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Biltong

My new favorite dry cured piece of meat, this South African staple is incredibly easy to make and mind boggling delicious! I just can’t stop eating the stuff.

Biltong falls somewhere between American Beef Jerky and Italian Bresaola. I hate to even compare it to the two because truly it stands alone in flavor and texture. Once you taste a piece you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’ve broken biltong down into 3 basic steps. Preparing the meat, curing the meat, then drying the meat.

Preparing the Meat

Choosing the right cut of meat is extremely important when making high quality biltong. You can technically use any cut of beef that you want but a very popular choice for biltong is the bottom round (aka silver side), top round is also another popular cut as well.

I personally leave the fat on as I like the extra flavor that it adds as well as the nice mouth feel but since it’s your biltong you can decide for your self. Trim your meat of any silver skin, gristle, or soft fat and cut your steaks WITH THE GRAIN at roughly 2cm thick.

At 2cm thick your biltong will take 4-6 days to finish drying. If you cut your slices too think, you run the risk of developing something called case hardening (where the outside of the meat forms a tough shell that prevents the inside of the meat from drying)

Curing the Meat

Often I hear about how salty biltong can be. In today’s recipe I’ve calculated an equilibrium cure so that your biltong comes out perfect every time. All you have to do in enter the weight of your trimmed biltong steaks in the box that reads “How much do you want to make”. The recipe will adjust accordingly based off of how much meat you have. I will apologize in advance as you will need to enter the weight of your meat in grams (sorry, I like metric for this recipe😁)

The cure for this recipe is very simple and I would like to think that it tastes more like a traditional South African Biltong. Feel free to adjust the spices (not the salt or vinegar) if you want to. Some people like to add fennel, brown sugar, paprika, or all spice, so you can have fun with it.

Drying the meat

When it comes time to dry biltong all you have to do is hang it in an area where it’s warm, a little breezy, and low humidity. Basically I shoot for a temperature of 70f-80f and a humidity of 50%-60%. I find that these conditions are perfect for producing a nice biltong that doesn’t dry too fast. Generally I just hang mine in a warm sunny area in my kitchen by a window.

If you don’t have these conditions at home you might want to consider building or buying a biltong box. A biltong box is a very simple box that allows you to control the temp and air flow. It basically consists of a heating element and a small computer fan with a few vent holes. I hope to have a post on how to build one soon😉

Once your biltong has lost the appropriate amount of weight, it’s ready to eat!! At 50% weight loss you have a “Wet” biltong and at 70% weight loss you have a “Dry” biltong.

Enjoy the video and the recipe where I take you through the entire process of making South African Biltong. If you have any questions let me know..

Here are a few things you might find useful when making beef Jerky

2 Guys & A Cooler Amazon Storefront

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4.43 from 114 votes

Biltong

South Africa's favorite meat snack
Prep Time2 days
dry time5 days
How much do you want to make? 4540 grams

Ingredients

  • 4540 g bottom round or top round trimmed and cut into 2cm thick steaks – with the grain
  • 120 ml red wine vinegar
  • 60 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 102 g salt
  • 34 g pepper corn
  • 68.1 g coriander seed toasted
  • 22.7 g chili flakes optional for heat

