Why is it so difficult to find sugar-free jerky?

To make up for the costly ingredients and time-intensive jerky making process, many commercial beef jerky makers will add natural or artificial sweeteners (such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and honey) to add weight back into the final product.

It's much cheaper to sell sugar than beef. Unfortunately, the addition of excessive sugar turns a savory beef jerky snack into candy.

This article will give you everything you need to know on sugar and beef jerky.

No Sugar, No Problem. Shop our Sugar-Free Jerky.

We get a lot of questions regarding sugar and beef jerky.

Why is it so hard to find sugar free jerky? Why are most beef jerky products loaded with either artificial or natural sweeteners? Does every jerky out there have cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, or brown sugar? Is it so hard to ask for a beef jerky without added sugar?

Whether you’re trying to eat healthy, have an aversion to sugar, or just don’t like sweet jerky, we are here to say that you don't have to have sugar in your jerky. In fact, you deserve a premium jerky product free from sugar!

We’re happy to report that we have the answer for you.

And even better, we have a collection of sugar-free products. After all, we’ve been handcrafting, premium beef jerky for over 89 years and four generations so we know a thing or two about jerky.

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If you're looking to learn more about why most jerky products have sugar, read on. 

Sugar in Beef Jerky

First, let’s start with a brief overview of the beef jerky making process.

In its simplest form, jerky is cooked and dehydrated meat. The moisture content within the meat is removed through a form of heat treatment.

Different types of heat treatment include gas-powered ovens, traditional smoke houses, or even dried by the sun in the most traditional format.

During the cooking process, a typical batch of jerky loses anywhere between 50 to 70% of its original weight, primarily in water. The process of removing moisture is the critical factor in transforming raw meat into a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat jerky snack. Hence, the name dried meat.

In other words, it can take between 3-4 pounds of raw meat to get 1 pound of finished jerky. From an expense perspective, this process can multiply the overall cost by a minimum of 3x…and that’s before adding in all the other expenses.

To compensate for the inherently expensive nature of beef jerky, many manufacturers will add either natural or artificial sweeteners (such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and honey) to add weight back into the final product.

As we say in the industry: weight in, weight out. Sugar-based ingredients do not cook out of the jerky, offering a way to achieve more weight in the final product at a reduced cost.

Per pound, sugar costs much less than beef. Some manufacturers will pass this savings back to the customer through a reduction in their price of their jerky, while other manufacturers will keep the additional profit for themselves.

People's Choice Beef Jerky

We do things a little differently here at People’s Choice Beef Jerky.

First, we offer a full collection of products that are completely free of any sugar or carbohydrates. Yes, you heard correctly. Beef Jerky that is made without any sugar (0 carb, 0 sugar).

These products fit within our 90+ year-old family tradition that celebrates a simple, handmade process and all-natural ingredients.

Shop: Sugar Free Jerky

That’s not to say we avoid sugar all the time. Some of our most popular products feature sugar as a key ingredient of a larger spice blend. Instead of stuffing the recipe with sugar, however, we use sweet ingredients sparingly to achieve balance in the flavor profile. When possible we opt for higher quality and more natural sweeteners, such as cane sugar and honey.

So whether you’re looking for a sugar-free beef jerky or something with a little sweetness, rest assured we’ve got you covered.