Everybody wants a snack that’s both delicious and healthy. And that’s exactly what you get with beef jerky: addictive flavor and a hearty dose of vital nutrients.
But not all beef jerky is created equal.
The preparation methods and ingredients used by different beef jerky manufacturers impact the nutritional value of the final product. It may be the same basic food, but if you’re trying to boost your protein or watch your sodium intake, getting the right brand can make all the difference!
We’ve rounded up nine of the most popular beef jerky brands to compare their nutritional values. After we break down each brand, we’ll see which one comes out on top in four categories: protein, sodium, sugar, and calories.
Ready? Let’s go!
Beef Jerky Brands: Nutritional Facts and Stats
|Type||Weight/Serving Size||Calories||Sodium (mg)||Sugar (g)||Protein (g)|
|Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky||1.25oz/35g||80||460mg||6g||11g|
|Slim Jim Original Smoked Snack Sticks||1.13oz/32g||160||550mg||1g||7g|
|Cattleman’s Cut Original Beef Jerky||1.0oz/28g||70||570mg||7g||10g|
|CHOMPS Original Beef Jerky Sticks||1.15oz/32g||90||290mg||0g||9g|
|People’s Choice Original Beef Jerky||1.0oz/28g||90||490mg||0g||16g|
|Old Wisconsin Original Beef Sausage Snack Sticks||0.9oz/24g||80||290mg||0g||4g|
|KRAVE Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky||1.0oz/28g||100||340mg||10g||9g|
|Tillamook Country Smoker Teriyaki Beef Jerky||1.0oz/28g||90||450mg||7g||10g|
|Country Archer Original Beef Jerky||1.0oz/28g||70||410mg||5g||11g|
Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky
Even if you’re not a beef jerky fanatic, you’ve probably heard of Jack Link’s — it’s one of the most popular beef jerky brands in the world.
Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky is the brand’s flagship product. With a relatively light calorie count of 80 and a whopping 11 grams of protein per serving, it’s among the most nutritious options in the snack aisle.
Slim Jim Original Smoked Snack Sticks
For those who prefer their beef jerky in a highly portable, easy-to-eat stick, Slim Jim has you covered. These classic beef jerky sticks come in many flavors, but the most popular is the tried-and-true Original Smoked Snack Stick.
The sticks may be slim, but they pack a lot into their skinny packages, like a respectable 7 grams of protein. And they’re a great option for those who struggle with sugar: each stick contains just 1 gram!
Cattleman’s Cut Original Beef Jerky
Cattleman’s Cut Original Beef Jerky sets itself apart from the herd with its diet-friendliness. Containing just 70 calories per serving, it’s the ideal energizing snack for anyone trying to shed a few pounds.
But if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake, snack lightly: at 570mg per serving, it’s among the most heavily-salted beef jerky varieties out there.
CHOMPS Original Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Sticks
The cows that become CHOMPS beef jerky live pretty cushy lives: they feast on organic grasses and are never dosed with hormones or antibiotics. Their happiness translates into some of the tastiest, healthy beef jerky on the market.
CHOMPS Original Beef Jerky Sticks contain no sugar and just 90 calories. With only 290mg of sodium, they’re about half as salty as many competing jerky brands, so they’re perfect for snackers with hypertension or other medical conditions.
People’s Choice Original Beef Jerky
Just because People’s Choice Original Beef Jerky contains no sugar doesn’t mean it skimps on the flavor. These savory snacks have been in production since the 1920s, and that longevity speaks volumes.
With an astounding 16g of protein per serving, this classic jerky is well-suited to your fast-paced modern lifestyle. And at 90 calories per serving, it’ll make you smile when you step on the scale!
Old Wisconsin Original Beef Sausage Snack Sticks
Low-sugar beef jerky is all the rage right now, but it can be tough to find it in stick form. If you want the portability of a jerky stick without the sugar rush, then Old Wisconsin Original Beef Sausage Snack Sticks are just what you need.
These beef jerky sticks also boast below-average sodium content in addition to their low sugar. If you’re trying to limit your salt and sugar intake, give these a try next time you need an on-the-go snack.
