Snap Into Something Else: We Ranked the 11 Best Beef Sticks

When it comes to meat sticks, I’m really not a fan of Slim Jims. For starters, they call their product a “snack stick” which doesn’t imply any specific type of meat. Ominous. Then, the ingredients list beef, pork, and mechanically separated chicken. Dawg, that’s too many meats. No wonder they can’t confidently call it anything but a “snack stick.” Personally, I think a meat stick should be made from a specific meat, and it should taste like that meat. I also think we should be using more ethical methods than factory farming to produce these greasy little gems. There’s a world of better meat sticks out there that are neither Slim nor Jims, and this list proves it.


For this taste test I tried a bunch of beef sticks (and some which also contained pork) and judged them on meaty taste, spice blend, and how the product was made. Anything containing mechanically separated chicken did not rank. The aesthetic of a beef stick should be savory, slightly greasy, salty, and, ideally, the stick should contain some additional spices. It should feel like a delightful meat treat—not necessarily healthy, but not some ungodly lab-made concoction either. Turns out, there have been some exciting things happening in the beef stick world. Check out this list of the 11 best beef sticks that we’ll keep coming back to.

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Best of the Best

Chomps Original Beef Stick

Why is this number one? Because it’s just so darn beefy. The problem with Slim Jims and other “meat snacks” is that they don’t taste like any specific meat, and to me, that’s a damn crime. This tastes so much like beef that I’m actually getting beef fat vibes, kind of like a ribeye steak. This is so beefy that it actually makes me think of a specific cut of beef. Chomps is a top of the line product that’s salty, savory, meaty, and delicious. Plus, they say they use 100% grass fed and grass finished beef, that the animals are never given hormones or antibiotics, and that they’re harvested as humanely as possible. It’s pricier than some ($2.29 per stick), but that’s just on Amazon. They probably come cheaper in stores.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Secret Ingredient

Country Archer Original Beef Stick

Country Archer’s Original Beef Stick has such a delightful, almost peculiar flavor that I found alluring. At first I thought this thing tasted like truffles because it’s so rich and earthy, but when I read the ingredients I saw that they use nutmeg. Nutmeg is such an interesting choice because it adds a warmth and nuttiness to any savory dish. This beef stick has such a unique flavor, and an almost woody quality. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Country Archer is pungent and peppery, but overall mild and beefy. I think the balance of flavor here is just excellent. Country Archer touts grass-fed beef, although that doesn’t necessarily mean humanely farmed. (Grass-finished indicates a more ethical farming method, whereas grass-fed just means the animals were fed grass at some point.)

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Jalapeño

Chomps Jalapeño Beef Stick

Look, we love Chomps. All the glowing things I said about Chomps Original Beef Stick also apply here, but add jalapeño. While this isn’t the spiciest of the bunch (we tried some flamin’ hot products that didn’t make the list), it is the best beef stick and pepper combo. Nine grams of protein, 90 calories, and an excellent, probably-ethical meat product with great flavor. What’s not to like?

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Spice Blend

Country Archer Jalapeño Beef Stick

I want my beef sticks to be greasy, salty, and meaty, and Country Archer’s Jalapeño Beef Stick achieves that and adds a nice blast of heat. There’s almost a pepper jack cheese flavor going on here—it’s just such a lovely balance of fat and spice. This is made with jalapeño chilis and also a whole lot of other spices like coriander, garlic, and celery powder. The flavor is nicely composed and balanced, and hey, no mechanically separated chicken, either. Just 100% grass fed beef. Hell yeah.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Smoked

Tillamook Teriyaki Smoked Meat Sticks

There’s a handcrafted, butcher-shop vibe to these smoked meat sticks that I quite enjoy. This feels like something my neighbor Bud (I used to have a neighbor named Bud) would make in his garage. These snack sticks are really smoky and kind of sweet, and the beef flavor is really lovely. They’re juicy as all get out, too. Tillamook lists soy sauce in their ingredients, which ups the umami factor of these considerably. The price is excellent, too: Thirteen bucks for a big ol’ jar!

