Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Considerations of Beef Jerky

beef jerky

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Beef jerky is beef that's had most of the fat removed and either cut into strips or chopped fine and formed into strips. The meat is then marinated or flavored with a mixture of seasonings and salt and finally, dehydrated and packaged.

Beef jerky isn't generally thought of as a health food, but it can be a good source of protein. However, it's almost always high in sodium. There are lower-sodium types of jerky available, otherwise, it's best to eat beef jerky occasionally.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (90g) of beef jerky pieces.

  • Calories: 369
  • Fat: 23g
  • Sodium: 1870mg
  • Carbohydrates: 10g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Iron: 4.88mg
  • Folate: 98.1mg


One piece of beef jerky pieces has contains about 82 calories and just over two grams carbohydrate. This is a low-carbohydrate food. Much of the carbohydrate in beef jerky comes from sugar (1.1 grams) and some comes from fiber (less than half gram).

The estimated glycemic load of a single piece of beef jerky is one. Many people eat more than a single serving of jerky when they consume the snack. One cup of beef jerky pieces has 369 calories, 30 grams protein, 23 grams fat, and about 10 grams carbohydrate. 


There are about five grams of fat in a single piece of beef jerky. The fat is a blend of saturated fat and monounsaturated fat.


Beef jerky is a good source of protein providing almost seven grams per piece.

Vitamins and Minerals

One cup of beef jerky has about 537 milligrams of potassium, 7 milligrams of zinc, and more than 1800 milligrams of sodium. Nutrition information may vary based on what's used to flavor the beef jerky. A cup of beef jerky is also high in iron, magnesium, vitamin B12, and choline.


1 cup (90g) of beef jerky pieces has 369 calories. Approximately 33% of beef jerky calories are from protein, and 56% from fat.

Health Benefits

Beef jerky's health benefits come primarily from its protein content, vitamins, and minerals.

Provides Concentration of Nutrients

Beef jerky contains a high concentration of nutrients including proteins, minerals, and peptides like carnosine. Since beef jerky is dehydrated, it has a lower volume than consuming regular beef making it easier to eat more and obtain a higher amount of nutrients for those who may need to boost their levels of these nutrients.

May Prevent Iron Deficiency

Beef jerky provides a high amount of heme iron. Heme iron is much more absorbable for humans than non-heme iron that comes from plants. Low and deficient iron levels are common among women, especially those who are active. It's advised that female athletes ensure they consume enough iron to prevent low or deficient levels, which can come from red meat including beef jerky.

Symptoms of low iron include tiredness, weakness, poor concentration, reduced performance, restless leg syndrome, and feeling cold, among others. Athletic-based side effects of low iron include reduced power output, higher heart rate while exercising, increased illnesses and injuries, and mood changes.

May Boost Immunity

Beef contains protein and zinc, each of which helps your immune system function optimally. Consuming a moderate amount of beef jerky can help you obtain sufficient levels of protein and zinc to help ward off colds and other illnesses. Be sure to eat it along with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, consume enough liquids, and practice good hygiene for the best results.

May Help Build and Maintain Muscle Mass

Getting enough protein in your diet is essential for health, and is vital for anyone hoping to build and maintain muscle, including during the aging process which can lead to sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the natural loss of muscle that occurs as you get older. A reduction of muscle mass increases injury risks, leading to a loss of independence for seniors. Consuming enough animal protein as an older adult is associated with better maintenance of muscle mass, regardless of exercise habits. 

Beef jerky contains an abundance of protein that can help you avoid muscle loss, or build muscle if you are on a calorie surplus and performing muscle-building resistance training workouts consistently.

May Boost Gut Health

While most beef jerky found commercially will not contain live active cultures, if you ferment your own jerky or buy naturally fermented kinds, it may help boost your gut health and aid immunity. Fermented foods are known to increase the micro-diversity in your gut, providing live active bacteria that help boost immune function among several other benefits including better digestion.


If you have a meat allergy, you should avoid beef jerky. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, If you experience a stuffy nose or if your nose begins to run after eating meat, you may have a meat allergy. You might also become nauseated or develop a rash.

If you suspect an allergy to meat, avoid beef jerky and get personalized advice from a qualified medical professional.

Adverse Effects

Eating processed meat has been associated with a higher risk of some types of cancer. However, it's hard to know for sure the extent to which red or processed meat results in poor health outcomes because the studies that show this association also indicate that people who eat the most red meat tend to engage in fewer health-promoting behaviors as compared to non-meat eaters, which could be impacting the results (and have less to do with dietary choices than indicated).

Beef jerky typically has less fat than fresh red meat; it still can be a substantial source of fats, including saturated fat. Since beef jerky is usually high in sodium, it may not be a good choice for people with high blood pressure or who have been told they should avoid salt and sodium.

A lot of beef jerky brands use sodium nitrite as a preservative. Sodium nitrite has been put forth as one possible reason that eating processed meats may cause cancer. Nitrites are also present in other foods, such as some veggies, fruit, and dairy products, so it's hard to know for sure, but it's probably not something you need to worry about.


Jerky can also be made from poultry such as turkey or chicken, wild game such as venison, or lower-fat versions of red meat such as elk or bison. Salmon jerky is quite popular and has less saturated fat compared to other versions. These alternative forms of jerky are still high in protein but have a healthier fat profile. However, they may still be high in sodium unless you specifically buy a brand made with low-sodium ingredients.

Storage and Food Safety

Beef jerky is specifically designed to last a long time as a shelf-stable food. For this reason, it is used as a travel and hiking food. Check for the expiration date on the package and discard any jerky that smells, tastes, or appears off. Store jerky in a cool, dry, sealed package.

How to Prepare

Beef jerky is sold in most stores that sell any kind of food. Grocery stores and convenience stores also sell beef jerky. If you need to watch your salt intake, look for brands that are low in sodium. Beef jerky made from grass-fed beef may have a healthier fat profile and still be high in protein and very low in carbohydrates.

Dehydration is a very old way of preserving foods and as long as it's done right, beef jerky can be stored at room temperature for quite a long time, although it still needs to be packaged properly. Keep beef jerky in a cool dry space and refrigerate any leftover jerky after you've opened the packaging.

It's not hard to make your own beef jerky at home and it's a good way to control all the ingredients and the sodium content. A dehydrator is perfect for making beef jerky, but you can use your oven at a low temperature and get similar results.

The biggest concern with making beef jerky is the possibility for contamination of salmonella and E. coli. Since dehydrators don't heat the meat up high enough to kill bacteria, the United States Department of Agriculture suggests heating your beef jerky meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dehydrating it. In addition, it's a good idea to keep homemade jerky in the refrigerator to prevent any bacterial growth.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.