How Long to Marinate Jerky: The Best Marination Time

Making jerky is both a fun and a rewarding process. The satisfaction of being able to make a sumptuous treat by yourself is something that nobody can just easily compensate. This is how I feel every time I make any jerky recipes in my kitchen.

Of course, the final result of the jerky also depends on how you marinade it. Moreover, the type of marinade that you are going to use will affect the taste of your delicacy. How long to marinate jerky? What kind of marinade should I use? These are some of the questions I frequently encounter on my message inbox. It seems that there a handful number of jerky lovers out there who are still clueless about this.

In this article, I will try to answer these queries and some other concerns. In this way, you will be able to make a jerky worthy of your taste buds. Let's get started!


How Long to Marinate Jerky

jerky is marinating

The process of marination is a crucial step in any jerky recipes. This mixture will determine the flavor and "punch" that the jerky will have. Of course, you can experiment a variety of marinade. As long as you do it right, nothing will ever go wrong with the taste of the meat.

In any jerky, regardless of the meat choice, the ideal marination time is 12 hours to one day. In this way, the marinade would seep through the flesh of the meat. It is not good if you just marinate the meat for four to six hours as it will not take in the full flavor of your seasonings. The longer you put the meat in the marinate, the tastier it becomes.

Bathing the Meat into the Marinade

raw beef meat in a bowl for marinating

Before you put the meat into your oven, smoker or dehydrator, it is necessary that you marinade it thoroughly first. That's the golden rule of making jerkies.

However, you cannot just simply bathe any type of meat cuts in the marinade. After all, jerkies are made out of meat strips. If your current meat is still in chunks or whole, you need to slice it into strips. You can do this by the use of a butcher knife.

cutting meat for jerky

Alternatively, you could also use a jerky gun to make the strips. You just have to ground the meat and put it inside the canister. The nozzle of the gun will be the one that squeezes out the meat in the form thin and uniform strips.

The maximum bathing time of the meat to the marinade is 24 hours. On the same manner, it should not go less than 4 hours. Otherwise, the taste of your jerky would be weak. Once the marinade is in the bowl of marinade already, put it in your refrigerator. Let it chill there until the flavor of the marinade integrates with the meat fully.

putting meat to refrigerator for marinating

You have to understand that making jerky is not a one-day process. It will take time, depending on how intricate the jerky recipe that you are going to make. Marinating and drying do not occur on a single day. Although making jerky is simple, it is still a time-consuming process.

This is the very reason why I make my jerkies during the weekends. My hectic working schedule won't allow me to do it on the weekdays!

Different Jerky Marinades

There are various marinade recipes that you can use for your jerky. It doesn't matter if you are using rabbitbeef or venison meat. As long as you go a tasty marinade, you'll get a jerky that will satisfy your insatiable appetite!

Raw beef with dry rub

Of course, you should realize that the joy of eating jerky is a relative experience. There are people who want to savor the extremities of spices. Others would simply love to chew on the "traditional" taste of this treat. Therefore, it is essential that you know what your tongue is asking. In this way, you can make a flavoring that would suit your needs.

Here are some of the basic marinades that you can use for your next jerky trip:

  • Acids and liquid base - Well, the composition of tamari sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider, balsamic vinegar, and teriyaki sauce is the first route for those who are still new to jerkies.
  • Spices and seasonings - If you are pretty good at experimenting in the kitchen, why not try mixing garlic powder, salt, liquid smoke, sesame oil, onion powder, black pepper, and turmeric. I am pretty sure they possess a flavor that could blast you!
  • Sweet - If you are a sweet tooth, you should try the ingredients like sugar, honey, molasses, and corn syrup. These flavorings would certainly give your jerky the sweetness that it needs!


Knowing how long to marinate jerky is an essential step in any jerky recipes. It is a determining factor to the overall deliciousness of your jerky. I already mentioned that your meat should stay in the marinade for 12 hours to one day. In this way, your jerky will acquire the flavor that you want from it.

Proper marination also improves the overall chewiness and firmness of the jerky. Once you can get it right, your jerky will be as good as those sold commercially!

Did you learn from this article of mine? If you have any questions, comments, and suggestions, feel free to ask me in the comment section below! I will be waiting!​

Last update on 2021-01-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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