If you’re like most Americans, you love beef jerky. Peppered jerky. Teriyaki jerky. Sweet and spicy jerky… you get the point. Beef jerky is as American as apple pie. 

Yet, most people don’t realize that there is a better way to make jerky than your typical dehydrated meat: the best beef jerky is smoked to perfection.

Dehydrated vs Smoked Jerky

If you’ve never experienced the chewy, moist deliciousness of smoked jerky, you’re missing out. Don’t worry – you’re not the only one.

Most jerky eaters rely on local convenience stores or gas stations for their beef jerky fix. Unfortunately, commercial (i.e., store-bought) beef jerky not only contains tons of additives and fillers, but it also contains preservatives to maximize its shelf life in order for it to be stored at your grocery store or gas station for months on end. 

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with preservatives, why eat jerky loaded with preservatives if you can instead get it fresh from a source that uses gourmet meat with no added preservatives? 

The biggest difference between gourmet beef jerky and store-bought jerky, however, is how it’s made. Most brands you can find in stores and gas stations are dehydrated jerky. While dehydrating meat is the easiest way to make jerky, it doesn’t result in the best beef jerky. 

It’s a matter of quantity over quality. 

Dehydrated jerky can be like old shoe leather – tough, dry and cracked. We’ve all had our share of this kind of jerky. It’s fine when you’re on a long road trip and in a pinch for whatever jerky you can get your hungry hands on, but it’s ultimately a disappointing snack.

Smoking jerky, however, seals in the meat’s juices while providing just the right amount of hickory-smoked flavor. Moist and chewy – almost like a decadent meat licorice – smoked jerky is the best beef jerky you’ll ever sink your teeth into.   

Gourmet Beef Jerky

When it comes to making the best jerky, using the right cut of beef is crucial. The other critical factor? Using premium gourmet meat.

As mentioned before, a lot of commercial jerky contains additives, fillers, preservatives and MSG. In general, these are all not great. Gourmet beef jerky, however, comes from cows that are steroid- and hormone-free, and are raised humanely – not factory farmed. 

As more and more Americans are becoming increasingly health-conscious and curious as to where their food really comes from, “healthy jerky” has become a thing. While snacking on beef jerky is usually a better choice than eating a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream, not all jerky is equally “healthy.” 

When it comes to “healthy jerky,” the meat source and what’s added matters. And, of course, if it’s smoked jerky… it’s just that much better. 

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