The Best Jerky of 2022, According to a Dietitian

The New Primal Spicy Beef Meat Sticks are delicious and made from grass-fed beef

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Beef jerky is a protein-packed snack, perfect for on-the-go. There are excellent jerky products on the market, including non-GMO and grass-fed options with nutrient dense ingredients and limited artificial additives. Lauren Bloch, MS, RD says, “Jerky makes for a great afternoon snack, and I often recommend it to clients as an option on days when they have a longer window in between meals and want something especially filling, savory, and satisfying."

Reviewed & Approved

The New Primal Spicy Beef Meat Stick is our top pick because it's made with high-quality ingredients and strong nutrition profile. If you're looking for a vegan jerky option, we recommend Pan's Mushroom Jerky, which is tasty and a great source of fiber.

"When choosing jerky—just like with any animal protein—quality is key," says Bloch. "Many jerky brands can contain potentially harmful preservatives like nitrates as well as added sugar and excess sodium. Look for nitrate-free options with recognizable ingredients, ideally with low sugar and sodium."

When shopping for jerky, make sure to pay attention to the protein used. You'll want to make sure that it's high-quality and not packed with preservatives. We researched a variety of options, considering nutrition, ingredients, serving size, and price to help you find the right jerky for your needs.

Here are the best beef jerky, according to a dietitian.

In This Article

Best Overall: The New Primal Spicy Beef Meat Stick

4.8
Pros
  • 100% grass-fed beef

  • Highly rated for taste and texture

  • Convenient, single-serve sticks

Cons
  • May be too spicy for some

For an excellent overall jerky pick, try The New Primal's Spicy Beef Meat Stick, which packs just the right amount of spice and is made from top-notch ingredients. It contains 270 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein per stick. The spicy flavor comes from dried jalapeño and chili pepper.

The brand uses 100 percent grass-fed beef that's raised without added hormones and antibiotics. The “100 percent” is important here because many beef products will say “grass-fed”, but the cattle may have been grain-finished. Grain-finished means that in the last four to six months of their lives, cattle are led back to feedlots and fed with grain, potato hulls, sugar beets, hay, or forage.

100% Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is grass-fed and finished, which means cattle are fed grass for their entire lives. Grass-fed beef has a better nutrition profile than grain-fed beef. It's a little bit lower in overall fat and cholesterol, higher in antioxidants, omega 3 fats and precursors for vitamin A and E, with increased moisture.

"If I'm looking for a protein-rich snack, I love grabbing one of these. They can even be used similarly to summer sausage—sometimes we chop one up and add it into our scrambled eggs in the morning," says Autumn Rauchwerk, MS, RDN, RYT.

Serving size: 1 stick (28 grams) | Calories per serving: 70 | Protein per serving: 9 grams Sodium per serving: 270 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Turkey: Chomp's Free Range Turkey Jerky

Chomp's Free Range Turkey Jerky

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Free-range, antibiotic-free turkey

  • Convenient, single-serve sticks

Cons
  • More mild flavor

If you're not a fan of red meat but want a protein-packed jerky snack, turkey is an excellent option. Chomps uses free-range, antibiotic-free turkey from a family-owned farm in Minnesota to make delicious protein snacks without any junk or filler. The turkey meat sticks are Whole30 Approved, meaning that there are no added sugars and the snacks are free of gluten, soy, grains, and dairy.

Each Original turkey stick contains 10 grams of protein, 290 milligrams of sodium, and zero grams of sugar. This Non-GMO Project Verified snack is a great option for anyone on the go, especially those who prefer a red meat alternative. Plus, if long ingredient lists and questionable fillers have you stressed, you won't have to worry, as Chomps contain top-quality, easy-to-read ingredients that you can identify.

Serving size: 1 stick (32 grams) | Calories per serving: 60 | Protein per serving: 10 grams Sodium per serving: 290 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Kosher: The Grub Company Kosher Biltong

The Grub Company Kosher Biltong

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Simple, whole food ingredients

  • Grass-fed beef

Cons
  • Expensive

High-quality kosher jerky can be hard to find. If you're looking for a protein-packed jerky snack, The Grub Company makes kosher biltong which is slightly different from jerky. Originating from South Africa, biltong is a dried, spiced steak that is sliced into pieces. Because it doesn't undergo the same process as typical jerky, it can be softer and contain slightly more moisture than jerky. The meat-based snack also doesn't store as long as regular jerky, and if you haven't finished the package within 10 minutes (it's so delicious, so this may be a challenge), The Grub Company recommends resealing and consuming the remainder within 2 to 3 days. It can also be stored in the refrigerator.

