Marinades for beef jerky can be very simple. Some people like to get really complex, but I’ve found simple does a good job.
A really basic marinade would be:
1 1/4 Cup Teriyaki
1/2 Cup Soy
1/4 Cup Worcestershire
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 Tbsp Black Pepper (Optional)
You can boost the Worcestershire or Teriyaki by a 1/4 cup if you need more liquid. Just mix this all together in a large bowl and taste it (dip your finger into it). If it tastes right, then you’re ready to marinate. If it needs more salt, add a little more soy. If you want more smoke flavor, add a little more liquid smoke (but go easy on that stuff, it’s strong!).
Add fresh cracked black pepper for a good flavor, but realize that the black pepper will not dissolve and will stick to the meat meaning you’ll have bits of pepper on the finished product. Some people like that, and some don’t. If you want some bite to it, add a little cayenne powder to the mix.
I’ve seen many recipes that go over the top and add orange juice, ketchup, brown sugar, etc. I like my marinade simple, and these flavors are great and taste like classic beef jerky. Plus, all of these ingredients will store well once dried on the meat. I’m not so sure about using ketchup or some of the other ingredients I’ve seen in marinade recipes.