Beef Jerky Brands Ranked From Worst To Best

If you want a tasty yet portable snack that you can eat no matter how much of a hurry you're in, beef jerky is difficult to beat. It's filling, flavorful, and most brands have relatively few carbohydrates, which makes it a safe snack for many diets, including the keto diet. Considering all of the positive characteristics of this snack, it's no wonder that the popularity of beef jerky continues to grow.

Making your own beef jerky is certainly possible but, if you don't have the time or the patience for such an undertaking, there are a number of outstanding brands that you can turn to instead. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of brands that sell beef jerky that is so bad that it can ruin your day. Thankfully, we're here to help.

In this ranking, we've listed some of the most popular beef jerky brands in order from the worst of the worst all the way to the very best. While not every single brand of beef jerky made the list, we made sure to include all of the most popular brands you're likely to see in your local grocery and on convenience store shelves.

15. Whole Foods 365

While Whole Foods definitely has some fantastic products that are well worth spending your whole paycheck on, you'll still have to skip their store-brand beef jerky. If we're being totally blunt, this variety is a complete and utter waste of money. The jerky has a very minimal amount of flavor but what really ruins the experience is its unforgiving texture. Taking off your shoe and eating it would likely be more enjoyable (and maybe even easier) than gnawing your way through this tough jerky. And by the time you're ready to swallow that bite, any flavor the meat previously had will be a distant memory.

It's too bad that Whole Foods 365 Organic Beef Jerky is so dreadful because it actually has a lot of positive attributes. The jerky is made from grass-fed beef that is also free from growth hormones and antibiotics. Organic ingredients on the label include organic brown sugar, organic soy sauce, and even organic pineapple juice. But all the positives go out the window once you factor in how difficult this jerky is to chew.

14. Primal Spirit Foods

Nowadays, you don't have to look too hard to find yummy meatless burgers or even meatless chicken nuggets that are so delicious that they'll make even dedicated carnivores drool. Sadly, despite the growing market for meat-free jerky, this snack has yet to be mastered. Primal Spirit Foods has possibly the best meatless jerky out there, but even their offerings are impossible to recommend to anyone who has ever eaten the real thing.

Flavor-wise, this jerky is fine. Primal Spirit Foods has everything from classic flavors such as Teriyaki and Hickory to unique flavors like Thai Peanut and Mesquite Lime. But it's the texture that is so odd that it could cause you to gag. Depending on the flavor, their jerky is made with either soy, shiitake mushrooms, or seitan. Unfortunately, the texture from these plant-based alternatives ends up being way too fibrous or way too soft to even pretend you're eating decent jerky. Unless you're buying jerky for a lifelong vegan who doesn't know the majesty of real beef jerky, select a different snack.

13. Slim Jim

Slim Jim is a brand that can be found in virtually every corner store in the United States. Thanks in no small part to "Macho Man" Randy Savage and his memorable catchphrase, this brand's meat treats are extremely popular. When you're on the run, snapping into one of their meat sticks makes for a convenient and very accessible snack.

Slim Jim makes an estimated billion of those meat sticks a year. They also have a number of different jerky options on the market, including the tantalizingly named Bacon Jerky. However, the truth of the matter is that none of their products are all that good. If you stop and compare this brand to other brands, what Slim Jim sells is substandard. All of their jerky and meat sticks taste like they're made with low-quality meat — and there is evidence to back up that assertion, too, says WIRED. If you're one of the many Americans who reflexively reach for the Slim Jim brand when you crave beef jerky, you're doing yourself a disservice.

12. Great Value

It would be a good idea to add Great Value Beef Jerky to the list of Great Value products you shouldn't purchase at Walmart. Even if you're tempted by its relatively reasonable price tag compared to some of the more expensive beef jerky branks, you'd surely regret buying this stuff. To be fair, it's not the worst beef jerky on this list, but it is bad enough that you'll never willfully buy this snack more than once.

There are two problems with Great Value Beef Jerky. First of all, it's way too greasy. The oil from the jerky will coat your fingers and the inside of your mouth so much that you'll need to wash your hands and maybe brush your teeth after consuming it. Secondly, the flavors are muted and there is a slight plasticky aftertaste. If you must try it, then know that the best flavor of Great Value Beef Jerky is Peppered, but know that it's still massively underwhelming. Do yourself a solid and shell out a couple more bucks to get your hands on some better-tasting beef jerky that is also a lot less greasy.

