Sometimes, we all feel the need for more protein. Or we need a handy, low carb, no sugar added snack. Or we just love meaty meat. We know. We've got you. It was a lot of chewing, but we've made a list of the best jerky brands and meat stick brands made in the USA.
Best Jerky Brands and Meat Stick Brands Made in the USA
I thought that every meat snack in stick form or in a vacuum sealed bag was classified as jerky. I was soooo wrong! There are several ways of preserving meat for tasty snacks and jerky is just one of them.
What is the difference between jerky and meat sticks?
Jerky and meat sticks are both popular meat snacks, however they have some key differences in terms of texture, shape, and preparation. Here are the main distinctions between the two:
- Texture: Jerky is typically dried and cured to a firm, chewy texture. It requires a longer drying time to remove most of the moisture, resulting in a tougher consistency. Meat sticks, also known as meat snacks or meat sausages, have a softer and more tender texture.
- Shape and Size: Jerky is usually sliced into thin strips or sheets, which can vary in size and shape. It is commonly sold in flat, elongated pieces. In contrast, meat sticks are cylindrical in shape and resemble a small sausage or a stick.
- Preparation Process: Jerky is made by marinating thin strips of meat in a seasoned liquid or dry rub, and then drying it slowly over a long period, usually using methods like air drying or smoking. Meat sticks are made by grinding or mincing the meat into a paste-like consistency, mixing it with seasonings and other ingredients, and then stuffing the mixture into a casing. The meat sticks are then cooked, either by smoking, baking, or drying, depending on the specific recipe.
- Moisture Content: Jerky is characterized by its low moisture content, typically ranging from 10% to 50%, making it a relatively dry snack. Meat sticks have a higher moisture content that gives them a softer and more succulent texture compared to jerky.
- Flavor Varieties: Jerky and meat sticks both come in a wide range of flavors, depending on the seasonings and spices used. Meat sticks can incorporate other ingredients like cheese or vegetables.
Ultimately, the choice between jerky and meat sticks comes down to personal preference in terms of texture, shape, and taste. Both can be enjoyed as protein-packed, on-the-go snacks, but they offer different eating experiences.
Biltong is another popular dried meat snack. We have a list for that! Check out our list, What is Biltong? Our Favorite Biltong Brands Made in the USA
Health benefits of meat snacks
Both jerky and meat sticks are popular snacks. They both have health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Those benefits include:
- High protein content: Meat snacks are a concentrated source of protein.
- Nutrient-rich: Jerky and meat sticks can contains various essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and niacin.
- Low in fat: Beef jerky is typically made from lean cuts of beef, resulting in a low-fat content. Compared to other snacks, it can be a healthier option as it provides satiety without adding excessive fat to the diet.
- Convenient and portable: Beef jerky and meat sticks are a shelf-stable and portable snack, making them a convenient option for those who are on the go or need a quick source of protein.
- Extended shelf life: The drying and curing process involved in making beef jerky and meat sticks increases the shelf life, allowing them to be stored for longer periods without refrigeration. This can be beneficial for outdoor activities, travel, or emergencies.
- Diet friendly: Most of the jerky and meat sticks on this list are gluten free, Keto friendly, Paleo friendly and/or Whole30 certified. We noted the ones that are.
And now on to our list!
If you have a favorite made in USA jerky brand or meat stick brand that we missed, let us know in the comments. We update this list frequently.
Have you visited our Made in USA Shopping District? It is the place to start your shopping when you want to find the best of American-made.
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Image Credit: Captain Jake's Jerky