Updated May 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
People's Choice Beef Jerky Old-Fashioned Original
People's Choice Beef Jerky
Old-Fashioned Original
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Classic Choice
Bottom Line

Our nutrition expert notes that this thick-cut, mild-flavored jerky has simple ingredients.


Keto-friendly; no carbs. This jerky eliminates all preservatives or artificial ingredients. Long shelf life of up to a year. Quality dried beef. Comes in several flavor options.


While this product is natural, it is not made with grass-fed beef. Sometimes seems too dry.

Best Bang for the Buck
Jack Link's Beef Jerky, Teriyaki
Jack Link's
Beef Jerky, Teriyaki
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Good Taste & Price
Bottom Line

The flavor on this jerky from a well-known brand delivers at a decent price, but it does contain wheat and soy.


Lots of flavors available. Teriyaki flavor is on the sweet side but is still low-carb. A convenient protein snack. Jack Links also makes jerky out of other types of meat, like chicken and pork.


This jerky contains both wheat and soy, which might be a challenge for some people.

Cattleman's Cut Original Beef Jerky
Cattleman's Cut
Original Beef Jerky
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Bottom Line

Premium beef jerky slow-cooked with pepper, teriyaki, and other scintillating flavors.


Tender cuts cooked over time. Available in several delicious flavors, including peppered steakhouse, teriyaki, and Texas-style flank steak. Comes in 6, 9, and 10-ounce bags.


Some flavors might be too sweet for some connoisseurs.

Chomps Grass Fed Original Beef Jerky Snack Sticks
Grass Fed Original Beef Jerky Snack Sticks
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Healthy & Fit
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Snack-pack-style beef jerky sticks that our nutrition expert points out are easy to add to a purse, lunchbox, or workout bag.


Beef jerky snack sticks accommodate a variety of specialty diets, like keto. High-protein snack without added saturated fats and sugars. Compact for travel.


Less "rich" flavor than brands with added ingredients.

Bridgford Sweet Baby Ray's High Protein Beef Jerky
Sweet Baby Ray's High Protein Beef Jerky
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Classic Pick, Fresh Kick
Bottom Line

Reliable, convenience store-brand beef jerky with a kick.


Low-carb, high-protein snack for fishing trips or post-workout. Seasoned with Sweet Baby Ray's brand sauces. Available in 4 distinct and delicious flavors. Resealable big bag.


Perhaps too soft for those who prefer to savor.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best beef jerky

In Scotland, they have a saying, “A hungry man’s meat is long in making ready.” Jerky is the original “long in making ready” meat dish. Between cutting, marinating, and cooking in a wood smoker, it can take a couple of days to make good beef jerky. Even with dehydrators instead of wood-burning smokers, it still takes time. There are no shortcuts when it comes to jerky.

That time-consuming process is why packaged jerky is so expensive for such small amounts. Time is money, after all. That being the case, you want to get the best bang for the buck.

Jerky is a great trail snack, an easy choice when you’re waiting in a deer stand, on a fishing boat, or driving across the country. It can stave off hunger pangs when you know it will be hours until your next full meal and you don’t want to bloat on sugary snacks that add unwanted calories and inches to your waistline.

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A lot of top-shelf beef jerky is made from lean meat with little or no fat.

Key considerations

Product weight

The first thing to consider when buying jerky is the package size. Seek out the small print at the bottom of the package to determine the weight. Jerky is typically sold by the ounce. If the contents’ weight is less than five ounces, you should consider getting another bag or two. As any jerky maven can tell you, the stuff is incredibly addictive. Once you get started, it’s hard to stop, so stock up.

Resealable package

If you’re one of those iron-willed people who can stop eating jerky before finishing the whole bag, we salute you. If this is you, look for jerky in resealable packaging, which a number of manufacturers offer.

Where you snack

Are you eating jerky in public? If so, know that eating tough jerky that you really have to gnaw at can look a bit ungraceful at times. For these occasions, choose jerky that’s softer and easier to tear apart.

Expert tip
Beef jerky is a great option for a dense protein source. 
BestReviews Nutrition Expert



Jerky comes in different types of chewiness. Jerky that is touted as “original” may be tougher and stringier than other types. Jerky is a long-lasting snack: each bite may take several minutes to chew before you can swallow it.

Every brand is different, and the teriyaki flavored jerky from one company may be softer than the same flavor from another. Trial and error may be required to discover which jerky has the chewiness you like best.


The physical texture of the jerky when you handle it is another important feature. Jerky is a finger food, so the texture makes a difference.

  • Smooth: Some jerky has a very smooth feel to it. It can also be somewhat slippery, which may cause you to drop it at the worst possible time.
  • Rough: Jerky that has a rough texture is easier to hang on to. It may also be harder to chew. It’s a trade-off.


Which flavor, or flavors, of beef jerky you prefer is an entirely subjective issue. Everyone has their favorites. Fortunately, jerky comes in a lot of different flavors. Some of the most popular flavors are:

  • Original
  • Teriyaki
  • Pepper
  • Jalapeño
  • Hickory
  • Bacon
  • Barbeque
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Expert tip
If you look at the nutrition facts, you might be surprised at the higher amount of sodium in beef jerky. Salt is a natural way of preserving food. 
BestReviews Nutrition Expert

Beef jerky prices

Beef jerky will generally set you back from under $1 per ounce to over $3 per ounce, depending on the quality and brand.


Jerky that costs under $1 an ounce is often less like real beef jerky and more like cured sticks of meat.


Between $1 and $3 per ounce is the medium price range for beef jerky. Most brands of jerky will fall somewhere in this range.


Spending over $3 an ounce is the high end of the jerky market. Beef jerky in this price range is most often an unusually-spicy specialty variety or a high-quality “all-natural” offering.

"Properly prepared beef jerky should have almost no water in it. This is what gives it such a long shelf life."
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Did you know?
Salt is added to beef jerky as a preservative. During the drying process, it also helps draw water out of the meat.


  • Take small bites. Don’t try to cram an entire stick of jerky in your mouth unless you’re willing to make a long-term commitment to chewing. Trust us on this one!
  • Commit to it. Jerky is meant to be eaten with your hands, teeth, and neck muscles.
  • Clean up after you snack. Bits of jerky have been known to get stuck between your teeth. Keep toothpicks or dental floss handy.
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Most brand-name beef jerky has oil added to it to improve the flavor, which is why modern jerky is often greasier than old-school jerky.


Q. Is beef jerky good for you?

A. It depends on your personal dietary needs. It’s not bad for you, per sé, but it does have a lot of salt in it.

Q. Can I give jerky to preschool children?

A. No. It’s too tough for them to chew, and they could choke on it if they try to swallow it. Wait until they’re older.

Q. How long will beef jerky last?

A. Most store-bought beef jerky will last one to two years after the package is opened.

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