Dr Pepper Jerky Recipe: How to Smoke the Perfect Jerky?

June 29, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

If you’re looking for a delicious, protein-packed snack, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you. 

Beef jerky is one of my favorite meats; however, it can be expensive. Luckily, I discovered this recipe after spending months in culinary school trying to make the perfect jerky. Dr Pepper soda is the star of this recipe and I love using it in the marinade. This drink gives the meat a sweet and spicy flavor that complements the other ingredients well.  

My special recipe provides more value and is more delicious than the regular jerky you’d get from the grocery store. Continue reading as I detail how to make Dr Pepper Jerky.

dr pepper jerky recipe

How to Prepare Dr. Pepper Jerky?

Let’s go over the steps required to make this delicious cut of beef. But first, here are the ingredients you’ll need.


  • 2-pound beef (eye of round roast, rump roast, or sirloin)
  • 2 cups Dr. Pepper
  • 2 jalapenos (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of hickory wood chips


Step 1: Select the Beef

When selecting a slab of meat for your jerky, pick a cut with minimal fat marbling. An eye of round roast, rump roast, and sirloin are excellent meat cuts for this recipe. Buy 2 pounds of any of these meat cuts and take them home to prepare.

Step 2: Slice the Beef

After choosing your meat, it’s time to slice it into the perfect jerky cut. If you don’t want to go through all that hassle, ask your butcher to help you out.  First, ask for some test cuts to help you decide on your favorite. However, if you are cutting the meat at home, freeze the meat for 30 to 60 minutes prior. The cool temperature makes the meat firm, thereby making it easier to cut.

Next, use a sharp knife to slice the meat to your liking.  I like to slice the meat against the grain because the jerky becomes easier to chew.

When you cut jerky against the grain, you get those lovely long protein strands that you can pull apart and chew through. However, you can slice your jerky against the grain if you prefer a tougher, stringier texture.

Step 3: Marinate the Beef

Now it’s time to prepare the marinade. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium saucepan and pour in two cups of Dr Pepper. Then, allow the mixture to boil for 10 to 15 minutes and turn off the heat to let it cool. You’ll only need a cup of marinade for this recipe. 

Various Kinds of Dried Spiced Meat on the Wooden Board

You can also cure your beef with sodium nitrate to give it a longer shelf life. The sodium nitrate stops bacteria from growing on the surface of the meat. Curing salt also contributes to the meat’s red color and tasty flavor. Simply add one teaspoon of curing salts like Prague powder.

Afterward, place the thinly sliced jerky cuts into a gallon zip-top bag and pour the cup of marinade inside. Give the bag a good toss to marinade completely. Then, refrigerate the marinated meat for eight to ten hours or leave it overnight.

Step 4: Dry and Smoke the Beef

Next, preheat your smoker to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to add a cup of hickory wood chips for extra smokiness. Then, remove the jerky from the marinade and pat any excess marinade off with paper towels.

You can sprinkle black pepper on the sliced beef for more spiciness. Next, place the jerky strips on the grill grate and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

The cooking time should take between two and three hours or more, depending on the thickness of the meat slices.

When your jerky is finished cooking, take it out of the smoker and put it in another gallon-sized zip lock bag to make it steam. Don’t completely fasten the ziplock bag; leave it partly open so air can pass through.

If you don’t have a smoker on hand, you can use your oven to cook this tasty cut of meat. Simply place the jerky on a cooling jerky rack and allow it to dry for 10 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 175 degrees and place the meat in it.

Cook the meat until it registers the recommended 165-degree internal temperature. Remember to flip the jerky at intervals.  Once it’s done, allow the meat to rest and condense for a few minutes, then serve.

Expert tip: The jerky shouldn’t be too dry after you’re done cooking. The meat should still maintain some moisture and flexibility. You want your jerky to be chewy and spicy, not hard as wood.

Extra Tips for Smoking Jerky

Here are a few tips to help you consistently get the tastiest jerky.

  • For more tender jerky, tenderize with a meat mallet and cut the meat against the grain.
  • Let the jerky cool completely before bending a piece to see whether it’s ready. The meat should be slightly pliable and not break in half when done.
  • A secret tip is that you can substitute Dr. Pepper with any cola soda from another brand. That said, Dr pepper is still my top choice because the complex minty, and fruity flavors taste great on meat. 
Chopped Jerked Beef

How to Store Dr Pepper Jerky?

Over the years, I’ve used three methods to store my delicious jerky. Here I’ll show you the three most effective ways to store Dr Pepper jerky after you’ve smoked it.

1. Freezer Bag

When it comes to keeping the flavor and texture of homemade jerky, a plastic bag is one of the best options.

You can use a pen to record the date you made it to keep track of how long the jerky has been in the freezer. Always use a plastic bag rated for the freezer over a basic storage bag. These bags are thicker, more durable, and can keep pesky pests away from your tasty jerky. Your jerky will last in this bag at room temperature for 2 weeks.

2. Plastic Containers

Plastic storage containers are durable, long-lasting, and resistant to pests. These containers are also airtight but easy to open and close. This plastic container keeps your meat for up to two weeks at room temperature and for two months in the freezer. Also, plastic containers are excellent for your kitchen pantry and lunch boxes. 

3. Mason Jar

Mason jars are another good storage alternative for beef jerky. The inner air in a closed jar seems to dry up the jerky more quickly than in a plastic bag. 

Moreover, a mason jar provides the most secure storage option against pests. So, it may just be the best option for camping trips and other outdoor events. At the very least, you know your meat is safe. Storing your meat in a mason jar guarantees they’re edible for two weeks. 

How to Tell if Jerky is Bad?

It can be tricky to determine whether your Dr Pepper jerky is still safe to consume. Beef jerky doesn’t often show clear signs of spoilage, unlike regular cooked meat.

The jerky may have gone bad if there are spots of discoloration (including grey, and green spots) and mold. Bad jerky also has a different texture than when you cook it. The meat may feel mushy and soft. Also, pay attention to the meat’s smell. Even though spoiled jerky doesn’t smell as rancid as other cooked meat, it can still smell unusual. So, pay attention to all these signs before eating jerky.

How to Make Your Dr Pepper Beef Jerky Last Longer?

Fat spoils quickly and can hasten the spoilage of the jerky. For this reason, it’s vital to purchase lean meat and cut off specks of fat from it. This simple step will make this piece of meat last even longer.

Furthermore, you should always keep the beef jerky in a cool, dry place. If you leave jerky out in the sun, the condensation it creates inside the bag might breed mold and spoil the meat.

Delicious Homemade Beef Jerky on the Bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?

If you store Dr Pepper jerky in an airtight, moisture-proof container, it should last for one to two months in the freezer. On the other hand, if you choose to refrigerate the jerky, it should last for up to two weeks.

2. What is Beef Jerky Made of?

This popular protein snack is made from lean beef pieces that have been marinated in different spices, sauces, and other ingredients. After that, it goes through processing, including curing, smoking, and drying, before being packaged.

3. What Happens if I Eat Bad Jerky?

You will probably get sick if you eat spoiled jerky. Eating bad jerky exposes you to food poisoning symptoms including nausea, fever, stomach pain, headaches, or vomiting. Thankfully, if you follow the tips I outlined earlier, you won’t have to worry about the consequences of eating rotten beef jerky.


We’ve come to the end of today’s article. Hopefully, you now know how to make the most delicious Dr Pepper beef jerky. Remember, reading the recipe isn’t enough; make sure you go to your nearest butcher shop, buy a slab of meat, and try out this awesome recipe. It’ll be a treat for you and your guests!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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