What Is Biltong? The Meat Snack that Differs from Jerky


Biltong is one of the world’s most loved meat snacks. It’s tasty and nutritious, and it’s great for the whole family. Moms love using dry snap sticks for the babies when they are teething, and fitness fanatics enjoy it as a protein source after their workout. However, another snack is similarly called beef jerky, and it’s just as delicious but very different from biltong itself. Here is how the two snacks differ:


Biltong originally comes from South Africa and has travelled around the world since the 1800s. The preparation method was used to preserve meat on long journeys and has been called the travelling snack since.

Beef jerky is an American snack made and discovered by a tribe called the Quechua, who similarly preserved their meat. Over time the method to dry it has changed, and so has the ingredients, and it is now more of a preservative snack than an ordinary meat snack.


The Traditional biltong recipe started out being mildly prepared with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Over time, more flavors of spice have been added to give the consumer various flavors with the same kind of meat. There are no sauces used to make biltong, and in some sporadic instances, natural olive oils are added to the mix when specialty flavors like chili or fruit chutney are added to the meat.

Beef jerky contains a lot of salt, sugar, and sauce to keep it from being dried. The spice mixture, although tasty, can make the meat hard to chew and is known for not being suitable for anyone’s teeth. It’s the beef snack of cowboys and American farmers who spend long days in the sun watching their cattle and who enjoy chewing the same piece of jerky for hours.


Beef jerky comes in only one variety of meat. Manufacturers tried poultry, but the texture was too rough, and there was fear that if it did not dry properly, it could cause serious illness. America does not have a variety of game animals, and fish was out of the question entirely.

Biltong, however, comes in a variety of flavors and a variety of meat choices. There is beef, game meat like kudu and springbok, fish, chicken, and bacon prepared differently, but have the same texture. Farmers started using game meat when they realized how long it takes to cultivate livestock and how popular biltong had become. Large ostrich farms are run because, second to beef; ostrich is the most popular game meat used. Using game meat gave the exportation of biltong a boost.

Biltong and beef jerky are similar but still very different, serving their purpose amongst the respective cultures. Both of these treats have been sold worldwide for years and will continue to find their places in the snack aisle, but if you were curious about the differences, you should go out and buy biltong and jerky simultaneously and try them out for yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised and stick to both selections. Try them in your salad, as a tv snack or while you are at the office. Share it with friends and family or add it to gifts, but make sure that you try both and judge them fairly when you do.


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