KRAVE Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky
Of the many beef jerky flavors that KRAVE offers, the Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky is perhaps the most beloved. The extra sea salt elevates the flavor to a whole new level without making your sodium levels skyrocket — each serving contains just 340mg!
Sweet and salty go hand-in-hand, and the 10 grams of sugar per serving proves that point. But if the sugar content isn’t a problem for you, you’ll snack happily knowing that you’re also getting 9 grams of protein.
Tillamook Country Smoker Teriyaki Beef Jerky
Nothing takes beef jerky to the next level like some good old teriyaki flavor. It imparts an exotic twist on a classic treat, and maybe that’s why Tillamook Country Smoker Teriyaki Beef Jerky is one of the company’s most popular products.
That salty, savory teriyaki flavor provides a decent sodium boost, but it’s well worth it for the 10 grams of protein per serving. And weight watchers will appreciate that each serving contains just 90 calories.
Country Archer Original Beef Jerky
High in protein, low in calories, bursting with flavor. That’s the idea behind Country Archer Original Beef Jerky — and the end product demonstrates how well that idea is executed.
With 11 grams of protein per 70 calorie serving, you get a delicious snack that’s anything but empty calories. And in the world of beef jerky, 5 grams of sugar is a low price to pay for that extra touch of sweetness.
Beef Jerky Category Champions
Protein Winner: People’s Choice Original Beef Jerky
Daily protein intake is essential for proper functioning. Your body can’t store protein the way it stores fat, so you need to consume an adequate amount every day to maintain your energy levels.
An average adult needs around 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. If you weigh 150 pounds, you need 52.5 grams of protein a day.
But studies show that bodybuilders and other athletes need up to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. For a 150-pound person, this means up to 210 grams of protein a day!
With such high protein requirements, it’s no wonder that athletes turn to beef jerky for fuel. And People’s Choice Original Beef Jerky, with 16 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving, is the best brand for those with high protein requirements.
Sodium Winner: CHOMPS Original Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Sticks
When it comes to sodium, less is more. Daily sodium intake of less than 2,300mg is recommended for most adults.
But research shows that the average American male consumes 4,240 mg of sodium a day, and the average American woman consumes 2,980mg a day.
Such high sodium intake leads to health problems like high blood pressure and kidney disease. But it can be tough to keep your sodium levels low, especially when you eat processed foods (including beef jerky) that are preserved with salt.
With just 290mg of sodium per serving, CHOMPS Original Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Sticks are the best choice for those looking to reduce their sodium intake. They’ve got around half the sodium of most other brands — a real achievement when it comes to beef jerky!
Sugar Winners: People’s Choice, CHOMPS and Old Wisconsin
Sugar consumption is a huge health problem in America. Current guidelines recommend that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day and that men consume no more than 38 grams per day.
But the average American consumes around double that: 71 grams of added sugar per day!
High sugar consumption makes your body crave more, similar to alcohol cravings. But give in to those cravings and you could end up with diabetes, hormonal imbalances, obesity, and kidney disease.
Many beef jerky brands add sugar to their jerky to boost flavor, but three brands show that it’s not a necessity: People’s Choice, CHOMPS and Old Wisconsin. The first two contain no added sugar at all, while the third contains less than a gram per serving.
This makes them ideal choices if you’re trying to stay energized while losing weight, controlling diabetes or just keeping your sugar intake at a healthy level.
Calories Winners: Cattleman’s Cut and Country Archer
25% of the average American’s calories come from snacks — that’s over 500 calories a day from between-meal pick-me-ups!
But even if that wasn’t true, we’d still want to keep an eye on our calorie intake.
Unless you’re trying to gain weight, limiting your caloric intake is important. If you’re trying to cut back, snacks are a great place to start — and two beef jerky brands make it easy.
Cattleman’s Cut and Country Archer beef jerky both contain just 70 calories per serving. That’s around 3% of a 2,000-calorie/day diet, making for a satisfying snack that won’t ruin your diet!
"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy