Soft Beef Jerky without Sugar

  • I watched the video on using brown sugar when curing to beef so it retains water when smoking/dehydrating leaving it soft. However, I cannot have sugar because I am diabetic. Are there alternatives to obtaining the same results without using added sugar?

  • Power User

    @smcneese I would absolutely be interested in a similar recipe. I am avoiding every sugar I can due to a low carb diet.

  • @smcneese I use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. I don’t know if that helps.

  • @joe-hell Try agave nector. It is 25% sweeter than sugar, but is a low glycemic syrup that does not cause spikes in your blood sugar. Research it on the internet for yourself.

  • @farmerron Actually Agave nectar is not very good for you either. Although it does have a low glycemic index, it is high in fructose which can only be processed by the liver and can cause liver damage. You are better off with the sugar.

  • @joe-hell Hey Joe! Yes, I make LCHF jerky but it is very traditional dry jerky. I would like it to be a little softer and was wanting one of the videos from this site that shows a process of using a lot of brown sugar to retain the moisture in the meat. Unfortunately, I am a former Type 2 diabetic and worked hard to reduce my diabetes with Intermittent Fasting and LCHF WOE. I don’t eat any sugar at all.

  • @smcneese , something that I think could work really well (but haven’t actually tried) is adding glycerine/glycerol to the recipe instead of extra sugar. I mentioned it as an option in another thread (below), and would be really interested in having someone try it to see if it works. I don’t really make jerky, so I won’t be getting around to it myself anytime soon. Also FWIW, it is a carbohydrate, but the diabetes association seems to say that you don’t need to worry as much about it affecting your blood sugar level (

    From the other thread:

    "Glycerol is sweet like sugar, but it doesn’t evaporate like water (so it should increase the residual “moisture” without increasing the water activity), and isn’t sticky either.

    (Note that if you look up information on glycerin online, you’ll see all sorts of stuff about it being a laxative, but that’s when it’s administered as, uh, suppositories. And it is indeed an alcohol sweetener, like sorbitol and mannitol – but unlike those sugar alcohols, your body can actually absorb and metabolize glycerol, so it doesn’t give you the nasty GI side effects of sorbitol and its siblings.)"

  • Also, if you’re putting together a marinade from scratch (rather than a seasoning mix), you could actually replace some/all of the sugar in the recipe with glycerol. From what I’ve read, it’s supposed to be about 40% as sweet as sugar, so you would need to use more glycerol than the sugar it’s replacing. (But as I said before, glycerol doesn’t affect blood sugar level as much as actual sugar, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Alcohols don’t screw up the proteins in your body the way that excess reducing sugars like glucose do.)

  • @21cedar Thank you. I’m going to look into this and give it a try. I will let you know the results.

  • Walton's Employee

    @21cedar Glycerin is an interesting sweetener as it might be able to be used to increase moisture without vastly increasing the water activity or the chance for bacterial growth. We are going to be doing some testing on this but it takes some time, the most important part (in my mind) of that article is that it won’t increase water activity. I don’t think it is following the exact same process as adding the same sugar but in the end, it appears as if it would give similar results.

  • Walton's Employee

    @21cedar My Glycerine arrived the other day and I will be playing around with it today! I will make sure to keep everyone up to date, it probably will go on Walton’s Instagram page first as it is easiest to just snap a few pictures of what I am doing. Since Glycerine is not as sweat as sugar I am going to be adding a good deal more than I did with the brown sugar but as it is already liquid I won’t be adding as much water. I am going to do it in 3 different batches and see which gives me the best results, one will be 20% the weight, one will be 30% of the weight and one will be 40%.

    I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

  • @jonathon thanks for the update. My bottle came in today. I bought food grade palm glycerol. I’m interested to see how it turns out for you.

  • @smcneese @Jonathon Awesome, guys – looking forward to hearing how things go!

  • Walton's Employee

    @smcneese @21cedar So out of the three batches I did the best one from a taste standpoint was the one where I used 30% of the weight of the meat in glycerin. The 40% gave us the least amount of product loss, all of them were shelf stable from a water activity standpoint but was just a little bit too sweet for me.

    All in all I would say it worked well. I am going to wait for our application specialist to be back from vacation but I absolutely think this is a viable option for a replacement for sugar!