11. Oberto

Once upon a time, Oberto beef jerky was an above-average brand. It could be found everywhere, it was competitively priced, and it tasted pretty good. Tragically, Oberto changed their recipe to make their jerky all natural and everything went downhill after that. Even if you enjoyed their snacks years ago, you should think twice before picking this brand today.

The issue with beef jerky made by Oberto is that it all seems to be a little bit stale. The texture is stiffer than it used to be and the flavors are less fresh. After a few bites, you'll be checking the bag to see if the expiration date has passed. This stuff is still edible in a pinch but there are much better beef jerky brands on the market.

Oberto has a history that dates back to 1918, but don't let nostalgia cause you to make a mistake. Keep reading this ranking and pick a brand higher on the list.

10. Tillamook

If you feel like taking a gamble the next time you buy beef jerky, opt for Tillamook. This brand's jerky is very hit-or-miss. Sometimes it tastes so scrumptious that you'll be convinced that you've unearthed the best jerky the globe has to offer. But, ruefully, half the time you'll get jerky that is so bad that you'll end up feeding it to your dog. If you roll snake eyes when taking the gamble, be prepared for your snack to be tasteless with a texture not unlike that of pleather.

It's all a bit confusing, as Tillamook is known for its outstanding cheese and sells some of the best ice cream you can find at a grocery store. But when it comes to their beef jerky, you will never know what to expect. There's no rhyme or reason as to when it's going to be tasty and when it's going to be an utter disater. Instead of pushing your luck, a safer bet is to simply go with a more reliable brand of beef jerky.

9. Lorissa's Kitchen

For beef jerky aficionados who know exactly what they are doing, Lorissa's Kitchen is an acceptable brand. However, if you don't know which of their products you should avoid, you could end up with subpar jerky.

Firstly, if you're amongst the uninitiated, don't buy any of their beef sticks. Those are unpleasantly rubbery and have a pungent aftertaste, to boot. Second of all, don't pick their Original flavor of jerky. It has a very limited flavor profile that's rather disappointing. Even if you really concentrate, it's difficult for your taste buds to pick up any flavors. The Lorissa's Kitchen jerky options that are worthy of your hard-earned dollar bills are either the Korean Barbecue flavor or the Ginger Teriyaki flavor. Select either of those one-of-a-kind flavors and you'll be thrilled.

If you give their jerky a try and find a favorite flavor, you'll also be happy to learn Lorissa's Kitchen uses only grass-fed beef and their snacks have no nitrates, preservatives, or MSG.

8. Jack Link's

Jack Link's is one of the most popular brands of beef jerky out there, with sales reaching more than a billion dollars on an annual basis. This brand's story began when Jack Link (yes, that's actually the founder's name) started selling meat treats locally in Wisconsin in 1986. Over the last 35 years, their beef jerky has gone from a regional favorite to a snack that is available from sea to shining sea.

While Jack Link's has a lot of fanatics, their jerky is only average. Why? For one, all of their offerings are strangely moist. It's like their products are dipped in meat water before they're packaged, which is a bit alarming when you want a dried meat snack. Furthermore, a lot of their flavors are way too sweet. Add together the moisture and the sweetness and it's almost as if Jack Link's wants to turn their jerky into a more candy-like snack. If you're buying jerky for a child or an adult with a ravenous sweet tooth, this brand is okay. Otherwise, move on.

7. Perky Jerky

Originally, the gimmick behind Perky Jerky was that their beef jerky was caffeinated. In fact, there was enough caffeine in a serving or so that you could skip your morning cup of coffee and replace it with a few pieces of their jerky. Perky Jerky has since removed the caffeine from their recipe but their jerky is still worth talking about.

The best flavor of Perky Jerky is their More Than Just Original beef jerky. As the name suggests, this stuff is much more than a typical yawn-inducing "original" flavor. It has an ideal balance of black pepper and brown sugar with an aftertaste that is powered by, surprisingly enough, a hit of lemon juice. While there's a lot going on here, your taste buds will agree that this beef jerky is yummy.

Perky Jerky has other flavors of jerky but none of them can hold a candle to the More Than Just Original flavor. Stick with that one and you'll be a happy camper.

6. People's Choice

People's Choice is a brand of beef jerky that was born in Los Angeles in 1929. As the years pass, it seems like their jerky gets better and better. These days, they have an impressive array of beef jerky flavors ranging from Sweet Chili Habanero to Maple Brown Sugar, and from Nashville Hot to Orange Honey Teriyaki.

