Like a lot of other men, I likes beef jerky. And turkey jerky. And pork jerky. And even the occasional salmon jerky, though that can be hit or miss. I’ve also tried elk and tuna jerky, and one of those I’ll gladly snack on again — I’ll let you guess which. Long story short … I like jerky.
The word “jerky” comes from the Quechuan language of people indigenous to the Andes Mountains; it is a Anglicization of their term for dried meat, ch’arki. Ch’arki was traditionally made from llama meat, which I gather makes one fine jerky, though regrettably I’ve not sampled it yet.
If you don’t like jerky, permit me to posit the possibility that you simply haven’t tried the right brand yet. There are many cheap jerkies cluttering grocery store checkout aisles and gas station countertops, and these inferior meatstuffs can indeed leave a bad taste in the mouth, literally and metaphorically.
Do your tastebuds a favor and try each of these best beef jerky brands.
If you like your jerky with some kick, then you’re going to like what Lawless Jerky has got going on. Of the four flavors, two of them pack plenty of punch: Sweet Sriracha and Mango Habanero both balance their spice with sweetness, bursting with flavor, not simply with heat. Lawless also makes a mild Aloha Teriyaki beef jerky that’s savory and sweet without the spiciness, and a BBQ Spare Rib pork jerky that basically taste like ribs.
My first taste of Country Archer Jerky Co.’s Honey Chipotle Turkey Jerky was a revelation. This is one of the best balances of sweet and spice I’ve yet found in a jerky, a balance underpinned by a subtle fruitiness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So, I read the ingredients. “Ah! Pineapple juice, that’s what that is!” I screamed aloud. Or I thought to myself, rather. The company offers two turkey jerky flavors and six beef jerky options, and all of their meats harmonize spice and sweetness with little something extra, like that pineapple flavor, that will keep you coming back for more.
Inspired by the traditional South African jerky known as biltong, this crazy delicious stuff is made with refreshingly few ingredients. In fact, most Brooklyn Biltong products sort of use just two ingredients: beef and marinade. I say “sort of” because those marinades feature multiple ingredients themselves, but they’re all natural things like cider and salt and coriander. The company only makes three flavors at present, and all are well worth trying. Just note that Brooklyn Biltong jerky is not only crazy delicious, but also crazy expensive. Oh well.
Duke’s prides itself on offering dried meat products that aren’t traditional jerkies, but which are ready to eat dried sausages and beef brisket strips. Rather than thin, tough strips of meat, there sausages and briskets are thick and tender, and they both taste and even feel more like an entree than a snack. You will also like the backstory here: the company was founded by a guy dubbed the Duke of Jerky, who grew up making his own smoked meats and marinades then finally figured he should just turn his passion into his career.
You could eat a different flavor of Chef’s Cut jerky every day and not run out of new flavors for more than a week and a half. Which is a slightly odd way of saying they offer 11 different flavors, each of which uses a marinade designed by chef Blair Swiler, the man behind the brand’s name. There’s Applewood Uncured Bacon pork jerky, Honey Barbecue smoked chicken breast jerky, Chipotle Cracked Pepper beef jerky, and many more. And beyond bags of jerky, the company also offers meat sticks, meat bars, and Protein Snack Packs, which consist of a cup divided into two compartments, one of which is loaded with jerky, the other with dried cheese crackers.
When you’re ready to make your own jerky at homes, try this recipe.
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