So you want to make jerky? Great! Jerky is an easy, air-dried snack that not only satisfies the human need for savory foods but it can be made with some of your favorite meats. It’s an ingenious way to preserve meat back in the days before refrigeration. That means you can enjoy beef or venison even if there’s no electricity or power outage.

We’re going to look at how long you should marinate beef jerky and provide some helpful recipes for different types of marinades.

Are you marinating beef jerky for the first time? Here are ten tips you should know!

One of the roles of a marinade is to tenderize the meat, making it more flavorful. It’s one of those little-known benefits that you can’t taste at all that makes flavor out of your beef jerky. This is why marinating meat that you’re going to dry yourself is so important. This tenderizes it so it’ll have a pleasant texture when crisped up using the dehydrator or oven. And if you’ve never made your beef jerky before, there are some things to keep in mind.

How Long Should You Marinate Beef Jerky? 

Well, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to marinating meat. Sometimes, you need to make the marinade for an hour or two before putting the steak into it. Other times, 24 hours is required. Should you marinade the whole can of jerky or just one piece? It’s entirely up to you. If it’s the latter, then let it sit for at least an hour or overnight.

If your beef jerky will be made into strips that are broken apart with your teeth, then there’s no need to marinate it for longer than an hour. If you’re going to dry and chop it into smaller pieces, the answer is slightly different.

You’ll want to marinate beef jerky for longer than an hour if you’re going to slice it with a sharp knife. There are two ways of slicing meat: with a sharp knife or with a food processor. If the jerky is cut into strips, then marinate it for at least three hours. If it’s going to be cut into slices, then marinate it for six hours or more. That’s because, with most food processors, most jerky gets “chopped” by accident when they wimp out and turn the machine off before the job is done.

Are Two Hours-Long Enough to Marinate Beef?

The answer depends on what you’re going to do with the beef jerky. If you’re going to dry and smoke it, then there’s no need to marinate it at all. This is because the process of drying and smoking tenderizes it in a way that can’t be achieved in any other way. The reason is that all of the water has been removed from the meat, and smoke acts as a preservative, eliminating bacteria that might cause spoilage.

If you’re going to use your dehydrator, then don’t bother with marinating your meat. They work through air circulation that simmers the meat–which accomplishes the same thing as traditional ovens without having to heat the house on a hot summer afternoon. However, if you’re going to make beef jerky in your oven, then you’ll want to marinate it for 24 hours or more.

Tips and Tricks to Marinate Beef Jerky 

If you don’t have time to marinate beef jerky for more than an hour, then you’re better off not bothering with the process at all.

There are two ways of marinating beef jerky. You can use a marinade or a dry rub. If you’ve never made your beef jerky before, then you’ll want to check out our dry rub recipes so that you’ll have something to compare it to!

If your meat is too thick, then the flavors of the marinade won’t penetrate it. This means that if older, tougher strips are being used, then be sure that they’ve been cut into thinner strips so the flavor will get in more easily.

Marinate beef jerky for at least six hours if you’re going to eat it later rather than right away. This is particularly important if you’re planning on making your jerky.

How to marinate beef jerky?

The first thing you’ll want to do is mix water and brown sugar in a saucepan on the stove. The simple addition of sugar helps create a better flavor and tenderizes the meat by breaking down the fibers.

You’ll also want to prepare your spices, which are crucial to any jerky recipe. You’ll need garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and that’s about it. Everything else can be left out of beef jerky recipes if you’re making jerky on a budget. Some more expensive marinades call for rare oils or exotic seasonings like saffron or cinnamon sticks.

While the sugar and spices are heating up on the stove, add some of your favorite meats. You can add in only a little at a time, so you don’t overdo it, but once you have enough in there, it’s best to add in another amount of meat equal to the total weight.

After the mixture has cooled to a temperature that you’re comfortable with, then add in whatever other cuts of meat you’re going to use. Some people prefer going by weight rather than total weight when making jerky beef recipes because it’s hard to do evenly throughout the batch.

Depending on what you’ve added (i.e., the salt, sugar, and spices), you’ll want to leave your meat in there for at least 24 hours before it’s consumed. Anything less than that isn’t likely to do much good.

When the time has passed, pull out the meat, drain off any leftover marinade, and cook it however you wish. The only thing that matters is that if you’re going to cook beef jerky using either of these methods (ovens or dehydrators), then there’s no need for marinating beforehand.

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And that’s how you’re going to make beef jerky. Now you know the basics! If you’d like to try making your beef jerky, then it’s time for you to get started. Try out different marinades and rubs until you find one that you like. Then, start experimenting with other cuts of meat until you find something that’s so good, people will fly across the country to try it! It’s really easy to make beef jerky at home if you don’t mind jacking up your energy bill by turning on the oven or dehydrator for a few hours every day.