Best Beef Jerky Recipe for Smoker

Best Beef Jerky Recipe for Smoker

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This easy beef jerky recipe uses Dr. Pepper to make a sweet marinade that’s balanced by peppers and Worcestershire sauce. Easily adjust the spiciness…

This beef jerky recipe is a go-to because it uses a super easy jerky marinade that delivers lots of flavor. Plus, you can easily add more peppers or cayenne pepper to give it more of a kick.

So, if you like mild jerky, make the recipe as is. Or, to spice it up, add more jalapenos or the optional cayenne pepper. Want it even spicier? Swap the jalapeno peppers for serrano peppers.

However you like it, this recipe will quickly become a favorite!

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FAQ: Making your own Smoked Beef Jerky

"FAQ" over pile of beef jerky

This beef jerky recipe can’t get much easier. You can jump to the recipe card and get started right away.

But, just in case, here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about making homemade beef jerky.

What type of meat is best for making beef jerky?

For the best results, choose a lean cut of meat. The leanest cuts, like eye of round, top round (a.k.a. London broil), and flank steak are great choices. You want to minimize the amount of excess fat and connective tissue, which doesn’t dry out and can spoil your homemade beef jerky.

How should I cut the meat when preparing it for the smoker?

Using a very sharp knife, cut the beef into thin slices or strips, aiming for a consistent width of around 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Thin slices will ensure the smoking process is consistent throughout the meat.

Preview Product Price
MAIRICO Slicing Knife MAIRICO Slicing Knife $27.95Amazon Prime

Which smoker should I use for making beef jerky?

Any smoker will work, from electric smokers to pellet smokers. The key is to maintain consistent, low temperatures during the smoking process.

What kind of wood chips should I use to smoke jerky?

For this recipe, we recommend maple or cherry wood chips. But hickory and mesquite are also a great choice for smoked beef jerky, in general. They add a lovely “blue smoke” flavor that compliments the meat well.

What’s the ideal temperature and time for smoking beef jerky?

An ideal temperature for smoking jerky is between 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit. The time it takes can vary, but usually from 2-3 hours for thinner cuts to 4-5 hours for thicker cuts.

Will the jerky drip a lot?

Yes, the jerky can drip a lot. To minimize the mess, pat dry the strips with paper towels when you remove them from the marinade. Then use aluminum foil, a cookie sheet, or a tray at the bottom of the smoker to catch any drips.

How do I arrange the meat in the smoker?

Place the slices of meat in a single layer on the grill grates or wire racks (a jerky rack is perfect for this). If you have the proper setup, you can also hang the jerky with meat hooks. 

Preview Product Price
3 in. Meat Hooks 3 in. Meat Hooks $11.99Amazon Prime

Can I eat the jerky right away?

Technically, yes, you can eat the jerky as soon as it’s cool enough to bite into. However, it’s usually best to wait one day to really let the flavors settle in.

What’s the best way to store my homemade smoked beef jerky?

Store your homemade jerky in an airtight container or a sealed zip lock bag. Remove as much air as possible to keep the jerky fresh for a long time. It’s best eaten within a few days if kept at room temperature or up to 2 weeks if kept refrigerated. It can last longer, but watch for signs of spoiling (i.e., rancid smell, mold, discoloration).

Could I make the jerky in batches?

Yes, that’s a good idea when you’re experimenting with a new recipe or when using a small portable smoker for camping. For instance, you can add a jalapeno or cayenne pepper to the marinade as your first batch is cooking. Play with some adjustments based on your preferences to make your homemade beef jerky the perfect snack for you.

Is there a cheaper cut of meat that’s still good?

Our recipe calls for beef eye of round, but you can also use pork loin, top round, or bottom round. Those cuts are significantly cheaper but still turn out well.

On the other hand, if you want to splurge, you can use flank steak.

The Best Beef Jerky Recipe for Smoking

In the equipment list, we include a small cooking rack that can work with some smaller portable smokers. However, you should double-check if the dimensions work, especially if you use a small camping smoker.

By the way, we have an ultimate list of the 35 Best Smoker Accessories & BBQ Tools for Camping. It also lists the best portable smokers for camping.

Best Beef Jerky Recipe for Smoker

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Recipe by Camping Food Recipes Course: SnacksCuisine: BBQDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Smoke Time



This beef jerky recipe uses Dr. Pepper to make an easy, sweet marinade that’s balanced by the peppers and Worcestershire sauce. Plus, you can easily adjust the spiciness!


  • 2-3 lbs 2-3 beef eye of round roast, thinly sliced

  • 2 cups 2 Dr. Pepper (1-1/3 12 oz. cans)

  • 3 3 jalapenos, sliced

  • 1 Tbsp 1 kosher salt

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tsp 2 black pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 garlic powder

  • 1 tsp 1 onion powder (or 1 cup minced fresh onion)

  • 1 tsp 1 Cayenne pepper (optional for added kick)


  • To make the marinade, combine all ingredients except for the beef in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it’s reduced by half (a little over 1 cup of marinade remaining). Chill marinade completely.
  • Ideally, ask your butcher to thinly slice your beef. If slicing it yourself, cut against the grain, shooting for 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Cut a consistent thickness.
  • Place beef slices and marinade in a reusable gallon-sized bag. Massage the marinade into the meat, then refrigerate overnight (min. 8 hours-max. 24 hours).
  • Preheat smoker to 170 degrees F with your preferred wood flavor. We recommend maple.
  • Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place strips next to each other on greased grates or jerky racks, or hang from ungreased jerky hooks.
  • Smoke for 2+ hours, depending on slice thickness. You’ll know it’s done when it’s firm yet slightly bendable.
  • Return the finished jerky to the washed reusable gallon-sized bag. Seal the bag 2/3 of the way, letting the jerky steam to make it moist. Once steam is gone, seal completely.
  • For full flavor, wait to eat the jerky until the next day. It will last 3-4 days at room temp or 2 weeks in a fridge.



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