I had another awkward conversation this week. I was saying how I liked to make jerky and my mate (who is South African) was saying he likes biltong and that jerky is nothing compared to biltong.

I've had packaged jerky and biltong before and I couldn't tell the difference. What is the difference?

  • It is also unlikely that coriander plays as central a role in the spice of Jerky as what is the case with Biltong.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 8:38

2 Answers 2


According to Wikipedia, the main differences are:

Biltong differs from jerky in three distinct ways:

  • The meat used in biltong can be much thicker; typically biltong meat is cut in strips approx 1" (25 mm) wide – but can be thicker. Jerky is normally very thin meat.
  • The vinegar, salt and spices in biltong, together with the drying process, cure the meat as well as adding texture and flavour. Jerky is traditionally dried with salt but without vinegar.
  • Jerky is often smoked; biltong is never smoked.

The same source states that typically Jerky is cut prior to drying, whereas biltong is dried first, then cut.

Apparently the different seasoning and curing/drying procedure leads to a technically similar but taste-wise remarkably different result.

  • I bought jerky and it clearly cut after drying. And the biltong I bought was in long uncut strips. (uncut after drying, obviously, they weren't entire cows)
    – Coomie
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 1:57

As Biltong is air dried, all the enzymes in the meat are intact and living.Jerky is also traditionally allot thinner and drier than biltong, while biltong can be more moist.

Jerky is meat that is cut into thin strips (usually 1/4 of an inch thick) and dehydrated to remove the moisture content. Biltong is similar in that it is a type of sliced, cured, and dehydrated meat, but it is the simple differences between it and Jerky that make the world of difference. First thing that you notice with Biltong is that it is cut against the grain of meat, something that differs with most Jerky products. Then you see that Biltong is spiced and flavored somewhat differently because of the use of pungent ingredients like vinegar, which is used as a pre-marinade. Finally you will notice that Biltong has a different cut to it, meaning that each strip is generally twice as thick beef jerky.

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