The Best Jerky of 2023, According to a Dietitian

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

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Best Jerky 2023

VeryWell Fit / Kevin Liang

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."

"When choosing jerky—just like with any animal protein—quality is key," Bloch says. "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."

Taking all of this into consideration, we researched a variety of options, considering nutrition, ingredients, serving size, and price to help you find the right jerky for your needs. We also had a registered dietitian from our Review Board review the contents of this article for accuracy surrounding jerky and how to evaluate different ingredients.

Here is the best jerky.

Best Overall

The New Primal Spicy Beef Meat Stick

  • 100% grass-fed beef

  • Highly rated for taste and texture

  • Convenient, single-serve sticks

  • 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 6 grams of protein per stick. The spicy flavor comes from dried jalapeño and chili pepper.

The brand uses 100% grass-fed beef that's raised without added hormones and antibiotics. The “100%” 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.

But 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, and 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.

Price at time of publication: $39 for pack of 20 spicy beef

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 
1 stick (28 grams) | Calories per Serving: 70 | Protein per Serving: 7-9 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

  • Free-range, antibiotic-free turkey

  • Convenient, single-serve sticks

  • Higher source of protein

  • Slightly more expensive

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.

Price at time of publication: $24 for a pack of 10

Key Specs:
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 Seafood

Epic Provisions Salmon Strip

Epic Provisions Salmon Strip

Courtesy of Amazon

  • Simple, whole food ingredients

  • Pescatarian-friendly

  • Non-GMO

  • Wild caught

  • Higher in sodium

  • More expensive

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 contain 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.

Price at time of publication: $28 for pack of 10

Key Specs:
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 Grass-Fed

Country Archer Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Teriyaki

  • 100% grass-fed beef

  • Sweet and savory flavor

  • Gluten-free

  • Has added sugar

If you're looking for a high-quality, grass-fed option, Country Archer's is the pick for you. This 100% grass-fed beef is also grass-finished! This flavor, a sweet teriyaki, is a fan favorite when it comes to jerky flavors. While teriyaki jerky is delicious, it may not always be the most nutritious option, as it can be loaded with added sugars. Country Archer uses organic cane sugar and pineapple juice to sweeten their jerky. Unlike many flavored jerky products out there, this product has only 5 grams of sugar per serving. Each serving also boasts 10 grams of protein, 70 calories, and 220 milligrams of sodium.

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.

Price at time of publication: $6 for a 2.5 oz bag

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 
1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per Serving: 70 | Protein per Serving: 10 grams Sodium per Serving: 220 milligrams | Sugar per Serving: 5 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Zero Sugar

The New Primal Classic Beef Sticks

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

  • 100% grass-fed beef

  • 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.

Price at time of publication: $45 for pack of 20 classic beef

Key Specs:
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


Courtesy of Thrive Market

  • Vegan and vegetarian friendly

  • Contains 6 grams of fiber

  • Simple, plant-based ingredients

  • 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, and antiviral properties.

While this mushroom jerky is much lower in protein than typical beef-based jerky, 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.

Price at time of publication: $8 for single 2.2-ounce pack of original

Key Specs:
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

  • Similar taste and texture to traditional beef jerky

  • Certified vegan, plant-based, and gluten-free

  • Certified non-GMO soy product

  • Higher in added sugar

If you're looking for a vegan jerky that has a similar taste and texture to regular jerky, try Louisville Vegan Jerky Company Smoked Carolina BBQ. This 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, 250 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.

Price at time of publication: $9 for single 3-ounce pack

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 
1 ounce (28 grams) | Calories per Serving: 100 | Protein per Serving: 5 grams Sodium per Serving: 250 milligrams | Sugar per Serving: 7 grams | Organic: No | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

Best Fruit

Solely Fruit Jerky

Solely Fruit Jerky


  • Organic, non-GMO and gluten-free

  • 1-2 ingredients

  • Very low sodium

  • Vegan

  • Higher in sugar

  • Lower in protein

If you're looking for a sweet option, Solely has a great fruit jerky made of simple ingredients. While this option is not a good source if protein, it does provide fiber and a convenient way to enjoy fruit without worrying about it going bad.

Each flavor is made of just the fruits it contains, so the products are typically one or two ingredients. If you're looking for something a little more flavorful, they also have drizzled options. The drizzled flavors are one fruit with a slight chocolate drizzle with no added sugar, as they only use cacao. For those who enjoy some spice, they have an option for fruit and chili combinations.

Throw these in your kid's lunch box as a fun addition to a meal or use it as a snack paired with nuts and seeds.

Price at time of publication: $20 for 12 strips

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 
1 stick (23 grams) | Calories per Serving: 70 | Protein per Serving: 1 gram Sodium per Serving: 5 milligrams | Sugar per Serving: 14 grams | Organic: Yes | Certified Gluten-Free: Yes

How We Selected

We reviewed several products and brands available at top online retailers and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics, including our team of Registered Dietitians, to come up with our best jerky list. We spoke with:

  • Lauren Bloch, MS, RD, co-founder of wellness company MELA Health
  • Autumn Rauchwerk, MS, RDN, RYT, certified intuitive eating counselor and yoga instructor, and co-founder of mendinground nutrition & yoga

We considered availability, price, nutrition, taste, and customer reviews. Nutritionally, we looked for grass-fed, minimally processed options containing simple, whole ingredients with limited added sugar. We also considered USDA Organic and Non-GMO certifications.

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.


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.


In addition to sodium levels, consider how much sugar is in your jerky. Sugar is used in tandem with salt to create savory, craveable 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.


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% 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 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 degrees 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 who are pregnant and have 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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