Beef jerky is a great high-protein snack that is perfect for travel, hiking, and snacking. Jerky doesn't need refrigeration, making it easy to transport anywhere. Before buying a package of beef jerky, it is important to find out Is Beef Jerky Gluten Free?
What Is Beef Jerky?
When you get down to the basics, beef jerky is dehydrated meat. You can make jerky out of any meat or fish. To make jerky, the meat is sliced into very thin slices, and then it is soaked in jerky marinades for a set amount of time. The jerky meat is then dehydrated until it is dry and hard.
The dehydrating process is a way to preserve meat so that it keeps without refrigeration. It removes the moisture and cures the meat with salt and usually a lot of seasoning.
One of the reasons beef jerky is so popular is that it is so portable. You can take it with you while traveling, hiking, or in your gym bag for a workout boost. It has a lot of protein, which will give you energy and keep you from getting hungry quickly.
Many different companies make beef jerky, and it can be hard to know which are gluten free or which contain gluten ingredients. If you are celiac or gluten intolerant, some ingredients in beef jerky can make you sick from gluten exposure.
If you love snacks, be sure to see what snacks are gluten free on my Snacks List.
Answer: Is Beef Jerky Gluten Free?
The answer to whether beef jerky is gluten free or not will come down to which company manufactured it, and what jerky recipe they use. Some companies declare their beef jerky is gluten free; others even get it certified gluten free.
Some beef jerky brands may be manufactured on shared lines with gluten. Others use seasonings that are not gluten free. You are going to have to either 1. Look for a beef jerky brand with a certified GF label on the package, or 2. Really read the ingredients list to look for hidden gluten and shared lines risk.
The package nutrition labels will have the information you need to determine if a brand is safe.
If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I recommend looking for certified gluten free beef jerky. I provided a list of brands who claim their products are gluten free below.
To avoid risk, you can also make homemade beef jerky!
Typical Beef Jerky Ingredients:
Beef jerky usually has pretty straightforward common ingredients. The beef is usually from lean cuts, like premium brisket or top round. Some brands use grass-fed beef because of how lean it is.
The problem comes with the seasoning, especially those with new gourmet jerky flavor added. Gourmet flavors can contain hidden gluten. Typically, you will see these ingredients in beef jerky:
- Soy Sauce - This is a huge source of hidden gluten. If you are gluten free, you need to ensure they use either Tamari or gluten free soy sauce to make their beef jerky. If you just see the word soy sauce, you know the jerky contains gluten, and you should not eat it. Soy sauce is brewed from wheat and is dangerous for those with celiac or wheat allergies.
- Worcestershire Sauce - Most Worcestershire sauce is gluten free, but you must read the ingredients label. Vinegar is a common ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, so you must look for the word distilled. Distilled vinegar is gluten free.
- Teriyaki - Most teriyaki is made with soy sauce, so read the ingredients carefully.
- Liquid Smoke - Some brands are gluten free, and others are not. Some contain malt, which comes from barley.
- Brown Sugar - Brown sugar is gluten free. You can read more in Is Brown Sugar Gluten Free?
- Artificial Ingredients - These are often red flags for hidden gluten. Look for malt, malted vinegar, caramel color, and other allergy triggers. Some brands have added msg, which may be gluten free, but it is an allergy trigger for many.
- Seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt, etc. should be gluten free, but if they are made on shared lines with gluten, you will need to avoid them.
Gluten Free Beef Jerky Brands:
The good news is there are many gluten free alternatives for those who love beef jerky. Here is a list of some of the gluten free jerky brands you can buy:
- Costco Steak Bites
- Baja Beef Jerky
- Jerky's Gourmet
- Epic Beef Jerky
- Krave Jerky
- Trader Joe's Beef Jerky (green bag)
- Oberto Beef Jerky (except for two teriyaki flavors)
- Tillamook Beef Jerky
Simplifying the art of baking and cooking gluten-free recipes.