What's The Difference Between Jerky And Biltong?

Just about everyone in the U.S. has probably tried jerky at some point, but biltong is a different story. While you can find jerky at grocery stores, gas stations, and supermarkets across the country, biltong is trickier to track down. If you've tried it before, or gotten lucky enough to find it at a store, it might seem like the same thing as jerky, but while the two are similar, they're not exactly the same.

According to Steak School, jerky comes from North and South America, and also comes in many more flavors than biltong. When making jerky, lean cuts of meat are sliced super thin, then cooked at a low temperature to dehydrate them. Since the meat doesn't have much fat on it, jerky's texture is tough and chewy. It's usually flavored with sauces or seasonings that can be high in salt and sugar.

Usually, jerky is smoked or cooked in a dehydrator, and you can sometimes still taste a little smokiness when you bite into it, according to Eat This, Not That. And if you want more flavor options, jerky is definitely your best bet. You can find just about any jerky flavor you can imagine, whereas biltong usually doesn't have as many choices.

What is biltong, and how is it different from jerky?

Unlike jerky, according to Chowhound, biltong comes from South Africa, which is why you don't see it around the U.S. as much. And while jerky is just dried cuts of beef, biltong is both cured and dried, usually by letting it marinate overnight in a mix of vinegar and spices. Once it's been seasoned, biltong is air-dried instead of cooked, then finally cut into slices and packaged. Thanks to the curing process, biltong usually has a tenderer texture than jerky. Also, rather than a variety of flavors, biltong is typically only seasoned with traditional South African spices, which can include clove, allspice, and coriander.

Another advantage of eating biltong is that it's almost always healthier than beef jerky. According to Eat This, Not That, biltong tends to be leaner than jerky, higher in protein, and lower in sodium. And Chowhound notes that biltong has less water and sugar than jerky, which also helps make it a healthier snack choice. Though it may not be as common as jerky in the U.S., biltong also keeps for months, so if you're interested in trying it, it's easy to find and order online.