bottom round but has less marbling.

  • Sirloin tip– extremely lean but not as tender as eye of round, and it can be pricey. 

  • Flank steak– very lean and flavorful, but it can be tough if sliced with the grain. Also a bit pricey.

Equipment needed:

Dehydrator– I use my Elechomes dehydrator when I am making 10 lbs or more at a time. It is on the pricier side of dehydrators, but it can fit A LOT of product and is completely adjustable. With this one, it usually takes about 8 hours to make this jerky. 

If I am making less than 10 lbs, I like to use my Presto dehydrator. It works a lot faster (only 4 1/2 hours) but it cannot hold a lot of product and it is not temperature adjustable. It is also less than 1/3 the price of the Elechomes dehydrator. 

  • If you don’t have a dehydrator- You can use your oven if the temperature settings go as low at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Hang the beef strips on the wire racks in your oven and use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar for air circulation. I personally have not tried doing this, but a few of my followers have commented that this method worked for them. 

Meat slicer- You don’t need a meat slicer to make jerky, but this is one of my favorite kitchen tools! It looks pretty impressive to have one of these, and if you’re a family that loves to make shabu or Korean bbq at home, it can save you money on sliced meats. The one I use is the OSTBA meat slicer. It is compact, easy to use/take apart/clean, and very affordable. 

  • If you don’t have a meat slicer-  you can ask your butcher to slice the meat for you (I recommend 1/4 inch thick), or you can partially freeze the meat for an hour so that it is easier to slice by hand. 

Watch how to make it

The BEST Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

5 from 1 vote


  • 10 lbs eye of round beef fat cap removed
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper


  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 tsp black pepper


  • 5 habanero peppers or jalapenos for milder version
  • 2 cups low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper


  • Partially freeze the beef for about 1 hour. Slice it against the grain about 1/4 inch thick, or you can ask your butcher to slice it for you.
  •  Season both sides of the beef slices and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Mix all the marinade ingredients except the habaneros.
  • Blend the habaneros with 1/4 cup of the marinade until smooth, then add it back and mix again.
  • Pour over the seasoned beef and thoroughly massage the marinade into it.
  • Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Line up your beef on the dehydrator and sprinkle the rest of the crushed red pepper on top.
  • Set the temp to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The time will depend on your dehydrator. I have several, and they all take a different amount of time despite being set to the same temperature. It will typically take anywhere between 4-8 hours. You will have to keep an eye on it during this time.
  • The jerky is done once you can hold it horizontally and it stays perfectly straight. Another way to tell it is done is by ripping it with the grain- you will see some white stringy stuff in the center.
  • Let it cool down completely before storing in an airtight container for one day before eating. You do not have to wait if you don't want to, but after a day the jerky will develop a nice glaze and incredible flavor.Cut into small strips against the grain for easy & mess free snacking.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jenny

    How do I store leftovers? And for long do they last?

    1. stellanspice

      You can store in an air tight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or 1 month in the refrigerator. It could probably go even longer than that, but I’m not sure because the jerky never lasts too long in my home. It is usually all gone within the first week!

  2. Joy

    5 stars
    Oh my GOD Stella!! I made this for my family and they ate all of it in one sitting! I also bought the dehydrator you used 😊 this recipe is HOT FIRE!! I will be making this jerky for the rest of my life. Thank you!

    1. stellanspice

      Hi Joy, thank you so much for making it! I’m glad your family liked it 🙂

Leave a Reply to stellanspice Cancel reply

Recipe Rating

Latest Recipes


Churros are my FAVORITE Spanish/Mexican dessert! They are super crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and rolled in sugar & cinnamon.  Churros were one of the first things I

Juicy Roast Chicken

This roast chicken is one of my most favorite recipes that have been shared with me by friends. I cannot hype this recipe enough. This is the juiciest, crispiest, most flavorful

Stella Navarro-Kim

Recipe Developer | Content creator

Hi, I'm Stella! I come from a multicultural background, and learning how to cook has been one of the best ways for me to stay connected to my heritage. I truly believe that anyone can cook as long as they have the passion to learn. Thank you for being here!

Stella Navarro-Kim

My personal favorites

Never miss a recipe!

Sign up to receive new recipes directly to your inbox