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What Are The Different Types Of Beef Jerky And How Do I Choose?


Beef jerky has evolved from its original incarnation hundreds of years ago as a survival food for the native people of Peru into a very versatile meaty snack which is enjoyed by millions of people all around the world.

Today, there are a large number of different types of beef jerky to choose from and producers are continually innovating to bring exciting new flavours and textures to market.  From mildly spicy to fiery hot, from super dry to chewy and tender – with so many varieties on offer, how do you choose your favourite?

In this article, we chat about different types of beef jerky and cover some important variations.  This will help you work out where your preferences lie – but as with most things related to food, it’s probably best to try the varieties for yourself so you make an informed decision.

Beef jerky differs in the following ways:

  • Flavour
  • Texture
  • Protein type
  • Form of meat
  • Nutritional profile

What are the different flavours of beef jerky?

Honestly, there are hundreds of flavours of beef jerky in the world.  It all depends on who is making the jerky and who their target market is.  Producers are continually innovating and experimenting with new combinations, but generally speaking, flavours can be categorised into three main profiles namely mild, sweet and spicy. 

When beef jerky is said to have an ‘original’ flavour, it usually means that spices are mild and ingredients have been kept to a minimum to retain its traditional ‘meatiness’.

Sweeter, more complex flavours come from the addition of various marinades and sauces containing sugar or fruits (eg mango jerky and chutney jerky), whilst the hotter options have ingredients like chilli, pepper and hot paprika added to deliver extra heat and spicy punch.

What are the different textures of beef jerky?

The texture of beef jerky is determined by the ingredients and the processing methods.   

Traditional beef jerky had a tough, dry and almost leathery texture, but new processing methods and more complex ingredients have enabled producers to create softer and more tender products which are easier to chew. Vinegar, sugar and other ingredients will soften the meat during the marination stage, plus the length of marination and the time taken to heat and dehydrate the meat will also impact on the texture.  The longer the process, the less moisture the jerky will have left in it and the drier and chewier it will be.

Why does the protein type and form of the meat make a difference to the end product?

The way the cows are raised and fed can influence the flavour, texture and nutritional value of the end product, plus the way the protein is used also affects the outcome. 

Jerky is predominantly made by cutting a solid chunk of meat into strips, but you can also get jerky that’s been created by artificially reforming bits of meat that have been chopped up.  Reformed meat is not used much anymore and nowadays, most quality beef jerky is made by cutting whole bits of meat into thin strips, marinating these and then drying them over heat. Some cattle are grass-fed throughout their lives, whilst others start on grass but are fed corn later in order to bulk them up, improve the flavour of the meat and increase its fat to muscle ratio.   You can even get extra special marbled jerky which tastes like a fine buttered steak!  And remember, here at DJays Gourmet, all our jerky is made from 100% premium Australian beef.

What are the different nutritional profiles of beef jerky?

It’s always best to check the package label for the nutritional profile as this will vary between producers.  Beef jerky is a healthy lower carb, protein-rich snack, but depending on the ingredients, the percentages (or even presence) of sugar, sodium, gluten etc can vary.

A final word on choosing your favourite type of beef jerky

Only you can decide which type of beef jerky you like best.  And we think the best way to do this is to try some different flavours and textures and then choose your favourite.

Our jerky sampler is a great option for seeing where your preferences lie as it contains three 100gm jerky packets and you can choose your flavours. You can also find DJays Gourmet beef jerky in Ampol service stations, BWS and Dan Murphy’s liquor stores, IGA supermarkets and PUMA Petroleum plus many other retail outlets – but why not simply order your beef jerky online?  It’s so simple plus you get fast, convenient door-to-door delivery anywhere in Australia, so you won’t have to wait long to find your fave!

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