Instructions

  • Begin by preparing your meat. Trim off any silver skin, gristle, and soft fat. Cut your meat WITH THE GRAIN into 2cm thick steaks. (I USE THE WIDTH OF MY THUMB TO MEASURE EACH STEAK)
  • Toast the coriander and coarsely grind it up. Coarsely grind the pepper corn and chili flakes as well. Combine the coriander, pepper corn, and pepper flakes into a container.
  • Combine the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a container and pour half of this mixture In a tray that can fit your meat. Arrange all of your meat on that tray and pour the rest of the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce mix over the top.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 of your salt over the meat and enough of your coriander spice blend to coat the meat. Turn the meat over and sprinkle the rest of the salt over the meat. HERE I LIKE TO SEPARATE A LITTLE CORRIANDER SPICE BLEND SO I CAN ADD IT AT THE END BUT THIS IS OPTIONAL. Add the remaining coriander spice blend to your meat.
  • Place the meat in a vacuum seal bag (or zip lock bag) ensuring that all of the spices and any liquids from your tray are added as well. Try not to leave anything behind.
  • Vacuum seal the bag or if you are using zip lock bags, just remove as much air as possible and place in your refrigerator for 24-36 hours (massage the bag and flip it every 12 hours-this helps the meat cure evenly).
  • After the meat has finished curing remove it from the bag, weigh each steak, record the weight (and your target weight loss), and place small hooks on each piece of meat. I suggest writing down the actual weight and making your target weight 50% less than that. 50% dryness is considered "wet" biltong. Once your meat has lost 50% you can taste a piece, if you prefer it to be more dry you can let it hand for a few days more. I personally like my biltong somewhere between 55% and 60% weight loss. Sort of a medium dryness. If you like a "dry" biltong you can let it go to 70% dryness. It really just comes down to personal preference
  • If you have some reserve coriander spice blend you can add it to your meat pieces now, lightly sprinkle the spice mix on each side (this will give you a very mice spice crust when your biltong is ready)
  • Hang your biltong in a warm, sunny area with a gently breeze. The ideal temperature should be between 70f and 80f (21.2c – 26.6c) and a humidity between 50% and 60%.
  • Once your biltong has dried to your liking you can vacuum seal them and store in your refrigerator or freezer.

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93 thoughts on “Biltong”

    1. You’re from IL? If so and feel like talking a bit (especially how to get mold and starters here) and replacing notes – daber iti!

  1. 5 stars
    Biltong was my first introduction to air dried meats. I highly suggest investing in a biltong cutter if you make very much of it!

    1. The humidity is a bit low for biltong but it should work. I would cut my pieces a little thinner (1.5 cm) so they can dry a little faster and more evenly

  2. I loved the video and came to your site to see info on the older video where you might’ve built a simple biltong cabinet and I’m looking to make biltong now! I have these different humidity bags that give and take humidity in a humidor for cigars and keep an equilibrium at set RH%’s. Where do I find any of that info on the older video info?…All I got by searching for “biltong” was the new video linked above. Also, thoughts on using those RH stabilizing bags?

  3. How important is the temperature when drying? This time of year, my house runs between about 60 – 65 F? Is that too cool or will it just take a little longer to dry?

    1. 5 stars
      At times I replace red-wine vinegar by apple vinegar, according to availability. Will try malt vinegar. Red wine vinegar could add tannins, which makes for longer shelf life 🙂
      Those who love (and are willing to pay for it) the proper balsamic vinegar (from the “consortio”), may put very few drops of this nectar on a slice ready to be dried, and see how this adds to the flavor.

  4. I cold smoked it after the it was in the marinade for 8h at 10c in the smoker and it taste wonderful if you want to test it. You are very good end the web site is exceptional. Continue your good job.

  5. Any suggestions for other spices to, you know, spice things up a bit? :-p

    I´m looking for recipes using garlic, smoked paprika or whatever else.

  6. can this be done on a chest freezer? My chest freezer is a sealed or no airflow dedicated fermentation chamber, i could control the humidity and temps.

  7. régis moiraud

    2 stars
    Mais quand je l’ai mise en pratique, la conclusion a été rude, J’ai gâché mon morceau de filet de cerf (cervus eplaphus), car il manque vraiment du sel. j’ai vu que toutes les recettes de salaison reposent en général sur 40-45 g par kg,

    J’ai appliqué vos 22 g et ma viande séchée, qui a perdu 45 % de son poids est magnifique,.. mais insipide.

    Est-ce une erreur de transcription ?

