Beef jerky is cooked and dehydrated meat, but is beef jerky gluten free? In its natural form, this meat is gluten-free. However, many jerky manufacturers add some ingredients like seasoning, flavoring, and liquids to improve the taste.
Some of these major ingredients may contain gluten. Therefore, gluten-free eaters need to read the nutritional label before buying it. Continue reading this guide to learn about gluten-free jerky.
Is All Beef Jerky Gluten Free?
People with celiac disease suffer from gluten sensitivity. If you are among them, it’s wise to always evaluate the ingredients of a food product before consuming it. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to whether all beef jerky is gluten-free.
Gluten comes from wheat, so ideally, all beef shouldn’t have gluten. However, even though fresh meat might not have gluten, it can be included in meat products like beef jerky.
Generally, beef jerky should be made of smoked marinated meat strips. These should be enough to make a delicious snack. However, jerky brands use some ingredients during the marination process, which may have gluten.
Sadly, some jerky products are not always labeled correctly. For this reason, you can’t rely solely on product labeling to judge whether or not the snack sticks have gluten.
In the United States, beef jerky is regulated by the USDA, meaning that for a product to be labeled as gluten-free, it has to meet the gluten-free labeling standards set by the FDA. However, note that although rare, some organizations offer third-party certification, which makes it hard for those leading a gluten-free lifestyle.
Sometimes a product can be identified as gluten-free while it is not. That’s why it’s advisable to opt for homemade beef jerky. This way, you’ll be sure that the jerky marinades you use are gluten-free. But if you still insist on buying from the store, look for a gluten-free label and buy a reputable brand.
Additionally, check the ingredients list to ensure they suit your gluten-free diet.
Ingredients to Avoid for Gluten Free Beef Jerky
- Regular soy sauce and teriyaki sauce are the popular gluten-containing ingredients used in beef jerky marinades. Therefore, if a product has them, it’s best to avoid them. Soy doesn’t contain gluten by itself since it is a bean. However, regular soy sauce comes from mixing soy with crushed wheat. Then, the product is fermented in salty water. Thus, adding some gluten to it.
- To create teriyaki flavors, manufacturers use teriyaki sauce in their jerky recipe. But teriyaki sauce is also made with regular soy sauce and other ingredients, which is also a source of gluten.
- Popular manufacturers like Slim Jim don’t sell gluten-free beef jerky as their products contain barley malt extract, which is unsuitable for those on gluten-free and paleo diets. Matador products are also not gluten-free, as many people think, as they contain wheat and soy.
- Some brands use gluten-free soy sauces like tamari which are the same as regular soy sauce, but they don’t contain gluten.
How to Pick Gluten-Free Beef Jerky
As we have seen, some beef jerky may contain gluten even when their labeling says different. So, if you are concerned with gluten in your food, you need to choose gluten-free products. But if you only want to cut down your gluten intake, you can consider products that include it in small amounts.
Other than regular soy sauce, you also need to look out for hydrolyzed wheat protein in a product. Often, gluten-free products include ingredients like salt, garlic powder, lemon or pineapple juice, Worcestershire sauces, and paprika.
Here are the five best gluten-free beef jerky brands.
Baja Beef Jerky
If you are tired of the same jerky flavor and looking for something new, try buying Baja jerky. The company offers flavors like Churro, Lime & Serrano, Sla Fresca, and Sweet Orange for people with different taste preferences. These flavors are unique and don’t have gluten.
Plus, the company doesn’t add nitrates, MSG, and preservatives to it’s products.
Jack Link sells gluten-free beef jerky. Their ingredients are reviewed to ensure that they follow safety standards to avoid cross-contamination. Their beef jerky contains original beef with no additives. The company also sells original and teriyaki beef tender bites and spicy chicken strip bars.
Are you tired of the basic level beef jerky? Consider a jerky bag from this company. It offers eight unique flavors of beef jerky, but most people love its O.G Hickory. They strive to create a balance of savory and smoky flavors, so you can never go wrong with this gluten-free brand.
This is the top round gluten-free beef jerky brand. Their products are all-natural and contain 16g of protein per saving. They also are free from sugar and are minimally processed. The company follows strict food safety standards.
Katie’s Spicy Beef Jerky
If you love garlic, this product is perfect for you. The company sells premium beef jerky that’s gluten-free and infused with garlic. Their products do not have nitrates or MSG.
As seen, some jerky brands contain gluten. But thankfully, there is a gluten-free substitute for beef jerky products. Look for companies that sell grass-fed beef as it is more nutritious.
Now, if the brand uses sugar, opt for brown sugar instead of the regular over-processed white one. It’s also wise to avoid products with a high sodium content.
Ideally, it is best to marinate your beef jerky at home. It’s the only way to ensure that your meat doesn’t contain gluten. You can check out online for different beef jerky recipes that include or don’t include liquid smoke, depending on your preference and prepare safe and toxin-free meat.