The 10 Best Beef Jerkies

Updated November 23, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best Beef Jerkies
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. You may not need them to take on a cattle drive or a long wilderness hunting expedition these days, but for a quick and convenient snack that's protein packed and awesomely tasty, you can't beat our selection of delicious beef jerkies. They come in a huge range of flavors and varieties, from small teriyaki pieces to thickly cut, spicy hot slabs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best beef jerky on Amazon.

9. Naked Cow All Natural

The pieces in this Naked Cow All Natural are made from grass-fed cattle and are guaranteed to be GMO-free, gluten-free, and minimally processed. They also avoid using sugars, nitrites, or MSG, so this is a great choice for any health-conscious snackers out there.
  • high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • low in cholesterol
  • not the tastiest option
Brand Naked Cow
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Perky Jerky Variety Pack

At well over two dollars an ounce, the Perky Jerky Variety Pack isn't exactly a steal, but for this premium brand that shouldn't come as a huge surprise. With quirky, unique flavors like "Hot & Bothered" and "Sweet & Snappy," it's certainly worth a try.
  • certified gluten-free
  • backed by satisfaction guarantee
  • pieces tend to be very small
Brand Perky Jerky
Model 3258
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Bayou Blend Cajun Style Gourmet

Using only the leanest of beef and seasoned with some extremely interesting rubs, including "Luziana Bonfire" and "Filé Gumbo", this Bayou Blend Cajun Style Gourmet is one of the finest gifts you can give a jerky lover -- particularly if that aficionado is you.
  • includes 3 different varieties
  • freshness guaranteed for 6 months
  • much pricier than other options
Brand Bayou Blend Meat Snacks
Model pending
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

6. Wild Bill's Hickory Smoked Strips

If you want a taste of classic American jerky like the kind enjoyed back in the days of the Old West, then get yourself some of these Wild Bill's Hickory Smoked Strips. At first bite they're tough and spicy, but get softer and sweeter as you chew.
  • company was founded in 1955
  • prepared using traditional methods
  • may be too salty for some palates
Brand Wild Bill's
Model pending
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

5. Oberto Original

The plain flavor of this Oberto Original may not win it any major awards or commendations, but considering its low price and decent quality, it's pretty exceptional. All ten ounces of premium steak cuts come in a convenient, resealable package that keeps in the freshness.
  • also comes in teriyaki version
  • no msg or added nitrates
  • quality is not very consistent
Brand Oberto Brands
Model 2461
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Buffalo Bill's Chipotle Habanero Country Cut

If you're the kind of person who likes their food nice and spicy, check out the Buffalo Bill's Chipotle Habanero Country Cut. It's got plenty of fiery kick but is also balanced with a bit of sweetness, making it the perfect palate pleaser.
  • extremely moist and tender
  • usda inspected and approved
  • thicker than most
Brand Buffalo Bills Premium S
Model pending
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Chops Beef Teriyaki

If you've got a craving for something salty and sweet, this Chops Beef Teriyaki won't fail to satisfy. It's made using only the choicest cuts of premium beef brisket, which gives each piece a tenderness you're unlikely to find in other, cheaper brands.
  • sourced from american steer
  • marinated overnight
  • very flavorful and delicious
Brand Chops Beef Jerky
Model 855337006177
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Old Trapper Original

The makers behind the Old Trapper Original say they're product is so good you'll quit your job and become a mountain man (or woman). While that's probably not true, the solid slices of naturally smoked beef are delicious and come in four different flavors.
  • made in forest grove or
  • 97 percent fat free
  • company family run for over 40 years
Brand Old Trapper
Model pending
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. People's Choice Old Fashioned

You won't get any weird flavors or textures out of a bag of People's Choice Old Fashioned, and that's what makes it so appealing. This dry, simply seasoned jerky is intended to highlight the natural taste of the meat, using a family recipe that dates back to the 1920s.
  • slow cooked for five hours
  • flavored only with pepper and salt
  • great for road trips
Brand People's Choice Beef Je
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Preserving With Precision, Patience, and Persistence

Many of us understand the grab-and-go mentality of snacking. You just want something quick, easy to consume, and full of flavor to satisfy your craving. When hunger strikes between meals, ditch the excess fat of a fast food burger or the sugar of a candy bar in favor of a more healthy alternative, like a package of beef jerky.

