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13 Vegan Jerky Brands, Ranked

Vegan jerky brands on table
Vegan jerky brands on table - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Vegan jerky? What is the world coming to?

Although self-proclaimed carnivores may scowl at the thought of a piece of fake meat masquerading as a succulent, spicy beef jerky replacement, it's undeniable that plant-based eaters deserve options, too. These packets of plant-based products have a great convenience factor. They're perfect for grabbing for a road trip, eating out on a hike, or enjoying them as a post-workout protein boost. Vegan jerkies are often made with ingredients like pea protein, wheat gluten, and soy, which are high in protein and help keep you satiated for long periods of time. And just because these ingredients are plant-based doesn't mean that you can't have a medley of savory, sweet, acidic, salty, and more intertwined into every piece -- which makes them pretty darn satisfying, even if you're not a vegan.

I reviewed some of the best vegan jerky brands I could find to determine which was the best. Some brands provided samples for review, and I went out and purchased other products from online retailers to encompass a wide range of brands, flavors, and prices. To shape my roundup, I examined the taste and texture of the jerky, as well as the resemblance to conventional meat jerky. Then, I ranked the products from worst to best.

Read more: 30 Absolute Best Snacks From Trader Joe's, Ranked

13. Pleather

Pleather vegan jerky in bag
Pleather vegan jerky in bag - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Pleather's name is an understatement. This vegan jerky fulfills its title of being "super tuff," because we could barely bite a piece off without taking our tooth with it. Frankly, it was really hard to enjoy because of how long we had to chew it for it to become palatable. While this might be a key marketing gimmick for the brand, it makes eating it very difficult and, frankly, not worth the effort.

The black pepper flavor on this bag was very, very strong and lingered on our lips and tongue for a while. You can clearly discern the white and the black peppercorn flavor coming through, along with a burn-your-throat garlic undertone. One bite of this jerky sent us coughing and gasping for water, so it's fair to say that this bag is a bit overkill for what it is. Moreover, we couldn't find much of the liquid smoke coming through this jerky, which made it all pain and no gain. Pleather might have been more palatable if the spicy was subdued by salty or vinegary notes, but as it stands, we couldn't rank it higher than last place.

12. Eat Meati

eat meati products
eat meati products - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The brand eat meati sent us three flavors to sample: peppered, original, and sweet chile. The brand uses mushroom root, which is derived from the mycelium fungus, to make its array of meat alternatives, which include vegan cutlets, steak, and even a plant-based carne asada. Despite being on the plant-based food scene for a while ourselves, this was the first mycelium-based product we've sampled.

The flavor of these jerkies was unexpected and didn't really go as far into the depth of savory flavor that we were looking for. The only taste we could really discern was brown sugar, which brought sweetness to the forefront. It really lacked a savory component to carry it through. The sweet chile got a little more complex than the original, thanks to a hint of apple cider vinegar, but it was still missing a savory component. Lastly, the black pepper introduced a hint of spice to the game, but like the other products, we were left searching for a resemblance to jerky.

The pieces from this bag were also small and paper-thin, making it very hard to snack on on the go. There is a lot of potential for the flavor of eat meati, since the texture is already where it needs to be. But, the brand needs to tweak the size and flavor of its product even to get its name into the race.

11. Off-Piste Provisions

Off-Piste Provisions jerky
Off-Piste Provisions jerky - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Despite the bovine on the label, these jerky pieces are not derived from animals. In fact, Off-Piste Provisions, a New Zealand-based company, makes its plant-based jerky out of pea protein and fava bean protein, which gives it a high protein content of 14 grams for every seven pieces.

This jerky was certainly the most artisanal one we sampled, and it was easy to spot the peppercorns and coriander studded on the top of each piece. Like other brands, the jerky struggled to resemble the shape of actual jerky and instead came in these awkward squares. We were impressed, though, by the molasses smell and chewy bite of each. This brand had much more meatiness and chew than the other brands we sampled, and we could easily discern strong undercurrents of fennel and licorice. Unfortunately, we are not one for licorice candy or flavored foods, so we struggled to even get through a single piece.

