Saturday, November 29, 2008

Riley's Jerky - Jalapeno

About a week-and-a-half ago I did a review of Riley's Jerky - Original. In the days since then, it's become the most popular review, consistently getting read more than the others. I still have this Jalapeno variety...

As I said earlier, I discovered this jerky while driving through Northern California on my way up to Washington State at the beginning of this month. I stopped in at a Mobil Station in Yreka, CA, and picked up a bag of this Jalapeno. I ended up eating it all during my drive, and liked it so much, that I made a point to buy some more on my way back home.

Riley's Jerky is based out of Greenville, CA. It's been in operation since 1980, and from what I've been able to gather, is still a small family run business. They claim to make all their jerky by hand in their own facility, and advise that while their jerky is a little bit tougher to eat, it has a taste and texture that's superior to most others. Their jerky is largely sold in stores throughout southern Oregon and northern California. They also sell to directly to individuals over the phone.


Beef, soy sauce, jalapeno peppers (jalapeno peppers, water, carrots, cottonseed oil, salt, vinegar, onions, garlic, bay leaves, oregano), water, garlic salt.


The taste I pick up from the surface is the jalapeno flavoring, with a decent amount of jalapeno flavor and salt, as well as some garlic. In the chewing, I get a higher degree of that jalapeno seasoning, a higher degree of salt, some vinegar taste, more garlic, and some natural meat flavors.

The jalapeno flavoring is quite strong in this, and is what I'd consider to be the dominant flavor of this jerky. It's not necessarily hot, however. I'd rate the hotness as a mild-medium.

Also strong, is the salt. This is quite salty and is at the upper limits of what I might tolerate. It's not bad in a few pieces, but over the whole bag, it leaves my mouth somewhat scorched, and yearning for something to drink. This is more salty than Riley's original variety.

The natural meat flavors can be identified, but are not well defined. I think the stronger jalapeno and salt flavors have masked much of it. Contrast that to the company's original variety which has a strong natural meat flavor.

Also, the original variety I reviewed earlier consisted of very thick chunks of meat, almost like beef stew meat. The heavy thickness seemed to have left a layer of inner meat with some slight moisture providing a concentrated meat flavor. In this jalapeno sample, the pieces are not as thick, and as such is completely dry all the way through. My guess is that it's all hit or miss as to what your bag of Riley's may contain.

Overall, it's a great tasting jerky, mostly as the jalapeno flavoring, with the saltiness as a close second dominant flavor, followed by the natural meat flavors. I can also sense the garlic and vinegar.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of whole meat, sliced into thick strips, ranging from 1-3 inches in length.

This is dry jerky, very dry. Combine that with its thick cut, and it makes this very tough to tear apart, and very tough to chew. However, I find a good deal of surface taste that I tend to suck on a piece first, which helps to soften the meat.

And once I'm able to soften up a piece, it has a steak-like chewing character.

It's a pretty clean jerky, leaving no residue on my fingers or pieces on my lap. It's also very lean, I found no pieces of fat, tendon, or gristle.

Snack Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3 ounce bag at a Mobil Station in Yreka, CA. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between average and expensive.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it provides a decent value. It's got a great taste in its jalapeno flavoring, though the tough meat consistency can present a challenge. I guess it might be like sunflower seeds, where half the enjoyment is sucking off the salt and cracking open the shell. In this case you're sucking off the jalapeno flavoring, and softening up the meat.

As a jalapeno variety, it presents a good value at this higher price, because I do get plenty of jalapeno flavoring, though not necessarily hot.

This is actually a good value as a dieting snack, being extremely low in fat and carbs, with no preservatives, a great taste, and eating so slow enough that it'll take you 2-3 hours to eat it all.


I'm giving this a good rating.

I like the taste of this jerky, with its strong jalapeno flavor, notes of garlic and vinegar, and light natural meat flavor. It also provides a steak-like chewing satisfaction. But it's very tough. It's tough enough that you might become frustrated wanting to chew into that great taste, but not being able to. The toughness is largely what keeps me from giving it a better rating.

But it still seems to work well as a jerky because it does have plenty of surface flavor that you can get a good deal of snack value sucking on this as it softens up.

The high degree of saltiness is also an issue with me, and also prevents me from assigning this a higher rating. But the overall flavor of this jerky is still good enough to mitigate the saltiness.

My beer recommendation with this is a wheat beer (hefeweizen).

Rating: Good

Where to buy:
  • Call Riley's Jerky direct, (530) 284-6313



  2. Been making this for years at my home. I use my own home-grown peppers and I never hear complaints of it being too salty. Looks like its time to take my recipe to market. sduffguy.

  3. Best store bought Beff Jerky on the market period. If you want better Jerky you'll need to make it your self. I'm on my 3rd order and I still can't get enough of it

  4. This is the best Jerky I have ever tasted! Go out and try some if you like beef jerky!

  5. This is Riley's Jerky! Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. We now have a website "" but are not quite set up for online ordering yet. Please feel free to visit our website or email us at for any questions or comments. Thank you all again!

    Riley's Jerky

  6. Riley's Jerky here again, we now have online ordering from:!!!