Flavor-packed with a satisfying chew, beef jerky is a delicious food that’s equally awesome as a tasty snack or camping treat. However, for people keen on weight management, beef is not the best option. Also, for various cultural or personal reasons, many people don’t eat beef or red meat, eliminating beef jerky as a dietary choice.
Looking for a beef jerky replacement that’s great for weight management and tastes delicious? Here’s the good news –– there’s plenty of delicious and healthy alternatives to beef jerky. From chicken to pork, read below to learn about the eight healthy alternatives to beef jerky.
One of the best alternatives to beef jerky is chicken jerky. First, chicken is a light tasting protein, producing a cleaner tasting product than beef jerky. Second, since chicken jerky is made from lean chicken breast, the result is a meat snack that’s also healthier than beef jerky.
Another bonus of chicken jerky is the explosion of different flavor combinations, including dynamic seasonings like Jamaican jerk or Tony Roma’s Buffalo Chicken Jerky Bites. Chicken has a natural synergy with spice and citrus. Because the meat is naturally mild, the spices and seasonings used in chicken jerky will be allowed to shine.
Like chicken, turkey is another poultry option that’s delicious when made into jerky. Since turkey is also a poultry meat, it's lighter tasting and a healthier meat option compared to beef. And just like chicken, turkey jerky can take on a diverse range of seasoning that’s very different from beef. For instance, turkey goes extremely well with chilies and smoky flavors. For example, look no further than Tony Roma’s Golden Serrano BBQ Turkey Bites.
The biggest difference between chicken and turkey jerky is the yield –– turkeys are much bigger than chicken. A whole turkey breast will produce a lot more jerky than a chicken breast.
A South African style of dried meat, biltong is a wonderful alternative to standard American style jerky. Although beef biltong is the most common, other types of red meat like buffalo can also be used to make biltong. A key preparation difference in biltong is the meat is marinated in vinegar before being air dried. Compared to beef jerky, which is smoky and dry, biltong will have a softer texture. For those looking for a different spin on the familiar flavor of beef jerky, biltong will be both a unique and familiar treat.
Although frequently overshadowed by the more common beef jerky, pork jerky can be just as delicious. In fact, pork jerky can sometimes be even more flavorful. This is due to the simple fact that pork marries with a diverse range of spices and seasoning, including everything from sweet, smoky to spicy. This means that the flavors of pork jerky can reach countless, distinctive variations. Contrary to public belief, pork doesn’t have to be fatty. In fact, lean pork cuts such as pork loin is a great source of healthy protein.
Tony Roma’s BBQ Pork Bites is a great example of pork jerky. Pork marries naturally with sweet and spicy flavors and BBQ Pork Bites showcases this connection to its fullest potential with flavors like Carolina Honey. As a bonus, pork jerky like the Tony Roma’s version are also smoked, bringing that patented Southern style barbecue flavor to jerky.
Packed with nutritious omega 3 fatty acids, fresh salmon is an excellent source of animal protein. So, it stands to reason that salmon jerky will also feature these same health benefits. Also, salmon jerky is a great option for people that don’t eat red meat or poultry. Although fish can sometimes have a reputation for being mild or unexciting, salmon jerky can be just as tasty as other types of jerky. Need convincing? Imagine salmon jerky with the flavor of sweet teriyaki or savory cedar smoke. The flavors sell themselves.
Looking for a quick meat snack but not interested in jerky? Sometimes, jerky is a textural challenge and too chewy for some eaters. A great replacement is pepperoni sticks. Besides being softer, the peppery spice of pepperoni sticks can be a welcome treat that’s very different than jerky. It’s also usually more affordable so be feel free to stock up!
Plant-based Vegan Jerky
For the vegetarians and veggie lovers out there, meat isn’t the only jerky option. A great non-meat replacement is vegan jerky. These veggie forward products are often made from different types of soy or grain products. One such tasty item is vegan jerky made from seitan, a wheat protein that provides both nutrition and a delectable chew. A pleasant bonus of these vegan jerky products is the ability to soak up different flavors and seasonings. Vegan jerky, smoked and spiked with BBQ seasonings, can mimic the taste of meat jerky to perfection.
For an unconventional beef jerky alternative, it’s helpful to think outside the box. Coconut, the favorite fruit of drinks and desserts, is an awesome vegan jerky option. To make coconut jerky, the white meat of a coconut is shaved, seasoned and dried, producing a jerky product with a pleasing flavor and texture akin to beef jerky.
A huge bonus of coconut jerky is its health benefits. An intensely nutrient dense product, coconut jerky is packed with fiber and potassium. A great side effect of coconut jerky is that coconut is also naturally rich in electrolytes. This means that coconut jerky is an excellent post-workout snack.
While beef jerky is delicious, there’s a lot of replacement options available for those looking for something different. As demonstrated above, these choices are both fun and packed with exciting flavors and textures. The key is being adventurous! After all, healthy alternatives don’t have to be boring.