Beef jerky is a fantastic protein-packing snack that's delicious on-the-go, but finding good-tasting high-quality jerky can be a challenge. Many brands of beef jerky have a long ingredient list full of preservatives, artificial colors, and added sugar. Health conscious snackers turned off by the old fashioned, overly salted, dry beef jerky from the gas station have helped fuel a revolution in healthy jerky made with unique and interesting natural flavors. It's now easier than ever to get beef jerky almost as good as homemade.
Who Sells the Best Beef Jerky?
Beef jerky is one of those things everyone has an opinion on. It really comes down to personal preference when deciding what is the best. Some people like tender pieces that fall apart, others like to bite and chew. Many people simply prefer the South African beef sticks over flat pieces of dried beef. So rather than go by taste or texture, we looked at the ingredients, sodium content, sugars, and we also looked for grass-fed beef to compile this list of the best brands of beef jerky.
Types of Jerky
Not all jerky is created equal. You'll find significant differences between beef turkey, and pork jerky. You can even find salmon jerky, wild game jerky, and bacon jerky. Each type will have differences in protein, calories, fat, and sodium. It's important for you to read labels when purchasing jerky because some of the most interesting flavors contain unexpected ingredients.
Best Brands of Beef Jerky
We looked at the top brands on the market and compared their original recipe beef jerky head to head. These are the best jerky brands we found. We looked for things like added sugar, sea salt and celery powder, and MSG. The best brands use high-quality beef, are gluten-free, and taste like real beef.
Bearded Butcher Blend Beef Jerky Bites
We're a little biased of course, but we think our beef jerky bites take the top spot. Our bites are 100% beef with no fillers and no artificial flavors - especially no MSG. We put the same care and thought into our jerky as we do our seasonings so the final product is high in protein and very low in fat and sodium. Our bites are also easier to chew than traditional jerky but still have that same snap that you'd expect. Bearded Butcher Blend Beef Jerky Bites come in all of the same flavors as our seasonings and you'll almost always find a unique flavor available for a limited time. Try them all today!
Think Jerky takes a spot on our list because it is high in protein, providing 12 grams per ounce. It's low sodium at 260 mg, only 70 calories per serving, and has only 1.5 grams of fat. Think Jerky uses 100% grass-fed beef and simple, all-natural ingredients. Think Jerky uses cows that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics, and their products are gluten-free and contain no nitrites at all.
Good for you isn't everything, though. A beef jerky snack needs to be as delicious as it is nutritious, and the product from Think Jerky has a thick, meaty texture and robust flavor. Each of the various flavors is hand-crafted by Michelin-winning chefs.
Country Archer beef jerky came in a close second in our ranking. The Original beef jerky has 12 grams of protein, 70 calories, 260 mg of sodium, and only 1.5 grams of fat, just like Think Jerky. The difference for us was in the ingredients. Country Archer uses 100% grass-fed beef, but the original recipe includes LOTS of ingredients. Many of the flavors simply get lost in the final presentation.
One of the great things about Country Archer brand jerky is they do not use sugar. Instead, they use ingredients like organic chickpea miso to add sweetness. Their products are gluten-free, contain no MSG, and are free of nitrites.
One of our all-time favorites is Field Trip brand beef jerky. Their Original recipe contains 10 grams of protein, 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 390 mg of sodium. This is a good-tasting jerky, but the lower protein and higher sodium put it behind the leaders on this list. Field Trip uses 100% grass-fed beef and all-natural ingredients. They even thoughtfully use gluten-free soy sauce.
The pieces of jerky are thick and supple, with flavor that penetrates. This is an excellent tasting brand and offers a truly New York flavor – the Everything Bagel.
This funny name for a brand puts out some seriously good beef jerky. It's perky because it's flavored (wink wink) with caffeine for some extra kick! The "More Than Original" recipe provides 10 grams of protein, 90 calories, only 1 gram of fat, and 390 mg of sodium. Their jerky is made of 100% grass-fed beef and natural ingredients, even gluten-free soy sauce.
Perky Jerky flavors are all excellent, and the More Than Original is no different. You get the real beef flavor with a delightful burn from the cracked pepper. No added nitrites and no MSG round out this top-ranked product.
We knew we had to try a piece of the Chef's Cut Original Steak Jerky as soon as we saw it, and boy are we glad we did. The Original has 10 grams of protein, 90 calories, and 340 mg of sodium. Chef's Cut uses top round beef from US cattle. The certified gluten-free beef jerky does contain nitrites and has numerous other natural ingredients.
We liked the original flavor of this beef jerky, but the health benefits of some others place this one near the bottom for us.
Is Beef Jerky Bad for You?
Much has been said over the years about whether beef jerky is good for you or not. We even have a whole blog post about it, if you ever want to know the truth about jerky. The jerky we featured here today is the healthiest brands you'll find. They use good quality ingredients and safe practices to craft delicious and nutritious beef jerky. In general, jerky is a good source of protein that is easy to store and carry without refrigeration.
Comparing These Brands to Homemade
If you haven't made jerky at home before, you really should try it. It's a super-simple process you can do in your oven and it requires very few tools and ingredients. You can make your own fanciful flavors easily, add or reduce certain flavorings, and control exactly how jerked you want your jerky. There is nothing quite like making your own sweet, spicy chipotle cracked pepper smoked beef jerky.
We love beef jerky and it's something we make a lot, but it's also a snack we grab when out and about. Buying beef jerky from one of the best brands ensures a tasty and healthy snack that's free of unnecessary additives and ingredients, so we can feel good about eating the whole bag.
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