Forget the sodium-packed, tough and processed snacks synonymous with gas stations — beef jerky has been having a bit of a renaissance lately as more options abound for the tasty high protein, low carb snack. Jerky-makers now are opting for quality meats with less salt content and without preservatives. In Calgary, local producers are making, dare we even say, artisanal beef jerky with interesting ingredients and small batch approaches. So the next time you need road trip food or something to fuel you while hiking, consider any of these delicious local jerkies.
Big T’s BBQ
While this barbecue joint has three locations across Calgary, including across from MacMahon Stadium and in Deer Ridge, their beef jerky is only available to purchase from their Calgary Farmers’ Market stall. Available in either regular or spicy, Big T’s dark, salty sticks are chewy and smokey snacks. Each package is $9 and so fresh you must keep it refrigerated.
Calgary Farmers’ Market, 510 77 Ave. S.E., 587-897-2545, bigtsbbq.com
Brazen Jerky Co.
Started in 2017, Brazen is focused on small batches and simple ingredients. Touting up to less than 50 per cent less salt and 30 per cent fewer calories than your average convenience store variety, their hand-cut jerky is low in sugar, gluten-friendly and made from grass-fed beef. The Cowboy BBQ beef jerky is a mix of barbecue sauce, espresso and cayenne, while the seasonal Winter Spice one is a wonderful flavour bomb of cranberries, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and sumac.
Various retailers, brazenjerky.com
While this local meat shop does buffalo, turkey and pork jerky, their Cowtown Beef Jerky is their claim to fame. Their jerky is fresh and home-made from strips of 100 per cent lean Alberta beef that has been marinated in a special brine and then hickory-smoked. Their beef jerky flavours range from a mild sweet and spicy, to a chipotle and teriyaki and sriracha.
2, 1204 Edmonton Trail N.E., 403-276-1423, calgarymeats.com
This butchery and charcuterie shop in Haysboro is both a cafe and deli where you can buy prepared pâtés, cured meats and sausages to go or sit down to eat yummy sandwiches with coffee. Empire’s beef jerky comes in three flavours: Filipino, Singapore and maple mustard, all with a distinct flavour kick. Their jerky is also available for purchase at the Sunnyside Natural Market in Kensington.
8409 Elbow Dr. S.W., 403-244-0570, empireprovisions.com
Longview Jerky Shop
No jerky list would be complete without the legendary Longview Jerky Shop, a third-generation business that first opened in 1978 along the Cowboy Trail. The beauty of this world-famous jerky shop is that while you can visit their shop in the Southern Alberta town of Longview, you can also get all their 20-something odd flavours right here in the city at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. There’s Longview-style, pioneer-style, “Jerky Stix” and some flavours that are even gluten-free. But you can’t go wrong with the ginger beef, Szechuan, honey garlic or roughneck flavours.
Longview Jerky Shop, 148 Morrison Rd., Longview and Calgary Farmers’ Market, 510 77 Ave. S.E., longviewjerkyshop.com
Luke’s Famous Jerky
Husband and wife Luke Mitchell and Stacey Conway are self-described jerky-lovers who wanted a low sodium, low sugar option, and say it all started when Mitchell got a smoker. Their tender, hand-cut sticks are made in small batches from Alberta beef with a great smokey flavour. Their bestseller is the Hickory BBQ smoked beef jerky, but if you’re looking for heat and spice, try the Peter Picked a Ghostly Pepper flavour. The Thai-riffic Keto, which is marinated with coconut water and Thai spices with fresh lime leaves and then smoked with a special blend of wood, will hook Keto and non-Keto eaters alike.
Available every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Farmers & Makers Market, cSpace King Edward, 1721 29 Ave. S.W., 403-667-1588, lukesfamousjerky.ca
SA Meat Shops
This small South African meat shop, bakery and grocery store has been open since 2003. It’s a hidden gem in Hillhurst where you can get biltong, a South African-style jerky that is traditionally marinated in vinegar and spices. While jerky is cooked on a rack, biltong is hung and air-dried and then cut to eat. The long dried beef sticks here are more packed with flavour and less dry than jerky. They’re available in a variety of flavours including pepper, sweet chili and spicy beef, all priced according to weight.
106, 2120 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-270-0739, sameatshops.ca
Tuk Tuk Thai
You may not think to pop into this Thai takeout joint for beef jerky, but you should definitely pick some up with your next Pad Thai order or go specifically to buy it. You won’t be disappointed. Their Thai beef jerky is available in small bags ($4 each) with curls of lean beef that are sticky and sweet from having been marinated in a blend of soy sauce, garlic, cinnamon, sugar and coriander seeds.
Five Calgary locations, tuktukthai.com
Part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts family of companies, this Mission meat shop prides itself on locally sourced top quality meats and their jerky is no exception. Their original beef jerky is made from naturally raised beef and the wider pieces have a classic smoked taste that’s quite peppery with more of a seasoned rub on the meat. Buffalo jerky is also available.
3, 2100 4 St. S.W., 403-245-6662, urbanbutcher.ca