For the longest time, jerky never really appealed to me. I’d always think of it as hyper-processed and paired with an energy drink and a gas station visit. As I started to hone in on my own protein intake as well as my clients’, I realized it was a tasty and effective high-protein snack option, and there were many new quality options on the market with interesting flavors and different ingredients and meat sources. Overall, I like to look for nitrite free options, a quality protein source (look for grass fed) and limited added sugar. Let’s take a look at a few of the top jerky brands:
This one I can’t help but grab every time at the Trader Joe’s checkout. Personally, I always go for the jalapeno beef stick, but they do have a wide variety of flavors ranging from taco to habanero. Their meats range from grass fed and finished beef to free range turkey to grass fed and free range venison- so clearly quality is important to them. These are a go-to for travel or bringing an easy snack to work.
These also have quality sourcing and even more diverse protein options including beef, bison, chicken, salmon, and venison. I have a few pescatarian clients, and one actually introduced me to the salmon jerky. I’ve tried it myself and have to say it’s really good, they did well with the smoky maple flavor. These come in both the “strips” and “bites” style depending on your preference. Overall, I have to say this is one of my favorites.
I’m all for plant based snacks, but not so much the faux meat products and textures. This one is made from shiitake mushrooms and doesn’t try to disguise itself as anything else. It includes bold flavors like applewood BBQ, zesty Thai, teriyaki and curry. Nutritionally, the only setback is that it has 1 g of protein, so I’d recommend pairing it with nuts or another protein source.
These are “meat sticks” similar to Chomps, and their appeal is they also have zero sugar. They include your classic meats such as beef, chicken and turkey. I’m obsessed with all things buffalo, so their buffalo chicken sticks really get me excited. They also have spicy and cilantro lime for those of you that really like to pack in flavor.
New to biltong? Me too. This one I keep seeing at Foxtrot, and as I looked into it I found it’s actually not jerky (but close). What I’ve found is that it is similar to jerky in the sense that it is a dense, dried meat product, but it uniquely is made from different cuts of meat, diversifying the flavor and texture in each pouch. This style of meat actually got its origins in South Africa as a way to plan ahead and preserve meat for the future, and also is traditionally made with South African spices. Brooklyn Biltong has flavors like peri peri chili, lemon pepper, and steakhouse. All of their products are grass-fed.
Got your mouth watering? You can’t go wrong with all of these options. I’m finding more and more jerky options are available, and I feel that overall there is a new standard for quality sourcing and less additives. Get adventurous with these different meat (or mushroom) and flavor options and actually enjoy intentional snacking again!