If you're looking for a unique snack that has complex flavor notes, this is the brand you want to try. But if you want a simple, straightforward product that resembles the beef jerky you'd get from a convenience store, this just isn't the one.

10. UNLIMEAT

Unlimeat plant-based jerky.
Unlimeat plant-based jerky. - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

When we opened the bag of Korean BBQ-flavored jerky from UNLIMEAT, we were surprised to see this jerky came from a bag within a bag -- which we thought was a bit odd and, frankly, unnecessary. The pieces that came out did not resemble any of the jerky we had seen in the roundup; it was about half the size and resembled bacon that had been left too long in the pan. They were thin, small, and had a distinct reddish hue that resembled the same color depicted on the packaging.

The pieces were flavorful, and we got the aftertaste of the barbecue. But the flavor wasn't really in-your-face and didn't hit as distinctively Korean BBQ until about two minutes after we ate a piece. The pull was spot-on for some pieces but a little too toothsome and hard to eat for others. This was likely because the main ingredients in this jerky are wheat gluten and soy protein -- both of which are notoriously hard to chew. We also disliked that this package didn't come with a resealable slider to keep it fresh.

9. Jack & Friends

Jack & Friends jackfruit jerky
Jack & Friends jackfruit jerky - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

We were so excited to see a jackfruit-based jerky on the list. Jackfruit is a massive Asian fruit that has a striated, bulbed flesh. It's often found in cans and can be used for a ton of different vegan dishes, including a vegan pulled "pork." Given the texture of jackfruit, we knew that this brand had a ton of potential. Plus, its cute, whimsical packaging won some brownie points.

First, we sampled the sweet barbecue flavor and immediately noted that we couldn't taste the barbecue. It was obscured by the mealiness, veggie-burger-like texture of the jerky. It definitely delivered on the meaty notes -- it was just the wrong type of meat. The ginger teriyaki flavor faced the same major flaws, but the ginger was bubbly and light and really helped make the jerky a bit more palatable.

This product was the only one we reviewed that was free of the top nine allergens -- including wheat and soy. But, we couldn't get over this product's texture and lacking flavor to award it a higher spot on our ranking. Although we really wanted to like it, considering that we're advocates of the jackfruit, we were left disappointed.

8. AGRO Power Jerky

AGRO vegan jerky products
AGRO vegan jerky products - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

AGRO Power Jerky has impressively modern packaging, and the caffeine-hound inside of us was especially excited to sample its Energy Bolt Caffeine jerky variety. We started with the Texas BBQ flavor, which had a good balance of sweet and umami tomato paired with a smoky undertone. The savory original had the added hickory element and was soy-forward, and we genuinely enjoyed that it wasn't overly salty. The teriyaki flavor was a bit muddled and tasted more like General Tso's chicken than the teriyaki that was advertised.

We were more disappointed in the Energy Bolt flavor, which offers 60 milligrams of caffeine per serving. The label promised that this bag was full of onion, garlic, paprika, and chipotle, but we thought it tasted like a confused veggie burger when it all came together. The flavors were all there, but they were disorganized.

Our primary issue with AGRO, across the board, was that it was mealy. This product has soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, and structured vegetable protein, which we think was the fundamental reason it didn't come out like a pullable jerky. There were striations in the jerky that could be easily broken into two, but we missed that toothsome chew of traditional jerky. We also struggled to open the bags and eventually ended up taking a knife to them to pry it apart.

7. BeLeaf

Meatless vegan jerky bag
Meatless vegan jerky bag - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

We purchased the original flavor of BeLeaf's vegan jerky to sample. This bag had more jerky in it compared to larger brands, and each slice came out in a jerky-like, uniform shape. These jerky pieces' pull was excellent and resembled the traditional jerky we had come to know and love. It had clear striations and was relatively toothsome yet still easy to rip apart into two separate pieces. This is likely due to the soybean fiber, which is a major one of its ingredients.