    1. Nope the recipe is correct. 2.2% salt is perfect for this recipe (I used beef) if you start changing the protein you’ll have to make your own adjustments. 4% salt (like you suggest other recipes call for) will deliver a piece of meat that is not edible. It will be to salty. At the end of the day everyone will have their own unique tastes and flavor profiles that they like. Feel free to use my recipes as a guideline but adjust according to your personal tastes. BTW, your fillet isn’t spoiled, it’s still perfectly fine and completely edible, it just may not be as salty as you prefer it, and don’t you think “tasteless” is a bit of an exaggeration? Water is tasteless 😉

  8. Merci pour votre réponse.

    J’ose vous conseiller quand même, amicalement et en men ‘excusant, d’essayer votre recette au gramme près, puis de la goûter, et de nous en reparler. Le cerf élaphe est une chair plus maigre que le bœuf, se salant mieux.

    Le Jambon de Parme, ou de Bayonne prêts à la consommation titrent entre 5 et 6 % de sel (chlorure de sodium) le biltong du commerce titrerait quant à lui autour 6.8 % de sel (chlorure de sodium, NaCl) en moyenne ; tous les salages sous vide pour des productions familiales de type bresaola, viande des Grisons sont entre 40 et 45 g de sel par kg de produit brut. Et ensuite, ça sèche et ça se concentre.

    La recette de biltong que je pratiquais autrefois avec passage au vinaigre puis dans un mélange sel sucre épices donnait un salage difficilement maîtrisable et souvent trop élevé.

    Je pense qu’il y a une confusion entre sodium (Na) et chlorure de sodium (le sel, NaCl), ou bien mon palais européen n’est pas le même que le vôtre … On passe de sodium (Na) à chlorure de sodium NaCl en multipliant par 2.54.

    Mais quoiqu’il en soit, votre site est une vraie merveille ! Continuez !

    1. Hello Regis. I’ve read 8 recipes now for Biltong, or 9 now counting this one. While there is a large amount of variation (marinade first with spices applied only at hanging, cutting into smaller portions as here vs. hang-drying entire slabs of meats), one thing I did not find was much variation in the levels of salt used.

      Eight of the 9 recipes called for salt in the 2.2%-2.5% range (by original weight of meat). One called for more (4.8%) – however this recipe called for coarse sea salt and “brush off excess salt” after several hours, so it’s not possible to know the final salt content of that recipe, except to note it must be something less than the original 4.8% due to “brush off excess salt”.

      So it seems the majority of recipes call for about 2.5% salt. Note that you mention commercial Biltong is 6.8% salt – but isn’t that the salt content of the final product? Starting at 2.5% and drying 60% ends up at a final salt content around 6.3%.

      1. Votre recette est superbe ! Pour mon palais français, il faut 26 à 28 g de sel par kilogramme pour une consommation vers 55 % de perte de poids à partir de la sortie du salage. J’obtiens ce séchage en 6 jours dans ma boite à biltong.

        J’ai remplacé la Worcestershire sauce par une sauce poisson (garum) que j’ai réalisée moi-même avec du maquereau, en trois mois. On peut utiliser du nuoc-mam, j’imagine. Le résultat me convient absolument.

        J’ai cru jusqu’à aujourd’hui que vous étiez Sud-Africain …

  9. Adding some nutmeg also makes a BIG difference in the taste. I would say not more than 10ml on the amount of meat you used

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Eric – as I sometimes note, this is a comment for your information that you need not necessarily display – your choice.

    This regards your Biltong Box video on YT. First, thanks so much for taking the time to post that project because I am certain this would not have come to mind on my own and it would have taken me 2 failures before I got it right. Besides Biltong (nearly dry – and filling my patio with a fantastic odor), I think my son and I will be able to use this box for other dried meats, even just regular old “jerky” style meats.

    My comment regards the additional several holes you placed in the lid of your box. Early in my engineering career I spent 3 years mapping out and correcting airflows in manufacturing processes that were sensitive to airflow. Given what you desire is airflow primarily from the bottom of the box, up past the meat, and out the fan exhaust, I think it is quite likely that putting holes in the lid at least partially diminishes this goal. Although exhaust jets have a relatively well-defined shape for a defined distance (depending on the velocity and shape of the exhaust exit), suction jets are much less defined. Suction jets instead tend to gather air from the nearest available source rather than reaching deeply into a reservoir (unless no other sources except at the bottom of the reservoir are available).

