New recipes

Taste Test: Trader Joe’s Natural Beef Jerky

Taste Test: Trader Joe’s Natural Beef Jerky

When you buy a new brand of beef jerky, you never really know what you’re going to get. It can be rock-solid, soft and mushy, super-peppery, sweet, smoky, fatty… the possibilities really are endless, and every brand is different. We picked up a bat at our local Trader Joe’s, and can report that it’s more moist, soft, and chewy than tough, sweet, and smoky, not overly salty, and pretty much spot-on.

This all-natural product contains no preservatives, nitrites, MSG, or artificial ingredients, and the beef used is lean and free of hormones and antibiotics. Whereas most jerky tastes primarily of salt and pepper, this one tastes a bit like barbecue, possibly brisket in a Kansas City-style sweet barbecue sauce. It has that satisfying jerky flavor, one which will most likely satisfy just about everyone who tries it, especially those fans of chewier, sweeter jerky.

This beef jerky contains beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, cider vinegar, salt, flavorings, paprika, and natural smoke flavoring. One ounce contains 1 gram of fat, 70 calories, 270 milligrams of sodium, and 11 grams of protein, and costs $4.99.

Taste Test: The Best And Worst Beef Jerky (PHOTOS)

Beef jerky is one of the quintessential road foods. Great for long car trips, camping, and anywhere you need a snack where you will also surely be tired of potato chips and red vines. There really are no two beef jerkies that are completely alike -- like beautiful snowflakes but made of meat. We decided to have ourselves a beef jerky taste test -- pitting some of our favorite natural and/or small batch beef jerky brands against the big guys.

All of these beef jerkies were found in New York City grocery stores (Whole Foods, Food Emporium, places like that) with the exception of the Whiskey Soaked Campfire Jerky, which we procured on the internet. In the end, most of our tasters favored beef flavor over smoke, sweetness over savoriness and an easier chew. One of us still maintains that the best beef jerky we've ever had was purchased from a truck on the side of the road in New Mexico. If you have a favorite small-batch beef jerky, let us know about it in the comments so we can find some!

As always, this taste test was in no way influenced by the brands included. YOU CAN'T BUY OUR JERKY LOVE, GUYS.

Taste Test: Trader Joe’s Natural Beef Jerky - Recipes

Trader Joe's is a chain of grocery stores spread across the United States specializing in gourmet, natural, and hard-to-find foods. They started out in 1958 as a chain of convenience stores. Then in the 1960's, as the beatnik and hippie cultures started taking off, the company redefined itself into what you see now.

And like many other retailers, Trader Joe's offers its own brand of beef jerky. However as suspected, they don't make their own. In this case, it's private labeled through Idaho-based Intermountain Naturals, the sister company to the Golden Valley Natural brand of beef jerky.

Intermountain Naturals caters to the health-conscious consumer, making beef jerky using only natural ingredients, as well as a line of organic beef jerky.

Trader Joe's claims their brand of jerky contains no preservatives, no MSG, no artificial ingredients, is minimally processed (I'm not sure what that means), and the beef contains no added hormones and no antibiotics.


Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, flavorings, paprika, natural smoke flavoring.

Some sweetness is the first taste to hit my tongue, followed by some smokiness. I can sense the soy sauce flavoring to a small degree, along with a slight bit of salt, and finally just a hint of natural meat flavors.

Being that this is their original variety, I didn't expect to get a lot of taste, and sure enough I wasn't disappointed. Throughout the chew, the flavor that seems to last is the sugar, and then followed by a slight saltiness. That soy sauce taste doesn't really last long.

There's almost no taste of the natural meat flavors. If I was blindfolded and asked to decide between beef or turkey, it would be difficult. There's just a slight bit of that unique beef flavor. And as far as freshness, it still seems to have a fresh taste, despite containing no preservatives.

As for saltiness, it's not salty. I can taste it, but it's light. This is about my preference level for beef jerky.

I can see a few flecks of black pepper, but there's no taste of it.

