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6 Categories of Spice Flavors

The marinade is one of the major steps in making jerky. Marinating your jerky will not only give it the flavor you want but also fill in the gaps of less flavorful meat since marinades work slowly. It should be noted that marinating some meats too long can turn the surface mushy and in a few cases make the meat tough. The latter is true for fish.


While most jerky marinades tend to fall into the ‘smokey’ and ‘spicy’ category, there are other flavors to consider when looking for something different. The six basic flavors (for dry ingredients) fall into these general categories:

  • Hot
  • Earth-y
  • Sharp (strong)
  • Sweet
  • Salty [ Read about the 7 Types of Salt ]
  • Herbs (dried)
Flavor Chart

The chart below will give you an idea of some of the more common ingredients for each category. When creating your own marinade or ‘enhancing’ a purchased jerky marinade, keep the balance of flavor in mind. You’ll find that the Hot spices blend well with the Sweet elements while the spices in the Earth-y and Herbs category tend to complement each other.


The fun part of making your own homemade┬ájerky is being able to try new flavors. We’ve found it helpful that when trying new marinades, keep a written record of the recipe along with the time of marinating and drying. Then if you like the results you’ll have the complete process and recipe. If you don’t like it, you can make adjustments – but you’ll at least have a starting point and not be guessing about what you did the last time!


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