The flavor of this one was overwhelmingly sweet and tasted more and more like strawberry Twizzlers as we ate it. The second ingredient on the list, beyond the soybean fiber, was sugar. While there was also soy sauce to help give it a savory edge, this jerky definitely leaned too sugary for our liking. We also would have liked to see more of the ginger powder, cinnamon, and fennel that was promised to us on the label. Overall, this wasn't a bad bag and one that we would consider returning to after trying some of our more savory offerings.

6. Noble Jerky

Noble Jerky in bag
Noble Jerky in bag - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The first thing we noticed about Noble Jerky was that it had a significantly lighter color compared to the other brands that we sampled. The texture of this jerky was some of the most spot-on of the brands that we tasted; it easily pulled apart and had the perfect amount of chew that made for an enjoyable eating experience. We also thought that this brand introduced somewhat unconventional flavors, like some sour notes and a subtle hint of peppercorns, which was a step up from the other jerky brands that were otherwise one-note. This difference may have come from the inclusion of rice wine vinegar, which imparted some vinegary notes.

We credit the soft chew on this jerky to the fact that the brand didn't include wheat gluten on its ingredients list. But, with the softness came the issue that these pieces didn't really resemble the size and shape of jerky. The sizing throughout the bag was super inconsistent and, as a result, pushed Noble back in our rankings.

5. Little Jasmine

Little Jasmine vegan jerky
Little Jasmine vegan jerky - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

If we needed a bulk bag of jerky, Little Jasmine is the brand we would go with. This package was a little over 7 ounces and sold for $13.49 a bag. The jerky for this brand came out looking a lot like a sheet and less like the strips of jerky we were looking for. Similar to BeLeaf, we encountered an immediate sweet taste that was profoundly maple and made us forget we were eating a savory piece of jerky. We would have liked to sample the other products in the lineup, which included wasabi, red chili, and black pepper because we suspect that they would have a more complex, savory profile.

Like BeLeaf, the licorice and the ginger flavors were in the bag of Little Jasmine jerky but didn't come enough to the forefront to give this bag a competitive edge. We thought the two brands were neck-and-neck but found Little Jasmine to triumph over the former for its jerky-like pull and tacky texture -- which resembled the beef jerky of our childhood.

4. Pan's Mushroom Jerky

Pan's Mushroom Jerky bags
Pan's Mushroom Jerky bags - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Pan's Mushroom Jerky is a brand familiar to reality show fans will know well after its appearance on Shark Tank in 2020. Michael Pan started the company in 2018 after he noticed on a trip to Malaysia that the Buddhist monks were snacking on an animal-free beef jerky made with mushrooms. The folks at Pan's formulated a simple recipe based on the observation and included ingredients like umami-rich shiitake mushrooms, oil, salt, and seasonings.

We sampled various products from the Pan's line, including flavors like salt and pepper, zesty Thai, original, applewood BBQ, curry, and teriyaki. Across the board, we thought that the flavors of Pan's were out of this world. The zesty Thai was our favorite out of the line because it had the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a note of cilantro peeking out from behind the curtain. Plus, we also give this brand a ton of props for being inventive with its flavors and offering something that none of the other brands could compete with.

What put Pan's pack slightly on our rankings, besides the inconsistent size pieces of each of its jerky, was that the pieces all have that subtle, rehydrated mushroom chew. It's savory, it's sweet, but we would just call it a "snack" rather than giving it the jerky label.

3. Unisoy

Unisoy plant-based jerky products
Unisoy plant-based jerky products - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Unisoy sent us four different plant-based jerky to sample: including the Hot n' Spicy, teriyaki, pineapple habanero, and black pepper. The texture of these pieces was similar to BeLeaf and Little Jasmine and was perfectly jerky-like. Unlike these other lower-ranked brands, though, we got to sample an array of flavors from Unisoy and better understand how well the brand could play with flavors.