Beef jerky is defined as a lean strip of meat trimmed of its fat, cured, and dried for prolonged preservation and storage. Its preparation is broken down into a five-stage process. The first stage involves the treatment of whole-muscle beef by removing its bones, connective tissues, and fat. Fat removal is accomplished using one of three possible methods: centrifugal force, whereby the spinning motion of a large container separates liquid fat particles from the flesh; pressing the meat, which squeezes the liquid fat out; and filtering. Once fat has been removed, the remaining chunks of beef are placed onto conveyor belts and mesh screens for inspection. From here, the beef is shaken to remove any undesirable contaminants before additional processing takes place.

The second stage involves mixing and heating the intended curing solution. This occurs inside a large metal tank equipped with mixing blades that incorporate water, salt, and other seasonings.

Third comes the processing and curing of the beef itself. During this stage, the beef is frozen and partially thawed, allowing it to release some of its natural juices. An automatic cutting machine is then used to chop the beef into even smaller chunks before they are dipped into the heated curing solution. The curing solution penetrates the beef over an extended period of time, while the salt and seasoning help prevent the growth of bacteria.

During the fourth stage, the beef is molded into blocks and re-frozen to a temperature between 18 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Once frozen, the beef is cut into thin, fibrous strips and placed onto wire mesh trays for drying and cooking in ovens. The drying and cooking process reduces the beef's overall moisture by up to 40 percent over a period of 12 hours. Once the beef is appropriately cured and dried, it must then be stored and packaged in a manner that minimizes excess oxygen exposure. Doing so ensures an extended shelf life for the final jerky product so that it doesn't spoil by the time it is purchased at a gas station or convenience store.

Beef jerky packaging is prepared in one of three ways: a nitrogen flush, use of food-grade oxygen absorbers, or vacuum sealing to keep the contents fresh.

Keep in mind that some beef jerkies are also smoked at low heat levels, which not only adds to the antibacterial properties of the salt, but also infuses the snacks with plenty of flavor. Many beef jerkies available on the market today are also marinated in vinegar or citrus juices to create flavors similar to those produced by the smoking process.

Consider Your Cravings Practically

Beef jerky is typically low in fat and rich in essential amino acids, making it an excellent source of protein for the body. This is particularly useful if you're an athlete or bodybuilder who requires muscle recovery following an intense workout. Being that beef jerky doesn't require any refrigeration, it's a much more convenient snack to eat on the road, as no additional power is needed to keep it fresh or chilled.

While flavor, seasoning, and texture are all important considerations, the type of packaging used for jerky storage is equally important. Vacuum-sealed packaging, oxygen absorbers, or even a combination of the two help maintain your jerky's freshness during periods of extended travel. Look for packages that are resealable, so you don't have to worry about finding another airtight container in which to place your snack once its original packaging has been opened.

If possible, you should consider a jerky brand with minimal levels of MSG and nitrates. Given the requirements of jerky preservation, you may not be able to eliminate these additives from your search entirely, but it's important to be aware of their presence and the amounts contained within jerky products.

A Brief History Of Beef Jerky

Dehydration and preservation of meat has a long history dating back to ancient Egyptian times when food was left out to dry in the natural heat of the sun.

Beef jerky first appeared in the 1800s, thanks to the South American Quechua tribe. Considered direct descendants of the ancient Inca, the Quechua produced a meat very similar to modern day jerky, which they called ch'arki or charqui. Charqui was made by adding salt to strips of meat from a variety of game animals, including deer, buffalo, and elk. It would then be left out to dry in the sun or placed over a fire to cook for extended periods of time. This allowed people to preserve food during seasons when it was plentiful so they could survive seasons when the food supply was scarce.

Many Native American cultures combined mixed berries, fat, and ground meat to make small cakes known as pemmican. The first American settlers used pemmican as a model for jerky preservation. Cowboys of the 1820s were also known to carry jerky with them on cattle drives.

The popularity for snacking on the go has grown considerably over the last 200 years. That, combined with a modern desire for high-protein foods, has lead to the presence of various flavors and textures for beef jerky that suit all tastes and circumstances. Today's beef jerky is ideal for both indoor and outdoor enjoyment alike, thanks to the fact that it doesn't melt, it doesn't require refrigeration, and because it's easy to carry around.

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Last updated on November 23, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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