Is Beef Jerky Cooked

About Beef Jerky

Real beef jerky is made, of course, with beef. However, originally when discovered in South America in the 1500s it was made by the Peruvian native tribe of Quechua, a part of the Inca empire, used alpaca and llama meat. It was called ch’arki. Spanish Conquistadors changed the name to Chirqui, which means ‘to burn meat’. The conquistadors saw the value of this type of preservation of meats as it made them portable and kept them from spoiling on their expeditions.  Soon the Charqui spread throughout the world.

Soon the Conquistadors conquered the Americas and discovered other native tribes also made Chirqui. The natives adopted the name with their own accent that came out ‘jerky’, which later became the pronunciation around the world.  Jerky was made of bison, buffalo, deer, elk, and various other wild game, which were their sources of meat.

How is Beef Jerky Cooked

Throughout history man has made jerky as a means to carry meat on their travels that would not spoil. Animals were hunted, skinned, and cut into strips. Salt was rubbed into the raw meat and then wrapped in the hide and then dried in the sun, slowly smoked, or dried over rocks, which was a two to three day process.

Since smoking finishes the meat’s cooking and drying in about half the time, it became the preferred method as it made for shorter journeys when hunting meat. This process was the groundwork for modern jerky making.

Sales of meat snacks, such as beef jerky, are on the rise. Beef jerky sticks are made by grinding the meat fine, seasoning, shaping it into a tube, and then smoking. The ground meat can also be formed into strips. The heat from the smoking cooks the product. Beef is also cut into thick slices, marinated and then smoked for beef steak style jerky.


One can also make jerky themselves. That would require the meat, either ground or cut into strips (thickness by personal taste), seasonings or marinade, liquid smoke if not using a smoker, a jerky gun, and a smoker, or oven heated to no more than 200 degrees, or food dehydrator. (There are many styles of dehydrators on the market.) A lot of time and patience is also necessary since it takes several hours (5 to 6) of checking and testing for doneness. Checking should be done every 30 minutes to make sure the jerky does not burn. Jerky should be chewy and pull apart easily, not hard or crunchy. If that kind of time is available, go for it; if not, buy it and let somebody else do the watching and waiting. If you’ve ever made jerky at home then you know how difficult it is to get the recipe exact and the timing just right every time. You might get that delicious snack, or get something the dog won’t even eat.

Seasonings in beef jerky can vary by manufacturer (or even home jerky maker). Salt, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, coriander, mustard seed, even bourbon add flavor to the jerky. Liquids are for marinades, but the seasonings can be rubbed onto the meat without the liquids. The meat is sealed in an airtight container such as a freezer bag or lidded bowl and left overnight in the refrigerator (homemade versions). The meat is rinsed and dried and seasonings are patted on the meat before it is smoked. Liquid smoke is used to obtain the smoky flavor when methods other than a smoker or smokehouse is being utilized.

When you consider the time and effort put into making beef jerky and the likelihood of homemade versions not turning out with any constancy, it makes sense to buy it from a company who has a consistent recipe and process for making it. Of course there is always the question when done at home asked by your friends, “Is beef jerky cooked?” Commercially made is regulated to assure it is cooked.

Is there a Healthy Beef Jerky

Beef jerky can give you much needed energy during an intense workout because it is loaded with protein (9.41 grams in 1-ounce.) It also contains vitamins and minerals that are important to bodily function. As with most snacks, due to fat and sodium, jerky should be enjoyed in moderation.

Beef jerky contains high levels of zinc and iron, which boost the immune system by encouraging the creation of red blood cells and the body’s ability to heal wounds.

The University of Florida recommends a 1 ounce serving for diabetic students looking for a good snack as the carbohydrate level is actually below 5 grams.

According to, the nutrients per serving (1- 20 g piece) in beef jerky are as follows:

  • There are 82 calories
  • There are 5.1 g of fat, (2.2 g is saturated fat, 2.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are 37 mg
  • Omega 6 fatty acids are 162 mg
  • There are 9.6 mg of cholesterol.
  • Sodium is 443 mg
  • The total carbs in beef jerky is 2.2 g
  • Speaking of sugar…there are 1.8 g
  • The beef jerky protein comes in at 6.6 g
  • There are only 4 mg of calcium
  • The Potassium level is at 119 mg
  • Zinc is at 1.6 mg
  • Selenium is 2.1 mcg

The daily values were based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.  

Many companies now make beef jerky in several flavors, including lower sodium varieties. Many are offered in stores and online. The best beef jerky online and in stores depends on your personal taste preferences. There are millions of retailers worldwide from which to buy this popular snack. Because beef jerky is small in size, it is the perfect snack to throw into your gym bag to replace depleted sodium and other minerals lost during exercise, or a great pick-me-up when hiking and climbing.

So, is beef jerky good for you? Yes, actually, it is!