Beef jerky is full of protein and a great snack option when following the ketogenic diet. As it is high protein and low in fat, beef jerky is best eaten in conjunction with a higher fat food (for example, nuts, avocado or cheese).
Not all beef jerky is keto friendly however. This is because some beef jerky manufacturers use sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices, honey, maple and artificial sweeteners to both improve the taste of the jerky and increase the weight of the final product.
Keto approved jerky will have zero carbs – ie, no added sugar. Ideally, look for jerky with no added preservatives, nitrates or MSG. For optimum health, grass fed beef jerky is the preferred option for keto.
What to Look For When Buying Low Carb Beef Jerky
You should look for sugar free, no added preservatives, grass fed beef jerky. Added salt and spices are okay, such as pepper, chilli and herbs.
The process of making beef jerky is drying the meat to remove moisture. Jerky may also be called Biltong, which is an African term for dried game meat.
It shouldn’t require added preservatives to keep it shelf stable. Many manufacturers also include soy sauce in their beef jerky, which has added sugars in it as well. Whether you choose to eat soy or not is up to you, a small amount of soy is acceptable for keto.
What Beef Jerky is Keto Friendly?
Here are our top picks for keto friendly beef jerky:
|Country Archer Grass Fed Original Mini Beef Sticks||Prime||Buy Now|
|CHOMPS Grass Fed Beef Jerky Sticks||Prime||Buy Now|
|Sogo Snacks Sugar Free Grass Fed Beef Sticks||Prime||Buy Now|
|Tillamook Country Smoker Zero Sugar Beef Jerky||Prime||Buy Now|
|Aufschnitt Beef Jerky Variety Pack Grass Fed Beef||Prime||Buy Now|
Is Jack Links Beef Jerky Keto Friendly?
Jack Links Beef Jerky is hugely popular, but not the best choice for keto. The original beef jerky contains 4 grams of carbs per 18 gram serve of jerky. Most of the carbs come from added sugar, brown sugar, soy sauce and pineapple powder.
Jack Links beef jerky also contains hydrolyzed corn protein. Hydrolyzed corn protein is widely used to give foods a meat like flavor and as a substitute for MSG. According to Food Additives if you are intolerant to MSG you should also avoid hydrolyzed corn protein, due to the natural occurance of glutamic acid.
Just to be sure, I also looked at Jack Links Peppered Beef Jerky, only to find this has 9 grams of carbs per 35 gram serve, and added sugar, brown sugar, soy, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed corn protein and pineapple powder.
I probably don’t need to tell you that this is almost half your daily net carbs in a snack.
Jack Links Sweet and Hot Beef Jerky was worse at 10 grams of carbs per 35 gram serve. Jack Links Teriyaki Beef Jerky came in at 7 grams of carbs per 35 gram serve.
Beef Jerky in a Can
Jack Links also make a beef jerky in a can. I’m a little dumbfounded as to why someone would want to put beef jerky in a can, as it is essentially already dehydrated.
The canned beef jerky presented itself a zero carbs, but on closer inspection, there is actually 1 gram of sugar per serve. Read the list of ingredients and you’ll find sugar, brown sugar, molasses (more sugar), nitrates and potassium sorbate – which they openly state is added to retard mold growth.
More than one Amazon consumer has referred to canned beef jerky as “sawdust” in appearance and taste.
I would not recommend buying beef jerky in a can. Ever.
Is Teriyaki Beef Jerky Keto?
Teriyaki Beef Jerky generally has far too much sugar to be keto friendly. I’ve looked at several different Teriyaki Beef Jerky options and have only found one brand which would be suitable for the keto diet. This is Aufschnitt Grass Fed Beef Jerky. Each 28 gram serving has only 1 gram of carbs and no added nitrates.
Looking at other brands, Jack Links Teriyaki Beef Jerky has 7 grams of carbs per 35 gram serving.
Bridgford Sweet Teriyaki Beef Jerky has 6 grams of carbs per 28 gram serve (slightly smaller serving size) and a very long list of ingredients. I counted sugar, or a version of sugar (eg corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, fructose) a whopping 9 times on the ingredients list.
Cattleman’s Cut Teriyaki Beef Jerky has a shorter ingredients list, but also contains sugar, brown sugar and nitrates. The total carbs were 8 grams per 28 gram serve.