Overall, this jerky is largely tasteless, if not for the sugar, a bit of smokiness, and light saltiness. I suppose it fits the bill as an original variety, but it's rather boring.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced into average to thick thickness, and in medium sized pieces.

This qualifies as a "soft and tender" variety, being very easy to tear apart, and very easy chew. It even gets mushy when chewing, but not that bad. But I would not classify this as semi-moist, it's still largely a dry jerky.

I didn't notice any chewy tendon, membrane, or gristle. I did find small amounts of fat on a couple of pieces which actually gave it a more beefy taste.

Overall, this has a great meat consistency as a soft and tender variety.

Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 4oz bag at a Trader Joe's in Temecula, CA. That works out to a price of $1.25 per oz, putting this on the lower-end of average.

On a general beef jerky standpoint, I think you're getting a so-so value. It doesn't really satisfy on taste, but it does offer a great meat consistency. If you're a casual beef jerky eater, you might think it's good.

For folks who insist on eating only all natural ingredients, this is actually a good value, because for one, a $1.25 per oz is a good price when compared to all other beef jerky brands, and you're getting what you want in an all-natural ingredient product. If having a tasty beef jerky is not important to you, it's an even better value.

I'm giving this a fair rating.

About the only thing going for this jerky is it's great meat consistency. Otherwise, it's pretty dull on flavor, and it offers very little natural meat flavor.

I can understand that an original variety of beef jerky would be plain on taste, but there are so many other brands that have tasty original varieties that I can't warrant a higher rating. I can't really say that this has a snack factor either while I continue to eat more throughout this review, I'm not enthusiastic about eating it.

But let's consider that Trader Joe's is pushing this beef jerky for its health benefits as an all-natural ingredient product. And that's a way of saying that healthy foods don't necessarily taste good, which is something the child in all of us has been saying for our entire lives.

Beef Jerky Buying Guide and FAQ

These delectable little snacks offer some powerful protein and a ton of flavor, but we go further than that. Let’s describe how it’s made, allergy information, and the sensitive subject of kosher and halal beef jerky (yes, it exists).

Quality -Quality is everything. Low fat, high protein, as many natural ingredients as possible, and a brand name that is notorious for flavor and attention to good products. Trust us, you can taste a poor quality jerky from a good one.

Brand Reviews -The voice of the people. Even if we liked it, that’s not enough to put it on this list. We took a look at what everyone else thought, their experiences with the brand, customer service, replacements, and more.

Taste -This was a truly fun test, but was plenty of sodium for the day. Taste comes down to the marinade they use, and it’s very much influenced by the texture, which we’ll get into in a moment.

Price -You pay a lot for a little with beef jerky. On average, packages contain three ounces. Price is heavily influenced by how lean the meat was during production. Don’t worry, we found far better deals than average for you up above.

Taste -After all, this is why we’re here. Taste is heavily influenced by texture when it comes to beef jerky, so you’ll need to take the toughness and moisture into consideration before digging in. For example, organic beef jerky tends to be moister because it has a short shelf life. Smoked beef jerky is tough and dry, so you’ll get a lot more shelf life out of it.

Ingredients -Beef jerky has a relatively short list of ingredients, even when heavily processed. You’ll run into various spices and flavorings, commonly seeing soy sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Few preservatives are used and are usually only citric acid and salt.

Type of Meat -Yes, it’s all beef, but from different cuts. Most commonly, you’ll see beef flank steak, round steak, rump roast, and brisket flats. Occasionally, you’ll also see London broil cuts.

Dry/Moist -Beef jerky is traditionally enjoyed dry, though some brands have a moist version that doesn’t have as long of an expiration date, but has a lot more flavor and retained marination mixture.

Tough/Soft -Beef jerky has a natural leathery texture to it, which is what you want. However, this could seriously impact how well your teeth can handle it. Different brands have a different standard for how tough or soft they make their beef jerky, usually indicated on their package. This comes down to personal preference.

