How Long to Marinate Jerky: The Best Marination Time

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:Why should you marinate ground beef?

Although it is possible to kill most of the bacteria in the raw ground meat through cooking, marinating the meat will still make it safer for your consumption. The seasonings and spices used in the marinade help in removing the bacteria. The salt in your marinade can help you draw out the water in the meat which in turn reduces the chances of your meat getting spoiled.  Combined with  vinegar, alcohol and other seasonings in the marinade can also preserve the meat. Aside from this, marinating can also introduce added flavor and color to your meat.

Q:What is the best way to marinate ground beef?

Ground beef needs you to incorporate the seasonings and spices of your usual marinade in the ground beef. You have to combine all of your ingredients together with the ground beef and mix it thoroughly with your hands to spread the seasonings and spices evenly.

Q: Can you marinate frozen chicken? What are the results of doing so?

Yes you can but it’s not advisable. Marinating frozen chicken and leaving it in the marinade to thaw in the fridge is possible. The downside is that your chicken will not retain much flavor from your marinade since the water that was frozen with your chicken will interact with the marinade and water it down which will make it bland. Your chicken will also be less tender and juicy since your marinade was not able to seep through your meat properly. If you choose to  marinate frozen chicken,  make sure to extend the marinating time.

Q: How long can pre-made marinade stay in the chiller?

Marinades can be made with a variety of ingredients so how long it can stay in your fridge will depend on what is in your marinade. If your marinade is mostly made out of something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice and has some oil or fat, it can stay in your fridge for a good two weeks to a few months.  Without the fat,  it can last for at least a year. Make sure that your jar of pre-made marinade is uncontaminated by bacteria. For it to last longer in your fridge you have to keep it in an airtight jar and always use clean spoons to scoop out marinade.


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 2022-09-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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