Biltong vs Jerky: What's the difference?

Biltong vs Jerky: What's the difference?

Updated: Apr 08, 2024Veronika Larisova

Most people have heard of jerky but unless you're South African you may not have heard of biltong!

What's biltong?

Biltong is a traditional South African savoury snack that's similar to beef jerky. It's made by air-drying seasoned meat, typically beef.

Unlike beef jerky, which is often dehydrated or smoked, biltong is not cooked but rather cured and dried over several days which preserves most nutrients.

Biltong is relatively new to the snacking scene, despite African communities making it to preserve meat in a hot climate without refrigeration for hundreds of years.

While biltong is usually made from beef, various types of game are also used. Our next favourite after beef, is lamb biltong. 

Biltong is often confused with jerky because they’re both dried, meat-based snacks.

However, the ingredients and production methods are different, making biltong healthier and more tender.  

The differences between biltong and jerky 

Production method

Jerky is usually cooked (at around 70 degree C) or smoked for several hours, whereas biltong is not cooked at all.

Biltong is soaked in a salt-and-vinegar brine before being hung to slowly air-dry. This drying process and ageing process can last for days before it is ready to eat.

Drying is better for the nutrient profile of the beef because more heat sensitive vitamins, like Vitamin B12, are retained. 

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. A lot of jerky is surprisingly high in sugar, upwards of 20%.

Many commercial biltong and beef jerky uses nasty preservatives like added nitrates and nitrites (which we avoid with our biltong and beef bars).

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. 

Biltong is usually cut into wide, thick strips that are easier to hang, whereas jerky is typically thinly sliced (although we thinly slice our biltong as it's easier to eat).

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. 

Why is Chief Biltong the best on the market?

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

Chief Nutrition Biltong is made from grass-fed and grass-finished regeneratively farmed organic beef, which makes it stand out amongst all the other products of similar type. 

Biltong Recipes

We love using biltong as a meat substitute in our daily meals.

You can throw it in a veggie bowl or salad, use it for scrambled or baked eggs, or as an addition to a grazing plate. 

Our favourite biltong recipe is Biltong Caesar Salad:

This recipe is an easy assemble lunch option. Just make the Caesar Dressing in advance and take to work in an airtight jar or container. Just tip and mix with the salad ingredients for a high-protein, clean and filling lunch.

Serves: 1
Prep time: 5 minutes


  • Caesar Dressing
  • ½ cup unsweetened
  • Greek yoghurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 anchovy in olive oil, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely grated
  • Parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices sourdough bread, sliced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 head Cos lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1 ½ packets Chief Traditional Biltong


    What To Do

    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the bread onto a baking tray and place into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and crunchy to bite.

    While the bread is toasting, add all the ingredients for the Caesar Dressing into a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.

    Add the lettuce, cucumber, avocado, toasted croutons and Chief Biltong into the bowl with the dressing. Gently toss to coat well. Divide the salad between bowls. Top with extra flakes of Parmesan to serve.

    For more recipes, download our e-book.


    Veronika Larisova
    Co-Founder, Registered Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist 


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