Soda-Flavored Jerky

If you eat jerky, you've heard of Jack Links, one of the leading national brands, known for popular and intense flavors like "Sriracha" and "Burrito." But you may have never tried jerky that harnesses the oaky flavor of bourbon and the crisp, sweetness of vanilla or cream soda – what Jack Links' executive chef Wes Castelsky calls a "playful way to work with beef's already delicious umami profile." For a truly experimental jerky, you can create this recipe with root beer. The results has a retro feel and brings out a hint of both the corner bar and a classic candy store.

Cream Soda and Bourbon Beef Jerky from Jack Link's Executive Chef Wes Castelsky


  • 2 lbs lean beef top round
  • 2 cups cream soda (for other interesting flavors try using dark soda, root beer, cherry cola, or vanilla flavored cola)
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

Step One
Wrap the top round in butcher's paper or plastic film and chill it in the freezer for one to two hours to firm it up before slicing.

Step Two
Combine all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Step Three
Remove the top round from the freezer and slice it against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add the sliced beef to the marinade, mix thoroughly. Place the beef in the fridge and allow to marinate for four to six hours.

Step Five
Layer tin foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any drippings. Remove the wire racks from the oven and coat with nonstick spray. Pre heat an oven to 175 degrees F.

Step Six
Remove the beef strips from the marinade and pat slightly dry. Lay the beef strips on the prepared wire racks so they hang without touching each other. Place the wire racks directly in the preheated oven. Cook the beef for four hours.

Step Seven
Prop the oven door open every hour for 15 minutes with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow air flow. To cool the jerky, turn off the oven, open the door and allow the jerky to sit for 30 minutes.

Step Eight
Remove the jerky from the wire racks and store in a tightly sealed container.

*You should have roughly a one week shelf life if placed in an air tight container.