Jerky Quick and Easy, Teriyaki Edition

Jerky is a great snack for any occasion. Particularly handy when you need portability and longevity, such as camping in the backwoods. Not only that, but it’s also surprisingly easy to make, if you have a little bit of time. Normally when I make jerky I do a sweet chili lime flavor, which is too spicy for my parents to enjoy. Recently my mother was complaining about this fact and guilted me into making a batch just for her. The flavor of choice, teriyaki.

Although I had never made teriyaki sauce before, I figured it couldn’t be that hard. This was the perfect opportunity to experiment, even if it didn’t turn out great, I was offloading it to my mom anyways!

Good.. bad.. I don’t have to eat it


Teriyaki Sauce, how hard could it be?

Making teriyaki sauce seemed easy enough, and a quick look online confirmed this. The list of ingredients I would need was fairly small, and pretty basic. At it’s very base, teriyaki sauce is basically just sugar, water, and soy sauce. Extra flavor variations come from anything added beyond that. Being a big fan of sweet flavors in jerky, I decided to do a pineapple teriyaki sauce. Mom said that sounded good to her -not that she had a choice- and so the experiment began.

First, of course, you need some meat. Unfortunately I had no deer left that would be suitable, so it was off to the store to buy some beef. When you choose a cut of meat for jerky, you can go cheap. Fat is something you generally want less of, not more, so forget the nicely marbled rib eyes and grab a couple of those lean round roasts.


Lean, slices nicely, and most importantly, cheap


Ingredients are pretty basic, you will need the following:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar (I use brown)
  • Minced garlic
  • A can of crushed or chopped pineapple
  • Onion powder
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Ground ginger

Its a short, easy shopping list


Cooking the Marinade

To make the marinade is also quite simple, start off by chopping up the pineapple as small you can and putting it in a pot on medium heat. Cook the pineapple down until it has started to break down and release all the sugars. It should be mostly liquid with a bunch of “pulp”. Be careful not to burn it, if it starts to brown, lower your heat or carry on with the next steps.

Once the pineapple was cooked, I mixed in a few very heaping scoops of minced garlic. Add at least 2-3 tablespoons if you don’t like garlic, but more (much more) if you do, it is personal preference. After stirring in the garlic, measure out about a palm full of onion powder and stir that in as well.

Cooking is an art, not an exact science, so have fun with it!


You will end up with a thick chunky paste, which is perfect. At this point you can add the soy sauce, but be careful to put in just enough that the mixture is easily stirred. Over the next few steps, you will balance the flavor out and add more as needed.

Doesn’t look like sauce yet but it’s getting there


Balancing it all out

As the teriyaki sauce is cooking over medium heat you should be tasting it. Now is the time that you’ll add the sugar, but it’s important to add a little bit at a time and taste in between. Pineapple is a very sweet fruit, and depending on brand and season can vary in sweetness. Natural sugars from the pineapple will provide most of your sweetness to the sauce, and the sugar is just to top it off.

Now, the real trick to this stage is to balance out the added sugar with added soy sauce. Adding soy sauce is mainly to keep the sauce the right consistency and thickness, but of course it will change the flavor more to the tangy side. Play around with dosing your soy sauce and sugar until the sauce is a nice thickness and the right level of sweet that you are aiming for. It sounds complicated but it’s really easy and just takes a couple tries to get it right.

Lastly, when the mixture is a good sweetness and thickness, toss in a few pinches of ground ginger and a shot of liquid smoke. Ginger is strong and so you don’t need a lot, but a few pinches will give your teriyaki a nice subtle shot of extra flavor. Liquid smoke is another very subtle enhancement that you don’t need a lot of, but it will add that slight hint of an authentic smokehouse that makes jerky so delicious.

Now it looks like real teriyaki


Final Steps, the Jerky

Let your sauce cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors together nicely, then set it aside to cool. While it’s cooling, slice your meat into nice thick pieces, keeping in mind it will shrink down to half its original size or less. If there is any thick layers of fat you may want to trim them off, but small veins of it can add a nice flavor to the end product.

Marinade your meat in a bowl or tray and leave it covered in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, the longer the better.

Make sure each piece gets covered by the sauce

Take out out the next day, and throw it on the dehydrator. Mine has no thermostat so I have to watch it carefully. Usually it dries for around 10-12 hours to get to where I like it, but this is up to your personal preference. You can also use your oven on the lowest temperature setting and just pay very close attention to it so that you are not over cooking it.

However you dehydrate it, you will end up with a very nice home made teriyaki flavor with a good amount of sweetness from the pineapple. Using the fruit allows you to add less extra sugar overall, which is always a good healthy choice. The only thing left to do is share it with friends and family.


what a sight


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