June 21, 2024

Beef jerky may be part of a ketogenic diet if it lacks carbs or sucrose. Not every type of beef jerky qualifies as keto. You need to look at the list of ingredients and the nutrition label to ensure that the product doesn’t have any sugars or carbohydrates.

When you find jerky that fits the ketogenic diet (it has no net carbs or net sugar), you can mix it with a high-fat food to make the perfect keto snack. 

Things They Wouldn’t Want You to Know

A quick look at national jerky brands’ carbohydrate and sucrose content shows a big difference between them. Some have as many as 10 grams of carbs per serving, almost the maximum amount of carbs that most people on a ketogenic diet can eat in a day. 

Sucrose and other sweet-based additives are often used in the beef jerky industry to increase the amount of product that can be made.

This is the dirty little secret of the keto world

Because the heating and drying processes remove water from the meat, it can take anywhere from one to three pounds of raw beef to make a finished batch of jerky. This makes the jerky last longer, but it also makes it more expensive. 

Manufacturers of jerky can make more money by adding dextrose, fructose corn syrup, mead, and other sweeteners to their products. This is why sweeteners are so common in jerky. No one ever went broke adding sugar to a food product. 

Beef jerky is big business

The business of making and selling beef jerky, including keto-friendly beef jerky, is a multi-million dollar industry in the United States alone. Worldwide, the profits are in the billions.

That’s why major distilleries are now looking into beef jerky products preserved in alcohol. Pickled herring has been preserved in wine sauce for centuries. And brandied peaches are a staple during the Holidays. But bourbon beef jerky? It could happen. Is alcohol keto-friendly? Yes, for the most part, it is. Light beers and wines and straight liquors like whiskey and gin have zero calories and carbs. So when companies boil their beef in a vat of booze before drying it out to sell as jerky, that can be considered keto kosher.

 The other method distilleries are toying with is to buy ready-made jerky and then soak it in a premium liquor such as a single malt scotch or high-end vodka for up to eight weeks. The resulting product appeals not only to the carnivore in all of us but also to the dipsomaniac. Test studies show that there is a market for such a product and that the FDA has no problem letting it be labeled as ketogenic. The problem is if it can be sold to minors.


You can always make your own beef jerky to your own keto specifications.

Tips for Making Beef Jerky in your home:

  • Cut with the grain = chewy. Against the grain is tender.
  • Before chopping your beef, partially freeze it. Cutting beef that is firm is significantly simpler.
  • It’s worth the effort to mallet your beef to make it more tender.
  • Use a Ziploc bag or other reusable container for the marinade to massage the bag’s exterior evenly coat each beef strip.
  • To keep the beef at a temperature that is safe for food, preheat your dehydrator and dehydrate it at 160 degrees.
  • Set the timer a little bit longer than recommended in your manual – you have to take into account atmospheric conditions like rain as well as your altitude. But not too long.
  • You want to remove the beef jerky before all the water drains because if you leave it in too long, it could become overly dehydrated.

What cuts of beef make the best jerky

Any cut of lean beef will work well for making jerky. In fact, the cut of meat you choose for your jerky should be as lean as possible. 

During the drying process, the water in the beef will evaporate, but the fat will remain. Since fat doesn’t lose water, this is the reason. Also, too much fat makes it more likely that your jerky will go bad. 

So, even though a well-marbled ribeye steak might be great for searing, the fat between the muscles won’t be good for making jerky. 

If you choose a lean cut of beef, you’ll have to cut out less fat. And these are often the beef cuts that cost the least! Don’t go crazy with the spices. Instead of sugar, use malt vinegar – it will give the dried meat a mellow flavor that fools the taste buds into thinking it’s sugar. Don’t stint on the salt or pepper. Smoked paprika is highly recommended, as it is not only tasty but has some anti-bacterial properties as well.