Biltong Vs Jerky: What’s the Difference?


In one form or another, dried meat has been around for centuries. It was first used to preserve meat over long periods of time, but now it is mainly enjoyed as a snack food. While there isn’t a clear origin, it is known that tribes in Africa and even ancient Mayan cultures used this method of food preservation. When you dry the meat, you can stop bacteria from growing, helping it last longer.

We currently have many different methods to prepare dried meat, and they are split into two categories: biltong and jerky. These are two of the most popular types of dried meat, but they are quite different from each other. Biltong has different methods of preparation methods from jerky, resulting in vastly different flavours, so let’s take a look at the differences between them.

What is Biltong and How is it Made?

Biltong is a type of dried meat that originates from South Africa and is still popular in the country to this day. It is usually made from beef or game meats such as venison and has a much richer flavour than jerky. The preparation is generally the same, but there may be some differences in Biltong from Australia because the South African style is much more heavily spiced and generally uses more fatty cuts of meat.

The preparation process for biltong involves marinating the meat in a spiced vinegar mixture before drying, which gives it its distinctive taste by releasing the proteins. The biltong is then air-dried, usually over a period of three to four days, where it can develop its depth of flavour. Then once this period is over you can enjoy it either by itself or as an accompaniment to other dishes.

What is Jerky and How is it Made?

Jerky is another type of dried meat that originates from the Americas, where it was used as a way to preserve food for long trips. It is usually made from beef, pork or turkey and does not involve any marination as biltong does. Instead, jerky is seasoned with simple spices such as salt, pepper and garlic before being oven-dried at a low temperature until all the moisture has been removed. As a result, jerky tends to have a much drier texture than biltong, and its flavour comes mainly from the seasoning used.

The Difference Between Biltong and Jerky

The main difference between biltong and jerky is in their preparation methods. Biltong is marinated in a spiced vinegar mixture before being air-dried, which gives it its distinct flavour, while jerky is simply seasoned with simple spices before being oven-dried. This results in jerky being much drier than biltong simply because of the spices and drying methods, while biltong has more elements to its flavours.

Both types of dried meat have been around for centuries and have become popular snacks due to their convenience. Whether you prefer biltong or jerky will ultimately depend on your own personal preference. But whichever one you choose, it’s sure to be an enjoyable and delicious snack to take anywhere.

Where to Buy Biltong & Jerky

Biltong and jerky can be bought both online and in stores, there are many specialty shops where you can purchase both biltong and jerky, as well as some supermarkets that stock the products. These include African deli stores and even most supermarkets stock these dried meats, although the quality might not be great. Additionally, there are also many websites where you can buy either product online with ease.

Nutritional Value of Biltong and Jerky

Biltong and jerky are both high in protein and low in fat, making them great snacks for those looking to increase their protein intake. However, biltong has the added benefit of being lower in sodium than jerky as it is not heavily seasoned. Additionally, biltong is also higher in iron than jerky due to the marinating process so keep this in mind.


In conclusion, biltong and jerky are two popular types of dried meat that have distinct differences between them. Ultimately the choice between these two types of dried meats comes down to personal preference. We recommend you try both to determine your favourite.