A: Beef jerky is marinated beef strips that rest in various sauces and spices, depending on the manufacturer preferences. They are then dried out, cooked, potentially dried out (or cured) further, and packaged. You’ll commonly see bags containing no more than three ounces at a time.

While you might think, “I can go to a steakhouse and get a 16 oz steak,” the process is very different. For one, there’s more sodium found in beef jerky than a standard steak, which is completely fine to consume in moderation. They’re put into recommended serving sizes of one ounce at a time.

Beef jerky lasts for a long time whether stored dry or refrigerated and are among one of the best ways to cure beef to maintain it for a hefty duration. Under the right circumstances and with minimal added preservatives, you can keep beef jerky for a few years before it spoils, which is why it’s a staple in emergency survival kits.

Q: What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Jerky?

A: While it’s often revered as a “trucker snack” and not good for you, beef jerky actually has some fantastic benefits. Due to how lean the meat is when it’s chosen for the jerky process, you get a very little bit of fat, usually amounting to six or seven grams per serving.

Monounsaturated fats are the good kind, the ones that your heart actually benefits from. In moderation, of course. There’s usually anywhere from 90 to 150 calories in a single serving of beef jerky, most standardly being one ounce at a time. You’ll also get anywhere from eight to ten grams of protein, and for a small snack, that packs a punch. That’s the average protein contents of two large white eggs.

Q: How is Beef Jerky Made?

A: Many of the ingredients in any standard pack of beef jerky is directly used in the entire curing process. Depending on the mix chosen by the company, (usually a blend of honey, black pepper, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce), they’ll soak strips of raw beef in it, and prep it for the oven.

Those strips of beef are extremely lean cuts fat is the enemy of a good set of beef jerky. Manufacturers will strip the fat off of pieces, and remove any marbled bits of fat. It’s impossible to remove it all, which is why you see brands like Jack Links stating that they’re 96% fat-free on their packaging.

After the beef strips have had time to soak, they’re transferred to a panto head into a low-temperature oven. The standard temperature that keeps food well above safe numbers is 145 F or above. On average, beef jerky sits in a 175 F oven for anywhere from two to nine hours, depending on the manufacturer, process, and the size of the strips.

You get a tough, leather consistency when they come out, which is exactly what you want. This is when a preservative is added (if it wasn’t during the marination process), and they’ll be left to dry until they reach the desired texture. Each manufacturer has their own preferences, and this time depends on the texture that they’re going for. Some beef jerky is moister than others and may require less time spent in the oven.

A: You’re going to emulate how it was made for the best results. Once you open the package, moisture and oxidation begin to take form, which is why you need to enjoy what you’d like and get ready to wrap up the rest.

You need to aim for a cool, dry place. If you plan on having your jerky within the course of thirty days after opening it, you can simply seal it, and store it on the counter, in a cabinet, anywhere that you’d like. If you plan on having it out for more than thirty days, you need to refrigerate it to maintain the integrity of the meat.

Either way, you'll need to go ahead and use one of two methods to properly store it and reduce the effects of oxidation.

  1. Tape a Ziploc bag, preferably one with a two-part seal and not a zipper. Place the beef jerky in the corner, and do your best to feed the air out through the top while closing it. Beef jerky is dense, so you’re going to apply pressure directly around it, squeezing the bag to remove all little pockets of air. Quickly seal it up, and if all went well, you should have some tightness on the plastic. It doesn’t have to be a perfect seal, just enough to preserve your beef jerky.
  2. Use a food-safe vacuum sealer. This is the better option, though we believe that if you’re buying beef jerky, you’ll be having it within a timely manner after tearing the package open. If you store it using this method, you should have up to ninety days before we recommend tossing it.

Q: How do I Keep my Beef Jerky Fresh After Opening?

A: If you’re going to be eating it within a short time period after opening, you want to maintain the flavor and dryness/moisture as best you can. If you’re not going to be storing it for up to thirty days as we talked about in the previous section, then you’re going to need a temporary storage container.

