My Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky is legendary! This post includes steps on how to make beef jerky and the best beef jerky recipe ever. I mean, really. This post is so full of beef jerky knowledge, it should probably be a book. We are going to be talking cuts of meat, slicing tips, marinating basics, and dehydrating vs. smoking.
Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky
This jerky is by far one of my most popular posts on the site. It’s equal parts sweet and spicy and you can adjust the heat to whatever level you prefer.
I’ve had friends and family rave about this jerky. It’s become a popular office treat or neighbor gift during the holidays. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’ll likely need to make a double batch because this jerky will not last long.
How to Make Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky
Alright folks, as promised let’s walk step-by-step through the whole process of making this awesome jerky. From selecting the right meat all the way to getting that perfect dried jerky, you’ll have a tasty snack in no time flat!
STEP 1: SELECT THE MEAT
Let’s start with the best cuts of beef for jerky-making. I try to pick a nice roast with very little fat marbling. My first choice is an eye of round roast. After that, I think a top round, sirloin roast, or rump roast would also work well. These cuts do have a bit more fat/gristle, but a lot of times the price is right so I don’t mind.
This recipe calls for 2-3 pounds of eye of round roast. I easily got this from my butcher and asked them to cut the meat for me. Need to know more about slicing? Read on to the next section!
STEP 2: SLICE THE BEEF
Once you have selected your meat, it’s time to get that perfect jerky-thin slice. The first option is to ask your butcher to slice the meat for you. I recommend asking for a few sample slices to help you determine how thick or thin you want your jerky. I usually ask the butcher to set their slicer to an X for jerky.
If you are slicing your own meat at home, put your roast in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before slicing. The chilled meat will be easier to slice. Next, grab a sharp knife and get started. Try your best to slice the beef nice and even so all the jerky dries evenly.
At this point, you can choose whether to slice your meat with or against the grain. I prefer to slice my jerky against the grain, as it makes the jerky easier to chew and eat. I’ve got a bunch of little kiddos who would eat their weight in this Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky if I let them, and I don’t want to worry like crazy that they are going to be choking on unchewable chunks of jerky.
If you slice with the grain you get those nice long strands of jerky that you can tear off and work through. If you like that more stringy, tougher texture for your jerky, go with slicing with the grain.
STEP 3: MARINATE THE BEEF
Next, let’s chat marinades! My favorite part! There are a million jerky marinades out there, plenty that you can buy pre-made and just dump on your sliced meat and go. There are some good ones and some not-so-good ones, and I am mad every time I waste money on a pre-made marinade AND a big pile of meat.
The sweet, savory, heat flavors from this Dr. Pepper Jalapeno marinade are a perfect balance. The real basis for any great marinade, in my opinion, is a good combo of flavors. You’ll get all that and more from this marinade.
For this marinade, I want to emphasize the importance of the reduction step. Take the time to reduce the marinade properly. If you don’t, the final result can be a little bland. Also, this isn’t super spicy as prepared. If you want more jalapeño flavor, slice your jalapeños very thin or even add a third jalapeño to the marinade. Some readers have also substituted habanero peppers to up the spice factor.
STEP 4: DEHYDRATE THE DR. PEPPER JALAPENO BEEF JERKY
The last step in making jerky is to dry it all out in a smoker, oven, or dehydrator. I have several smokers at my disposal and my favorite for jerky is my Camp Chef SmokePro pellet grill. I can maintain temperatures around 160-180 degrees F. This allows the jerky to slowly cook through while smoking.
Here’s how to smoke this tasty jerky:
- PREHEAT.Preheat your smoker to 170 degrees F. While the smoker is preheating, remove the jerky from the marinade and use a paper towel to pat off the excess marinade. Once dry, dust with additional black pepper, if desired (this gives it an extra kick of heat!)
- SMOKE.Place the strips of jerky on the grill grates of your smoker and cook for 2-3 hours (or up to 4-5 hours depending on the thickness of the beef). Your jerky is done when it reaches 165 degrees F measured with a meat thermometer. The meat should be slightly pliable without breaking when you bend it in half.
- STEAM.Once your jerky is fully cooked, remove it from the smoker and place it in a clean gallon-sized zip-top bag while it is still warm. Do not seal the bag all the way to allow the jerky to steam slightly to keep it moist.
- ENJOY.Dig in! Let’s hope you made a double batch because this stuff is addicting!
Alternative Dehydrating Methods
If you don’t want to make this jerky in the smoker, there are two other methods you can try out!
- Oven. If you’re without a smoker, you can still dehydrate your jerky in your oven by laying out your jerky on a cooling rack before cooking. Follow the same time and temperature listed in the recipe, but leave the door of your oven slightly cracked so the moisture can escape and your jerky can dry properly.
- Dehydrator. If you are using a dehydrator, follow the instructions provided with your machine. Every dehydrator works differently and the timeline will be unique to your machine.
Curing the Jerky
If you prefer to use curing salts in your jerky, use 1 level teaspoon of Prague Powder #1 or instacure #1 in the marinade recipe. The recipe If you cook the recipe as is, it will last in your fridge for up to two weeks in a zip-top bag (if you don’t eat it all before then). If you use curing salt, it will last up to two weeks on your counter.