10 Best Beef Jerky Brands of 2019
|Top Pick: People’s Choice Beef Jerky Old Fashioned Original||5/5||90||16g|
|Best Value: Oberto Thin Style Original Beef Jerky||4.5/5||70||15g|
|Best Turkey Jerky: Think Jerky Free Range Sriracha Honey Turkey Jerky||4/5||60||10.7g|
|Country Archer Original Beef Jerky||3.75/5||70||11g|
|Best Meat Bar: Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars||3.5/5||110||9g|
|Perky Jerky More Than Just Original Turkey||3.5/5||80||10g|
|Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky||3/5||80||11g|
|Krave Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky||3/5||80||8g|
|Chef’s Cut Smoked Beef Original Recipe||2.5/5||90||10g|
It’s hard to beat the satisfying, rich flavor of beef jerky in the backcountry. We did a blind taste test of 10 of the best beef jerky brands to see which one deserved a spot in our food bags when camping or backpacking. The simple and authentic flavor and texture of People’s Choice Beef Jerky won our Top Pick.
With so many options out there, we expanded our test to include some non-beef jerkies, including turkey jerky and meat bars.
Oberto Thin Style Original Beef Jerky surprised us and earned a nod for Best Value. Think Jerky Free Range Turkey Jerky was our top turkey jerky, while Wild Zora combined jerky, veggies, and spicy goodness into our top meat bar.
Read on for our reviews and recommendations on the best beef (or turkey) jerky for your next adventure.
Our testers agreed that People’s Choice had the best taste and texture of the bunch. It was dry without being the least bit tough or chewy, with a deliciously deep beef flavor.
One taster said it “tastes like a well-done steak, in a good way.”
It was also by far the best for throwing in camp meals to rehydrate, as it didn’t add any flavor other than beef.
One of our testers regularly makes homemade beef jerky, and said the People’s Choice tasted remarkably like authentic fresh-from-the-oven jerky.
With an ingredient list of only beef, water, and seasoning, it was also the brand with the cleanest label. It was the only jerky in our test with zero sugars, and it had the highest amount of protein (16g!) per ounce.
If you prefer soft, tender, and sweet beef jerky, this may not be the best option for you. But for an authentic, nothing-but-beef-jerky experience, the People’s Choice hit all the right notes.
- Score: 5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 90 cal, 2.5 g fat, 0g carbs, 16g protein
Best Value: Oberto Thin Style Original Beef Jerky
Oberto was our surprise runner-up. For a big-name brand, it delivers a surprising amount of flavor and great texture with a relatively clean ingredients list.
There are noticeably more preservatives and non-natural ingredients compared to our Top Pick, and the flavor definitely has a slightly more artificial aftertaste.
Still, it’s rich, meaty, and remarkably satisfying. It has a simple, beefy flavor with just a touch of sweetness.
The Oberto jerky is drier than most of the other brands we tried. We thought this was a good thing, though we’re aware opinions vary.
- Score: 4.5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 70 cal, 2g fat, 2g carbs, 15g protein
Best Turkey Jerky: Think Jerky Free Range Sriracha Honey Turkey Jerky
The rich, spicy flavor of this turkey jerky immediately jumped to the top of our taste testers list.
One tester described it as “a great balance of sweet and spicy.” Another one thought the texture of the turkey was perfect: “Not too soft or too chewy — really good.”
Although this jerky is on the low end calorie-wise, it makes up for it with 10.7g of protein per 1 oz (each 1.5 oz packet contains 16g of protein).
If you’re in the mood for a uniquely tender and flavorful turkey jerky, this one got rave reviews from our testers.
- Score: 4/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 60 cal, .66g fat, 5.3g carbs, 10.7g protein
Best Meat Bar: Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars
Our taste testers agreed that it’s difficult for a meat bar to compete with the texture and flavor of great beef jerky. Regardless, the Wild Zora meats bars did a good job of holding their own.
The Parmesan Beef was our favorite of all the flavors, with a hearty, savory flavor and a pleasant dry texture that was closer to jerky.
The Apple Pork also got good reviews, with one tester saying the combination of spices “tastes like Christmas.” Another said, “It’s weird, but in a good way. I feel like I shouldn’t like it, but I actually really do.”
We also liked that these bars had a more varied nutrition profile than pure beef jerky. They have added nutrients, fiber, and more calories per ounce.
Overall, we preferred Wild Zora’s texture over Epic Bar. We’d be happy to break into most of these flavors along the trail.
Wild Zora Flavor Rankings
- Score: 3.5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): Parmesan Beef: 110 cal, 5g fat, 7g carbs, 9g protein
Reviews of the 6 Other Beef Jerky Brands We Taste Tested
Although we have a penchant for dry savory jerky over the tender sweet stuff, Country Archer stood out with the best texture and flavor of the sweeter jerkies in our test.
It doesn’t have a super strong flavor or too much sweetness to it, but it’s a good balance between a rich meatiness and smoky flavors.
