The Top 10 Best Beef Jerky for a Protein Fix

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If you’re searching for a portable protein snack, nothing beats a piece of beef jerky. Beef jerky is a good source of vitamins and minerals and is suitable for a variety of diets, including paleo and keto. But, like with any cuisine, there are dangers to ingesting large amounts of jerky.

Historically treated with sodium nitrite, there is scientific evidence relating a high nitrite (and nitrate) consumption to malignancies and even certain mental health issues. We look at this in depth, as well as the history of beef jerky and how it is professionally produced. We also examine some of the top beef jerky on the market today to help you choose the correct jerky for your diet and taste preferences.

Best Selection

Our top option is the Peoples Choice 100% quality US beef jerky, which is devoid of nitrites, nitrates, gluten, sugar, and MSG.

Budget Selection

The hardwood smoked and 100% quality beef Jack Links original beef jerky with its MSG-free distinctive flavour is our budget option.


Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Beef Jerky

Product Name Grade
People’s Choice Beef Jerky A
Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky A-
Perky Jerky Original Turkey Jerky B+
Cattleman’s Cut Original Beef Jerky B+
Tillamook Country Smoker Zero Sugar Original Beef Jerky A-
KRAVE Jerky Gourmet Beef Cuts, Original Sea Salt B
Teriyaki Beef Jerky by Country Archer A
Field Trip Gluten Free, High Protein, Original Beef Jerky B+
Oberto Trail Mix Original Beef Jerky B
Tillamook Country Smoker Old Fashioned Beef Jerky A

1. ​People’s Choice Beef Jerky  

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 16 oz resealable pack of traditional style thicker cut and drier jerky made from 100% premium US beef
  • Does not contain any gluten, sugar, MSG, nitrates or nitrites
  • Has an all-natural flavor which includes cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • Its high protein/low carb makes it ideal as part of paleo, keto and other diets

Preservatives, nitrates, sugar, gluten, and MSG are all present. It also has no carbohydrates and a high protein content, making it perfect for paleo and other diets. This jerky comes in a resealable bag to keep it fresh. The Peoples Choice beef jerky (16 oz) is a classic style jerky that is free of nitrites.

It is made from 100% quality US beef and is seasoned with an all-natural combination that includes sea salt and crushed black pepper, however some customers have complained that the taste is a tad bland. Since this is a somewhat thicker cut and drier jerky, it may be a touch dry when compared to other types of beef jerky. Certain batches may be rather fatty as well.


  • Traditional style
  • 100% premium US beef
  • Nitrate/nitrite free
  • No MSG
  • Gluten free


  • Some people find the flavor too light
  • Can be drier compared to other beef jerky
  • Some batches may also be fattier

2. Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Two resealable 9 oz packs of US lean cut 100% premium beef jerky
  • Flavored with signature blend of herbs, spices, cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • Hardwood smoked and then slow cooked
  • The pack can be resealed after opening

The Jack Links original beef jerky twin pack is 96% fat free and made in the United States from lean cuts of 100% quality beef. Slow cooked and hardwood smoked, this jerky is seasoned with a distinctive combination of herbs and spices. There is no additional MSG in this.

This jerky also comes in a sealed bag, however once opened, there is a danger of mold growing. Several people have complained that the garlic taste is too strong, and that there is too much sweetness.


  • 100% premium beef
  • Hardwood smoked
  • Signature blend seasoning
  • No MSG


  • Garlic flavor may overpower other flavors
  • Can be sweeter than other beef jerky
  • Mold may develop quite quickly

3. Perky Jerky Original Turkey Jerky

Highlighted Characteristics

  • 14 oz resealable turkey jerky seasoned with garlic, soy and black pepper
  • Made from turkey breast marinated for over 24 hours
  • A serving is low fat and contains up to 11 grams of protein
  • Does not contain added MSG, nitrites, nitrates or artificial preservatives
  • Naturally gluten free as seasoned with gluten free soy sauce

The Perky Jerky original turkey jerky comes in a 14 oz resealable container and is devoid of nitrites, nitrates, added MSG, and artificial preservatives. This jerky is a delicate jerky produced from turkey breast that has been marinated in garlic, soy sauce, and black pepper for more than 24 hours. This results in jerky with undertones of sweetness and cracked black pepper tastes.