If you have any of the following, it will work to keep your jerky tasting fresh for up to two or three days:

Be sure to avoid paper bags of any sort. There’s an old trick to ripen bananas, by putting them in a paper bag for the rest of the day. This environment promotes oxidation at a rapid pace, which is exactly what you want to avoid. You should have any number of these containers lying around in your home somewhere.

Q: Is Beef Jerky Halal or Kosher?

A: Under both circumstances, beef jerky is not automatically halal or kosher. Specific brands exist that procure these meats, facilities, and ingredients to retain their authenticity, and ensure they’re properly prepared.

For most kosher beef jerky brands, you can notice the Star-K hashgacha, while halal beef jerky has a much more subtle packaging. Halal beef jerky comes in darker packaging to prevent damage from sunlight and contains many vegetable-based preservatives, such as cherry powder or organic cane sugar.

You have to look for the specific packaging. We’ve done our best in this list to ensure we’ve marked whether or not the specific packet of beef jerky is halal, kosher, or none of the above. Many brands that fall under this category clearly state it on the front of their packaging.

Q: What is the Small White Packet in my Jerky Bag?

A: Because of the way jerky is treated, they need something apart from preservatives (usually just citric acid) to prevent oxidation and moisture retention. These “oxygen packets,” as they’re most commonly referred to, are not to be ingested under any means. Though they’re vacuum-sealed in the container with the beef jerky, they don’t flavor, harm or taint the jerky in any way, shape or form. They’re simply there as a non-invasive means of maintaining freshness.

If the contents of the packet are open, you’ll notice a brownish sand color on your jerky. If this occurs, contact the manufacturer and explain the issue. They’re more than happy to oblige and replace your beef jerky. These oxygen packets aren’t meant to break and undergo multiple temperature treatments as well as rigorous packaging. This is a fluke, and will be remedied.

A: Any company in the United States that produces food is required to list all ingredients, vitamins, calorie information and more. These are usually found on the actual packages themselves, but in some cases, you can find more information online at the manufacturer’s website.

For instance, if you went to Jack Links website, they’ll list in-depth nutrition information from calories and fat, all the way down to protein. If you visit the ingredients tab, they will list the very brief description of the ingredients found in their beef jerky. All brands have to have some form of information available to the public, disclosing what ingredients go into their beef jerky to prevent allergic reactions.

The most common proteins (the most common cause of allergic reactions in food) used in most brands are simply beef, corn protein, and the very little bit of protein that comes from wheat (not all brands use wheat). Your best resource would be to go online to the manufacturer’s website. If you’re not certain which brand you’d like to go with, feel free to look up all the manufacturers beforehand and circle back to our research, so you can get the very best beef jerky.

How We Tested

You're usually going to season any soup or dish made with broth—and salt accentuates flavors. To judge these fairly, we calculated the amount of added salt each broth would need per cup in order to bring each contender to the same level of salinity. Other than adding the right amount of salt to balance the playing field, we made no additions to the broths before bringing them to a simmer.

The warm broths were sampled by a team of Epicurious editors and staff and all samples were tasted blindly in random order with no distinction made between manufacturer-designated stocks, broths, or bone broths during tasting.

Homemade Beef Jerky (Grain-Free, Paleo)

Memorial Day weekend arrives in just a few days! Kids are getting out of school, so summer vacations can’t be far behind. In our family, we like to take road trips. We pack a trip bag full of books, games, a camera, binoculars (the kids especially love these) and of course, lots of good food. I have my mainstays like homemade Larabars, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cheese, homemade crackers, and graham crackers. This week I decided to test some homemade beef jerky for our upcoming trip. It’s so easy, I don’t know why I haven’t made it before. You simply slice up some meat, marinate, and dehydrate in the oven.

Like it spicy? Add some black pepper or cayenne. Sweet? Add some extra honey. Ginger, garlic, lime – the possibilities are endless. Now all you need is a destination.

