Beef jerky was long considered a cheap snack, typically found in gas stations and convenience stores. But over the past few years, this humble snack has gained a loyal following. A protein powerhouse, beef jerky can actually be a great addition to your diet. Packing a meal’s worth of protein into a small portable package, combined with naturally low carbohydrate levels, beef jerky snacks is popular for athletes and active people everywhere. Although jerky of the past was loaded with sodium and preservatives, today’s beef jerky is typically made from better cuts of meat and contains much lower sodium levels. Many brands have gone completely preservative free, offering a healthy snack option that you can feel good about.
The downside: many newer beef jerky brands can be wildly expensive. When it comes to beef jerky, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. High quality meat, a good mix of salty and sweet flavors, and a classic jerky texture. All at a reasonable price. Is that too much to ask for? Not at all! Here we’ve rounded up the most overblown beef jerky brands – these are the ones to avoid if you’re looking for a high quality jerky at a reasonable price.
Despite some positive press, Chomps is one of the most egregious offenders. Charging over $20 for a 10-pack of 1 oz sticks, it’s definitely on the pricier side when it comes to beef jerky. So is it worth it? Reviewers don’t seem to think so. Many described issues with taste and freshness, with several reporting that their jerky was covered with mold when it was unwrapped. Not exactly the clean snack we’re looking for. Still others complained about the high price and mediocre texture. If you’re looking for a fresh and flavorful beef jerky that you can work into your snack rotation, skip Chomps and choose a better, more affordable brand.
2. Whole Foods 365
Whole Foods beef jerky, we wanted to love you. Known for their solid generic brand offerings, Whole Foods usually doesn’t miss the mark when it comes to their snacks. You know you’re likely going to pay more than bargain prices, but it’s usually more affordable than the name brand offerings. Unfortunately, their beef jerky misses the mark on several counts. Reviews describe an unpleasant sweet taste, combined with an oddly soft texture. And at over $6 per bag, the Whole Foods 365 jerky isn’t exactly a bargain. For those prices, their beef jerky should be a lot better than it is. Overblown? Definitely. Take a pass on the Whole Foods 365 jerky.
3. Matador Original Beef Jerky
Matador Original Beef Jerky is surprisingly expensive for a brand that is made by Frito Lay. The same brand that makes potato chips, you ask? The very same! At nearly $8 per bag, you’re paying for a very expensive bag of low quality jerky. Loaded with sodium, Matador Original Beef Jerky is worse for you than eating four bags of potato chips. In fact, one bag of their beef jerky is nearly 100% of your recommended daily sodium intake. And that’s just for 3 oz. of beef jerky. Don’t waste your money on Matador Original Beef Jerky. This is one very overpriced heart attack waiting to happen.
Where you should spend your money instead
Not all beef jerky is created equal, and a lot of the brands out there today are clearly overblown. High-quality beef jerky is more expensive to produce, due to the skyrocketing price of beef and other ingredients. Beef is also largely composed of water, which evaporates during the preserving process. For any amount of beef jerky, you typically start out with over twice as much beef.
But there’s a difference between getting what you pay for, and falling victim to slick marketing. A lot of beef jerky companies cut corners and mark up their prices, hoping you won’t notice that you’re getting a sub-par product at artisanal prices. Luckily, there are some delicious jerkys that are much more affordable, and can give you that classic jerky flavor without all the harmful ingredients.
When you’re checking out beef jerky brands, make sure you take a close look at the ingredient label. A good jerky will have high-quality grass fed beef as its top ingredient, and will have lower sodium and sugar levels. You can ignore buzzwords like “clean snack” and “natural beef” – look for hard evidence by examining the actual ingredient list. Beef jerky is a delicious addition to any pantry, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.