The original Kosher biltong is made using premium grass-fed beef and is free of dairy, egg, gluten, fish, soy, and nuts. It's free of MSG, preservatives, artificial ingredients, and nitrates contains just grass-fed kosher beef, coriander, black pepper, salt, vinegar and garlic. Each 1-ounce serving contains 80 calories, 12 grams of protein, 200 milligrams of sodium, and less than 1 gram of sugar.

Serving size: 1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per serving: 80 | Protein per serving: 12 grams Sodium per serving: 200 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: No

Best Seafood: Epic Provisions Salmon Strip

Epic Provisions Salmon Strip

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Simple, whole food ingredients

  • Pescatarian-friendly

Cons
  • Higher in sodium

Jerky comes in many forms, including seafood, vegetable and fruit jerky. EPIC’s smoked salmon snack strips contain whole food ingredients that you can pronounce such as wild salmon, coconut oil, onion and garlic powder and maple sugar. They contains 410 milligrams of sodium per serving, so it may not be the best choice for those on a low-sodium diet

Epic Smoked Salmon Strips are a Paleo-friendly jerky option that is perfect for anyone looking to cut down their red meat consumption or for a nutritious, salty, and protein-packed snack. The Certified Gluten-Free strips contain 7 grams of protein per serving and are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are responsible for brain development and function.

Serving size: 1 strip (23 grams) | Calories per serving: 80 | Protein per serving: 7 grams Sodium per serving: 410 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 5 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Teriyaki: Country Archer Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Country Archer Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Pros
  • 100% grass-fed beef

  • Sweet and savory flavor

Cons
  • Higher in added sugar

Salty and sweet teriyaki-flavored jerky is a fan favorite when it comes to jerky flavors. While teriyaki jerkies are delicious, they may not always be the most nutritious options, as they can be loaded with added sugars. The Country Archer uses organic cane sugar and pineapple juice to sweeten their 100% grass-fed jerky. Unlike many flavored jerky products out there, this product has only 8 grams of sugar. Each serving also boasts 10 grams of protein, 80 calories, and 300 milligrams of sodium.

The Country Archer does not use added preservatives and is nitrite and gluten free. It's perfect for those looking for a sweet and savory jerky made in small batches with real ingredients.

Serving size: 1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per serving: 80 | Protein per serving: 10 grams Sodium per serving: 300 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 8 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Classic: The New Primal Classic Beef Sticks

4.7
The New Primal Classic Beef Sticks
Pros
  • Convenient, single-serve sticks

  • 100% grass-fed beef

Cons
  • May taste too salty for some

The New Primal makes a classic beef meat stick is grass-fed and finished, gluten-free, and made with ingredients you're familiar with. Their beef sticks are seasoned with sea salt, lemon peel, celery juice powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, white pepper, and ginger.

One serving of The New Primal's Classic Beef Stick contains 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat. It's also certified gluten-free. The texture is juicy without being greasy, and it has a great bite and mouthfeel.

Serving size: 1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per serving: 80 | Protein per serving: 6 grams Sodium per serving: 280 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Mushroom : Pan's Mushroom Jerky

pans-mushroom-jerky

Courtesy of Thrive Market

Pros
  • Vegan and vegetarian friendly

  • Contains 6 grams of fiber

  • Simple, plant-based ingredients

Cons
  • Only 1 gram of protein

Behold, a vegan jerky that contains whole food ingredients and is free of fake meat textures, flavors, and appearances. This savory, plant-based jerky option is made from organic dried shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are considered a medicinal mushroom because alternative medicine practitioners promote them as beneficial for preventing, alleviating, or healing various diseases or illnesses. Indeed, these mushrooms contain healthful compounds such as lentinan, which has strong anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral properties.

While this mushroom jerky is much lower in protein than typical beef-based jerkies, one serving contains 21% of the daily recommended value of dietary fiber, with 6 grams of fiber per serving. It's relatively low in sodium without compromising taste. One serving contains 110 calories, 5 grams of sugar, 190 milligrams of sodium, and 1 gram of protein.

Serving size: 3 tablespoons (30 grams) | Calories per serving: 110 | Protein per serving: 1 gram Sodium per serving: 190 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 5 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: No

Best Vegan : Louisville Vegan Jerky Company Smoky Carolina BBQ

Pros
  • Certified non-GMO soy product

  • Similar taste and texture to traditional beef jerky

Cons
  • Higher in added sugar

If your looking for a vegan jerky that has a similar taste and texture to regular jerky, try Louisville Vegan Jerky Company Smoked Carolina BBQ. This is jerky is made with non-GMO textured soy protein, providing 5 grams of protein per serving. It is flavored with simple ingredients like mustard, apple cider vinegar, tamari and brown sugar.

One serving contains 3 grams of fat, 270 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of sugar, giving it a sweet and salty taste. Louisville Vegan Jerky company also offers other flavors including Smoked Black Pepper, Maple Bacon, Buffalo Dill and Perfect Pepperoni.

