Best jerky 2020: high-protein beef, vegetarian and vegan jerky and biltong for low-guilt snacking

Treat your body right and snack on these mouth-watering biltong and jerky options

Best jerky best beef biltong and veggie jerky vegan jerky
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Surprisingly enough, the best jerky doesn't have to be made of beef as there are many vegetarian and even vegan jerky options available on the market today. Snacking on jerkies instead of ham sandwiches mid-afternoon can give you the necessary boost in energy so you won't 'dip' too hard when you are hungry.

Many people aren't too keen on trying even the best protein bars, fearing they might taste artificial or too sweet (they don't). If you are part of this group who likes savoury snacks but would prefer a healthier choice than pork scratchings, the best beef biltong and veggie/vegan jerky options will be right up in your street.

• Shop beef and veggie/vegan jerky at Amazon UK

• Shop beef and veggie/vegan jerky at Walmart US

Jerky sales rose recently due to more and more people realising the obvious health benefits of these type of snacks and the fact that it can be included in special diets such as the keto diet.

Both the beef and veggie variety contain little to no sugar as well as being high in protein. Most of them are also rather salty which is great to sate cravings, making it easier to shift from high sugar/carb chocolate bars to something more sustainable.

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Best beef jerky

(Image credit: BEEFit)

• Buy BEEFit Biltong – Beef Jerky (Box of 10) for £16.99 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 17 grams | Fat: 1.8 grams | Sugar: 0.3 grams

The BEEFit biltong is a protein snack of the best kind: it's ultra low carb, low calorie, gluten-free and has no added sugar. Even the sodium levels are low so this is truly a guilt-free snack for anyone who like savoury treats.

The beef used for the BEEFit biltong is "fully traceable British and Irish silverside beef", or so does the Chichester Food and Drink Co, manufacturer of the BEEFit biltong, claims.

Regardless of this, the BEEFit biltong is a great mid-afternoon or post-workout snack to replenish your protein levels and curb your cravings.

(Image credit: Ember)

• Buy Ember Biltong (Box of 15) for £27.59 directly from Ember

[Per pack] Protein: 16 grams | Fat: 1.3 grams | Sugar: 0.2 grams

Variation on the theme: the Ember Biltong is slightly less sugary and more lean – the emphasis is on 'slightly' – and uses the "best British and Irish beef". Ember claims they "carefully select joints of topside beef ethically sourced from traditional hard-working farms."

The Ember Biltong is air dried, which is a slower process and involves less sodium, making this lightly seasoned beef-snack all the more healthier. A friendly reminder: the little pack of oxygen absorber in the pack is not for consumption. Just in case you were wondering.

(Image credit: Wild West)

• Buy Wild West Honey BBQ Jerky (Pack of 12) for £36 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 20 grams | Fat: 2 grams | Sugar: 26.6 grams

Thread the Wild West Honey BBQ Jerky lightly. Not only each pack is quite sizeable – 70 grams – compared to other offers on the market, it also contains way more sugar than those, making it slightly less healthy. For the same reason, the Wild West Jerky is flavoursome and tasty, though.

The Wild West Jerky contains plenty of protein and the sodium levels are also low, which is great. Other health benefits of the Wild West Jerky: gluten free, no added MSG, free from artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives.

According to the Meat Snacks Group, its jerky "is prepared by hand, marinated and slowly cooked and smoked in the Highlands of Scotland." The Wild West Jerky has a long shelf life and there is no need to refrigerate it either.

(Image credit: Primebar)

• Buy Prime Beef Bars (Pack of 12) £23.99 at Amazon UK

[Per bar] Protein: 10 grams | Fat: 6 grams | Sugar: 3.4 grams

Snacking while on keto diet can be pretty challenging. High protein food items are not bad, but ideally, you would like to include some fat in every meal you have just to keep the ketosis going and the macros under control.

Enter the Prime Beef Bars: these beef bars have a higher fat content than traditional jerkies and biltongs while still remaining low on sugar and comparatively high if protein.

Better still, if you are used to just having 'traditional' and 'bbq' flavoured meat snacks, you will be delighted to hear that the Prime Beef Bars come in a variety if enticing flavours, like 'Apricot and Sage' as well as 'Chilli and Red Pepper'. Nice.

(Image credit: Curators)

• Buy The Curators Beef Jerky [Juicy Version 2.0] (Box of 12) for £19.98 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 10 grams | Fat: 7 grams | Sugar: 7 grams

The Curators Beef Jerky [Juicy Version 2.0] is not the healthiest or most protein-rich jerky on the market for sure. But just like the Wild West Jerky, this jerky is full of flavour, thanks to the slow marination process and the spices ample amount of spices used to make every mouthful of The Curators Jerky an experience.

As per many entries on this list, The Curators Jerky uses "prime silverside cuts of British and Irish grass fed Beef" to ensure maximum quality of its products. Oh, this is also a nitrate-free snack, for those you concerned about too much nitrate intake.

Best veggie jerky

(Image credit: Kings)

• Buy Kings Vegan Friendly Black Bean Sauce Flavour Veggie Jerky (Box of 16) for £26.15 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 5.5 grams | Fat: 1.75 grams | Sugar: 5.5 grams

As they say in life, you can't win it all, and this is unfortunately true for the Kings Vegan Friendly Jerky as well. True, this is a plant based meat-free jerky, meaning no cows were hurt in the production of this snack.

The Kings Vegan Friendly Jerky sources 100% of its protein content from plants and comparatively high in protein; saying that, each bag 'only' contains 5.5 grams of it which is way below the amount found in the beef variety.

On the upside, this plant-based snack is low in saturated fats and the texture is also very good, chewy and juicy, just like a traditional jerky.

(Image credit: The Plantifull Food Co.)

• Buy The Plantifull Food Co. Vegan Jerky Teriyaki Pineapple (Pack of 12) for £20 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 13 grams | Fat: 1 grams | Sugar: 3.9 grams

The Plantifull Food Co. Vegan Jerky is a fun snack. It is 100% plant based and in the case of Teriyaki Pineapple version, it actually contains pineapple, which is crazy. Yet, even though it's 43% pineapple, the Plantifull Food Co. Vegan Jerky still manages cram in 13 grams of muscle building protein in each pack!

This UK made protein snack contains only 90 calories per pack and comes in other funky flavours  too, like 'Hot Tomato' and 'BBQ Mushroom'. Oh, and it is also sustainable and environmentally friendly. Wins all around.

(Image credit: Primal)

• Buy Primal Vegan Jerky Soy - Hickory Smoked Jerky (Pack of 6) for £10.99 at Amazon UK

[Per pack] Protein: 10 grams | Fat: 3 grams | Sugar: 3 grams

Primal Vegan Jerky Strips are delicious and healthy snacks providing the positive health benefits of soy, seitan and shiitake mushrooms. The all natural ingredients contain no GMOs, artificial colours or preservatives. The Primal Vegan Jerky Strips has no cholesterol either and has a high protein count (10 grams per pack). 

There are loads of exciting flavours to choose from, including 'Thai Peanut', 'Mesquite Lime', 'Hickory Smoked' and more.