All About Biltong & The Top 5 Best Brands

What is biltong?

Biltong is a form of thinly sliced, dried, cured meat that originated in Southern African countries such as Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa over 400 years ago. Although it can be made from a wide variety of meats ranging from Beef to Game as well as Fish, you’ll most commonly find it in Beef form. Although biltong is visually similar to beef jerky, the only similarities they share is that they were both traditionally used on long-distance journeys as a pick-me-up for travelers. 

Biltong vs Beef Jerky

When it comes down to flavor and how the meats are cured, Biltong vs beef jerky couldn’t be any more different; definitely read if you want to know why? It can be made with many different cuts of meat which allows for a wide range of flavors and textures. It’s much thicker than beef jerky and is cured by taking strips of meat, rubbing it in vinegar and spices, and then hanging up to naturally air dry. Jerky, on the other hand, is typically thin slices of lean beef marinated in a non-vinegar rub which is then cooked and dehydrated. The result? It is a slice of more tender meat with less sugar and a high amount of protein for a relatively small serving.  


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Why is biltong rising in popularity?

With all the nutritional benefits associated with biltong, it’s easy to see why it’s gained popularity in recent years. What was once found only in service stations and petrol stations can now commonly be found in big supermarket chains, artisan food stores, and local family butchers. Over a 5-year period, dollar sales in the meat snacks category – which includes beef jerky as well as biltong and many other snacks – grew by $1bn and exceeded growth of popular snacks such as crisps, nuts, and chocolate. One of the main reasons for this is due to consumer’s heightened awareness of what they’re eating. With health at the forefront of everyone’s mind, more people are opting for healthier snacks like biltong, which is packed with flavor, natural protein as well as all the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs, rather than reaching for an overly processed high in fat snack like crisps. 

What are the nutritional benefits?

Biltong is a great snack for anyone on a diet or looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, as well as being incredibly tasty. It’s packed with a tonne of nutritional benefits too, and below, we take a look at the key nutritional benefits of biltong:

  • A fantastic source of natural protein – when it is slowly dried, it loses over half of its weight, enhancing its nutritional values and doubling the amount of natural protein per serving – just one 30g pouch is enough to give you 50 percent of your daily protein requirement.
  • Rich source of iron – Iron is essential for many body functions, including the growth and development of cells. It’s also essential for carrying red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body. A deficiency can cause tiredness, light-headedness, and increased heart rate. I t is high in iron, and many dieticians recommend increasing the intake of foods like biltong when they are struggling with conditions such as anemia.
  • High in vitamin b12 – It is an excellent source of vitamin B12, which is essential in keeping the body’s nerve and red blood cells healthy as well as helping to construct DNA and genetic material in all cells—eating it can, as part of a balanced diet help to increase the amount of B12 in the body. 
  • Low in saturated fats – unlike many other cured types of meat, biltong is extremely low in fat – there’s only around 3% fat in one 25g serving, making it the perfect snack to incorporate alongside any weight loss plan.
  • Low in carbohydrates – like many types of meat, biltong is low in carbohydrates, making it a great addition to any low carbohydrate diet.

Is it healthy?

One of the most commonly asked questions is whether or not it is healthy. Our answer? 100% yes. While everything is good in moderation, biltong is one of the better snacks to reach for when you’re hungry. Not only does it taste delicious, coming in a range of flavors and textures, but it also fits a wide range of diets such as keto and paleo too making it a popular choice amongst those trying to lose weight. Unlike many other cured meat snacks, biltong is super low in fat and high in protein, making it the perfect addition for anyone on a strict training and diet regime as it can help up the daily protein intake the same way as protein bars or whey powder.

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Is it good for building muscle?

Protein and building muscle go hand-in-hand. Protein is essential for muscle tissue repair as it helps to restore the body’s supply of amino acids, which are the foundations of strength. Eating the right amount of protein is important for stimulating muscle development, which is where it comes in. Biltong is a protein powerhouse, and just a 25g serving is enough to give you 50 percent of your daily protein requirement, meaning it’s great if you’re on a high protein diet and are trying to build lean muscle mass. If one does not know how to calculate your protein intake per day to build muscle check out our protein calculator. It’s also a great source of vital minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium as well as vitamin B-12 which helps to replenish the body after a tough training session. 