While all of the flavors People's Choice sells are worth trying at least once, their Carne Seca line is the cream of the crop. Drawing inspiration from the diversity found in the city of Los Angeles, these flavors are stupendous. Hatch Green Chili will win you over in one bite but somehow Limon Con Chile is even better. After you finish off the bag, you'll be licking each of your fingers to make sure you don't miss even a single speck. If you find that most beef jerky flavors are too boring or too similar, give People's Choice a try.

5. Righteous Felon

There's a lot to love about the beef jerky made by Righteous Felon. First of all, this brand has a cool name and the artwork on their products is also pretty hip, too. Your friends will be envious before you even let them have a taste. More importantly, just about everything about this jerky is fresh. From the flavors to the texture, the freshness of this snack will wow you from your first whiff until your final bite.

The two must-try flavors Righteous Felon sells are Voodoo Chile and Truffle-O Soldier. Voodoo Chile contains a little bit of Carolina Reaper in it, the planet's hottest pepper. To say that this jerky is spicy is an understatement. However, there's enough sweetness and sourness to balance out the heat and keep the experience fun. The Truffle-O Soldier flavor is a combination of smoky hickory and the powder of black truffles. The savoriness of this flavor is out of this world.

4. Kirkland Signature

If you like your beef jerky to be thick, juicy, and bursting at the seams with flavor, drop everything and go get a bag of Kirkland Signature Premium Extra Thick Steak Strips. Unlike the aforementioned store brands of jerky sold by Whole Foods and Walmart, this Costco beef jerky is phenomenal. It's legitimately one of the best food items you can find at Costco and this meat treat is something you deserve to put in your mouth at least once before you find yourself six feet under the dirt.

A lot of beef jerky is so tough and chewy that it can get difficult to eat, especially if you're trying to eat a lot of it in one go. This Kirkland Signature jerky doesn't have that problem. Instead, it's nicely soft and inviting. If you're purchasing beef jerky for a large get-together, then be sure to go with this brand. It won't take long for you and everyone at your gathering to agree that this snack deserves its spot in the top five of this ranking. Plus, you can buy it in bulk without sacrificing an arm and a leg.

3. Old Trapper

If you're looking for the top beef jerky brand that is available in just about every nook and cranny of the country, Old Trapper is the one that you seek. When it comes to sheer quantity, they're in the top two in the nation when it comes to the amount of beef jerky that they manufacture. And yet, despite upping the amount of jerky they make over the years, Old Trapper's quality has remained remarkably high.

When it comes to flavors, this brand keeps it simple. Old Trapper sells Old Fashioned, Peppered, and Hot & Spicy varieties. Depending on what you're in the mood for, all three flavors will hit the spot. Texture-wise, this brand is a little bit on the harder side but it tastes so good that eating it doesn't feel like a chore at all.

Old Trapper also excels when it comes to its variety of sugarless beef jerky. If you're trying to limit your intake of sugar, their Zero Sugar Beef Jerky should become your new go-to snack. It has all the magic of its traditional flavors without any of the sugar.

2. Buc-ee's

Obtaining beef jerky made by Buc-ee's isn't easy but doing so is well worth the journey. This divine jerky is only available at Buc-ee's, the legendary chain of convenience stores that are mostly located in the state of Texas. Once you arrive at the store, all you need to do is find the beef jerky counter and you'll be in jerky heaven.

Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of the flavors at Buc-ee's. Lemon Peppered and Cherry Maple are a couple of the shop's unforgettable flavors. The best of the bunch, though, has to be their Bohemian Recipe Garlic Beef Jerky. Garlicky jerky might sound iffy but this Buc-ee's creation is marvelous.

If you're a beef jerky connoisseur and you've never tried any of Buc-ee's offerings, you're really missing out. It might sound crazy to take a road trip across the country just to eat beef jerky but your taste buds will thank you.

1. Wild Bill's

When only the best beef jerky will do, Wild Bill's is the answer. This stuff is so exceptional that it's not even fair to compare it to any other jerky. It's truly in a league of its own. Every other brand of beef jerky tastes like a second-rate knockoff when judged against Wild Bill's. That may sound hyperbolic but it's not.

This brand started inside of a butcher shop in Pennsylvania in 1955. Their meat expertise is obvious, as the quality of their meat will blow you away. Although everything they sell is great, the best of the best is their Hickory Smoked Beef Jerky. This jerky is made inside of a genuine smokehouse where it's hung from rods and smoked over real wood. While their beef jerky isn't cheap, Wild Bill's is the only brand you'll ever buy if quality is what is most important to you.

One pro tip: consider storing your Wild Bill's beef jerky inside of a glass mason jar to keep it fresh. Even if you eat it days later, it'll still have the same unbeatable taste.