Biltong is a type of dried meat snack that has been popular in South Africa for centuries. Made from beef, game meats, or even fish, biltong has a unique flavour and texture that sets it apart from other meat snacks like beef jerky. In recent years, biltong has become more widely available in Australia, and many people are curious to try this authentic South African cuisine.

What is biltong?

Biltong is made by curing strips of meat with salt and spices and then hanging them to dry. The result is a flavorful, chewy snack that is high in protein and low in fat. Biltong can be made from a variety of meats, but beef is the most common. The meat is cut into strips, coated with a spice blend, and left to marinate for several hours before being hung to dry. The drying process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the thickness of the meat and the desired level of dryness.

The history and cultural significance of biltong in South Africa

Biltong has been a staple food in South Africa for centuries, with the earliest records of its consumption dating back to the 17th century. In the past, biltong was a way for people to preserve meat for long periods of time, particularly during times of drought or famine. Today, biltong is enjoyed as a snack or as part of a meal and is an important part of South African cuisine and culture.

Biltong vs. Beef Jerky: What’s the Difference?

While biltong and beef jerky are both dried meat snacks, there are several key differences between them. Biltong is typically thicker and chewier than beef jerky, with a more complex flavour profile. Biltong is also cured with vinegar, which gives it a distinctive tang, whereas beef jerky is usually marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture. Finally, biltong is air-dried, while beef jerky is dried in a dehydrator or oven.

How is biltong made?

The process of making biltong begins with selecting the best-quality meat, usually beef or game meats like venison or ostrich. The meat is cut into strips and then coated with a spice mixture, which can include coriander, black pepper, salt, and other seasonings. The strips are then left to marinate for several hours or overnight. After marinating, the strips are hung up to air-dry in a cool, dry place. This can take several days to a few weeks, depending on the thickness of the meat and the desired level of dryness. Once the biltong is dry, it is sliced into thin strips and ready to eat.

Where can I find a biltong shop in Australia?

Biltong can now be found in many speciality food stores, butchers, and even some supermarkets across Australia. To find the best biltong, it’s important to look for a store or butcher that uses high-quality meat and authentic South African spices. Online retailers are also a great option for those who live in areas where biltong is not readily available.

Biltong flavours and variations

Biltong can be made with a variety of meats and seasoned with different spices to create a wide range of flavours. Traditional biltong is made with beef and seasoned with coriander, black pepper, and salt, but there are many other flavours to try. Some popular variations include:

  • Chili biltong
  • Garlic biltong
  • BBQ biltong
  • Spicy peri-peri biltong
  • Smoked biltong


Biltong is a unique and flavorful South African meat snack that has become increasingly popular in Australia. Whether you’re a fan of traditional biltong or want to try one of the many variations available, there’s something for everyone at Cape to Cairo.