Serves: Makes 1 pound of jerky. About 25 pieces.

This recipe is very mild and kid-friendly. If you like it spicier you can season the meat with extra black pepper before putting it in the oven.

The Best Frozen Microwave Pizzas: Our Taste Test Results

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single person in possession of a microwave must be in want of pizza. And though we understand microwaves are the worst appliance for cooking pizza (hello, soggy crusts), certain brands have attempted to do the impossible. They have created microwaveable frozen pizzas. [Cue gasp.]

Out of sheer curiosity, we rounded up five of such pizzas (making sure they're nationally available and sold in major grocery stores, of course) and put them to a taste test. We genuinely hoped to find a gem, because we'll be honest -- sometimes we're exhausted and want the world to magically make us pizza by doing nothing more than pressing a button. (And yes, we know delivery can make that happen, but it's a longer wait. And sometimes we're impatient.)

Before you dare try any of these pizzas, we must warn you. With one exception (Trader Joe's), these pizzas have a lot of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and nearly impossible to define. Thanks to Michael Pollan, we all know that's a bad thing. In case we haven't been clear enough, we'll say it plainer. We do not recommend eating these as a part of your normal daily diet. They're strictly for hangover emergencies and hunger attacks.

So -- do any of these pizzas taste good enough to make up for the ensuing shroud of guilt? Find out in the slideshow below.

As always, this taste test is in no way influenced or sponsored by the brands included.

This story appears in Issue 33 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, January 25.

A Bunch of Non-Vegans Tried the Cult-Favorite Vegan Cheese at Trader Joe’s

If you question, for a second, just how in-demand the vegan mozzarella from Trader Joe’s is, think again. It is highly coveted so much so that every trip I took to TJ’s for two weeks straight, I encountered an empty slot in the cheese section where the vegan shreds would normally be stocked. Beside the gaping hole was a hand-written sign: Coming back soon!

Eventually, we were able to snag a few bags and try it for ourselves. (By the end of my mission, the crew members at my local store had probably hung a “Wanted: Cheese Shred Stalker” poster with my mugshot on it back in the stock room.)

Once we finally got our hands on the shreds, we decided that the only way to test this “cheese” out was a side-by-side comparison, pitting the Vegan Mozzarella-Style Shreds against the actual shredded mozzarella cheese on pizza.

You may be wondering why we didn’t pit this stuff against the super-popular Daiya mozzarella shreds or even the VeganMozz from Miyoko’s Kitchen. For starters, we’ve already determined that Daiya is not the best option for pizza (see the story linked below). And considering TJ’s vegan mozz is always so hot to sell out, we wanted to see if it really was that good. Hard stop.

With all the essential ingredients in tow (all from TJ’s, of course), we assembled the pizza, leaving a clear line of saucy distinction. The vegan cheese is markedly more crumbly than actual cheese. Straight out of the bag, it’s similar in texture to a chalky Provolone, but tastes like a shredded version of those fake parmesan cheese canisters that weirdly don’t need to be refrigerated — you know, the kind made with wood pulp?

(Vegan shreds on the left mozzarella on the right.)

You would think that TJ’s vegan shreds would be made out of super-trendy ingredients like cashews and nutritional yeast, but a quick glance at the ingredient list will prove you wrong. Like any great cheese, the first ingredient is water. Wait, what? Followed by canola oil, cornstarch, vegetable glycerin, arrowroot starch, tricalcium phosphate, pea protein, salt, natural vegan flavors, and a bunch of other things I cannot pronounce. Last but not least, it contains powdered cellulose, which is often made of — you guessed it — wood pulp!

As promised, both cheeses melted, which is an accomplishment in my book for sure. Clearly, the shreds had a hard time giving up their identity as shreds. Although they both melted for the same amount of time, you can still see the distinct shape of the vegan cheese on the left.

