FREE Shipping on orders over $100.00. Use FREESHIPPING100 at checkout for USA orders.

Tough Stuff: A Guide to the Different Jerky Textures

Tough Stuff: A Guide to the Different Jerky Textures

What aspects of jerky do you love the most? The specific, smoky taste of certain cuts? The vast selection of different flavors? Maybe you enjoy the portability and mess-free nature of this classic snack. At Lee’s Market Jerky, we understand your infatuation with jerky because we’re fans, too!

One factor nearly every jerky-enthusiast prioritizes is texture. Many individuals are texture eaters, so they expect a specific feeling every time they purchase these products. Not to mention, the consistency of jerky often makes or breaks the eating experience. Generally speaking, there are three different kinds of texture that nearly all styles of jerky have, so there’s an optimal choice out there for everyone.

Maybe you prefer something traditional, something soft, or maybe you reach for that classic tough stuff. A guide to the different jerky textures is just what you need to find the perfect snack, so read on to learn more.

Why Texture Matters

You might be wondering why the texture of jerky even matters. To the ordinary consumer, they’re accustomed to the big-brand products that typically feature the same consistency, and that’s enough to satisfy their cravings. However, small-batch items are high-quality products that focus on using finer ingredients to produce genuinely unique jerky strips. If you’ve never experienced a more unique type of jerky, you probably don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Our loyal customers are accustomed to our variety and complexity, so texture absolutely matters. Depending on the ingredients used and the preparation process, not one of our selections is the same. That allows you to find the perfect jerky for your needs, like a classic consistency for a midday snack or a softer texture for an upscale charcuterie board. Understanding the need for diverse textures unlocks more possibilities for your food selection for all events and occasions.

Early Jerky Products

It’s worth diving into a brief history of early jerky to understand better why modern products feature different textures. The first instances of jerky most likely occurred in the mid-1500s. Historians believe the Incan people of South America were the first to create the jerky preparation process, and they made it out of llama and alpaca meat. They called it “ch’arki,” which basically meant “burn the meat.” Their cooking method involved pounding out thin strips of beef and drying out under sunlight or smoking it over an open fire.

Modern methods of cooking and preparing jerky are linked to the cowboys of the American southwest. It was an invaluable energy source for early pioneers and the native people. The longevity of jerky allowed settlers and natives to store this food throughout rough winters when food was otherwise scarce. And as we’ve discussed many times, the multiple health benefits of this snack helped individuals remain fit and better prepared for common ailments.

So why is this history so important when discussing jerky textures? Well, it shows how this iconic food item went from a practical source of nutrients to a delectable snack enjoyed by millions of people. Our cooking processes improved throughout the years, allowing us to make better products with more complexity.

The Different Jerky Textures

There are three main textures for artisanal jerky – some consumers prefer just one, while others enjoy all options. The texture doesn’t really affect the flavor but rather the overall eating experience.

Like stated before, different consistencies work best in diverse situations, so knowing what other products feel like is essential when planning your food selection. Here are the three textures of jerky.

Old Fashion

Also known as “Cowboy Jerky,” old fashion textures are tough and salty. These items are prepared with the classic methods of either smoking or drying. While most other well-done cuts of meat are crispy, a tough textured jerky offers a unique experience that so many people crave.

For starters, chewier jerky means it takes longer to eat so that people can satisfy their hunger with just a few strips. What you might not know is that the extra chewing time introduces more saliva to the meat, which in turn unlocks more flavor. Of course, this only happens when you consume small-batch products made with attention to detail and fresh ingredients.


If you’ve only ever had the big brand products, this is the texture you’re probably most familiar with, and many people prefer jerky for this same consistency. The preparation process is basically the same as old fashion jerky, however certain ingredients are used to soften the feeling. These components include sugar and vinegar, along with a longer marination process.

By the Goldie Lock standard, this texture is considered a perfect medium. It still offers that satisfying chewiness without being overly dry. Most jerky products have this consistency, meaning a more extensive selection is available at the grocery store or online.

Soft & Tender

Jerky was a practical food option for many people, but around the 2000s, different companies began creating more gourmet products. Classic jerky fans weren’t too impressed with newer iterations of their favorite snack, but it allowed more people to enjoy jerky who traditionally didn’t like it or preferred the consistency of biltong. However, adding more unique products with various flavor profiles into the market made soft and tender items famous for the mainstream consumer.

In fact, most tender jerky is artisanal and accompanied with rarer ingredients, like special herbs and spices. The cooking process involves more texturizing components, and the meat is dried for a shorter period of time. Poultry jerky is typically softer, however, with the right preparation method, traditional beef and big game cuts are also tender.

Which Is Best?

We’ll keep this simple – there isn’t a clear-cut “best texture” when it comes to jerky. It’s quite subjective and varies by the individual. Most enthusiasts will tell you that classic consistencies are the most enjoyable; however, small-batch consumers swear by the quality of different kinds. So ultimately, the choice is up to you!

No matter your preference, Lee’s Market Jerky has the product that’s right for you. We carry soft and tender items, happy medium cuts, and that classic tough stuff. This guide to the different jerky textures will help you determine which of our beef jerky for sale is best for your needs, so shop our selection today!

Tough Stuff: A Guide to the Different Jerky Textures

Trust Guard Security Scanned