The 8 Best Jerkys of 2020, According to a Dietitian

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The New Primal at Amazon

"Has 240 mg of sodium and four grams of sugar from honey and pineapple juice."

Best Kosher: The Grub Company at Amazon

"Is dairy, egg, gluten, fish, soy, and nut-free and has less than one gram of sugar per serving and 200 mg of sodium."

Best Non-Meat: Epic Smoked Salmon at Amazon

"This is a great option for anyone looking to cut down their meat and consume more brain-boosting omega 3s in the process. ."

Best Spicy: Epic Traditional Beef at Amazon

"One serving contains 12 grams of protein, four grams of sugar, 70 calories and 280 mg of sodium."

Best Vegan: Pan's Mushroom Jerky at Thrive Market

"Contains 20% of the recommended daily intake for fiber which is more than you will find in any traditional meat jerky."

Best Turkey: Chomps at Amazon

"Whole30 Approved means that there are no added sugars as well as free of gluten, soy, grains, dairy and more."

Best Teriyaki: Country Archer at Amazon

"Does not use added preservatives and is nitrite and gluten-free."

Best Organic: Thrive Market Brand at Thrive Market

"Uses unrefined sweeteners such as organic coconut sugar and honey to sweetener and tenderizes."

Jerky has gotten a facelift thanks to diets such as the Paleo Diet and Whole 30. Gone are the days of jerky being a gas station snack, you can now find elevated wild game jerky as well as organic, grass-fed options all over. When recommending snacks, I suggest picking something with at least 5 grams of protein so that you will be satisfied and can wait until your next meal.

Jerky is a great high protein snack. When it comes to picking a jerky that is actually nutritious, we recommend checking the following categories on the nutrition facts label. First, aim for jerky that has less than 300 mg sodium per serving. Some jerky can have over 600 mg per serving, which is almost half of the recommended daily intake for sodium in a few pieces of meat so be mindful. Second, avoid flavors with the word “sweet” in them such as “sweet chili” as this is an indicator of added sugar. Third, go for products that use organic, grass-fed, wild and/or antibiotics and hormones free meats (this will be listed on the label).

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The New Primal

The New Primal uses 100% grass-fed beef. The “100%” is important here because many beef products will say “grass-fed” but the cows may have been grain-finished. Grain finished means that in the last month of life, cows are led back to feedlots and fed with grain and soy. Grass-fed beef tends to be lower in overall fat than grain-fed beef. One serving of New Primal jerky has 240 mg of sodium and four grams of sugar from honey and pineapple juice.

Best Kosher: The Grub Company

High quality kosher jerky options are slightly harder to find. The Grub Company makes kosher biltong which is slightly different from jerky. Originating from South Africa, biltong is basically a dried steak that is sliced into pieces therefore biltong can be softer and contain slightly more moisture than jerky. This original Kosher biltong is dairy, egg, gluten, fish, soy, and nut-free and has less than one gram of sugar per serving and 200 mg of sodium.

Best Non-Meat: Epic Smoked Salmon

For pescatarians out there, the most important thing to look for when picking a fish jerky is sodium. EPIC’s smoked salmon snack strip is one of the only salmon options out there that contain less than 300 mg of sodium per serving. These salmon strips contain whole food ingredients that you can pronounce such as “wild salmon”, “coconut oil”, and “maple sugar.”

When looking at sugar-containing packaged foods consumers should make sure the grams of protein are greater than the grams of sugar. With 7 grams of protein and 4 grams of sugar, this snack fits the bill. Paleo friendly, this is a great option for anyone looking to cut down their meat consumption and consume more brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids in the process.

Best Spicy: Epic Traditional Beef

epic-spicy-beef-jerky

Courtesy of Thrive Market 

EPIC is a brand that strives to bring transparency to consumers. Heading to their website, customers can click on each animal used in their products and learn about sourcing and standards. EPIC uses 100% grass-fed and finished beef sources from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Their spicy beef jerky is gluten-free and Paleo-friendly. One serving contains 12 grams of protein, four grams of sugar, 70 calories and 280 mg of sodium making this an excellent choice for any spice lover.

Best Vegan: Pan's Mushroom Jerky

pans-mushroom-jerky

Courtesy of Thrive Market

Behold, a vegan jerky that contains whole food ingredients and is free of weird fake meat textures, flavors, and appearances. Though this jerky does not fit the “grams of protein should be greater than grams of sugar bill”, it does contain 20% of the recommended daily intake for fiber which is more than you will find in any traditional meat jerky.

Organic dried shiitake mushrooms are used to make this vegan jerky option. Shiitake mushrooms are considered a medicinal mushroom because they have been used throughout time to prevent, alleviate, or heal various diseases or illnesses. One compound famous in shiitakes is lentinan which has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral properties.

Best Turkey: Chomps

Chomps uses free-range, antibiotic-free turkey from the United States to make their Whole30 Approved turkey meat sticks. Whole30 Approved means that there are no added sugars as well as ensuring that these snacks are free of gluten, soy, grains, dairy and more. Contains 10 grams of protein, 290 mg of sodium and zero grams of sugar, this certified non-gmo snack is a great option for anyone on the go and/or anyone looking for a red meat alternative.

Best Teriyaki: Country Archer

country-archer-jerky

 Courtesy of Thrive Market

Teriyaki jerkys that are not loaded with added sugars are hard to come by. The Country Archer uses organic cane sugar and pineapple juice to sweeten their 100% grass-fed jerky. Unlike many flavored jerkys out there, this product has only 10 grams of sugar which is equal to the amount of protein per serving and has less than 300 mg of sodium. The Country Archer does not use added preservatives and is nitrite and gluten-free.

Best Organic: Thrive Market Brand

thrive-market-jerky

Courtesy of Thrive Market

For Thrive members out there, Thrive Market Goods organic jerky is not only a tasty option, but it is an affordable option. Customers love the flavor and texture and that every ingredient is organic. Thrive uses unrefined sweeteners such as organic coconut sugar and honey to sweeten their jerky and tenderize it with organic coconut aminos and apple cider vinegar. This is an awesome option for anyone looking for the teriyaki—like taste without soy or tons of added sugar and each serving only contains 140 mg of sodium.

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  1. Van elswyk ME, Mcneill SH. Impact of grass/forage feeding versus grain finishing on beef nutrients and sensory quality: the U.S. experience. Meat Sci. 2014;96(1):535-40. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.08.010

  2. Avinash J, Vinay S, Jha K, Das D, Goutham BS, Kumar G. The Unexplored Anticaries Potential of Shiitake MushroomPharmacogn Rev. 2016;10(20):100–104. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.194039

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