Best Beef Jerky (Including Teriyaki, Spicy, and Even Biltong!)

The best beef jerky is the perfect in-between food. You eat beef jerky between meals to quell hunger pangs. Beef jerky is eaten in between places, too; it’s the quintessential road trip food. Gnawing on some jerky you bought from a gas station behind the wheel of a car? Partner, that there is called the American experience. Beef jerky even gets stuck in between your teeth. If you’ve got trouble flossing, might we recommend eating beef jerky every day to get in the habit?

We love beef jerky because it’s portable, has a long shelf life, and is a delicious source of protein. But what’s the best beef jerky? Well, we wanted that perfect texture. Jerky shouldn’t be so damn tough that it’s like chomping down on a shoe, but it also shouldn’t be curiously soft, either. We wanted fibrous, fleshy jerky. Unique flavor is a bonus, but plain jerky can still wow if the texture is good enough. 

We tried over 30 different beef jerky brands and flavors over the course of two separate taste tests to find the very best beef jerky brands out there, available in grocery stores, convenience stores, and, of course, gas stations. Here’s the best tasting beef jerky we tried. 


Best BBQ

Bridgford Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Beef Jerky

The sweet and tangy barbecue flavor earns Bridgford its place as one of the best beef jerky flavors. There are a lot of ingredients to sift through: pineapple juice powder, garlic powder, onion powder, tomato powder, vinegar, MSG, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce powder, and tamarind. My god. If that seems like too many ingredients to you, well, you’d be wrong. Because the flavor here is deep and complex. The sweetness of the glaze is balanced by the intense savoriness of the meat, and it’s spiced really well. The alchemy here is just spot on. Well done, Bridgford. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Simms Original Biltong

Best Biltong

Simms Original Biltong

Biltong is a South African type of jerky made with a variety of meats ranging from game like ostrich to America’s favorite, beef. It is sometimes cut into strips, but Simms (Aldi’s jerky brand) cuts their biltong into small, thin flats. We’re talking seriously thin. While biltong is most commonly associated with jerky, this one tastes closer to bresaola, Italian air-dried, salted beef. The flavor is pure beef with a hint of pepper on the end. It’s chewy and delicate and very different from your typical jerky eating experience. I’ve been seeing more and more biltong brands pop up, but this is the best biltong I’ve tried so far. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Aldi

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Very Spicy

Jack Link’s Wild Heat Beef Jerky

This is really, really spicy beef jerky. A lot of companies say their product is hot, but don’t deliver on the heat. Not Jack Link’s Wild Heat. Good lord, these will singe your tongue. The heat rises, stays, and it’s delightful. It kind of reminds me of the super-intense Paquis Ghost Pepper chips. If you like hot-ass jerky, then Jack Link’s Wild Heat is the best beef jerky for you. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Road Trip Snack

Jack Link’s Extra Tender Original Beef Steak Strips

I know, the package is labeled as tender, but somehow it’s the chewiest jerky on this list. Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling likes to really gnaw on her jerky. “I want it to be an activity,” she said. I reckon Justine can’t be alone here. Chewing tough jerky is a pleasant activity and passes the time. However, if Jack Link’s Tender was any tougher, these flavorful little strips of jerky would be meat-gum™. Still, the flavor is pleasantly salty, and if you like your jerky to be gnawable, this is the best beef jerky for you. It’s a great road trip snack that I’m sure you’ll see at most gas stations. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Tillamook Zero Sugar Teriyaki

Best Zero Sugar Teriyaki

Tillamook Zero Sugar Teriyaki

Teriyaki flavored snacks are often sweet and savory—but not this one. If you’re looking for that, you’re better off with Bridgford’s BBQ flavored beef jerky. Tillamook’s Zero Sugar Teriyaki is all about savory soy flavors. As a savory person, I adore that, and I’m glad they didn’t decide to replace sugar with an overly sweet artificial sweetener. If you have a salty tooth instead of a sweet tooth, this is the best teriyaki beef jerky out there. — Justine Sterling

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Pepper Flavor

Great Value Peppered Beef Jerky

The pepper flavor of this peppered beef jerky is outstanding. This isn’t ground pepper powder, mind you, these are peppercorns. The whole chunks of smashed peppercorns punch you in the mouth with a pungent and earthy fist. To me this feels like a chef seasoned this bag of jerky; it’s bold and flavorful. The texture is great, too. It’s got that coarse tissue quality we look for in the best beef jerky. There’s also MSG and dried soy sauce, so you really feel the umami. I love this jerky so much, I made sure to take it home with me after the test. Great Value coming in hot with the best peppered jerky. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Plain

Tillamook Country Smoker Original Beef Jerky

This jerky from Tillamook (no relation to the cheese and ice cream company) is fantastic. The texture is the biggest selling point. It almost gives the impression of being homemade with its meaty, fibrous texture. You can easily rip this jerky apart with your teeth and howl at the moon like an animal. “This is meat,” said Justine. A simple, yet profound statement. Tillamook beef jerky tastes natural. It’s a chewy, delightfully slow snack that maybe could use a bit more flavor. But if you’re in it for the meat, Tillamook is the best beef jerky brand for you. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

old trapper hot & spicy

Best Spicy (Not Too Spicy)

Old Trapper Hot & Spicy

You can see the red pepper seeds and flakes on this spicy beef jerky, so consider yourself warned. While it’s not as straight-up hot as Jack Link’s, it is actually spicy—but not so spicy that you won’t come back for another piece almost immediately. The flavor is incredible—it actually tastes like fresh, real chile pepper. But there’s also a hint of sweetness to balance out the spice and the savory, salty meat. This is the best beef jerky according to my own, personal tastes, but because spice isn’t for everyone, I’m holding it back from the top spot. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best of the Best

Old Trapper Old Fashioned Beef Jerky

This beef jerky takes the crown for best overall flavor and texture. Old Trapper is smoky, salty, and sweet. The texture is spot on, too. It’s chewy, but not so tough that it feels like you’re nibbling on an end table. This jerky beckons you to buy it with its glistening chunks of beef protruding through its see-through bag. The strips of jerky look like meaty hunks of beef, not pieces of paper. This is the most savory of the jerky we tried, and the flavor is just incredible. We think you’ll love it. After two separate taste tests, it’s still the best tasting beef jerky. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Ryan Martin / Target

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other beef jerky brands we tasted: Oberto Teriyaki, No Man’s Land Beef Jerky, Archer Grass-Fed Classic Zero Sugar, Simms Original, Simply Nature Original, Archer Mustard BBQ, Homegrown Meats Tangy Orange Teriyaki, 365 Peppered Beef Jerky, 365 Hot & Spicy Beef Jerky, Simms Teriyaki Beef Biltong, Simply Nature Teriyaki, No Man’s Land Beef Jerky, Simms Peppered Beef Jerky, Jack Link’s Teriyaki, Great Value Original Beef Jerky, Bridgford Original Beef Jerky, Chef’s Cut Chipotle Pepper Steak Jerky, Oberto Original, Kirkland, Kroger Smokehouse Jerky, 365 Original, Perky Jerky, Trader Joe’s Natural Beef Jerky, Krave Original

Country Archer Provisions Original Grass-Fed Beef Jerky

“Man, that’s so next level!” shouted Rhett during their beef jerky taste test. “That piece was just like a steak at a restaurant. It was so tender.” Link was also impressed, “I didn’t think you could get more tender than Jack Link’s, but this is almost twice as tender.” Country Archer brings the good stuff when it comes to their original jerky. Like the boys said, it’s all about that tender, steak-like texture. 


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.