We Ranked the 7 Best Brands of Turkey Jerky

Turkey jerky is beef jerky’s most popular spin-off (for now—don’t sleep on mushroom jerky). It’s also often framed as a healthier option than beef jerky. Some of that is just hype: Although turkey jerky generally does have more protein, the two are similar in terms of fat and calories. Still, turkey jerky has plenty going for it. There’s something wonderful about its salty, meaty, roasted poultry flavor. For those who abstain from red meat, it’s an excellent alternative.

For this taste test, we focused first on texture. The texture of turkey jerky should be tender, but not so tender that it’s soft. Turkey jerky can feel dry and bland if it’s not prepared right. Jerky should always be sturdy and gnawable, yes, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re chewing on a leather jacket, either. Next, we looked at the overall flavor. Most of the jerky on this list contains added ingredients like pineapple juice, brown sugar, and tamari soy sauce (which provides a great punch of umami), but plain ol’ salted, roasted turkey jerky can be good too. As long as it packs some flavor. These seven brands met our high criteria.

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best turkey jerky

Best of The Best

Derby City Bourbon Barrel Wood Smoked Turkey Jerky

Derby City turkey jerky tastes like homemade jerky that you’d get from a big plastic jar at a gas station or corner store on a road trip. It just feels like it was made by a person, not a factory. This jerky has such a pleasantly tender and meaty texture with a sweet, slightly peppery, smoky taste. We thought this was far and away number one. The texture is amazing and the flavor is nuanced. The process of slow smoking the jerky in wooden barrels produces such a lovely product. Again, it feels like some dude named Dale made this. We’re on board.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Flavor

Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky

We’re huge fans of cracked pepper-flavored jerky (see where Great Value ranked on our beef jerky list), so it should be no surprise that Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky ranks so high here. The jerky itself might be a bit too tender for some, but the flavor is impeccable. There’s an excellent peppery spice and a nice amount of fruity tang from the added pineapple juice, apple juice, and rice wine. Nuance is the prevailing word here for me. There is a great nuance of flavor, and it’s perfectly balanced. It’s just seasoned well, and when food is seasoned well, it ranks high here at Sporked. This is the type of tasty that keeps your hand in the bag at all times. 

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Texture

Jack Link’s Original Turkey Jerky

I was surprised at how well this classic held up. The salty flavor really carries the whole thing flavorwise. But the turkey also tastes roasted, so it’s got some extra flavor and reminds me of dark leg meat on Thanksgiving. Jack Link’s turkey jerky has a good dehydrated, gnawable jerky vibe if that’s what you’re looking for. Some people like their jerky extra tough and leathery. While this isn’t quite a belt, it is dense and delightfully chewy. I like how simple Jack Link’s is. It does three things very well: texture, salt, and roasted flavor.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s Original Turkey Jerky

Trader Joe’s Original Turkey Jerky has a sweet and pungent flavor that reflects its ingredients—brown sugar, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. The texture is nice and tender without being too chewy, although this is another jerky that’s a bit on the softer side. Personally, I like turkey jerky to be a tad softer than beef, since the more you dehydrate turkey the drier and blander it becomes. My comment here was, “It’ll probably end up in the middle somewhere,” and that’s exactly what happened. A quality standard.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Umami

Whole Foods 365 Original Turkey Jerky

Whole Foods’ jerky is kinda vinegary and smells like soy sauce. They use tamari and worcestershire so that’s probably where the extra umami and tang comes from. There were bits of jerky in the bag that were quite small and reminded me of dog treats (not great) but overall I dig the flavor. Plus, they nailed the texture; it’s this excellent middle ground of not too tender and not too chewy, just like jerky should be. This tastes so deliciously meaty. The only thing holding it back might be the size of the jerky itself.

Credit: Merc/Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Value

Kirkland Signature Turkey Jerky

There’s a little bit of a sweet and sour thing going on with Costco’s jerky. Kirkland also uses tamari, vinegar, brown sugar, and spices, but the sweetness is quite pronounced. The texture is very tender, and if this were any softer I wouldn’t call it jerky. Kirkland’s steak strips also have this vibe; They seem to make their jerky products super soft and tender. It’s a dang ol’ 13.5 ounce bag of turkey jerky, so the value is great. The other problem with it, though, is that it has to be refrigerated after opening. Weird. It’s not exactly turkey jerky, but still kind of good?

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

best turkey jerky

Best Teriyaki

Trader Joe’s Teriyaki Turkey Jerky

Most of the teriyaki turkey jerky we tried fell short, but Trader Joe’s came through. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to taste much different from the other jerkies that contained tamari, brown sugar, and spices, but this delivered the goods. It has a much more pronounced soy sauce taste, and the umami flavor is really strong. This is sweet, tangy, and deliciously salty. The only drawback is that the texture of the jerky itself is considerably softer than the Trader Joe’s Original flavor, but even so it’s the best teriyaki turkey jerky we tried.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Country Archer Hickory Smoke Turkey Jerky, Chef’s Cut Teriyaki Turkey Jerky, Good & Gather Teriyaki Jerky, Chef’s Cut Original Turkey Jerky

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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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