How to Make Spicy Venison Jerky

Spicy venison fruit snacks might also be an appropriate recipe name, since that is how I’d best classify this jerky. There is some decent spice to this jerky—but it’s not overwhelming. It may, however, be too hot for kids. Also, while the recipe does call for bourbon in the marinade, there is a step for burning off the alcohol. And the bourbon flavor is very subtle, as it should be—far from overpowering.

Recipe: How to Make Bourbon Cherry Chipotle Venison Jerky
Trim as much fat from the venison as possible to ensure that the jerky will keep longer. Jack Hennessy

Before we get into the recipe, here are some general tips when it comes to making jerky:

  • Your hindquarter roasts (sirloin tip, top round, and bottom round) are great choices for whole muscle jerky.
  • The leaner the jerky, the longer it stays fresh. So trim the meat of anything other than ruby-red venison.
  • A partially frozen roast (think pulled from freezer and left in fridge for a day) is far easier to trim and slice, versus a thawed roast.
  • Nitrites and nitrates from Insta Cure #1 help preserve jerky and extend its shelf life while lowering risk of botulism (a form of food poisoning). You can also substitute celery juice powder, but according to USDA, that technically isn’t curing your meat despite the presence of natural nitrates.
  • Curing jerky ahead of marinating is up to you. Some folks prefer to not consume synthetic sodium nitrites and nitrates. They both do add that cured flavor and will preserve for longer while eliminating risk of botulism, but is still up to you.
  • Cut your roasts against the grain for easier-to-eat jerky.
  • I prefer my jerky closer to leather than soft and supple, but if you like a bit of softness when biting in, reduce the 140-degree dehydrating timeframe by 1 hour. (So 2 hours at 150, then 3 hours at 140.)
  • Lastly, you can smoke your jerky on a pellet grill or smoker. A standard 4 hours at 160 degrees should work for this recipe, though I’d suggest checking at 3 1/2 hours to see if your desired texture has been reached.


  • 1.75 lb. venison roast
  • 1/2 tsp. Insta Cure #1
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 15 oz. can of dark sweet cherries (pitted) in heavy syrup
  • 7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • Freshly cracked coarse black pepper
  • Cooking oil spray
dehydrating venison jerky
Spray the dehydrator trays with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Jack Hennessy


  1. While the roast is still slightly frozen, trim any fascia, fat, and silver skin from roast. Slice against the grain in 1/4-inch strips. Place the sliced venison in a mixing bowl and add the Insta Cure #1. Mix with a spoon or rubber spatula and set in the fridge to cure overnight, up to 24 hours.
  2. Make the marinade: Bring the bourbon to a boil in a saucepan, then lower the heat and simmer until it’s reduced by half and turn off the heat. Pour the reduced bourbon into a food processor, then add the cherries along with their syrup, and the chipotle peppers along with the adobe sauce. Blend thoroughly.
  3. Pour the marinade into the bowl with the cured venison, mixing it up with your hands to make sure the meat is thoroughly coated. Marinate overnight, up to 24 hours.
  4. Spray the dehydrator trays with cooking oil to avoid sticking, then arrange the venison strips on the trays. Dehydrate the venison for 2 hours at 150 degrees, then for another 4 hours at 140 degrees. (Shorten the time at 140 degrees for a chewy jerky.)
  5. Let the jerky cool for 10 minutes then either serve or package.

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