We investigated the applicability of atmospheric pressure plasma (APP) as an alternative to sodium nitrite in pork jerky manufacturing. Pork slices were marinated in brine with no sodium nitrite at 4 degrees C for 16 h and treated by APP for 0, 20, 40, and 60 min, respectively. The sample marinated in the brine with sodium nitrite (100 ppm) was also prepared. Then, all samples were dried. As APP treatment time increased, the a* value (redness), nitrosoheme pigment content, and residual nitrite content increased, while lipid oxidation decreased (all P < 0.05). Similar quality properties, particularly color, were observed in jerky applied by APP for 40 min compared to jerky made with sodium nitrite. After inoculation of marinated pork with Staphylococcus aureus or Bacillus cereus, the amounts of both pathogens in jerky applied by APP for 40 and 60 min were significantly lower than in jerky made with sodium nitrite. Consequently, APP can be applied for manufacturing potentially safer pork jerky without added sodium nitrite. Industrial relevance: The global interest in sodium nitrite substitute for meat products manufacturing has considerably grown for years because consumer's demand of foods labeled "natural" and "chemical-free" has been increasing. In general, APP is recognized as a novel non-thermal food processing technology that uses energetic, reactive species to inactivate microbes on various foods. Recently, meat curing system involving direct APP treatment was proposed. The present study tried to apply APP to manufacturing pork jerky without using sodium nitrite. As a result, similar quality properties, particularly color, were observed in jerky applied by APP compared to jerky made with sodium nitrite. Application of APP also improved the microbiological safety of pork jerky. Therefore, APP can be applied for manufacturing potentially safer pork jerky by inactivation of heat resistant pathogens without added sodium nitrite.