Are Slim Jims Keto?
Written by Alethea M
on February 10, 2021
Are Slim Jims are Keto-Friendly
Yes - but, before you get excited and start stock-piling Slim Jim meat sticks, you should know that Slim Jims aren’t a great solution to your keto snacking struggles. These meat sticks might make a fun road trip snack—they are certainly cheap and easy to find—but, Slim Jims are filled with a few ingredients you are going to want to avoid for healthy ketosis.
Keto Rating: Ok
As a somewhat low carb snack, Slim Jims are an okay choice for your keto diet. But because of the included corn syrup, Slim Jims shouldn’t be a normal part of your food choices.
Nutritional Facts for Slim Jims
The short 8g original flavored sticks you will buy in the box or package contain only 1g of protein and 3g of fat for the 130mg of sodium and 1g of net carbs for each stick (four are considered a full serving).
The giant (28g) original flavored stick you will see in the gas stations or lining the checkout isles of the grocery store contains 6g of protein and 10g of fat for the 460mg of sodium, 5g of carbs and 1g of fiber.
Not a great trade-off for the size, filling or nutritional benefits.
The ingredients for this snack stick include beef, pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, textured soy flour, corn syrup and other flavoring ingredients.
Plus, when you are on a keto diet, you want to watch your fat types. Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats that you find in plant-based foods and oils. Slim Jims are almost entirely saturated fat that could raise your cholesterol and impact your heart.
Of course, the fact that Slim Jims aren’t truly beef sticks can be a bit unsettling as well—they are meat sticks and you aren’t getting a lot of quality meat here. You are already getting questionable beef and pork cuts, but the mechanically separated chicken ingredient is very disturbing when you look into it.
Keto Meat Stick Snack Alternatives
When it comes to meat sticks, there are other, better, alternatives.
Old Wisconsin Beef Sticks have 6g protein and 10g of fat (only 4g is saturated) for a 30g serving size (2 sticks), with 470mg sodium and 1g of total carbs. These sticks contain less than 2% corn syrup. Still not incredibly healthy, but when you are counting macros, these small changes will make a big difference. Plus, they only use one kind of meat for their sticks (turkey is another option).
If you want to ensure better meat cuts, beef jerky might be the right processed keto snack to choose. People’s Choice and Cattaneo Bros are some really good, keto-friendly beef jerky brands. You will want to watch out for the sugar content in some of the more mainstream brands. Jack Links does have a Zero Sugar Beef Jerky option that is great for keto followers with 13g protein 1.5g fat (only 0.5g saturated fat) for the 500mg sodium and 1g carb.
Pork rinds are another great alternative for a keto snack that is very low in carbs.
In all of these processed snacks, you will want to watch the sodium. These might be a good way to stave off the mid-afternoon craving for a bag of potato chips, but they aren’t a good meal replacement.
Make Your Own Meat Sticks
If you want a homemade keto-friendly alternative that avoids excess preservatives, salt and corn syrup, you can make your own Slim Jims. Be prepared for an intensive process that will take days to complete. Here is an example of one beef sticks snack recipe you could make at home and adjust the spices to taste.
Keto-Friendly Spicy Beef Snack Stick
- 4 pounds ground beef
- 4 tablespoons meat cure mix (like Morton® Tender Quick®)
- 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce (optional)
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
Mix all ingredients together until even mixture results (a stand mixer works well for this task). Seal in a ziplock bag and refrigerate. For the next 2-3 days, knead meat in the bag for 5-7 minutes every day and continue to refrigerate. You don't have to do this over multiple days, but the extra time allows the meat and spices to really combine.
On the final day, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Knead before forming the small and long logs. Wrap each log in aluminum foil, poking holes for grease release (be careful not to poke aluminum into the meat). Allow the sticks to bake for 5 hours in a broiler pan to catch grease runoff (a cooling rack on a cookie sheet will work for this as well). Turn off the oven and allow meat sticks to remain inside as the oven cools for the next 3 hours. Store in the refrigerator.
Here are a few more recipes you could try:
- Spicy Beefstick Recipe from Allrecipes
- Beef Sticks from Taste of Artisan
- Homemade Beef Sticks from Just A Pinch Recipes
- Pepperoni Snack Sticks from Bush Cooking
Or, watch this video for a tutorial:
Healthy Alternatives to Cured Meat
If you want to push for even healthier choices, avoid processed and cured meats altogether. You can slice and sauté beef strips for a delicious and filling snack. No one says it has to be dinner time to enjoy a meaty dish. Use butter or render your beef fat to give the strips extra flavor and don’t overcook them. You can flavor with similar spices to the beef jerky recipe to get a similar flavor without the extra curing (salt) ingredient.
If you are looking for something crunchy, almonds or celery are great keto-friendly options for healthy snacking.
Author: Alethea M
Alethea has a background in marketing and advertising. She has personally used the keto diet to lose weight after having her four kids within five years. She enjoys art, gardening, yoga and reading in her free time.