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Sugar Free | Gluten Free Jerky

Didn’t know jerky contained sugar? or gluten?  Well, technically guess you might say it doesn’t since it is a meat product.  But, depending on the ingredients used to marinate or the seasonings added in when making jerky sticks, you may be getting sugar and/or gluten and not know it.  Those on restricted diets can enjoy jerky by monitoring ingredients used  . . .  both store bought and homemade.

What is Sugar Free?

First, most foods should probably not be labeled ‘sugar free’ but rather ‘no sugar added’ since sugar can be found naturally in many foods.    For those who adhere to a sugar free diet you can visit our webpage – I Can’t Believe It’s Sugar Free – to read more about the difference between sucrose (table sugar)  and  fructose, visit this link. 




What is Gluten?

Now for gluten. This has been a hot topic lately with many foods now being offered as ‘gluten free’.   Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains, ie., wheat, rye and barley.  Therefore, if you are wanting to remove gluten from your diet, check the ingredients on products used for your homemade jerky  – or store bought – to see if any wheat or other grain products are listed.  To see other grains with gluten, visit this link.

If you are gluten intolerant, check all product ingredients for gluten. Wheat products used in some products, ie., worcestershire sauce [1]  may not list wheat products used.  Soy sauce is debatable regarding gluten content with some brands registering minute amounts.   Check on line or call the manufacturer to confirm gluten content for the brand used.

Ssugarfree-worcestershireugar Free |  Gluten Free  Low Salt  Marinade Recipes

To get you started on sugar free / gluten free jerky options, we’ve placed a couple of recipes below that we found on line.


Marinade No. 1   [2]

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried, ground chipolte peppers (optional – makes it spicy!)
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia (or honey)
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 5 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water


sugarfree-soysauceMarinade No. 2   [3]

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pineapple juice

Each marinade recipe should be good for about three (3) pounds of sliced jerky meat.








Jerky Recap



For those who may not have been with us from the start and may have missed some of the basics, we’re going to recap a few past posts to highlight the main topics associated with making homemade jerky.

Making your own jerky means you know exactly what’s in it. For more on the ingredients in commercial jerky, read  “4 Good Reasons to Make Your Own Jerky.”


Most of the time you can use items you have around the house, i.e., knives, ovens, plastic bags, etc., but having the best equipment you can afford is a plus, especially if you want to make more than just jerky strips.  The following will give you an idea of equipment needed.

5 Top Jerky Guns  – great for making sticks

Overview of Equipment   –  general items needed

Top Dehydrators   –  best way to make jerky.  There is also an article on hydrators re air circulation:  horizontal vs. vertical



The best part of homemade jerky is that there are no chemical additives.  However,  you do need to know what to use for curing and flavor.

Types of Cure

Dry Rub – Not Just for BBQ

Top 10 Seasonings  



Beef seems to be the meat of choice, but don’t be shy try some of the other meats like buffalo and venison.

Best Beef Cuts for Making Jerky

Fish Jerky

Safe Temperatures for Meat 

Beef: Organic vs. Natural



You don’t need a dehydrator to make jerky, you can use your home oven or over the outdoor grill.

How to Grill / Smoke Jerky

Making Jerky in Home Oven



Perfect Jerky for Dogs

Not All Woods are Safe for Smoking

9 Jerky No-No’s



These are just a few of the topics we’ve covered over the years. To review other topics that might be of interest,  i.e., shipping to military personnel,  comparisons of beef vs. buffalo, etc. take a moment and peruse our site map at this link   where all posts are listed.  Thank you!


Jerky Around the World


We’ve looked at some ways old-timers and Native Americans have  made jerky without all the conveniences of today.  But various  forms of jerky are also popular around the world.


1) The Alaska Eskimos made a version of jerky called Pemmican.  Pemmican consisted of crushed and powdered meat to which fat is mixed in.  Sometimes berries would also be added.  [1]  Pemmican was also popular with the indigenous peoples of North America.  [7]

2) In Canada you will find jerky being made from of the breast of a goose.  This type of jerky can be made either sliced or ground and extruded from a jerky gun.

3) In South Africa you’re likely to find Biltong.[2]    This is a form of jerky typically made from beef, game or ostrich.  The preparation differs from what we think of as jerky in that it is made during cold months to reduce risk of bacteria and the cold air dried the product faster.  Biltong is never smoked and often vinegar is used to cure.

4) Bakkwa is a food found in China that is similar to jerky.[3]   Originally it tended to have a  salty-sweet taste, but today not only has the sweet taste been reduced but also the method of preparation has been modernized.  Traditionally it was made of pork, however, it is now sometimes made of beef or mutton.   It is also popular in Singapore and Malaysia thanks to Chinese immigrants.

5) Carne Seca is a dried meat product found in Mexico.  [4]  It can also be used in the preparation of certain dishes.

6) Dendeng is a dried meat found in Indonesia.  [5]  Much like the Bakkwa it has a salty-sweet flavor but rather than drying it is cured through frying.

7) Sukuti is a dried meat found in Nepal. [6]  It is prepared by hanging chunks of meat over a slow fire or left in the sun.  It is often used in other dishes.


After doing the bit of research for this post, got to think that we’re very fortunate to have access to dehydrators with a wide variety of pre-packaged seasonings and cures to make our jerky whether it’s strips or sticks.  To see the top 10 in jerky making equipment and seasonings, visit this link.