Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best Dang Deer Jerky Marinade Ever

This is my own personal recipe for deer jerky and it operates on the principle that more is...well, more!  This recipe is for marinating strips of meat, although I am going to try it out, adding a little bit at a time to ground meat to make snack sticks with a jerky gun now that I have one.  It's a very forgiving recipe, so by all means feel free to taste and tweak.  I have fun omitting and adding different ingredients to get special blends.  This that follows is the basic recipe.

My Original Jerky Blend

  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tbsp. garlic powder)
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. Worcestershire
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/8 c. white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp. sorghum molasses
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 3 lbs. venison, cut into 1/4" thick strips

I prefer to use the hindquarters for jerky.  Sometimes I'll toss in a few of the larger pieces from the shoulder.  You could use the tenderloin too, but in this house that is considered a sacrilege. 

I am very particular to say the least and I will remove all large sections of the tough muscle casing (silverskin) because it aggravates me to no end to bite into a piece of jerky that I cannot chew.  You can cut your strips with the grain of the muscle if you like or if you want it just a little easier to chew you can cut against the grain like you would for a steak.  Try to keep all your pieces about the same thickness (about 1/4") so that they will dry uniformly.

Mix all your ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Pour over the meat and mix well.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

Take a wire cooling rack and set it on a cookie sheet that has been lined well with foil.  Lay out your strips.  It's OK if they touch a little, just don't overlap.

Bake in a 200 degree oven for 7-8 hours.  Rotate the trays (if you are doing multiple trays of jerky) top to bottom every couple of hours for even drying.  Halfway through your drying time, flip the strips over.  Alternately, you can use a dehydrator if you have one.  My mom just got me one the other day and I am getting ready to try it out. 

Either way, check on your jerky every so often until you achieve the perfect dryness.  You should be able to bend it, but it should be dry and dark all the way through.  If it is too hard to bend or it cracks, you've gone too long and overcooked it.  Store at room temperature in Ziploc bags or a container with a tight-fitting lid (assuming it hangs around that long.)

I've done a few variations on the recipe above and it's really fun to experiment and see what kind of blends you can come up with.  I have doubled the Tabasco and crushed red pepper for an extra spicy batch which was pretty popular with the guys.  Another favorite version was a sort of teriyaki blend where I omitted the Tabasco and red pepper and added in 1/4 c. of onion powder, 1/4 c. packed brown sugar and increased the molasses to 1/8 c. (sorghum is the best, but regular molasses will work too.)  Sometimes I will toss in a little steak sauce or horseradish if I have it on hand.  Spices like marjoram or rosemary would add a little something special to it too.

Play around with it and have fun.  Taste it before you put it on the meat to see if you want to add anything.  You'd think that with all those different things mixed in there it would be a mess, but it's really good!

I've got one more deer to butcher and I'll probably be done for now.  My dad has been quite the deer slayer this year and sent two extra does our way.  I am getting ready to do up some venison summer sausage next.  I've been keeping really busy (as you can imagine at this time of year).  Oddly enough, I have lots of things to blog about, but I have been really pressed for time.  I'll get you caught up here soon!  I've got some crafty projects coming your way in the near future.


  1. I have tried this recipe with mutton and it is excellent. Thank you for sharing and may Allah bless you and your family.

    - Yusuf

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Yusuf. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

  3. dang best jerky i have ever had

  4. how many pounds of meat is this for?

  5. I just made jerky with this recipe in my dehydrator and it is awesome! I'm definitely going to use it again

  6. Well I have Marinated for almost 24 hours. Quick question before i bake, do i need to crack the oven door at all? I have heard of others doing this when they make Jerkey.

    1. Yes, cracking it open will help let the moisture escape and cure the jerky faster.

  7. My buddies and I are marinating our deer now and can't wait to put it in the dehydrator tomorrow. Thanks for posting this recipe! I will let you know what we think! By the way, would this recipe work for beef jerky too or would you recommend another recipe?

    1. I've not tried it with beef yet, but I don't see why not. A previous commenter said it was good with mutton. Hope you enjoy!

  8. Hello Journey 11,
    I take pride in the venison jerky I make, but I always use bought marinades. I'm excited to start mixing my own with your recipe. I'm curious, does your recipe actually require 1/2 cup of Tobasco sauce? I can't wait to try it and eagerly await your response. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ralph, thanks for your comment. A good batch of jerky is certainly something to take pride in and might even make one famous. ;) You are welcome to tweak the recipe to your liking. 1/2 cup really isn't all that hot since it's a soaking marinade for strips of meat. I have tried it with ground meat jerky pressed from a gun since this post was published and found that it is best suited for marinating strips of meat. It's hard to get the concentration just right with ground meat.

      This is my basic recipe. When I want a hotter batch, I add in ground cayenne or serrano pepper flakes. Sometimes I'll throw in brown sugar and onion powder for a teriyaki-type jerky. Have fun and play with it 'til you get it exactly how you like it. Be sure to taste a little of the marinade before you add in the meat (or even that extra tabasco) to see if you're satisfied with it. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. I cut the recipe in half for a test batch (1/2 ingredients, 1.5 lbs venison). Got good reviews from my peers. Unfortunately, its too spicy for the little ones.

  10. man that sounds goooooooood can you tell me how long the marinade lasts please

    1. All of the individual ingredients, except the fresh garlic, can keep in the fridge for a long time...like a year or so. I figure all the salt, vinegar and sugar in the combined recipe would preserve the garlic quite a while too, similar to a salad dressing. I can't say exactly, but I'm sure you could make it up ahead of time and keep it for at least a couple of months. After the meat has touched it though, you have to toss out what is left over from the initial soaking period of 12-24 hours.