Each serving offers up to 11 grams of protein and is naturally low fat and gluten free due to the gluten free soy sauce used in the marinade. Several customers disliked the texture of this turkey jerky and thought it was overly wet. There may also be discrepancies across batches, leaving some purchasers dissatisfied with their purchase.


  • Original turkey flavor
  • Resealable pack
  • No MSG
  • Gluten Free
  • Nitrate/nitrite free


  • ​You may consider this to be moister than other types of jerky
  • ​There can be inconsistencies across different batches

4. Cattleman’s Cut Original Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • USDA whole muscle steak beef jerky in a 10 oz pack
  • Flavored with sweet and savory seasoning, brown sugar and layers of hardwood smoke
  • Marinated for 48 hours and then slow cooked
  • Packaged in a clear bag which can be resealed after opening

Slow cooked Cattlemans Cut original beef jerky (10 oz) is made with USDA whole muscle steak that has been marinated for 48 hours. It is seasoned with layers of hardwood smoke, brown sugar, and savory and sweet spice. This beef jerky comes in a resealable transparent package. To keep it fresh, eat or refrigerate this jerky within three days after opening it. This jerky is cured using nitrite, thus it may taste sweeter and have a greater salt content. This jerky may not be as difficult to chew as you would want or anticipate.


  • USDA whole muscle steak
  • Sweet and savory flavor
  • Slow cooked
  • Resealable bag


  • This is a nitrite cure jerky
  • May be too sweet for some
  • Also higher in sodium than other jerky

5. Tillamook Country Smoker Zero Sugar Original Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Original beef jerky made from 100% premium US beef
  • Ideal for keto diets, a serving contains zero grams of total carbs and 14 grams of protein
  • Available in different sized resealable packs
  • Is smoked with real hardwood smoke
  • Does not contain any nitrates, MSG or artificial ingredients

The Tillamook Country Smoker zero sugar original beef jerky has 14 grams of protein and 0 grams of total carbohydrates per serving, making it excellent for those following a keto diet. This is produced with 100% quality US beef that has been smoked with genuine hardwood smoke and is free of any artificial additives, MSG, nitrates, or sugar.

This may have more gristle than other beef jerky and the odd consumer has noted that it is a touch too salty for their preferences. It is available in various sized resealable packets.


  • Premium US beef
  • Real hardwood smoked
  • Zero total carbs
  • Suitable for keto
  • No MSG
  • Nitrate free


  • This can be more gristly than other beef jerky
  • You may find this on the salty side

6. KRAVE Jerky Gourmet Beef Cuts, Original Sea Salt 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Eight packs of 2.7 oz sea salt flavored beef jerky with a moister texture
  • Made from lean and tender cuts of beef
  • Is free from gluten, added nitrites and MSG

KRAVE jerky gourmet beef cuts sea salt original (2.7 oz) comes in eight packs and is produced from tender and lean pieces of beef. This gluten free beef jerky comes in resealable bags and is seasoned with sea salt. It has a juicy feel. This jerky has a danger of getting moldy, and its softer texture may not appeal to everyone. This jerky also includes more sugar than other brands, and the sweetness may obscure the flavor of the meat.

This beef jerky has no added nitrites or MSG and should be refrigerated or consumed within three days after opening.


