We made a complete guide of the unique types of jerky that can be found around the world that isn't limited to just beef. In fact, you can make jerky from almost any type of protein. The possibilities seem endless (and quite frankly could be), but we’ll cover most below.
Types of Jerky Based on Protein:
The most popular type of jerky comes from beef or cattle.
Beef or Cattle
Jerky was originally made to preserve beef by using salt to cure it, but became popular because of it’s salty, savory umami flavor. Solid thick strips of beef are marinated and dried into a high protein snack with a leathery texture. This popular snack remains a staple in many households today because of the variety of beef jerky flavors, textures, and styles.
Poultry jerky is a healthier alternative to beef jerky because it generally has a lower fat content than red meat while still having a high protein content.
Turkey jerky is considered on the lower end of the scale in terms of saturated fats and calories, which makes it a good choice for a restricted diet. It’s a good source of protein, tender, and has also gained popularity with those working towards a healthier lifestyle and consuming less red meat.
Similar to turkey jerky, chicken jerky is high in protein, but naturally lower in fat than beef, which makes it a healthier alternative. Chicken jerky is also a popular dog treat as long as they are made safely with clean ingredients.
Duck jerky has a higher fat content and tastes gamier than chicken or turkey jerky. This is because a duck's skin is a lot thicker and fattier. Still, it packs a punch when it comes to protein and is popular when dried.
Wild Game Jerky
This type of jerky is really any type of animal that can be hunted and dried into jerky. Wild game has numerous health benefits because it’s considered to be the ultimate organic meat.
It has a very mild game flavor and is high in iron and protein, and low in fat. Since it’s naturally low in fat and cholesterol, consuming it offers benefits to heart health. According to the American Heart Association, Elk is considered to be “The Heart Smart Red Meat.”
Venison or Deer Jerky
It's packed with protein and nutrients. In general, venison is tender and has very low fat concentrations. This jerky is described as rich and earthy, often imbued with hints of herbs and nuts, most likely from the diet the animal consumed during its life.
Fish jerky is popular because of its healthy nutritional value when compared to traditional beef jerky.
Salmon jerky is high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids and protein. Because of its high protein content and low fat content, it offers a wealth of nutritional value. The dehydration process does take longer, however, because of the higher fat content. The final product is typically more brittle and crunchy.
Trout jerky is high in B-Vitamins with a soft texture and smooth flavor. Similar to salmon jerky, it’s packed with protein and Omega 3 essential fatty acids. It ranks as one of the best fish to eat. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that is palatable to even the pickiest eaters.
Exotic Meat Jerky
Almost any type of protein can be dried into jerky. Depending on the location, jerky types can vary based on the different animals around the world.
Alligator jerky is typically lean and contains significant amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It also has a mild flavor and a firm texture and it’s also lower in fat than chicken or fish.
Kangaroo jerky is considered a lean red meat and is characterized by a gamey taste. Some foodies prefer it to lamb and steak for its tenderness and taste. It’s most popular in Australia, but is becoming more widespread.
Buffalo or bison jerky is a thicker and chewier style of meat. It’s high in protein, low in cholesterol, and low fat. It does not taste gamey and in fact very similar to the taste of beef. It also has a coarser texture compared to beef.
This type of jerky has popularized itself as a new dried snack option as of late because they serve as quick, delicious and nutritious on-the-go snacks. Plus, plant-based meat is more sustainable than conventional meat because of how unsustainable animal agriculture is.
Mushroom jerky is packed with fiber and antioxidants. It’s a great, healthy alternative for jerky made from animal protein. Depending on the brand, some recipes are high in sugar, still have nitrites and are lower in protein. While it’s a healthier alternative, it’s important to find clean labels that aren’t packed with sugar or additives.
Soy jerky is made from dehydrated soy much like textured vegetable protein, except they come in large pieces about the size of chicken strips. When re-hydrated, they have the texture of meat. Soy jerky is high in iron and magnesium and is considered a healthier alternative to meat. Again, be careful to read the labels for unnecessary additives.
Bottom Line: The World of Jerky is Vast, but Jerky Remains Most Popular
Call us biased, but we like good ole’ fashioned, simple beef jerky. But not any type of jerky. People’s Choice Beef Jerky is the best beef jerky because it’s meaty, hearty, and packs both the flavor and nutritional value our customers have come to love and expect. It serves as a good source of protein and a convenient snack when in a pinch. We also offer a wide variety of flavors, textures, and ingredients suited for every type of jerky lover around.
Shop all our favorites here.