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?

  • Team Blue

    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 (http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html)

    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.

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    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.

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    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!

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    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!

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    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?

  • Team Blue

    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?

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    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!

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