  • Sea salt flavor
  • Lean beef
  • No added nitrites
  • No MSG
  • Gluten free


  • As a moister jerky it may not be popular with all
  • Needs refrigerating or eating within three days
  • Can develop mold quickly
  • Sweeter flavor may be too sweet

7. Teriyaki Beef Jerky by Country Archer

Highlighted Characteristics

  • An 8 oz pack of teriyaki flavor beef jerky which is certified gluten free
  • Made from 100% grass-fed beef which is hormone and antibiotic free
  • Does not contain any nitrites or nitrates and is free from MSG
  • Its flavor is made from tamari soy sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, pineapple and other flavors
  • The pouch is resealable once opened

The Country Archer teriyaki beef jerky (8 oz) is devoid of nitrites and MSG, and the 100% grass-fed beef is free of antibiotics and hormones. This certified gluten free jerky comes in a resealable bag and is seasoned with gluten free tamari soy sauce, brown sugar organic Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, seasoned rice vinegar dressing, pineapple juice, garlic, and other tastes. Once opened, this jerky must be consumed within three days. Several customers have complained that this jerky is harder and that the taste is excessively sweet. Without nitrates


  • 100% grass fed beef
  • Teriyaki flavor
  • MSG free
  • Certified gluten free
  • Nitrate/nitrite free


  • Needs eating within three days on opening
  • Can be tougher than other beef jerky
  • You may find its flavor too sweet

8. Field Trip Gluten Free, High Protein, Original Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 12 oz pack of lower sodium beef jerky
  • Made from premium grass-fed beef this is gluten, dairy and soy free
  • Also free from any nitrate/nitrites, MSG and preservatives
  • Marinated for at least 24 hours in brown sugar, cracked black pepper and smoke flavor

It is nitrite-free and devoid of preservatives and MSG. It also has a reduced sugar and salt content. Unfortunately, this may have less taste than intended, and some consumers have reported that recent batches have been tougher than usual. The soy, dairy, and gluten free Field Trip original beef jerky (12 oz) is produced from quality grass-fed beef and marinated for over 24 hours in cracked pepper, brown sugar, and smoke flavor. This is a nitrate as well.


  • Premium grass-fed beef
  • Nitrate/nitrite free
  • No MSG
  • Gluten free
  • Lower sodium


  • Recent batches can be harder than it used to be
  • This jerky may have less flavor than other jerky

9. Oberto Trail Mix Original Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • Eight packs of 20 oz beef jerky trail mix
  • Contains beef jerky, pecans and walnuts, seeds, dried fruits and semi-sweet chocolate
  • Not made with any artificial ingredients

Oberto Trail Mix original beef jerky (2 oz) gluten free eight pack contains no artificial components. Pecans, pumpkin seeds, semi-sweet chocolate, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cranberries, and golden raisins are incorporated into the beef jerky.

This trail mix has a lower amount of jerky, which may flavor the other components and soften the nuts. The flavor combination may not appeal to everyone’s palate.


  • Jerky trail mix
  • Gluten free
  • No artificial ingredients


  • Jerky flavor can overpower the rest of the trail mix
  • Only a small amount of jerky in the pack
  • Nuts can be quite soft in the mix

​10. Tillamook Country Smoker Old Fashioned Beef Jerky 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 10 oz pack of jerky from 100% premium USDA beef which is real hardwood smoked
  • Does not contain any artificial ingredients, MSG or gluten
  • Flavored with natural flavorings, salt, brown sugar and vinegar

There are no artificial components in the authentic hardwood smoked Tillamook Country Smoker old fashioned beef jerky (10 oz). This jerky is made with 100% quality USDA beef and is gluten and MSG free. It is seasoned with salt, brown sugar, natural flavorings, and vinegar. It is also packaged in a transparent pouch. This softer jerky should be refrigerated after opening or consumed within three days, and some people think it’s a lot fattier than it used to be.


  • 100% premium USDA beef
  • Hardwood smoked
  • Gluten free
  • No MSG


  • Needs eating within three days or refrigerating after opening
  • Appears to be fattier now than it used to be
  • As a softer jerky it may not be popular with all

Considerations When Purchasing Beef Jerky

Jerky is any kind of beef that has been salt cured and reduced to less than 50% of its overall moisture content. While the curing and drying process toughens the flesh, it also concentrates its taste.

