TASTE

What's The Best Beef Jerky For You? We Tasted The Hottest Brands So You Don't Have To.

03/04/2015 12:24 pm ET | Updated Mar 09, 2015

Yep, it's official -- the hottest snack in America right now is beef jerky. If you're not stuffing your face with it yet, there are a couple reasons you might be holding back: 1) You're a little unsure of the nutritional value and 2) You have no idea what kind to eat. We're here to solve both of those problems.

First things first: the reviews on beef jerky's nutritional value are mixed. While Jeff Volek, Ph.D. says that beef jerky can be "an ideal between-meals snack, especially when you're trying to lose weight," others say not so fast. Alexis Joseph, registered dietitian and author of the food blog Hummusapien, told HuffPost Taste that "most brands of jerky are loaded with sodium (nearly a third of the daily limit!)," but there are a few good options, like "lean brands made with quality grass-fed beef."

And while you do need to watch your sodium intake, if you partake in this tasty treat at least make sure you're eating the right kind of jerky. We've done a little taste test for you (and added a few far-reaching options) to ensure you're eating the best beef possible. So, what kind of jerky should you eat?

1. Try Jack Link's, if you want the classic standard.
There's no denying it -- Jack Link's is still the standard when it comes to beef jerky. Just like you go to Budweiser for a simple, decent beer, you head to Jack Link's for the best, original beef jerky on the planet. The company also makes Matador Beef Jerky, which is advertised like the Axe Body Spray of food.
krave beef jerky

2. Try Perky Jerky, if you want a caffeinated kick with your jerky.
Perky Jerky calls itself "ultra premium beef jerky," but all meat feelings aside, it's caffeinated. The company has delicious flavors, like Hot & Bothered, Sweet & Spicy and the new Jamaican Style, that are perfect for a fancy-but-classic beef jerky eater.
perky

3. Try Krave Jerky, if you like super niche flavors.
Though our reviews on this jerky are mixed (the texture is weirdly smooth, but the jerky itself is tasty) we'd still recommend Krave. Try Black Cherry Barbecue Pork Jerky, Lemon Garlic Turkey Jerky or Garlic Chili Pepper Beef Jerky for a flavorful take on the traditional meat snack.
krave beef jerky

4. Try Biltong Jerky, if you're more adventurous.
It's almost like the South African equivalent of American beef jerky, but not quite --as any South African will tell you. Biltong comes with more grass-fed options than the other options above (this makes it leaner), but that also makes it a lot more expensive than regular jerky.
biltong

5. Try Reef Beef Jerky, if you like to smoke.
Cannabis beef jerky exists and one of the most well-known brands is called Reef jerky, because of course. Now that marijuana is legal in more states, we're sure we'll see a few more strains of weed beef jerky popping up soon
jerky

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

  • 9 NOT RECOMMENDED: Slant Shack Dried & True
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Whoa. This tastes like ginger and crayons?" "Kind of off-tasting." "Really gingery." "Really sweet, too much like licorice." "Seaweed flavored? Tastes like sushi." "Good texture, too much citrus." "Ginger craziness."
  • 8 NOT RECOMMENDED: 365 Organic Original
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "This is less like dried jerky and more like old meat." "The texture is too gelatinous. No." "Like a gummy bear." "Too chewy and sweet." "Has a weird healthy Fruit Roll Up texture."
  • 7 Slant Shack Bronx Pale Ale
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Yep. Yes. You are my jerky. Dry, chewy, perfect." "Very beefy." "It's really fun to chew." "So hard." "There's a lot going on here. I'm getting a bunch of Parmesan cheese notes." "Tastes like bread." "Almost tastes like lemongrass -- can't figure it out."
  • 6 Whiskey Soaked Campfire Jerky
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "This actually tastes like eating a campfire. But in a good way." "The smokiest in all the land. Smells terrible, tastes great." "Tastes sort of like what I imagine the sawdust on the floor of a great old BBQ restaurant would taste like. In a good way." "Overwhelmingly bitter."
  • 5 Krave Chili Lime
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Flavorful. Weird texture." "Pleasantly surprised by the spiciness of the powder." "The looks of this one are deplorable, but it tastes spicy, smoky, BBQ-y." "Strangely delicate texture." "Tastes like brisket." "This tastes like a car air freshener."
  • 4 Duke's Bourbon Glaze
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Feels slimy, but tastes alright." "Good amount of chew." "This is what I imagine as the typical beef jerky." "Weird, blue cheese after-taste." "Tough texture." "Is this soy?" "Slightly sweet, easy to eat."
  • 3 RECOMMENDED: Matador Original
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "A nice smoky flavor on the end, and I like its little steak-y shape." "Nice, pepperoni-like texture." "Spicy, complex flavor." "Hate the sugar."
  • 2 RECOMMENDED: 365 Organic Peppered
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Love the chewy texture and the sweet/peppery flavor." "Simple, sugary, dried. Ketchup?" "Sweet, like pepperoni." "Kind of generic, but not bad."
  • 1 WINNER: Jack Link's Teriyaki
    Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post
    "Very meaty. Hint of sesame, maybe?" "Classic jerky texture, flavor." "Good chewiness." "Tomato-y flavor, reminds me of Memphis BBQ sauce." "All I can taste are chemicals at first. It wears off into a Dinty Moore Beef Stew flavor."
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS