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The Difference Between Biltong and Jerky

What is biltong?

Originally from South Africa, biltong is a snack food made from cured and dried slices of meat.

Although biltong is a relatively new addition to the global snacking scene, it is not a new product. In fact, African communities have been making biltong as a means to preserve meat for hundreds of years.

The basic ingredients in traditional biltong are:




*black pepper


Historically, beef, ostrich, and other wild game have been the most common choices of meat, but any other meat may be used.

As biltong production grows, variations in the ingredients and flavor profiles are expanding. Potential add-ins include Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili peppers, and other spices.

Currently, the majority of commercial biltong is made from beef, but you may occasionally find ostrich, venison, and other game meat versions from artisanal producers.


Biltong, which originated in South Africa, is a snack made from cured and dried cuts of meat.

Biltong nutrients and potential benefits

Biltong’s surge in popularity is partly due to its much more favorable nutrient composition compared to many other common snack foods, such as potato chips, cookies, and crackers.

Its high protein and low carb contents makes it a good fit for a variety of diets. Biltong is also an exceptionally rich source of iron, a nutrient that many people around the world are lacking (4Trusted Source).

Although the exact nutrients depend on the specific brand and ingredients, the nutrition profile of a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of beef biltong is:

Calories: 80

Carbs: 1 gram

Protein: 16 grams

Fat: 2 grams

Iron: 35% of the daily value (DV)

Sodium: 19% of the DV

Dried beef also serves as a good source of several other essential nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins (6).


Biltong is a great source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals while being low in carbs. It’s particularly rich in iron.

Biltong is not the same as jerky

Biltong is often confused with jerky because they’re both dried, meat-based snacks. However, the ingredients and production methods are quite distinct.

Made via different processes

Both jerky and biltong use dried meat as their primary ingredient, but the meats are dried differently.

Jerky is usually roasted or smoked for several hours, whereas biltong is not cooked at all.

Instead, it is soaked in a salt-and-vinegar brine before being hung to air-dry. This drying and aging process can last for as long as 1–2 weeks before it is ready to eat (3).

Use different cuts of meat and ingredients

Although biltong and jerky share their primary ingredient, the same does not necessarily hold true for their specific cuts of meat.

Jerky is almost always made from very lean cuts of beef, whereas biltong may be made from either lean or fatty cuts, depending on the style and desired outcome.

What’s more, biltong is usually cut into wide, thick strips that are easier to hang, whereas jerky is typically thinly sliced into irregular pieces that are more suitable for cooking.

Traditionally, biltong is made with a simple combination of salt, vinegar, and spices. Jerky, on the other hand, does not contain vinegar and is more likely to contain secondary ingredients like sugar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.

Although regular biltong does not have the added condiment-style ingredients like Worcestershire or soy sauce, some of the modern, commercially prepared versions do.

Offer different textures and flavor profiles

Because of their varied production methods and ingredients, biltong and jerky don’t taste the same.

Jerky tends to have a smokier flavor than biltong due to the way it’s cooked. Thus, biltong is sometimes described as tasting meatier and less smoky than jerky.

The use of vinegar in the production of biltong also adds a distinctly acidic flavor that jerky doesn’t possess.

While jerky has a more consistent moisture content and texture because it relies on lean cuts of meat, biltong has more diverse textures because various cuts may be used. Some types may be very moist and fatty, with others dry and crumbly.


Source Healthline (International)