In a special camping edition of Julia Tries Everything, I brought Budget Eats queen June Xie with me on a jerky taste test journey. We tried over 40 jerky brands and landed on these 15 as the best dried meat-eating experience.
Best Traditional Beef Jerky
1. Chef’s Cut Original Recipe
We were both reminded of home when we had the Chef’s Cut jerky; for me it was reminiscent of my mom’s Christmas prime rib with horseradish. For June, it reminded her of the Chinese jerkys she grew up with. It’s chewy, tender, dry and fibrous. It gives you a chew but doesn’t break your jaw.
2. Just Meat Beef Steak
This was the beefiest, most steak-like of all the jerkys we had which makes sense since it’s a beef steak instead of a jerky! This has the fewest ingredients, so it’s a pure and simple experience. It’s leathery and makes you work for it.
3. Think Jerky Beef Jerky
You know how there are cheese pulls? There are beef pulls, too. It’s fibrous yet tender, similar to meat floss.
Best Flavored Beef Jerky
1. Tillamook Country Smoker Honey Glazed Beef Jerky
We expected this to be too sweet and candied, but Tillamook hit the perfect balance of sweet and savory. There were a decent amount of fat chunks on this jerky making it buttery and tender. This was the best Tillamook product we tried from the day.
2. Baja Jerky Sweet Orange Beef Jerky
It’s like orange chicken but in jerky form. The spicy and savory jerky flavor market is beyond oversaturated, so to finally have a sweet jerky done right hit the spot.
3. Stryve Spicy Peri Peri Beef Biltong
This is a warm, sweet biltong thanks to the coriander, clove, and nutmeg. If you haven’t had biltong before, it’s a South African air-dried, cured meat that’s cut with the grain of the muscle. When it’s sliced thin, it’s the right amount of chewy—and this one is just that.
Best Teriyaki Beef Jerky
1. Jack Link’s Teriyaki Beef Jerky
Sweet and salty in the beginning and the smoky flavor wafts in at the end. This is the reliable choice.
2. Think Jerky Sesame Teriyaki
This is a more mature teriyaki flavor and has a real meat texture.
3. Field Trip All Natural Teriyaki Beef Jerky
It smells like orange with a touch of spicy ginger, which is less of a teriyaki flavor, but the texture on this one puts it in our top three.
Best Turkey Jerky
- Field Trip Cracked Pepper All Natural Turkey Jerky
This was June’s favorite of the day. It’s relaxing and not as tough as the beef jerkys—just try it.
2. Chomps Jalapeño Turkey Jerky
The jalapeño bits are fresh in here and hit your nostrils with a punch. The turkey is mild and sweet with a celery salt seasoning so the combo pairs surprisingly well.
3. Chomps Original Turkey Jerky Stick
We had a tough time with the Chomps beef jerky, but the turkey jerky is where this brand shines. It’s a sweeter Slim Jim and almost reminded us of breakfast sausage.
Best Vegan Jerky
- Electric Jerky Texas BBQ
The color looks just like jerky and tastes more like teriyaki and brisket than those with true barbecue flavors. We loved the chewiness of this vegan jerky, putting it in first place.
2. Moku Jerky Sweet & Spicy
This mushroom jerky is a transformative experience. It smells like mole and smoke at first, then has a kick of cayenne at the very end. The texture is a little stickier than typical jerky but the flavor is on par.
3. Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky
This mimics beef the most, if that matters to you. The fibrous nature to it is masterful and the flavor is sticky and smoky. However, the jerky is a bit wet (as opposed to juicy), so keep that in mind if you prefer a dryer jerky.
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