Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Original

Trader Joe's is a chain of grocery stores spread across the United States specializing in gourmet, natural, and hard-to-find foods. They started out in 1958 as a chain of convenience stores. Then in the 1960's, as the beatnik and hippie cultures started taking off, the company redefined itself into what you see now.

And like many other retailers, Trader Joe's offers its own brand of beef jerky. However as suspected, they don't make their own. In this case, it's private labeled through Idaho-based Intermountain Naturals, the sister company to the Golden Valley Natural brand of beef jerky.

Intermountain Naturals caters to the health-conscious consumer, making beef jerky using only natural ingredients, as well as a line of organic beef jerky.

Trader Joe's claims their brand of jerky contains no preservatives, no MSG, no artificial ingredients, is minimally processed (I'm not sure what that means), and the beef contains no added hormones and no antibiotics.


Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, flavorings, paprika, natural smoke flavoring.


Some sweetness is the first taste to hit my tongue, followed by some smokiness. I can sense the soy sauce flavoring to a small degree, along with a slight bit of salt, and finally just a hint of natural meat flavors.

Being that this is their original variety, I didn't expect to get a lot of taste, and sure enough I wasn't disappointed. Throughout the chew, the flavor that seems to last is the sugar, and then followed by a slight saltiness. That soy sauce taste doesn't really last long.

There's almost no taste of the natural meat flavors. If I was blindfolded and asked to decide between beef or turkey, it would be difficult. There's just a slight bit of that unique beef flavor. And as far as freshness, it still seems to have a fresh taste, despite containing no preservatives.

As for saltiness, it's not salty. I can taste it, but it's light. This is about my preference level for beef jerky.

I can see a few flecks of black pepper, but there's no taste of it.

Overall, this jerky is largely tasteless, if not for the sugar, a bit of smokiness, and light saltiness. I suppose it fits the bill as an original variety, but it's rather boring.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced into average to thick thickness, and in medium sized pieces.

This qualifies as a "soft and tender" variety, being very easy to tear apart, and very easy chew. It even gets mushy when chewing, but not that bad. But I would not classify this as semi-moist, it's still largely a dry jerky.

I didn't notice any chewy tendon, membrane, or gristle. I did find small amounts of fat on a couple of pieces which actually gave it a more beefy taste.

Overall, this has a great meat consistency as a soft and tender variety.

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Original

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Original
Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 4oz bag at a Trader Joe's in Temecula, CA. That works out to a price of $1.25 per oz, putting this on the lower-end of average.

On a general beef jerky standpoint, I think you're getting a so-so value. It doesn't really satisfy on taste, but it does offer a great meat consistency. If you're a casual beef jerky eater, you might think it's good.

For folks who insist on eating only all natural ingredients, this is actually a good value, because for one, a $1.25 per oz is a good price when compared to all other beef jerky brands, and you're getting what you want in an all-natural ingredient product. If having a tasty beef jerky is not important to you, it's an even better value.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

About the only thing going for this jerky is it's great meat consistency. Otherwise, it's pretty dull on flavor, and it offers very little natural meat flavor.

I can understand that an original variety of beef jerky would be plain on taste, but there are so many other brands that have tasty original varieties that I can't warrant a higher rating. I can't really say that this has a snack factor either; while I continue to eat more throughout this review, I'm not enthusiastic about eating it.

But let's consider that Trader Joe's is pushing this beef jerky for its health benefits as an all-natural ingredient product. And that's a way of saying that healthy foods don't necessarily taste good, which is something the child in all of us has been saying for our entire lives.

Rating: Fair

Where to buy:
  • At any Trader Joe's store


  1. Interesting review!

    I actually really love Trader Joe's Beef Jerky, although my favorite flavor is the Teriyaki one, which is actually practically the same thing with a bit more flavor to it. You're right, the best thing about it is the wonderful consistency, but personally I'm very satisfied with the taste as well; in my opinion this is great jerky.

    But then again, I'm not a professional jerky-eater, just a meat-lover who gets jerky whenever he can.


  2. I just tried Trader Joes Buffalow Jerkey Sweet and spicey. Best Jerkey I have ever had Five stars for me

  3. I also just tried Trader Joe's Buffalo Jerky Sweet and Spicy, and I can't get enough! I am online now looking to see where I can get more, and if there are different flavors.

  4. I just tried some right now, it has the consistency of a jujyfruit. Pass.

  5. I just tried this, and it was terrible. It tastes very bland, and I find the texture too chewy. After half the bag, I couldn’t keep eating because I was disgusted with it. I bought it while I was in Trader Joe’s because it was cheap, but it’s not worth it.

  6. I think this is the worst jerky I have ever eaten, hands down. The consistency was soft and disgusting, and the flavor reminded me of some kind of very low quality dog treat. What a waste of money!

  7. Can you buy it online and have it shipped to a UK address. BTW I'm in the UK, my dad recently went to U.S and ate his jerkey when he returned, now he's annoyed trying to get a replacement:)