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The Best Jerky You Can Buy for a Portable, High-Protein Snack

By October 21, 2015No Comments

Greatist-Approved Groceries For our Greatist-Approved Groceries series, we're narrowing down the tens of thousands of products out there to the ones we think are worth buying so you can get in and out of the store faster. With the help of Elizabeth Jarrard, R.D., we came up with a set of standards to figure out what's best. Every item must:

  • Contain only recognizable ingredients
  • Have no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners (stevia and monk fruit are OK)
  • Never list sugar as the first ingredient
  • Have a reasonable serving size
  • Taste absolutely amazing
  • Cost a reasonable price

On top of that, the jerky below is free of MSG, has no more than 5 grams of sugar and 400 milligrams of sodium per servings, and ideally is free of preservatives, nitrates (which may increase of heart disease), and sulfites (chemicals that some people are sensitive or allergic to).

As you can see, there aren't a ton of options—the market is full of jerky that's high in sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients, and ones that taste so bad we wouldn't feed them to our dog. (Note: You should never feed a dog jerky made for humans. But you get our point.) Next time you get a hankering for jerky, try these addictive standouts and know that you're feeding your body well (hello, protein!).

Editor's note: Jerky is listed in alphabetical order by group.


Country Archer Original Beef Jerky

Country Archer Original Beef Jerky

When you’re in the mood for a simple, traditional jerky, try this mouthful. Made of cuts from “the awesomest cattle,” the focus is on the flavor. A combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and smoke plus just the right amount of sweetness lends a special taste that we loved. And the price won’t break the bank. $5.95 for 3 ounces

EPIC Coconut Carnivore Mix

EPIC Coconut Carnivore Mix

Beef jerky gets a tropical twist. EPIC combines 100-percent grass-fed, organic beef jerky with toasted coconut for a salty, savory, and sweet snack that’s healthy to boot. The spices are simple (wildflower honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder), so be sure to combine the jerky with the coconut for maximum flavor. $4.99 for 2 ounces

New Primal Spicy Beef Jerky

The New Primal Spicy Beef Jerky

All of New Primal’s beef jerky is made from grass-fed cattle raised in New Zealand, which means it is lower in fat and higher in vitamin E and omega-3s than grain-fed cattle. This version adds pineapple and honey, then amps up the flavor with jalapeño and cayenne for a kick you won’t forget—although some tasters found it a bit dry. (It's also not the cheapest jerky out there.) $7.49 for 2 ounces

People’s Choice Garlic Ginger Beef Jerky

People’s Choice Garlic Ginger Beef Jerky

Handmade in Los Angeles, this jerky has a soft, chewy, more steak-like texture. The garlic, ginger, and black and white sesame seeds give it an unusual and exciting burst of flavor, but you still get that true jerky taste. Soy sauce rounds it out for a product that keeps you coming back for more. $5.99 for 2.5 ounces

365 Everyday Value Organic Beef Jerky Peppered

365 Everyday Value Organic Beef Jerky Peppered

If you’re looking for an organic option, this affordable and tasty jerky offered by Whole Foods delivers on flavor while keeping the sodium low and ingredients simple. With a peppery, slightly smoky flavor plus hints of paprika and garlic, this was a fave in the Greatist office. $6.99 for 3 ounces

Chicken and Fish

Bubba's Carolina Jerky

Bubba’s Carolina Honey BBQ Chicken Jerky

Made from locally raised chickens, Bubba’s Carolina Jerky was inspired by the founder's childhood eating fresh-caught meat as part of an outdoor sporting family. The honey BBQ is super low in both sugar and sodium, yet you'd never know it from the taste. Notes of honey, brown sugar, and spices are subtly sweet—it's like everything we ever loved about Southern BBQ all rolled into a strip of jerky. $6.99 for 3 ounces

Vital Choice Wild Salmon Jerky Strips

Vital Choice Wild Salmon Jerky Strips

Flavored with organic herbs and spices, a touch of salt, and just a hint a smoky flavor, Vital Choice salmon strips are made with a mix of wild sockeye and keta salmon. Each strip is packaged individually, so it’s easy to throw one in your bag for a quick snack and energy boost during the day. Just be warned that the (expected) fish smell (and price) may turn some away. $36.00 for 6 ounces


Primal Vegan Thai Peanut Jerky

Primal Vegan Thai Peanut Jerky

Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good bite of jerky. High in protein (10 grams per ounce) and energy, Primal’s vegan jerky is made from a seitan base that's flavored with natural spices and herbs, soy sauce, vinegar, and peanut butter. It's almost like pad Thai—without the noodles. $22.99 for 24 ounces

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Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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