  • Walton's Employee

    1 more note on this, my water activity meter readings are coming back amazing, the water activity on the one we used the least amount of glycerin (20% of the products weight) was .631, the one we used 30% was .571 and the 40% was .56. Those are at a low enough water activity that you could leave them out in the air for a long time before anything happened to them. And the taste is pretty good and they did not stiffen up overnight.

    Next test (which will have a video) will be trying this without a vacuum tumbler.

  • @jonathon Holy cow, you guys work fast! That’s great news. Glad to hear it worked out. Is the taste identical to the sugar-based equivalent?

  • @jonathon that was quick! Thanks for the feedback. Was this the marinade used in the previous video just replacing the brown sugar with glycerol?

  • Power User

    @jonathon That’s exciting news!

  • So I am going to give this a shot. I make my marinade from spices vs using a cure/spice pack. I plan on adding the 30% starting weight of Glycerol as @jonathan mentioned. I usually use my Power Airfryer dehydration mode that I can set to 160 degrees for the entire process. However, I might try an approach of smoking first on my smoker and then finishing in the dehydrator. I have a full size wood offset wood smoker I use for smoking brisket, ribs, chicken, etc but I have never thought to use it for jerky. What wood do you smoke with for jerky? Mesquite or milder woods?

  • Walton's Employee

    @21cedar Not quite identical but very close, out of the entire Walton’s office I did not get one single negative comment which rarely happens, someone’s always got something to say! @smcneese Yes, it was the same recipe and smoke schedule and everything just replaced the 18% Brown Sugar and 20% water with 30% glycerin.

    One thing i noticed was that the meat was a beautiful deep red, almost a dark maroon or mahogany. Im not sure if that was the glycerin or something else but it is very good looking whole muscle jerky!

  • @jonathon So I made a batch of this and it turned out very good. Like yours, the jerky was pliable, tender and a dark maroon/mahogany color. However it was just too sweet for my liking. The good new is the process works so now I just need to adjust the amount of glycerin to cut back the sweetness to my liking but this was great info! Thank you very much for working on this and sharing your results.

  • Walton's Employee

    @smcneese What seasoning did you use? I used Walton’s Bold as the base, I wonder if other seasonings would give less of a sweet taste?

  • Power User

    @jonathon I was going to start my glycerine jerky project today and just wanted to make sure I had the right process. I was planning on using the teriyaki seasoning and recommended sure cure. Do I simply go with a 30% by weight addition of the glycerine with no added water?

  • Power User

    @joe-hell I didn’t take an exact measurement but I figure I used about 80 grams of glycerine per pound of meat. The results were outstanding. As others mentioned I ended up with a beautiful deep red color and a perfectly chewy product.


  • Power User

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell That looks awesome! I loved the dark red color it gave and the taste was pretty excellent as well. Were yours sticky at all? I felt like they were less sticky when I was using the glycerin then when I used the sugar, wondering if you thin the same?

  • Power User

    @jonathon I don’t have anything to compare it to other than the previous batch where I didn’t add any sugar or glycerine. The first batch was a very dry traditional style where this one mimicked the softer store bought stuff. I didn’t find it overly sticky by any means…it wasn’t “messy” when packaging. At the rate I added the glycerine it didn’t have an overly sweet taste by any means and there wasn’t much liquid left over. The final product was just as good as any jerky I’ve ever had…maybe better. This process has me very excited as I try to avoid any unnecessary sugar. Store bought jerky is often full of it.

  • Walton's Employee

    @joe-hell It’s all about pickup. The more things you can do to get your jerky to retain more of the solution from the marinating process the better off you will be. Obviously, keep us up to date on how experiments go!

  • Glad i found this article! I never thought about glycerin for jerky! Thanks for this! Soo no added water right?

  • Power User

    @lamurscrappy I can’t answer for anyone else but I did not add any water to mine. I was planning on making another batch in the next day or two and plan on the same method as the first turned out great!

  • Power User

    @lamurscrappy I just started a 5.2 lb batch of jerky using the dill pickle seasoning. First and foremost…it smells amazing! It has more heat than I was expecting but it’s well welcomed. I used approx 250 ml for this batch size and it seemed to have plenty ‘liquid’ while mixing. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • @Joe-Hell dill pickle! Ive tryed a lot of jerky in my day but never that lol! Yea im curious how that will be! Ok good no water, i gotta get some glycerin ordered!

  • Power User

    @lamurscrappy Dill Pickle sounds weird but everyone I’ve mentioned it to, wants it. The smells from the smoker right now are incredible. It was driving me crazy so I made a breakfast tri-tip to distract me. I’ll be smoking a corned beef this afternoon


  • Regular Contributors

    @Joe-Hell that looks like I need to do one of those!!!