Who are the top 5 biltong maker companies?

m-eat biltong

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Established in 2018 by friends and biltong aficionados Lisa, Brett, and Mark, M-EAT delivers the most exceptional quality biltong straight from Wimbledon, UK. With full traceability from farm to the packet, m-eat only uses trusted, certified UK farms and prime, grass-fed cattle to create their tender, protein-packed range of biltong. With award-winning taste and quality, M-EAT’s curing process maximizes flavor and removes nasty unwanted saturated fats. With no added sugar, nitrates, or MSG, M-EAT’s snacks are bursting with flavor and are available in five great flavors, including chili chutney, garlic, peri-peri, bbq, original as well as offering a limited-edition venison version. M-EAT is championing the way when it comes to cured meat snacks, offering a great alternative to overly processed protein shakes and bars – the perfect addition to a balanced diet.  One can buy a biltong box on subscription from this company as well.

Ember Snacks

Delicious biltong that’s better for you and the planet? That’s what brothers Jack, and Harry Mayhew behind ember snacks have set out to do. Born from a desire to create a fantastic, tasty, and healthy snack that is sourced sustainably, the biltong from ember snacks uses only high welfare, 100% organic, and grass-fed beef from British and Irish farmers. Packed full of natural protein, ember stock a variety of flavorsome biltong – from garlic and rosemary, chili, and the original, which is available in a number of different pack sizes – you’ll be spoilt for choice when you shop with ember snacks. 

Hunters biltong

Hunters biltong is a family-run business operating from Barking, UK. With over 30 years of knowledge and experience in the industry, Hunters are specialists in their trade dedicated to providing premium quality and delicious biltong. With a range of unique flavors, all their biltong is made from prime grass-fed beef sourced from British and Irish farms and marinated in their own blend of select herbs and spices to guarantee quality and lasting flavor. Available in ten great tasty flavors, including lemon pepper, teriyaki, honey sriracha, and smoky bbq, Hunters biltong has some of the most varied flavors on the market. With no added MSG, artificial colors, or flavorings, their biltong can easily fit into a variety of diets and lifestyles. 

BEEFit snacks

BEEFit snacks were established seven years ago in Chichester, UK. As a young, energetic and lively brand, BEEFit wanted was born from a desire to offer an alternative, healthy and tasty snack to the current offerings of the dried meat market. Offering biltong that is not only low in carbs and sugars but high in protein – packing an impressive 20g in every 30g pouch – BEEFit’s biltong makes for the perfect post-workout snack. Available to purchase in six delicious flavors, including peri-peri, chili, garlic, BBQ, Teriyaki, and original, their biltong contains all the natural goodness our bodies need and deserve. 

Smally’s Biltong

Smally’s biltong was founded in 2015 by Chris Small after returning from a two-year trip to South Africa. Having fallen in love with biltong on his travels, Chris decided he would bring this tasty snack to homes across the UK. Stocking a wide variety of biltong – from lean to fatty and available in a range of flavors and cuts – Smally’s biltong provides a nutritious and healthy snack alternative to crisps, protein bars, and nuts thanks to its nutritional values. 

Can biltong be part of my Keto diet?

Absolutely! The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbohydrates puts the body into a metabolic state called Ketosis. The ketogenic diet plan encourages healthy fat intake from avocados, olive oils, and eggs, as well as lean protein from grass-fed beef. This is where biltong comes in – biltong has been praised by many followers of the keto diet as the perfect snack. Thanks to many brands using grass-fed beef, it means the meat in biltong is extremely lean vs. other meat-based snacks like jerky. The way biltong is made ensures zero sugar and maximum protein, which helps keep you fuller for longer and any cravings at bay. Exactly what you need to stay in Ketosis. As biltong lasts much longer than other fresh snacks, it’s incredibly easy to keep in your gym bag, car, or locker at work whenever you need a convenient and tasty snack. 

The final verdict 

You probably already understand that protein is the foundation of a healthy body – it helps to maintain and improve muscle mass and cell function and helps to curb cravings by keeping hunger under wraps. Biltong contains tonnes of lean protein, which is why it makes for such a great snack to add to a balanced and healthy diet. It’s low in fat, has high levels of vitamin B12, and is much more natural than many other ‘protein’ snacks on the market. While many protein snacks are convenient, they’re sadly over-processed, meaning you lose all the benefits.