What is Turkey Jerky?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Turkey jerky is a variation of the popular beef jerky. It is dehydrated slices of lean turkey, usually breast meat. Essentially, all moisture is reduced from the meat, resulting in a dry, chewy, and an often spicy snack. Unlike beef jerky, that made from turkey tends to be lower in fat and can actually be quite nutritious. A serving, which is about 1 ounce (28.34 g), can pack a full 16 grams of protein.

A turkey.
A turkey.

The quality of turkey jerky varies, and this often has to do with the amount of sodium added to the meat. While this jerky may be high in protein, it can also be very high in salt. There are recipes that can produce spicy and lower sodium products, however.

Turkey jerky is made from dehydrated slices of lean turkey.
Turkey jerky is made from dehydrated slices of lean turkey.

Many people who enjoy various types of jerky find it more economical to make their own rather than to purchase commercial brands. Turning any kind of meat into jerky means significantly reducing the amount of meat served, and after the moisture is removed, only about a third of the original meat remains. Beef and turkey jerky are chewy, however, and they might take just as long to eat as they would in their original form.

Jerky is one of the earliest means of preserving meats. Small strips of lean meat would be salted, perhaps, and hung to sun dry. Drying meat in the sun is not recommended, however, as turkey can have some fairly nasty bacteria lingering in it. The benefits from a quick cooking method, which includes boiling the meat in a marinade until it reaches 160°F (71°C). The turkey is then usually put in a food dehydrator. If a cook makes a lot of jerky or enjoys dehydrated fruits and vegetables, a good food dehydrator can be an excellent investment.

All types of jerky benefit from starting as lean meat. Fatter meats, like the dark meat of turkey, do not dry as well as white meat will. Further, leaner cuts of meat are generally more nutritious, as they have a very low fat content and a lot of protein.

Turkey jerky became popular in the 1990s as an alternative to beef jerky, providing fewer calories and less fat. Now shoppers can find many different styles to try. A simple search of most grocery stores will reveal Cajun, Teriyaki, black pepper or many other flavors. A plethora of Internet recipes can also be found that are sure to appeal to lovers of jerky.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I sell natural and organic turkey jerky. It comes in a number of recipes including smoked turkey jerky. We get all the meat from hunters who hunt the woods surrounding the house. It is not a big operation but we turn out a surprising amount of jerky every year. I can tell you this, our is way better than jack links turkey jerky.


I love turkey jerky but I live in the city and it is hard to find. Most convenience stores don't have in the same way that they have beef jerkey.

I was finally able to find some. It is Trader Joe's turkey jerky and it is awesome. The price is economical and the flavor is fantastic. Now I buy it almost every week and keep it in my truck at all times.


My dad is a hunter and turkey jerky is his specialty. He makes his spicy with cayenne pepper but also a little sweet using brown sugar. The result is a flavor explosion in your mouth.

He also makes some really delicious sausage out of turkey meat. Who would have thought that turkey was so versatile? The natural flavor of the meat is so subtle that you can add almost any flavor and it will taste great

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