  • @Jonathon will you guys be selling glycerine in your catalog? Do folks just get it on Amazon?

  • Power User

    @21cedar I buy it by the gallon on Amazon. A local health food store may carry it too

  • Walton's Employee

    @21cedar We wont be selling it (as far as I know) and it is pretty inexpensive on amazon so I would go that route. Dill pickle is amazing, more people need to try that seasoning and yes like @Joe-Hell says the littls bit of meat is a welcomed and unexpected treat at the end!

    @lamurscrappy I did add water when I used glycerin, 20% but I know some others have been doing it without the 20% water and getting good results. It is all about how much of the solution you can get it to pick up, so if you have a vac tumbler of any kind this is the time to use it. If you don’t have a tumbler (for some reason I think you do) then I would vac seal it and massage it every few hours for about 24 hr to increase your pickup.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I realized after the fact that the amount of glycerine I used was the same amount you guys recommended for the water addition. On my first batch I eye balled enough to make sure that the jerky had enough liquid to cover and it came in right at 8 oz for 5 lbs… The glycerine doesn’t add huge amounts of sweetness but just enough that it really seems to round out and balance the jerky spice.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Yeah, the Glycerine is very good, I happened to find some of the original sugar batch and was able to try them side by side. The Sugar is MUCH sweeter than the glycerine, to the point that I prefer the glycerine vs the sugar. However, I think the sugar one was a touch more tender but this might have been the vacuum tumbling vs the vac sealing?

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I might have to try another sugar substitute in future batches. There are plenty to choose from.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon Was there another thread or topic that addressed glycerine and using a vacuum tumbler?

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Not yet, but there will be, my last experiment with it went very well but I am trying to make it work with home equipment (no vacuum tumbler) so it is useful to home processors. In the next day or two we will be releasing a new video on making tender jerky with home equipment, so for anyone who has been following this thread, I would say that that video will be worth watching.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I was gifted a small tumbler over the weekend and made a batch of the gigawatt and dill pickle. I ran both through the smoker until I reached 160 and for the first time I finished in the Weston Pro Series 80L dehydrator to outstanding results!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Joe-Hell Gifted a Vac Tumbler? Do you have a direct line to Santa or something? Send us some pics of the tumbler and your finished product!

    By the way, I am done with the project that I have been working on for weeks and will FINALLY have some time to organize a bunch of these great pics you guys have been submitting here and posting them to Walton’s and Meatgistics social media pages!

  • Power User

    @Jonathon I’ve been making a friend of my dad’s (Uncle Pat) Canadian Bacon lately in exchange for fresh Walleye. He happened to have an extra tumbler and when I offered to purchase he simply gave it to me. It only has a 5 lb capacity which suits me for now. Each rack in my masterbuilt holds the same amount of product so it works out well. I’m pretty excited about my new Weston dehydrator as well. I am starting my largest gardening endeavor this year with plans to dry much of the produce for later use in fresh sausages and other recipes.

  • Power User

    If i just use my chamber vac will it work as well as a vacuum tumbler? Thoughts?? What if i sealed some jerky and marinade in a mason jar? So many questions, job keeps getting in the way…

  • Power User

    @Parksider It would certainly help things but I don’t know how it would directly compare. The mason jar is a good idea!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Parksider Sadly, I dont think anything is going to work as well as a vacuum tumbler. The combination of the vacuum and the impact energy from the tumbling works better than really anything else to get your solution into the meat. Most commercial places use a combination of injecting and tumbling and after that, they go directly to the smoker or oven. It is certainly better than nothing though! We should be publishing a video tomorrow where I tested a few methods to see what could be done without a vacuum tumbler or injector.

  • Power User

    @Jonathon Here is the tumbler. The brand is ‘Gourmia’…not sure if they make them anymore


  • Power User

    @Joe-Hell nice! like the price better!! @Jonathon One last shot, how about we inject an eye roast, cut it in half, vacuum seal it??? Just to see if you can get some of the moisture deeper into the meat… May have to give this a shot!

  • Walton's Employee

    @Parksider I played around with the idea but in my mind the extra sugar in the mixture would make the injection difficult so I did not purse it any further, I might need to try it though! Also, I flipped live today and here is the meatgistics post.

    @Joe-Hell Free is usually the best price point!

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