The 7 Best Jerkies to Buy in 2018

From beef to elk, there's an inventive protein option for you

Jerky has come a long way from its days as just an inexpensive road trip snack. What you probably used to consider an occasional junk food is now a widely available low-carb and high protein snack, made from countless kinds of protein sources and created for every single flavor profile. Better yet, most jerkies available today are high in protein and low in things like added sugars, carbs, and fillers, making them a satiating option for an on-the-go snack.

Turkey or elk, beef or vegan—the jerky market is definitely full of diverse options. While it can be daunting selecting a jerky that’s going to give you the best taste and nutrition within your budget, there are plenty of options to choose from to surely meet your needs. Look no further for the best jerky options available now.

Best Overall Jerky: Jack Link's Meat Snacks Beef Jerky, Teriyaki

You probably recognize Jack Link’s famous red packaging from rest stops and grocery stores, and it’s sold almost everywhere for good reason. Made from simple and recognizable ingredients including beef, water, sugar, and soy sauce, and made without things like added nitrates, Jack Link’s has earned more than 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. With 14 grams of protein and hardly any fat content (it's 97 percent fat free), it’s a delicious snack that you won’t feel guilty about eating.

We recommend the classic Teriyaki flavor, but other beef jerky flavor options available include Original, Peppered, Sweet & Hot, Steakhouse Recipe, KC Masterpiece Barbeque, Jalapeño Carne Seca, Sriracha, Original Hickory Smokehouse, and Cholula Hot Sauce. The Mega Pack size, which includes eight servings, is only around $10, making it a very cheap and nutritious snack option per serving.

Best Deer Jerky: Original All Natural Venison Jerky

When you’re craving something different from the traditional beef jerky, turn to this small-batch venison jerky from Jerky.com. This jerky is made from all natural deer muscle meat and made with no preservatives, no added MSG, no growth hormones, and no antibiotics.

If you’ve never had venison, it’s similar to beef, but with a lean, earthy flavor. Five-star reviewers on Amazon love the texture of this jerky, saying that it’s both chewy and moist, and practically melts in your mouth once you start chewing.

At around $26 for three bags, you’re still paying a reasonable price for such a high-quality jerky. Best of all, it’s available in three mouthwatering flavors: original, hot, and teriyaki. Can’t decide? No problem—there’s a tester pack that includes one bag of each.

Best Turkey Jerky: Perky Jerky Turkey Jerky

Try saying that name five times fast. Turkey lovers won’t be able to resist this flavor-packed jerky—we challenge you to not want to eat the whole bag in one sitting. Every package of this self-proclaimed “best tasting jerky on earth” is gluten-free, all natural, and high in protein. The ingredients are very simple—just essential flavors like soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, and black pepper—allowing the flavors of the tender jerky to shine through. Each serving of jerky only contains 80 calories but also contains an entire 10 grams of protein, making it both satiating and good for your waistline.

We also love that Perky Jerky offers unique flavor options like Brewmaster’s Pale Ale, Jamaican, Original, Sweet & Snappy, and Teriyaki. And at a price point of around $15 for a 14 ounce bag, which amounts to 14 servings, Perky Jerky Turkey Jerky is a great value snack to stock up on.

Best Elk Jerky: Original All Natural Elk Jerky

If you’ve never had elk meat before, let this jerky be your introduction. While the ever-popular beef jerky is undoubtedly delicious, elk meat has a tender texture and a smoky, gamey flavor that makes it uniquely crave-able.

This small batch jerky from Jerky.com is made with only meat from high-quality elk muscle. It contains all organic and all natural flavors, and is nitrate- and MSG-free. While available in three flavors (Hot, Original, and Teriyaki), Amazon reviewers love the Hot variety, which even spice addicts warn is not for the faint of heart.

At a price of around $26 for three two-ounce packages of jerky, it’s definitely one of the pricier options on this list, but the higher price point is to be expected when you’re buying a type of meat that is more rare.

Best Salmon Jerky: Epic All Natural Meat Bar, 100% Wild Caught

If you’re more of a lox person than a bacon person, you’ll definitely gravitate towards this smoky and sweet salmon jerky. Epic makes their bars with only 100 percent wild-caught Alaskan salmon, so it’s packed with 13 grams of protein and 0 grams of sugar, despite the sweet maple flavor. The other ingredients in the bar are all things you’ll recognize and feel good about putting in your body: organic coconut oil, spices like dill and garlic, and sea salt.

More than 1,000 five-star reviewers love these delicious and guilt-free jerky bars, and at a price point of around $29 for a box of a dozen bars, they’re a cheap and nutritious snack for on the go. Salmon not your thing? Epic also sells a variety of different snack bars made from protein sources like bison, pork, lamb, boar, and venison, in addition to more traditional jerkies like beef, chicken, and turkey.

Best Chicken Jerky: Buffalo Wing All Natural Chicken Jerky

Beware when you’re buying online: a lot of the chicken jerkies available are made for dogs. After buying a bag of that for your furry friend, add one of these bags of Buffalo Wing chicken jerky to your cart for you. Like the other proteins on this list, chicken jerky makes a great high-protein, low-carb snack for when you’re on the road with your family, getting active outdoors, or just want a satiating snack between meals.

Jerky.com makes more than 100 different varieties of jerky, and the other chicken flavor varieties they offer include unique options that go beyond classic Teriyaki, like Jamaican Jerk and Lemon Pepper. On Amazon you can stock up with a pack of five bags for $40, making it affordable even though chicken is a more specialty jerky variety.

Best Vegan Jerky: Louisville Vegan Jerky Smokey Carolina BBQ

You might assume that there aren’t any vegan jerky options because traditionally jerky is made with, well, meat. But fret not, vegans, there are great options available for you too, made from ingredients like soy protein and flavored by vinegar, mustard, and natural smoke. We recommend this high-protein option from Louisville Vegan Jerky. It contains 9 grams of soy protein per serving, which is comparable to the 10 or 12 grams per serving in most of the options above, which are derived from meat products.

In addition to being vegan, Louisville Vegan Jerkies are made with no gluten ingredients so it’s ideal for people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities. We recommend the Smokey Carolina BBQ flavor, but if that’s not your thing, there are other flavor-packed options available including Maple Bacon, Sriracha Maple, Smoked Chipotle, and Smoked Black Pepper.

The only major downside to this option? It’s a little pricey. A 3-ounce bag of this delicious and healthy snack retails for around $10.

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