Beef Jerky VS Biltong

What is the Difference between Biltong and Jerky?

Biltong and beef jerky are both dried meat snacks that are nutrient dense, full of protein and great for on-the-go snacking. But the similarities end there. 

Biltong is cured in vinegar, air dried whole, and sliced. Beef jerky is sliced, marinated with spices and flavorings, then cooked with heat. The difference in process makes Biltong softer, saltier, and thinner than beef jerky which tends to be drier, smokier, and chewier.

Here is an overview of the two meat snacks.

Biltong vs Jerky

 

Beef jerky

Beef Jerky

Biltong shredded and ready to eat

Biltong

Ingredients

Made with blend of ingredients and flavorings

Features vinegar, coriander, all spice 

Fat Content

Lean cuts, less fat content

Ranges from lean to fatty cuts, higher fat content

Texture

Chewier, drier, steak-like texture

Softer, airer

Production Process 

Sliced, marinated, then cooked

Marinated, dried, then sliced

Cooking

Cooked with heat

Air dried

Origin

Americas

South Africa

Flavor

Smokey, meaty flavor

Vinegary, meaty flavor

What is Biltong?

Biltong on a wood cutting board.

Biltong is a cured and dried meat that comes from South Africa and other countries from the Southern part of the African continent. The word comes from the Afrikaans word bil and tong which translates to buttock and strip.

The most common ingredients of biltong include meat (usually beef), black pepper, coriander, salt, and vinegar. 

Biltong is often air-dried for a long period of time. While beef is the most common protein source, biltong can be made from a variety of meats including some exotic animals. People commonly describe the texture of biltong as somewhere between traditional beef jerky and Italian prosciutto.  

Biltong delivers on convenience, health, and taste, all attributes celebrated by beef jerky. 

Key Differences between Biltong and Jerky

Biltong versus jerky in same photo comparison

There are some clear differences between biltong and beef jerky. These differences are highlighted in the ingredients, taste, process, and texture. 

1. Ingredients: Complex vs Simple 

Both meat snacks utilize a blend of savory spices to generate robust flavor. Biltong, however, relies heavily on vinegar as a method of preservation. The meat is cured by an extended soaking period in a bath of vinegar and other spices. 

Biltong also uses little to not sugar, where some beef jerky options use significant sugar. 

2. Taste: Different Degrees of Sweetness

Because of the use of vinegar and little to no sugar, biltong tends to have a savory and vinegary taste versus beef jerky which can have a savory and slightly sweet taste. Both have a meat-forward flavor profile.

3. Production: Air Dried vs Cooked

Biltong is prepared with a lack of heat. Where beef jerky is slow-cooked at low temperatures to dehydrate and cook the meat, biltong is air dried. To make biltong, large chunks of meat, typically silverside or topside cuts, are air dried for up to a week and then trimmed to the desired texture.  

4. Texture: Fluffy vs Chewy 

Beef jerky is commonly sliced into strips before the cooking and drying process. Biltong is air dried as a whole piece and then sliced into bite-sized pieces. Due to the drying and slicing process, most biltong is softer and fluffier in texture whereas beef jerky has more of a steak-like chew.

Is Biltong healthier for you than beef jerky?

Biltong is very similar to beef jerky when it comes to nutritional content. Both are nutrient dense, low in calories, high in protein, and high in sodium.

One major difference is sugar. 

Biltong is made without any added sugar, whereas some jerky brands use lots of sugar in their marinade. This generally means that Biltong is a healthier option. When Biltong is compared to sugar-free beef jerky, however, the two are very similar.

Nutritional Comparison of Biltong & Beef Jerky

Nutrients (per 1 ounce serving)

Popular Biltong

Commercial Jerky

People’s Choice Old Fashioned Original

Calories

90

80

90

Carbs

0

6

0

Protein

16

11

16

Fat

2g

1g

2.5g

Sodium

430mg

460mg

490mg


If you’re looking to avoid sugar, Biltong is a great option. We also recommend the People’s Choice Beef Jerky options that are 100% sugar free.

Similarities between Biltong and Jerky

Beef Jerky and biltong on wood table with knife.

Many people believe that biltong is the South African version of beef jerky, which is definitely true. Both are high protein, meat snacks. Both feature sodium as a key preservative.

Biltong and beef jerky are both great options for healthy, on-the-go snacking. If you're a beef jerky lover, we highly recommend giving biltong a shot.

Bottom Line

People are snacking more than ever. 

People are also hungry for new and innovative snacks that bring a diversity of flavors to the table. This is one of the reasons that many new and interesting snack products have entered the market.

Gone are the days however of low-quality, unhealthy, and flavorless snacks. Today's consumers want wholesome and tasty options. Snacking is one of the main reasons beef jerky has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Jerky delivers on the key attributes of a perfect snack - portable, high in protein, and tasty!

Shop Our Full Line of Handcrafted Beef Jerky