From at least the time of the Ancient Egyptians, meat has been preserved in this manner. The word jerky is derived from the Quechua word charki, which means to burn (meat). This term was used by the Quechua, a primitive South American tribe that sliced and pounded boned and defatted meat from llamas and alpacas and sprinkled it with salt. This meat was then either smoked over an open fire or sun cured.

The Spanish Conquistadors discovered this method of preservation, known as charqui, and when they came farther north, they discovered that North American indigenous also dried meat from elk, buffalo, and deer. The name charqui remained, but the Spanish pronunciation made it seem jerky.

Jerky gained popularity among early pioneers who saw it as an easy food source when times were tough or they were on the road. They also discovered that adding spices to the jerky made it considerably tastier.

USDA Jerky Terminology and Beef Cuts

Whether you create your own jerky or purchase it, the cut of beef used to produce it will impart a distinct taste. A soft sirloin cut yields more tender jerky, and although flank beef from the back underbelly might be fatty and rougher, it has greater taste.

Some consider range fed 100% quality, visibly lean flank steak that has been USDA inspected to be the perfect beef for jerky.

Beef round may be top round, which is within the thigh muscle and is sometimes fairly sensitive, or bottom round, which is cheaper and rougher. The eve of round is the oval muscle in the back leg, which is often employed in commercial jerky production. One pound of jerky requires around five pounds of meat.

Beef jerky, which signifies the jerky was prepared from a single piece of beef, is one of the USDA terms for commercial jerky that you may find on packaging. A chunked and formed beef jerky is created from beef chunks that are molded, shaped, and then cut into strips. Similarly, ground and formed or chopped and formed beef jerky is created from molded and sliced ground or chopped meat.

Jerky that includes extenders or binders must be labeled as such, for example, beef and soy protein concentrate jerky. A beef jerky sausage will have been diced and dried at some point during the production process, and it must be in a casing.

Commercial Jerky Manufacturing

Whether it’s beef or another meat, it’s normally processed in comparable methods for manufacturing jerky, particularly at the beginning. To remove bones, connective tissues, and fat from the meat, it must first be processed. At this time, any contaminants or undesirable tissues or components are also eliminated. Depending on how the meat will be cured, it is either sliced, ground, or cut and frozen at this phase.

Typically, the meat is dipped into a curing solution and kept in there long enough for it to cure but not so long that hazardous germs begin to proliferate. Some producers may additionally inject curing solution into the meat.

The curing solution is often a combination of water, salt, and sodium nitrite that has been heated to a food-safe temperature. The salt dehydrates the meat, while the sodium nitrite stabilizes its color and prevents it from becoming rancid. The curing process not only adds flavor to jerky and extends its shelf life, but it also prevents hazardous germs from forming in the meat.

The curing solution is often combined with the brine or liquid seasoning, which may include spices, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper, hickory salt, or a variety of other tastes or flavors. Liquid smoke may also be used to give the jerky a smoky flavor without actually smoking it during cooking. Tenderizers such as polyphosphates may also be used to minimize the harshness of the jerky, however using them does need extra drying time.

When the meat has been cured and seasoned, it is often formed into blocks and chilled to a temperature of 18F to 28F. After it’s cool enough to slice, cut it down the grain of the flesh. The strips are placed on wire trays in a drying oven and cooked to roughly 160F before being cooled to around 90F.

This step of cooking may take up to 12 hours, and the moisture content of the meat should be decreased to between 20% and 40%. The jerky is then frequently wrapped in a vacuum pack to keep it fresh for longer.

What Is the Different Between Jerky and Biltong?

While both are produced from dried meat, biltong, unlike jerky, is not cooked at all. This South African snack is steeped in a brine of salt and vinegar and let to air dry for up to two weeks.

Biltong is often produced from different beef cuts than jerky, and it is available in broader strips that are easier to hang for air drying. Biltong has an acidic taste rather than the conventional smokey flavor of jerky since it is steeped in vinegar.