The Hot n' Spicy, which was the first product we sampled, had a mild spice complemented by a sweetness that lingered on the tips of our tongues after we ate it. The black pepper was relatively balanced rather than overwhelming (like the Pleather brand), while the teriyaki just tasted like plain, regular jerky. It was missing some of the Asian flavor notes, but overall, we would have eaten it again. The pineapple habanero was certainly pineapple-forward (meaning you could decipher it from a mile away), and the habanero really delivered on the back-of-the-mouth heat that we were looking for. The teriyaki flavor was nothing to write home about, but it did achieve a solid match of tangy and savory seasonings. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.

All in all, Unisoy was one of our favorites. Not only did it deliver on the promised flavors, but it also resembled the perfect jerky size for snacking and enjoying on the go. But the flavors weren't as bold as our top contenders.

2. Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.

Louisville Vegan Jerky products
Louisville Vegan Jerky products - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Louisville Vegan Jerky was the only brand of vegan jerky we had sampled in the past, so we knew what we had coming. At first glance, these pieces didn't resemble conventional jerky at all. The little bite-sized pieces were much smaller than beef jerky. There was also no pull to these pieces, so they dissolved in our mouths relatively quickly. Instead of resembling jerky, this product resembled a textured vegetable protein substitute known as soy curls.

Although it missed the mark on the size and texture, Louisville Vegan Jerky knocked it out of the park on the flavor end of things. The Smoky Carolina BBQ was heavenly. There were notes of a thick, rich barbecue sauce complemented with umami from the tamari and a tang from the mustard and the vinegar. We were equally as impressed by the vegan bacon, which was a bit more jerky-like in size. We were elated to find a product that was on par with the flavor of pork bacon. It was not overly sweet, which was a welcomed surprise, but it had such a profound hickory undertone that we kept returning for more. The General Tso's flavor was the sweetest of the bunch but was bolstered by the subtle, orange-like undertone of a good Chinese food sauce.

Deep down, we wanted to give Louisville the first-place prize. But, the inconsistent size for the General Tso's and the Smoky Carolina BBQ knocked it down a peg.

1. All Ya'lls Food

All Ya'lls vegan jerky
All Ya'lls vegan jerky - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

All Ya'll's Jerky was a brand that we were absolutely enamored to sample -- especially the cinnamon churro flavor. Plus, we loved that each purchase of a bag supports the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, which houses over 130 rescued animals in the heart of Texas.

This jerky had both a fantastic texture and flavor. The jerky was on par with the texture of non-vegan jerkies of our past, and the flavors were punchy, bright, and something new. We started with the cinnamon churro, which tasted exactly like a cinnamon roll. There wasn't much savory at all. Instead, this one leaned sweet -- but not overwhelmingly so. The prickly pear teriyaki was the closest we've gotten to actual teriyaki than any other brand we sampled, and we really thought that the prickly pear syrup was a great complement to the tamari and the apple cider vinegar.

Meanwhile, the black pepper jerky was certainly pepper-forward, but not so much that you couldn't enjoy it. The spice was not only prickle-your-tongue hot, but it leaned to the savory end of things and offered a reprieve with the help of the tamari. Lastly, the prickle pear chipotle was warm and inviting, and it was easy to decipher the slow burn of the chipotle rather than just a general "spice." All Ya'lls Jerky was our unequivocal winner for both taste and texture. It's a brand we recommend trying -- whether you're a vegan or a carnivore.

Our Methodology

Two vegan jerky brands
Two vegan jerky brands - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

There are many different qualities we were looking for in a solid vegan jerky. For the purposes of this roundup, I looked for brands that offered the most conventional jerky experience out there -- in both texture and flavor. For example, I wanted a jerky that was similar in size to a piece of beef jerky you'd buy from a convenience store, along with one with a soft pull to it that would put your teeth to work (without exhausting them). The flavor should be leaning on the savory end of things, with some, but not overwhelming, sweet, acidic, and spicy notes. That being said, I was also open to brands experimenting with flavors to offer an unconventional, yet still familiar, eating experience.

I did not consider price or availability in this ranking, considering that a good portion of the brands I reviewed sent me samples. However, I did give some preference to brands that offered jerky in several different flavors. I also gave some points for functionality, like having a resealable pouch that made it easy to eat on the go.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.