How to Make Homemade Beef Biltong (In the USA)

How to Make Homemade Beef Biltong (In the USA)

Beef biltong, a culinary gem with South African roots, has tantalized taste buds worldwide. It's more than just a snack; it's a cultural experience wrapped in rich flavors and traditions. 

Imagine creating this savory delight in your kitchen, bringing a piece of South African heritage to your home.

In this article, you will learn:

  • An easy-to-follow homemade beef biltong recipe.
  • The surprising health benefits of this savory snack.
  • Tips for customizing the recipe to suit your palate.

Let's embark on a culinary adventure that promises to be both delicious and rewarding.

History and Origin of Beef Biltong

Beef biltong is a snack steeped in history. Originating from the rugged landscapes of South Africa, biltong is a testament to the ingenuity of early Dutch settlers. 

Faced with the need to preserve meat in a harsh environment, they developed this unique drying technique.

Distinct from other dried meats like American jerky, biltong is not just about preservation but also flavor. It's crafted using a blend of spices that reflects South Africa's rich culinary tapestry. 

From indigenous African roots to Dutch and Malay cuisine influences, each slice of biltong is a bite of history.

Health Benefits of Beef Biltong

Beef biltong is not just a feast for the taste buds; it's a powerhouse of nutrition. 

Packed with protein, biltong is an excellent snack for fitness enthusiasts and anyone seeking a healthier diet. Its high protein content supports muscle repair and growth, making it a favorite among athletes.

Unlike many processed snacks, biltong is low in carbohydrates and free from added sugars. This makes it an ideal choice for low-carb and ketogenic diets. 

Furthermore, natural drying retains essential nutrients, including iron and B vitamins, vital for energy and overall health.

Ingredients and Tools for Making Homemade Beef Biltong

Ingredient Quantity Possible Substitutes
Beef (silverside or topside cuts) As needed (usually 1-2 kg) Alternative lean cuts like round or flank steak
Coarse Salt To taste Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Whole Coriander 2 tbsp, ground Ground cumin or caraway seeds
Black Pepper 1 tbsp, ground Mixed peppercorns
Vinegar (apple cider or malt) 1 cup White vinegar or lemon juice

Before diving into the recipe, gathering the right ingredients and tools is essential. The quality of your biltong hinges on these foundational elements. 

This section lists everything you need to start your biltong-making journey, ensuring you're well-equipped for success.


  • High-quality beef (silverside or topside cuts)
  • Coarse salt
  • Whole coriander, toasted and roughly ground
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Vinegar (apple cider or malt)


  • Sharp knife for slicing the meat
  • Mixing bowl for preparing the spice mix
  • The marinating dish for the meat
  • Biltong box or alternative drying method (oven at lowest setting or a dehydrator)

With your ingredients and tools ready, you're set to embark on the exciting process of making biltong at home. 

These carefully selected items will simplify the process and contribute significantly to the quality of your final product.

Step-by-Step Homemade Beef Biltong Recipe

Now that we have our ingredients and tools, it's time to delve into the heart of biltong-making. 

Follow these detailed steps to transform simple beef cuts into delicious biltong. This guide is designed to make the process straightforward and enjoyable, even for first-timers.

  1. Prepare the Meat: Cut the beef into consistent strips, about 1 inch thick. The size can vary based on your preference, but uniformity is key for even drying.
  2. Create the Marinade: Mix vinegar with your spices – coarse salt, ground coriander, and black pepper. The vinegar not only adds flavor but also helps in tenderizing the meat.
  3. Marinate the Beef: Submerge the beef strips in the marinade, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight for deeper flavor penetration.
  4. Drying Process: After marinating, hang the meat strips in a biltong box or place them in the oven in the lowest setting. Ensure good airflow if using a homemade setup.
  5. Patience is Key: Drying can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days, depending on the thickness of the meat and the drying method. The meat should be firm but not brittle.
  6. Final Touches: Once dried to your liking, slice the biltong into bite-sized pieces. It's now ready to be savored as a robust, flavorful snack.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor, and remember to share your delicious creation with friends and family.

Step-by-Step Homemade Beef Biltong Recipe

Customizing Your Homemade Biltong

Now that you've mastered the basic recipe, it's time to get creative! Customizing your beef biltong allows you to tailor the flavors to your preference. 

Whether you're a fan of spicy, tangy, or herb-infused tastes, the possibilities are endless. Let's explore some delectable variations to spice up your biltong experience.

  1. Spice It Up: Adding chili flakes or cayenne pepper can reduce the heat for those who love a kick.
  2. Herb Infusion: Incorporating rosemary or thyme can add a fragrant twist to your biltong.
  3. Sweet and Savory: A hint of brown sugar or honey balances the saltiness and adds a unique flavor profile.

With these customization ideas, your homemade beef biltong can take on a new character each time you make it. 

Experiment with different spices and herbs to find your signature blend. The beauty of biltong is its versatility, making it a perfect canvas for your culinary creativity.

Storing and Enjoying Your Biltong

Creating delicious biltong is just the start; proper storage and innovative ways of enjoying it can elevate your experience. 

This section provides practical tips on keeping your biltong fresh and ideas for incorporating it into various dishes or snacks.

  • Proper Storage: Learn the best methods to store your biltong, ensuring it stays fresh and tasty.
  • Creative Serving Ideas: Discover new ways to enjoy biltong, from simple snacking to gourmet dishes.

Remember, the key to great biltong is in the making and how you store and serve it. 

Experiment with different dishes and find your favorite way to enjoy this homemade delicacy.

Final Thoughts

In this journey through the art of making homemade beef biltong, we've explored not just a recipe but a rich tradition that spans continents and cultures. 

From the essential ingredients and tools to the step-by-step process and finally to customizing and enjoying your biltong, each stage offers a unique blend of culinary skill and creativity. 

We hope this guide has inspired you to try this delicious South African delicacy. 

The process is as rewarding as the final product, offering a perfect blend of flavor, nutrition, and cultural heritage. 

As you savor your homemade biltong, remember that each bite is more than just a snack; it's a story of tradition, perseverance, and culinary adventure.

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