If you like chewy, tender jerky with a touch of sweetness, then Country Archer is a great choice. The Original flavor has 5g of sugar per one ounce serving.
- Score: 3.75/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 70 cal, 1g fat, 6g carbs, 11g protein
Perky Jerky Turkey Jerky has a sort of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and a sweet, succulent flavor.
Not surprisingly, it’s high in sugar: of its 8g of carbohdyrates, 7g are sugar. It still packs 10g of protein into each ounce, though.
While one taste tester thought it was too tender, another liked the texture, describing it as “super juicy and soft.”
Overall, this is a delicious and satisfying turkey jerky. If you like tender jerky that balances sweet and savory, then this should be on your list.
- Score: 3.5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 80 cal, 0.5g fat, 8g carbs, 10g protein
In our blind taste test, our testers were just lukewarm on Jack Link’s.
“Tastes like gas station jerky,” one tester said. Another described it as “standard cheap jerky.”
No one thought it tasted particularly bad , but no one loved it either. It’s soft, tender, and on the sweet side, with a weak beef flavor.
We wouldn’t go out of our way to pick up a bag of Jack Link’s, but we also wouldn’t complain if it was all that was available.
- Score: 3/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 80 cal, 1g fat, 6g carbs, 11g protein
We were surprised that Krave came out close to the bottom of the pack in our blind taste test. We thought it’d be a top contender, but its flavor just didn’t compare with the other brands.
“Tastes like cheap jerky, nothing special,” one tester commented. We didn’t get any sea salt flavors, or much of any flavor other than just sweetness.
Krave has nearly the lowest amount of protein per serving of any jerky in our test. With a whopping 9g of sugars to every 8g of protein, you’re getting more sugar than protein in each 1 oz serving.
We didn’t dislike it, but wouldn’t go out of our way to buy it again.
- Score: 3/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): 80 cal, 1g fat, 9g carbs, 8g protein
Chef’s Cut was a miss for our testers. While we can enjoy a good chewy, succulent jerky, we think this one is too soft.
The flavors just weren’t quite there for us, either. One tester described the smell and flavor as “off-putting and kind of artificial.”
Smoked Beef Original was our favorite flavor, although our testers agreed it had a “weird aftertaste.”
The Smoked Beef Chipotle Cracked Pepper didn’t have a taste that was distinct from the original flavor, except for an added spiciness.
None of the Chef’s Cut flavors were a hit with testers, and we found the super soft texture didn’t sit well with our palates.
Chef’s Cut Flavor Rankings
|Smoked Beef Original Recipe||2.5/5|
|Smoked Chicken Breast Honey Barbecue||2/5|
|Smoked Beef Chipotle Cracked Pepper||1.5/5|
|Smoked Turkey Breast Teriyaki||1.5/5|
- Score: 2.5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): Original Recipe: 90 cal, 2.5g fat, 6g carbs, 10g protein
The flavors of Epic Bar were hit and miss in our testing, and we preferred the texture of Wild Zora. Most of the bars are oily on the outside, and many are dry and cakey on the inside.
We were excited to try the variety of unique meats and creative flavor combinations, but we thought the flavors were generally unbalanced.
In the Currant Mint Lamb, for example, the sweetness of the whole currants totally overpowered the flavor of the meat and mint. In the Apple Beef, on the other hand, we had a hard time detecting any sweetness or flavor at all from the fruit.
Although there were a few flavors we’d try again, the combination of texture and unbalanced flavors landed the Epic meat bars last on our list.
Epic Bar Flavor Rankings
|Apple and Uncured Bacon Beef||2.5/5|
|Currant Mint Lamb||2.25/5|
|Uncured Bacon and Cranberry Bison||2.25/5|
|Almond Cranberry Turkey||2/5|
|Wild Boar with Uncured Bacon||1.5/5|
|Habanero Cherry Walnut Beef||1/5|
|Pork Maple with Uncured Bacon||1/5|
|Sesame BBQ Seasoned Chicken||1/5|
- Score: 2.5/5
- Nutrition (per 1 oz serving): Apple and Uncured Bacon Beef: 113 cal, 8.6g fat, 2.6g carbs, 6g protein
Here are the best beef jerky brands:
- People’s Choice Beef Jerky Old Fashioned Original
- Oberto Thin Style Original Beef Jerky
- Think Jerky Free Range Sriracha Honey Turkey Jerky
- Country Archer Original Beef Jerky
- Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars
- Perky Jerky Turkey Original
- Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky
- Krave Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky
- Chef’s Cut Smoked Beef Original Recipe
- Epic Bars
How We Tested
Blind Taste Test
We conducted a blind taste test with a panel of foodie backpackers. Testers sampled each jerky then rated it and wrote down any comments about its taste and texture.
For over a month, we brought these jerky brands along on our backpacking trips as a snack and addition to rehydrated meals.