Venison Jerky Marinade (Sweet and Spicy)

I originally made this recipe for wild boar jerky, but it was so good I adapted it for venison.

What I love most about this marinade is the simplicity and how few ingredients are required. This venison jerky marinade requires only 5 ingredients to make some of the best damn jerky you ever had.

Venison Jerky Marinade


  • Soy sauce: Adds deep rich flavor and umami
  • Brown Sugar: Adds sweetness and tackiness
  • Chili flakes: Adds heat and depth, could be left out if you don’t like spicy but I don’t recommend and this is not a very spicy dish
  • Honey: Adds sweetness and balance
  • Apple Juice: Tenderizes and adds freshness

I use soy sauce to add balance to the overall flavor and prevent it from becoming too sweet or spicy. What I also like about using soy sauce in this recipe is that it adds a nice deep umami flavor.

The brown sugar brings much of the sweetness, but also adds the classic jerky tackiness. You can use most types of brown sugar, but I like using cane sugar.

I find the chili flakes to almost be the star of the show, They’re not too spicy but creep up on you and make a real impact on the dish.

This venison marine recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of chili flakes, and I find this is perfect for me, but if you are not a fan of spicy food you could reduce this to half a tablespoon.

Venison Jerky Marinade

The honey is another ingredient to bring out the sweetness in this recipe. In the original recipe, I used mirin, but I found that for venison honey would be a better match.

What I also like about using honey is you can vary the flavor according to the type of honey you use.

Another benefit of using honey is that it also helps with the tackiness, which I really like in jerky.

Lastly, I added apple juice. The apple juice helps break down the proteins, thus, tenderizing the venison.

I find that the apple juice also adds a hint of freshness and semi-sweet flavor to the jerky.

Making Venison Jerky Marinade

Making the marinade is very simple, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir. You will need to stir until all the sugar, and honey is dissolved.

Slice the jerky whichever way you prefer, I mostly prefer against the grain. You can then add the jerky to a bowl, plastic tub, Ziploc bag, or vacuum bag.

I prefer using a vacuum bag because it requires less marinade for even coverage. A Ziploc bag also requires less marinade, but you will need to turn it halfway through the marination process to ensure everything gets marinated.

Place the jerky and marinade in the fridge. You can marinade for as little as 6 hours and still have good flavor, but I prefer 12 hours, I usually marinade the venison overnight.

Venison Jerky Marinade

I have marinated venison for 24 hours but didn’t notice a significant flavor increase in the jerky.

Once the meat has been marinated for your desired number of hours, remove it from the fridge and strain it in a colander.

The next step is to place it in the dehydrator. Some people like to pat the meat dry before dehydrating, but I don’t.

I like to drain the jerky well in the colander and place it straight in the dehydrator, this helps with the tackiness I mentioned.

To do this you will need a rear-mounted dehydrator like the Cosori on Amazon, this is the exact one I use and it’s fantastic.

The drying times vary according to the moisture content and your preference. Some people like jerky on the dryer side while others prefer the opposite.

I like to aim somewhere between the middle of the two. A good rule of thumb is to dehydrate the meat for 4 hours at 160F.

I find this time and temperature give a nice texture and allow the marinade to stay slightly tacky.

Venison Jerky Marinade

Venison Jerky Marinade

This venison jerky marinade makes amazing sweet and spicy venison jerky, with only a handfl of ingredients.
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Course: Big Game
Cuisine: Wild Game
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 16 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Author: Rusty


  • 1-2 pounds venison see note 1
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 table spoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup apple juice


  • Slice the mea agains the grain about 1/4 inch thick
  • In a small bowl add all other ingredients and stir until the sugar and honey dissolves
  • Pour the mixture over the venison and mix to cover all of the meat. Store in a vacuum bag or marinade bag in the fridge for 6-24 hours. (I find 12 hours is perfect)
  • After 12-24 hours drain the the mixture in a colander (see note 2)
  • Place the meat in the dehydrator for 4 hours at 160F


  1. Cut to your desired texture, cutting against the grain will make jerky that is easily torn, while cutting with the grain will make chewy jerky.
  2. Do not pat the meat dry, use a dehydrator with a rear-mounted fan and let drip.

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