Meat Security

Jerky production is regulated as a commercial meat product by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service via federal inspections (FSIS). The final jerky is examined in addition to applicable testing on the quality of the raw beef utilized.

Nitrites and Nitrates Problems in Beef Jerky

According to a new research, nitrates found in processed meats and beef jerky may lead to mania. The research included around 1000 persons who had or did not have mental illnesses. As compared to individuals who did not have a history of major mental illnesses, those who were hospitalized with mania had more than three times the chances of having ever eaten beef cured with nitrate.

Various diet components were examined, however cured meat stood out among the research participants. The study’s results show that certain kinds of nutrition, as well as the type and volume of bacteria in the stomach, may contribute to specific brain problems.

This connection was investigated further in the laboratory. At 14 days of commencing the diet, animals given nitrate-prepared beef jerky displayed hyperactivity and abnormal sleep habits. The quantity of jerky they were fed was similar to one jerky stick or hot dog per day for a person. The researchers subsequently collaborated with a producer to create a nitrate-free jerky, and the experiment was repeated. This time, the animals given nitrate-free jerky responded similarly to the control group fed regular animal chow.

While these are preliminary results, research into the relationship between nitrates and mental health will undoubtedly continue. Nitrates and nitrites have previously been studied extensively in the context of cancer and several neurological illnesses.

Nitrates and nitrites are found in water, soil, and foods such as vegetables, as well as being produced in our bodies, where they seem to work as natural anti-microbials. In fact, vegetables are the most common source of nitrates entering the body. They are also used as preservatives in processed foods such as bacon and jerky.

Nitrate and nitrite ions are often confused because nitrite may be converted to nitrate and nitrate can be readily changed to nitrite. This nitrite may be converted in the body to either nitric oxide, which is a crucial signaling molecule in our circulatory system, or to harmful chemicals known as N-nitroso compounds (NOC).

Nitrate have been found to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in people. Those who consume more meat and water nitrates have a greater risk of stomach, kidney, and colon cancer than those who consume less of both.

NOCs include nitrosamines and nitrosamides, both of which may develop in the body. Nitrosamines are also produced when meats are cooked at high temperatures. Pre-made or pre-formed nitrosamines may also be found in cigarette smoke, beer, and other malt-brewed beverages.

While veggies are most people’s main source of nitrates, antioxidants like vitamin C in vegetables actually help prevent nitrosamines from developing in the body. This, along with the fact that vegetables are seldom cooked at high temperatures, implies that there is no worry about nitrate levels from eating a lot of veggies.

Excessive nitrate or nitrite exposure may also induce methemoglobinemia, a blood condition in which blood cannot transfer oxygen to the body’s tissues.

On the plus side, nitrates may benefit physical fitness by improving the efficiency of the energy-producing sections of our cells (the mitochondria). This may result in lower oxygen costs during exercise and a longer duration before fatigue.

Nutritional Information for Beef Jerky

While nutritional content varies by brand, a 3.5 oz portion of beef jerky includes around 150 calories. This contains around 2.8 grams of carbohydrates and little less than 2 grams of fat. Saturated fat accounts for almost half of these 2 grams of fat.

Beef jerky is a naturally high protein snack that may provide up to 67.6% of your daily protein requirements. The protein in jerky provides all nine necessary amino acids that the body needs to operate and flourish.

Jerky is also rich in vitamin B12, with one serving supplying around 39% of the daily value. It is also high in phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc.


A 3.5 ounce portion of beef jerky may contain up to 2,790 mg of salt, which is higher than the current daily guideline of 2,300 mg. Salt kills hazardous microorganisms as well as giving taste to jerky, so a reduced sodium jerky as an occasional treat is presently the best alternative available for individuals managing their salt consumption.

Storing Beef Jerky

Jerky prepared commercially has a shelf life of around 12 months. If the label instructs you to refrigerate after opening or consume within a certain time period, you should do so to guarantee that the jerky stays food safe.

