What Makes Biltong Different from Jerky?

Lewis Amy

Biltong and beef jerky are dried meat snacks high in protein and ideal for on-the-go snacking. The similarities, however, end there. It is cured in vinegar before being air-dried and sliced. Jerky is sliced and marinated in spices and seasonings before being cooked with heat. Biltong is saltier, thinner, and softer than beef jerky, which is smokier, drier, and chewier due to the process difference.

In this article, we’ll look at what biltong is and how it differs from jerky.

What Exactly Is Biltong?

Biltong is a dried and cured meat from South Africa and other countries in the southern African continent region. The term is derived from the Afrikaans words bil and tong, which mean buttock and strip. The most typical ingredients are meat (usually beef), coriander, black pepper, vinegar, and salt.

Biltong is frequently air-dried for an extended period of time. While beef is the most prevalent protein source, biltong can be made from a wide range of meats, such as exotic animals. Biltong’s texture is commonly described as being somewhere between regular Italian prosciutto and beef jerky. It provides convenience, health, and flavour, all of which are celebrated by beef jerky.


What Is Jerky?

Jerky is a nutrient-dense meat snack that has been dehydrated and cooked to make it shelf-stable. Beef jerky can last for a long time without spoiling because the moisture has been removed from the meat. As a result, jerky is an excellent on-the-go snack.

The majority of jerky products are marinated in a combination of seasonings and liquid ingredients. Salt, which acts as a natural preservative, is the main ingredient in any dried meat product. Jerky is a ready-to-eat food that requires no further preparation. It is fully cooked, shelf-stable, and necessitates no special handling. Beef jerky is fully cooked and ready to eat rather than raw. Jerky is typically consumed as a snack.

The Primary Distinctions Between Biltong and Jerky

There are some significant distinctions between biltong and beef jerky. These distinctions can be seen in the ingredients, process, taste and texture.


Biltong jerky snacks are flavoured with a combination of savoury spices. Biltong, on the other hand, is heavily reliant on vinegar for preservation. The meat is cured by soaking it in a bath of vinegar and other spices for an extended period of time. Biltong also contains little to no sugar, whereas some beef jerky options do.

Texture and Taste

Biltong has a savoury and vinegary flavour due to the use of vinegar and little to no sugar, as opposed to beef jerky, which can have a savoury and slightly sweet flavour. Both have a strong meat flavour profile.

Before drying and cooking, beef jerky is frequently sliced into strips. Biltong is air-dried whole before being sliced into bite-sized pieces. Biltong has a fluffier and softer texture due to the drying and slicing procedure, whereas beef jerky has a more steak-like chew.


Biltong is made without using any heat. It is air-dried, as opposed to beef jerky, which is slow-cooked at reduced temperatures to dehydrate and cook the meat. Big portions of meat, generally topside or silverside cuts, are air-dried for up to a week before being trimmed to the preferred texture to make biltong.

Is Biltong More Nutritious Than Beef Jerky?

When it comes to nutritional value, beef biltong is very similar to beef jerky. Both are nutrient-dense, low in calories, high in protein, and sodium-dense. Sugar is a significant difference. Biltong is sugar-free, whereas some jerky brands utilise a lot of sugar in their marinade. In general, this means that it is a better choice. However, when compared to sugar-free beef jerky, biltong and jerky are very similar.

Can You Prepare Biltong At Home?

Making biltong at home is a family tradition in many South African households, and it is something that is done every winter. The ability to replicate the proper conditions is essential for making biltong at home. Too high temperatures, humidity, or a variety of other mistakes can cause the meat to spoil and force you to discard it. Ensure that the entire process, from cutting to seasoning to hanging and drying, is carried out in a clean environment.

Cut the beef into 1-inch-thick strips. Cut against the grain. Combine the vinegar, pepper, salt, and coriander in a mixing bowl and marinate the beef cuts for 24 hours at 40 to 50 degrees F. After soaking, let it drip dry.

Hang individual meat pieces on a strong wire, so they don’t touch. The temperature must be kept between 40- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity should not exceed 50%. The biltong is ready to eat after four days, but it should be left for 14 days to dry properly. Biltong that has been partially dried can be frozen. When fully dried, it will keep for about a year in a cool, dark, and dry place.


People are snacking more than ever before. They are also looking for new and innovative snacks that offer a variety of flavours. This is one of the reasons why there are so many new and interesting snack products on the market. However, the days of unhealthy, low-quality and flavourless snacks are over. Consumers today want wholesome and tasty alternatives. One of the primary reasons biltong jerky has encountered a renaissance in recent years is for snacking. Biltong jerky meets all of the criteria for a perfect snack: it’s portable, high in protein, and delicious!

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