Deutsch: Dörrfleisch / Español: Carne seca / Português: Carne seca / Français: Viande séchée / Italiano: Carne secca

Jerky in the food context refers to lean trimmed meat that has been cut into strips and dried to prevent spoilage. Typically, this involves marinating the meat in a seasoning solution, which can include a variety of spices, and then drying it at a low temperature. The result is a convenient, high-protein, and long-lasting snack.


Jerky is known for its tough texture and savory flavor. The most common type of meat used is beef, but almost any type of lean meat can be made into jerky, including pork, venison, bison, and even poultry like turkey. Jerky is enjoyed worldwide and is appreciated for both its flavor and its portability, making it a popular food choice for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The drying process reduces the moisture content in the meat to a very low level, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. In addition to air drying, smoke or dehydrators are often used to achieve the desired dryness and flavor.

Application Areas

Jerky is utilized in various contexts:

  • Snacking: Due to its portability and long shelf life, jerky is a favored snack among hikers, campers, and travelers.
  • Nutritional Supplement: As a high-protein, low-fat option, jerky is popular in diets that emphasize lean proteins.
  • Culinary Uses: Some chefs incorporate jerky into dishes, using its intense flavor to enhance meals like soups and stews.

Well-Known Examples

Different regions have their own versions of jerky, including:

  • Biltong in South Africa, which is similar to jerky but often involves vinegar in the marinating process and is typically thicker.
  • Charqui in South America, the original form from which the word "jerky" is derived.

Treatment and Risks

When making jerky, it's important to use lean cuts of meat since fat does not dry and can cause the jerky to spoil faster. The meat should be properly handled to avoid contamination, and adequate drying time is crucial to ensure safety from foodborne pathogens.

Commercially produced jerky follows strict regulations regarding its preparation to ensure it is safe to eat. However, homemade jerky makers must be careful to handle ingredients properly and maintain a sufficient temperature during the drying process to prevent bacterial growth.

Similar Terms

Related food items include dried fruit, which undergoes a similar process of water removal for preservation purposes. While not meat-based, dried fruits share jerky's benefits of extended shelf life and portability.


  • 'Jerky' in the glossary of the


Jerky is a popular dried meat product known for its rich flavor and chewy texture. It serves as an excellent source of protein and is valued for its convenience and durability, making it a staple snack in many cultures around the world.


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