This is the part where true disappointment set in. The melted vegan shreds oozed all over — and before you blame it on the pizza being too hot, we sliced the normal mozzarella slices at the same exact time and that phenomenon did not occur. I took a bite and my teeth were suddenly coated in a layer of fake cheese goop that I couldn’t coax away by normal chewing. And it didn’t get better as the pizza cooled. Although it looked like it might be, the cheese was not solid in any way. It’s like the food scientists at Trader Joe’s discovered a new kind of polymer. Is this flubber pizza?

As non-vegans, we decided a cheese-less pizza was better than a pizza with these shreds. Out of the bag, the stuff is good it’s only when it melts that you start getting into a gray area. Our final verdict: Skip the pizza or the grilled cheese and use this stuff cold (and unmelted) on top of salads.

Have you tried TJ’s vegan mozzarella style shreds? What did you think?

11 Better-for-You Beef Jerky Brands for Healthy Snacking

Beef jerky is one of the most satisfying snacks when you're in need of a protein fix on the fly. A recent massive upgrade in the beef jerky category has brought healthier, sustainably sourced, and more flavorful jerky products to consumers than ever before. Swap out those old Slim Jims for these better-for-you finds that are produced in small batches, from family recipes, and made with clean ingredient lists you can actually pronounce. Happy snacking!

$26 for pack of 12 BUY NOW

Made with organic, grass-fed, tender cuts of bison, savory uncured bacon, and tart dried cranberries, these meat bars from Epic are sort of, well . an epic snack. Packed with 7 grams of protein to keep you full during your hike, road trip, or afternoon errands, these delicious meat bars also contain antioxidants, heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and essential vitamin B12.

$17 for pack of two BUY NOW

Air-dried slower than beef jerky without heat and usually made from thicker cuts of beef, biltong is a close cousin of beef jerky that offers a slightly meatier taste, a more tender texture, and comparable nutrition. This seasoned dried beef from Brooklyn Biltong tastes like a delicious hybrid between prosciutto and beef jerky in texture with a slight heat thanks to Portuguese-style hot sauce called peri-peri.

$45 for pack of eight BUY NOW

Jerky is one of the most exciting areas to watch right now in the snack world, as brands continue to look to sustainably raised or plant-based jerky options, a cleaner ingredient list, and delicious new flavor combinations. The New Primal's Free-Range Chicken Jerky is a prime example of this trend, and at 12 grams of lean protein per serving, their savory yet slightly sweet Date & Rosemary flavor slays.

Country Archer is another standout jerky brand with a clean and transparent ingredient list made without added preservatives, nitrates, or MSG. We're obsessed with the Mango Habanero and Teriyaki flavors for road trips and hikes.

$37 for pack of eightBUY NOW

A tasty non-beef jerky option with a clean ingredient list, KRAVE Pork Jerky is made without nitrates, MSG, or other artificial ingredients. With 9 grams of protein per serving, we wholeheartedly recommend this savory and tart Black Cherry Barbecue flavor for snacking anytime.

$29 for pack of three BUY NOW

This brand is considered the caviar of the jerky world because it's made completely from filet mignon. This cut of beef has less connective tissue, which means you get soft, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth jerky packed with savory flavor. There's even a stray bay leaf included at the bottom of every bag &mdash a sign of the love that goes into each batch.

San Diego-based brand True Jerky's "The Sinsa" beef jerky is inspired by the flavors of classic Korean barbecue &mdash think brown sugar, sesame, ginger, and chiles. The clever packaging even includes a spool of dental floss on the inside so you can keep your chompers in-check post-snack.

Slow-smoked, cut by hand, and marinated in straightforward ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, soy sauce, and red pepper, Chef's Cut Real Steak Jerky is buttery in texture and super flavorful with just a slight spicy kick.

Each one of these 2.2-ounce bags from New York-based brand Field Trip contains just the right amount (two servings) of sweet and spicy jerky for a hearty snack. And the heat level is mild enough for even little ones to handle.

