Exploring the Worldwide Journey and Diverse Flavors of Jerky Snacks

Jerky snacks have been a beloved staple part of diets across the globe for centuries. Originating as a survival necessity, jerky has transformed into a popular and diverse snack beloved by many.In this exploration of the worldwide journey and diverse flavors of jerky snacks, we will take a journey from the rugged terrains of South America to the bustling city-streets of East Asia, highlighting the diversity of flavors and regional nuances that make this simple yet hearty snack so well-received.


  1. Origin of Jerky
  2. North American Jerky
  3. South American Jerky
  4. Asian Jerky
  5. African Jerky

Origin of Jerky

Jerky has a fascinating history, tracing its roots back to the ancient Incas of South America who called it ‘Ch’arki’. The intricate process of meat preservation, where the meat was sliced into thin strips, salted, and left to dry in the sun, helped nourish the Incas, especially during long hunting trips and wars. Today, the same technique forms the essence of the typical beef jerky recipe.

North American Jerky

Flavors and Styles

From traditional flavors like Hickory Smoked and Original to innovative creations such as Chili Lime and Maple Glazed, the jerky snacks found in North America showcase a vast range of flavors. In terms of style, most jerky in the USA and Canada is thinly sliced, dehydrated beef, however the recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of other meats such as turkey, pork, and even salmon jerky.

South American Jerky

Charqui: A Staple Diet

Contribution of the Incas to the jerky world continues in the form of ‘Charqui’, a staple diet in many South American countries. From Chile’s Charqui al jugo (jerky in juice) to Bolivia’s Saice (a traditional stew with jerky), the traditional flavors focus heavily on the use of spices, such as chili and cumin, imparting a warmth that is characteristic of Latin American cuisine.

Asian Jerky

Flavor Diversity

Asian jerky brings a whole new level of flavor diversity. The vivid palette of spices used in Indian cuisine translates beautifully into Indian jerky, giving it a rich, aromatic flavor profile. Meanwhile, in East Asia, countries like Japan and Korea create jerky snacks that are marked for their unique marine twist, with squid and fish jerky being popular choices.

African Jerky

Biltong: A South African Delight

In Africa, a special type of jerky called ‘Biltong’ takes the center stage in South Africa. Made from a variety of meats such as beef, ostrich, or game, Biltong is characteristically thicker than conventional jerky, air-dried, and spiced with ingredients like toasted coriander seeds, black pepper, and vinegar.

The journey of jerky from an ancient preservation technique to a globally loved snack has been remarkable. Despite the vast differences in flavors and preparation methods, at its core, jerky represents an age-old understanding of the land, its produce, and the primal need for sustenance. As we enjoy a piece of jerky today, we’re not just satisfying our appetite but also becoming a part of a rich, global food tradition.