Jerky is susceptible to mold growth because, although most of the moisture has been removed, there is still enough moisture remaining to offer the ideal habitat for mold to develop. Jerky that has been fully dehydrated is less susceptible to mold, but it is also considerably drier, which may not suit all tastes (or teeth!).


nitrates, which are probably better consumed in moderation or as a treat on occasion. Some beef jerky is now manufactured without sodium nitrite, making it more appropriate for a diet supplement, while caution should still be used due to the greater salt level of jerky. In this review, we addressed some of the problems with consuming jerky, particularly those containing nitrites.

We hope you liked reading about some of the jerky argument as well as the history of this popular food. We also hope that if you’re searching for a protein snack as part of your diet or lifestyle, or a simple meal to take on the trail, you’ll go no farther than our list of the top ten best beef jerky for a protein pick-up.


What type of jerky has the most protein?

Select jerky that is strong in protein content. Vegan jerky is inherently low in protein; however, jerky made from turkey, fish, or beef is often abundant in protein. Most meat-based jerky has at least 10 grams of protein per serving, depending on the size.

Is beef jerky good for a protein diet?

Beef jerky is abundant in protein and several vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and folate. It also has a lengthy shelf life and is portable, making it an excellent alternative for on-the-go.

What is beef jerky high in protein?

With almost 6 grams of protein per serving, beef jerky will fill you up without weighing you down. It’s created with dried and cured lean slices of beef that have been marinated in spices prior. These slim cuts have a minimal fat and carbohydrate content.

What is the best healthy beef jerky?

Lorissa’s Kitchen Recommends Healthy Beef Jerky Brands. (Photo courtesy of Lorissa’s Kitchen) Lorissa’s tastes, such as Korean Barbeque, are made with 100% grass-fed beef and other clean ingredients. …
Laura’s Tenderloin. Laura’s Lean Beef (Image) The New Primal… (Photo: The New Primal) …\sWilde. (Photo: Wilde) …\sEPIC. (Photo: EPIC)

Which one has the highest protein?

The Top 8 High-Protein Foods
Beef that is lean. 93% lean ground beef has 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving… Chicken. Skinless chicken breast has 27 grams of protein per 3 ounce dish… Salmon. Eggs provide 19 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. Peanut Butter has 6 grams of protein (1 large egg). 7 g protein (2 tbsp)… Pasta…. Cottage Cheese…. Lentils.
Feb 1, 2023

Is beef jerky good for Building Muscle?

Excellent for muscular growth and recuperation.

Get Jerky Authentic Beef Jerky offers 19g of protein every 40g package. These high protein levels offer the critical amino acids that muscles need to repair and regenerate. This not only enables you to recuperate from exercise, but it also aids in your overall strength development.

Is there a healthy jerky?

Cattaneo Bros. Beef Jerky Company is at the top of our list. Several of their delicious varieties are sugar-free, gluten-free, have less than 1g of fat, and are carb-free. Moreover, varieties like Chipotle have just 80 calories and are made with 100% quality grass-fed beef.

Is beef jerky better than protein bars?

Protein bars may be preferred as a meal replacement since they contain more calories owing to the diversity of components. They may also include fiber, which helps to control appetite and blood sugar levels. Jerky, on the other hand, is ideal for when you’re on the run and want a quick snack.

Is Jack Link’s beef jerky good for protein?

Original Jack Link’s Beef Sticks

Each stick contains the ideal combination of spices and smokey flavor for a full-bodied flavor. They’re also portable, making them a convenient source of protein to take with you everywhere you go.

Is jerky a complete protein?

One of the most important advantages of beef jerky is that it is a good source of protein. Yet it’s not just any protein; it’s a complete protein packed with amino acids. These amino acids serve as the foundation for muscles and a healthy body. Any beef jerky with at least 10g of protein per serving should be avoided.

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