Country Archer original beef sticks appears on this list as one of the better choices for keto. Unfortunately, Country Archer Teriyaki beef jerky isn’t. Not only does it contain 9 grams of total carbohydrates per 28 gram serve, it also contains soy, sugar, brown sugar, pineapple juice and cane syrup.
In short, teriyaki sauce contains pineapple and soy sauce, neither of which are good choices for the keto diet.
Is Krave Beef Jerky Keto?
I looked at 5 types of Krave Beef Jerky – original sea salt, chilli lime, sweet chipotle, garlic chilli pepper and cracked peppercorn. Unfortunately, all flavors contain cane sugar, making Krave Beef Jerky unsuitable for the keto diet. The sugar component of the beef jerky was 10-11 grams per 28 gram serving.
Krave Original Sea Salt Beef Jerky has 11 grams of total carbohydrates per 28 gram serving (10 grams of this are sugars).
Krave Chilli Lime Beef Jerky has 12 grams of total carbs (11g sugars) per 28 gram serving.
Krave Sweet Chipotle beef jerky is as equally high in carbs with 11 grams of net carbs (10 grams sugars) per 28 gram serving.
Krave Garlic Chilli Pepper Beef Jerky also didn’t make the cut with 11 grams of total carbs (10g sugars) per 28 gram serving.
Krave Cracked Peppercorn Beef Jerky sounds delicious, but unfortunately contains honey, plum and cane sugar for a total carb count of 10 grams per 28 gram serving. 9 grams are sugars.
Is Pacific Gold Beef Jerky Keto?
Pacific Gold Original Beef Jerky contains 7 grams of carbohydrates per 28 gram serving. 6 grams of these carbs are sugars, from added brown sugar and apple juice concentrate.
This is not the worst I’ve seen, but too high in sugar for a snack on the keto diet. You would be better off choosing a lower carb beef jerky than Pacific Gold.
Is Peppered Beef Jerky Keto?
It depends on the brand of peppered beef jerky as to whether it is suitable for the keto diet. You will need to read the nutrition label carefully before purchasing.
Tillamook Zero Sugar Beef Jerky is available in a black pepper flavor, with 0 carbs and 0 sugars per serving. There’s also no added nasties.
Pacific Coast Jerky Factory also make a peppered beef jerky that has 2 grams of carbs per 28 gram serve. The carbs come from sugar added to soy sauce and worcestershire sauce as well as added sugar to the jerky itself. The total sugars per serve are less than 1 grams, making Pacific Coast Black Pepper Rub Beef Jerky one of the lower carb choices.
What is the Best Keto Beef Jerky?
Country Archer make a zero sugar beef jerky range – this doesn’t always mean zero carbs however. I like that Country Archer have a grass fed beef jerky option, with clean ingredients for flavors and spices such as mushrooms, apple cider vinegar, garlic, rosemary and paprika.
The available flavors in the grass fed, zero sugar beef jerky are:
All flavors have 2 grams of total carbs, with 0 grams of sugar.
Tillamook Zero Sugar Beef Jerky
Available in original and black pepper flavor, Tillamook beef jerky has zero sugars and zero carbs. You will also not find any nitrates or artificial flavors. Make sure you look for the big white band across the packaging that says ‘zero sugar’, as regular Tillamook jerky has added brown sugar.
Chomps are another great choice of beef jerky in a stick form. Sold in individual packaging, this is easy portion control for on the go or if you struggle to stop eating from open packaging.
Made from grass fed beef, the original flavor has 0 grams of carbs per serving, the jalapeno beef having 1 gram of carbs. As tasty as it sounds, the Cranberry Habanero flavor is not keto friendly. The biggest complaint with Chomps is they’re a little pricey.
Aufschnitt Grass Fed Beef Jerky
The only BBQ beef jerky and Teriyaki beef jerky I could find that has no added nitrates and only 1 gram of carbs per 28 gram serving.
I was pleasantly surprised at the clean ingredients in Sogo Snacks – they even have a child chewing on one in their marketing! These grass fed beef sticks are soy free, nitrate free, gluten free and made in the USA. Check them out here.
Is Homemade Beef Jerky Keto Friendly?
You can make beef jerky at home using a smoker, food dehydrator or just your oven. It is important however, to ensure that any marinade you use (be it store bought or homemade) is keto friendly.
I’ll cover homemade beef jerky in a separate post shortly, with recipes included.