Serving size: 1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per serving: 100 | Protein per serving: 5 grams Sodium per serving: 270 milligrams | Sugar per serving: 7 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: No

Final Verdict

For a top-quality jerky made from grass-fed meat and superior ingredients, choose The New Primal Spicy Beef Meat Sticks. If you're looking for a vegan jerky option, try Pan's Mushroom Jerky.

What to Look for in Jerky

Ingredient Quality:

Many jerky products use low-quality meats and use salt or sugar to increase palatability and taste. Selecting a higher-quality jerky results in a more nutritious snack. Look for grass-fed meats and free-range, antibiotic free poultry with simple ingredients.

Serving Size:

Note that there are usually a few servings in one small bag of jerky. For this reason, it's easy to eat a full day's worth of salt in one sitting. Consider your sodium, calorie, and protein needs when choosing how many servings are appropriate for you.

Sodium:

Aim for jerky that has less than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving. Some jerky can have over 600 milligrams per serving, which is about a quarter of the recommended daily intake for sodium in a few pieces of meat.

Sugar:

In addition to sodium levels, consider how much sugar is in your jerky. Sugar is used in tandem with salt to create savory, crave-able snacks that you'll go back to time and again. Always take a look at the ingredient list to see what kind of sweetener is used.

If you're watching your blood glucose, then you may want to choose a jerky with lower added sugar. Try a product with less than 5 grams of added sugar.

Protein:

Choose a jerky that is packed with high-quality protein. Vegan jerky is naturally low in protein; however, turkey, fish, or beef jerky is usually high in protein. Depending on the serving size, most meat-based jerky will have at least 10 grams of protein per serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best meat for jerky?

    Jerky is available in a variety of types of meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb. The type of meat you choose depends on your preference, but in general, avoid products that use low-quality meats as they typically use salt or sugar to increase palatability and taste.

  • Why do some people say beef jerky is bad for you?

    Although beef jerky is generally a high protein and satisfying snack, it does typically contain a lot of sodium. One serving of beef jerky can account for about 15 to 25 percent of the recommended daily value of sodium, which is 2,300 milligrams for adults.

    Beef jerky is also considered a processed meat that can contain saturated fat, which should generally be limited to less than 10% of your total caloric intake according to the 2020-2025 US Dietary Guidelines. For optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends less than 7% of your total caloric intake which correlates to about 13 grams of saturated fat per day, based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

    Additionally, some jerky contains added, synthetic nitrates which should generally be limited in the diet due to its potential carcinogenic effects.

  • How can I make my own beef jerky?

    Beef jerky can be made at home using a dehydrator or an oven at a low temperature. Typically, recipes call for beef, salt and spices or marinades like teriyaki sauce. One thing to consider when making beef jerky is food safety. Since jerky is dried at a low heat, it is recommended to heat your beef jerky meat to an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit before dehydrating it to kill any potential bacteria.

  • Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant?

    Dried and cured meats are generally not recommended during pregnancy as they are cooked at lower temperatures and therefore may not reach an appropriate internal temperature to kill potential bacteria. Certain bacteria that can be found in food, like E. Coli, can put mother and baby at risk. However, vegan products like mushroom jerky would be considered safe to eat.

    Additionally, beef jerky is typically high in sodium, which may need to be limited for those that are pregnant with high blood pressure. Also, pregnant women can be more susceptible to water retention and swelling, which can be exacerbated by high sodium intakes. Generally, for healthy adults, including pregnant women, it is recommended to keep your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day or less.

    Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss your individual dietary needs and any potential dietary restrictions.

11 Sources
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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  2. Janssen J, Cammack K, Legako J, Cox R, Grubbs JK, Underwood K, Hansen J, Kruse C, Blair A. Influence of Grain- and Grass-Finishing Systems on Carcass Characteristics, Meat Quality, Nutritional Composition, and Consumer Sensory Attributes of BisonFoods. 2021; 10(5):1060. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10051060

  3. McNamara RK, Asch RH, Lindquist DM, Krikorian R. Role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in human brain structure and function across the lifespan: An update on neuroimaging findings. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018;136:23-34. doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2017.05.001

  4. 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

  5. American Heart Association. How much sodium should I eat per day?

  6. USDA. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  7. American Heart Association - Saturated Fat.

  8. Xie L, Mo M, Jia HX, Liang F, Yuan J, Zhu J. Association between dietary nitrate and nitrite intake and sitespecific cancer risk: evidence from observational studies. Oncotarget. 2016;7(35):56915-56932. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.10917

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By Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN
Eliza Savage, MS, RD is the Associate Editorial Director at Verywell Fit, a registered dietitian, and a published author. She is also a fitness enthusiast who has completed 2 full marathons and more than 25 half marathons.