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Small Business

Lorissa’s Kitchen Grass Fed Beef Sticks

Lorissa’s Kitchen makes a really juicy beef stick. It’s got a strong beef flavor, too, and they use grass fed beef. The website makes it sound like these products are being made sustainably, with ethically sourced ingredients, in small batches. It’s female founded and family run, as well. That said, these are four dollars per stick, which is way too pricey. But if you value a well made product that’s not using questionable ingredients and farming methods, it could be worth checking out Lorissa’s Kitchen. The flavor is good, and this product is juicy and greasy like you’d expect from a beef stick. 

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Beef & Pork Blend

Wenzel’s Farm Spicy Snack Stick

This snack stick is made with beef and pork, and it’s got a real nice zip to it from the addition of jalapeño. You definitely taste the beef more than the pork, but there’s some good sweetness in here to mellow out the spicy flavor. It’s salty, meaty, and delicious. Plus, Wenzel Farms is an award-winning meat processing company that prides itself on no binders and fillers and using the best cuts of meat for their snack sticks. We’ll just have to take their word for it. Either way, I like the way their meat sticks taste.

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Snap

Tillamook Country Smoker Original Smoked Beef Stick

This smoked beef stick has such a delightful snap when compared to some of the other products on this list. It feels like you’re biting into an artisanal all-beef hot dog. The casing is wonderful, and the overall flavor of the beef stick is smoky and beefy. It could be a little juicier, but the flavors here (spices, caraway seeds, garlic, and vinegar) really shine. This has a complex taste for a beef stick, and it looks homemade, too. Good flavor alchemy, and a well-made product.

Sarah Demonteverde/Ralph’s

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Bacon

Wenzel’s Farm Beef & Bacon Snack Stick

This meat stick is just so deliciously juicy. The fattiness of the bacon really shines here, which enhances the whole experience. The bacon has a real smokiness to it, too. My one note is that it might be a little bit too juicy, if there is such a thing, but if you taste it you’ll know what I’m talking about. Still, the beef and bacon work together in wonderful tandem to produce a beefy, bacon-y, smoky snack stick.

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Texture

Vermont Original Beef & Pork Stick

In the #10 spot is Vermont’s Original Beef & Pork Stick, which is deliciously salty and processed. This is a few rungs up from a Slim Jim, quality wise. Most of all I love the hearty snap to this stick. The casing is delicious and provides a really nice textural experience. Pork is a fun addition to these beef sticks because it makes the whole thing even more fatty and decadent. It’s got a good amount of salt (380 mg per serving), too. Personally, this is everything I want in a beef stick.

Sarah Demonteverde/Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Country Style

Old Trapper Original Deli Style Beef Sticks

Coming in last is a product that everyone but me hated, and I feel compelled to put it on this list for the fellow meat freaks out there. Simply put, this is made with beef hearts and you can taste it. The heart has a real gamey flavor, and tastes of iron. There’s a bit of nice heat on the back end of this beef stick, too! There’s something about Old Trapper products that just produce a deliciously juicy and savory experience. They use MSG, so maybe that’s why. Personally, I’d rank these higher, but, ya know—beef hearts.

Sarah Demonteverde/Target

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Cattleman’s Cut Smoked Sausage Sticks, Jack’s Links Original Beef Stick, Jack’s Links Wild Heat Beef Stick, Matador Flamin’ Hot Beef Stick, Old Wisconsin Beef Sausage Sticks, Slim Jim, Vermont BBQ Meat Sticks, Takis Hot Chili Pepper and Lime Meat Sticks, Wenzel’s Farm Beef Stick, Wenzel’s Farm Beef with Pepper Jack, Wenzel’s Farm Beef and Cheddar, Wenzel’s Farm Teriyaki, Wenzel’s Farm Honey Ham.

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • This is going to make me buy some beef sticks… any plans for an alternative stick based food round up?

    Reply