You caught us: This is totally not made of beef. But how can you pass up a jerky made 100% from bacon? And even though you're snacking on bacon, each bag is only 135 calories and contains nearly 8 grams of protein. The sriracha packs a serious amount of heat, so this flavor is not for the faint of heart!

Real maple syrup from Vermont gives this beef its tangy sweetness. The grass-fed, hormone-free cows are also raised naturally at the Vermont Highland Cattle Company. Happy cows make us happy campers!

Jerky Criteria

The first jerky criteria is that it should be jerky (dried meat), although there are many exceptions such as turtle, snake, fish, or mushroom jerky for example. More or less, the word jerky should be printed somewhere on the bag.

The ingredient list is compulsory. It does not matter if the ingredients are listed on the bag itself, an email, or a handwritten note.

There are three separate reviews done on each bag of jerky: Ingredient, Taste, and Bag Design.


Excellent (10/10) – Ingredient Rating
Very Good (9/10) – Ingredient Rating
  • Animal is partially grass fed with free range access, or
  • Animal is free of growth hormones, and additional antibiotics
Good (8/10) – Ingredient Rating

This is where an ingredient rating starts, either an 8, 9, or 10 ingredient rating. Chunked & Formed or Chopped and Formed jerky loses two additional ingredient ratings.

The following criteria can deduct an ingredient rating.


  • Table salt level is over 350mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky. Note that salt levels are ignored when sea salt or an equivalent is used.
  • Table salt level is over 450mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky. Has potential to be two ingredient ratings unless healthy ingredients counteract.


  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
  • Sugar level is 4 grams or more for a non-sweet based flavor per 28 grams of jerky.
  • Sugar level is 6 grams or more for a sweet based flavor per 28 grams of jerky.
  • Sugar level is 7 grams or more per 28 grams of jerky. Has potential to be two ingredient ratings unless healthy ingredients counteract, and depending on what sugars are used.


  • Generally when sodium nitrite or potassium sorbate is an added ingredient.
  • Regarding sauces. If sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, or other similar sodium based preservatives are listed three times or more.


  • Monosodium glutumate (MSG).
  • Hydrolyzed soy, wheat, or plant protein.
  • Disodium inosinate or disodium guanylate.


  • Artificial ingredient.
  • If caramel color is listed three times or more.
  • If corn syrup is listed three times or more.


Excellent (10/10) – Taste Rating
Very Good (9/10) – Taste Rating

Some things taken into consideration are the natural meat flavor, saltiness, and sweetness.

Very Bad (2/10) – Taste Rating
  • Tastes very bad
  • A chopped and formed texture is used
  • A chunked and formed texture is used
Terrible (1/10) – Taste Rating
  • Tastes terrible
  • A chopped and formed texture is used
  • A chunked and formed texture is used


Excellent (10/10) – Bag Design Rating
  • Looks professional
  • Not a stock bag
  • No labels affixed
  • All bag categories are covered (see below)
Very Good (9/10) – Bag Design Rating
Good (8/10) – Bag Design Rating
Decent (7/10) – Bag Design Rating


  • easy to read “best before date”
  • allergen alerts
  • nutrition facts table
  • jerky weight stated in both grams/ounces
  • transparent window to view the actual jerky
  • graphics or Canada Department Agriculture (CDA) inspected logo
  • bar code
  • ingredients list
  • jerky maker/distributor address details
  • company logo
  • blurb about the company or jerky flavor
  • originality
  • clever slogans
  • jerky web site stated
  • resealable bag (over 2 ounces)
  • sturdy thickness of the plastic bag
  • hole at the top to hang on hooks
  • vacuum sealed (optional but preferred)
  • oxygen absorber included (optional but preferred)
  • easy to open bag (optional but preferred)
  • “meat of origin” details (optional) statement (optional)
  • satisfaction guaranteed policy (optional) (optional)
  • phone number (optional but preferred)
  • email address (optional but preferred)
  • social media handles (optional but preferred)
  • French translations (Canada only)

Jerky Criteria was last modified: July 18/2020 by Jerky Ingredients