Is Bacon Jerky Healthy? The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty

Bacon jerky has exploded in popularity as a protein-packed snack. But with its salty, smoky flavor comes questions on just how healthy it really is.

As a bacon jerky fan myself, I decided to take an objective look at the pros and cons of this rising meat snack. In this article, we’ll explore the nutrition, ingredients, and health impacts – both good and bad.

By the end, you’ll have a complete picture on whether bacon jerky deserves a place in your pantry or if you’re better off leaving it on the store shelf. Let’s dive in!

What is Bacon Jerky?

First, a quick primer on what exactly bacon jerky is

  • Made from sliced and cured strips of pork belly – the same cut used to make normal bacon

  • After curing, the bacon is smoked, dried, and flavorings are often added

  • Has a similar texture to jerky but with a sweet, smoky bacon taste

  • Typically eaten as a protein-rich, on-the-go snack

So while the preparation methods vary by brand, the basis is real cured and dried bacon slices – not just bacon-flavored jerky. This gives it a uniqueness but also impacts the nutrition profile.

The Good – Potential Benefits of Bacon Jerky

When consumed in moderation, here are some of the positives of bacon jerky:

High in Protein – A 1 ounce serving provides about 13 grams of protein on average. This makes it a convenient way to get a protein boost.

Low Carb – With no carbs or sugars, bacon jerky fits into low carb, keto, and other carb-conscious diets.

Gluten Free – Most bacon jerky is naturally gluten free, accommodating those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Long Shelf Life – The curing and drying process gives it a shelf life of up to 2 months. Great for on-the-go snacking.

Keto-Friendly – The combination of high protein, low carbs, and moderate fat fits the macros for a keto diet.

So for those looking for a protein punch or following certain dietary lifestyles, bacon jerky can be an appealing option over traditional beef jerky.

The Bad – Potential Downsides of Bacon Jerky

However, there are also some nutritional considerations with regular bacon jerky consumption:

High Sodium – A typical 1 ounce serving ranges from 500-800mg of sodium. Could be concerning for those limiting salt intake.

High in Fat – Up to 15 grams of fat per serving, much of it the unhealthy saturated kind. Something to watch if limiting fats.

Nitrates/Nitrites – Many brands cure their bacon jerky with these controversial preservatives that have health implications in large amounts.

Red and Processed Meat – The World Health Organization identifies processed meats like bacon jerky as carcinogenic in high intake.

Additives – Brands vary widely in ingredients – some with lots of artificial flavors, MSG, etc. Read labels carefully.

While bacon jerky can be an occasional nutrient-dense snack, regular high consumption may carry risks worth discussing with your doctor. Moderation is key.

Tips for Choosing Healthier Bacon Jerky

If you want to indulge in bacon jerky but limit any negative impacts, here are some tips for choosing better options:

  • Seek jerky made from uncured bacon without added nitrates/nitrites

  • Look for minimal ingredients and avoid artificial additives

  • Pick lower sodium options (under 500mg per serving if possible)

  • Choose grass-fed and humanely raised pork when you can

  • Look for added spices that reduce need for artificial flavors

  • Stick to 1 ounce portion sizes or less for moderation

Taking a little extra time to read labels and compare brands can ensure any bacon jerky you eat is the healthiest version available.

Healthier Snacking Alternatives

If you decide processed meat snacks like bacon jerky don’t align with your dietary needs and preferences, many other options can satisfy snack cravings:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables – Anything from carrot sticks to apple slices to bell pepper strips. Quick, convenient, and hydrating.

  • Nuts and seeds – Packed with healthy fats, plant protein, and fiber. Go for unsalted varieties.

  • Yogurt and cheese – Opt for plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fresh fruit. Low-fat string cheese is another good choice.

  • Protein bars – Seek those without tons of added sugar and filler ingredients. Look for at least 5g of protein and 3g of fiber.

  • Hard boiled eggs – A go-to high protein snack that’s compact and portable. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.

  • Edamame – An easy, satisfying plant-based protein option that makes for a refreshing snack.

With a balance of lean proteins, smart carbs, healthy fats, and fiber, you can stay energized without the need for processed meat snacks.

The Takeaway – Occasional Indulgence Is Okay

Like many foods, I don’t believe bacon jerky needs to be completely avoided. But its high sodium, nitrates, and saturated fat mean it shouldn’t be a daily indulgence either.

The healthiest approach is using bacon jerky as an occasional treat in 1 ounce portions, not a dietary staple. Be sure to also build your diet around whole, nourishing foods like fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.

With mindfulness and moderation, you can balance your snack food enjoyment with overall nutrition. That way you can have your bacon jerky and eat it too – in a responsible way.

What’s your take on bacon jerky – yay or nay? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Make Your Own VEGAN BACON JERKY _Super Healthy, EASY and FAST


Is bacon jerky just bacon?

Bacon jerky is an American snack made out of smoked, thick cut bacon. It is often flavored with maple syrup, barbecue sauce or sriracha. Although it is named after jerky, it is not prepared the same way. Traditional jerky is marinated and dried, bacon jerky is just smoked or dehydrated.

Is beef jerky better than bacon jerky?

Bacon jerky also has a different texture than beef jerky. It is softer, less chewy, and doesn’t need as much grinding from your jaw. Depending on the thickness and the way it’s prepared, some people even describe it as “melting” in their mouths.

How many calories are in bacon jerky?

Calories 120
(502 kJ)
11 g
0 mg
0 g
< 1 mg

Is jerky a healthy snack?

In short, though beef jerky is a healthy snack, its best consumed in moderation. Most of your diet should come from whole, unprocessed foods. Though beef jerky is healthy, avoid eating too much of it, as it’s high in sodium and may come with the same health risks that are linked to eating processed meats.

Leave a Comment