    This means that having the several air vents in the lid will cause much – if not most – of the air exhausted by your fan to be drawn from the lid holes themselves in a sort of short-loop airflow, and likely considerably less air will be drawn from the inlet holes at the bottom of your box.

    You can test this with chemical “smoke sticks” available on Amazon, which are designed to help visualize airflows (empty box, no food – some of these sticks use chemicals you wouldn’t want on food). Test the box as a whole and then retest with the lid inlet holes blocked by a slip of paper and see the difference.

    My guess is that unless your fan runs so hard that it completely overwhelms the capacity of all of the inlet holes in your box combined (bottom and lid), you are likely going to see a considerable amount of air circulation from the lid inlet holes to the fan exhaust, and relatively less air flow coming from the bottom inlets up to the fan exhaust.

    Just thought you might want to check this out. Thanks again for all of your patient training of folks like me, who are new to this stuff. I’ve learned an enormous amount already.

    And as an example of this last point, I also want to point out that I’ve looked at many other online videos of people showing how to make Loma Curado, Basturma and Bresaola, and to be frank, they’re really sloppy, and (quite possibly) unsafe. In contrast to “hey, throw some salt on for 2 days and it works”, you’re very clean, very careful, and always explain the rationale behind your methods, Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    Great presentation of the content! Easy to follow along and the recipe tool is a wonderful aspect. One question: since this is in essence a wet(ish) cure could one mix the ingredients together into a paste and rub each piece that way? I realize it may not be a huge time saver and is not the traditional method you presented. Full disclosure, I followed it as-is and am looking ahead to next time.
    Thanks!

  12. Sebastien Vachon

    Very good, the best jerky I ever done. My wife and kids like it very much. Easy to do, If you like grison meat, you will like it for sure. I also made the Pepper Crusted Pineapple Jerky and it is so good, the best I have done so far.

    Thanks a lot Eric.

  13. I have many food allergies, the ingredients of Wochestshire Sauce are on that list. Is the sauce required or just for flavouring?

    1. Hi Annah,

      Regarding the Worcestershire sauce, if you are avoiding gluten, note many brand are now made without the barley malt and malted vinegar and so are gluten free.

      If you cannot get gluten free, you could add some fish sauce to tamari (soy sauce that is all soy, instead of the usual which is made with soy + wheat). This is just a guess (you’d want to check the sodium content of your products to get more refined), but I’d think that to mimic for example 40 ml of Worcestershire you might use 5 ml fish sauce, 10 tamari, and 25 ml of water. The point is the salt content of Worcestershire is a lot lower than fish sauce and tamari, and varies by brand, so you’d need to figure based on what you have.

      If instead your issue is sensitivity to fish (anchovy in Worcestershire) you could use tamari and water (again matching the total sodium content of the called-for amount of Worcestershire).

      Hope this helps.

  14. Hi,

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I have a few questions.

    1) How long does it keep once it is done?
    2) If I vacuum seal it in smaller vacuum sealed packets, can I place it in the fridge to make it last longer?
    3) Is there anything I can add to the recipe to make it last longer?

    1. 1. it has a fairly long shelf life. I would say several months
      2. Yes. You can even freeze it for an indefinite shelf life
      3. If you add curing salt to the recipe at .25% the weight of the meat it will last even longer at room temp.

        1. curing salt is a type of salt that contains nitrites/nitrates and it protects the meat from harmful bacteria while it’s being processed. Instacure #1 is a popular option. Also Prague Powder #1

  15. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I used to live in South Africa for a few years, and am in love with Biltong (beef and other game meats) and continue to have it every time I am in the region since then. So I know Biltong’s authentic taste. Your instructions and recipe created exactly the taste of South African biltong. I tried the recipe with Turkey breast with some twists for poultry. I soaked the meat with 5% vinegar for 15-20 minutes before following your marinating and curing process. I hung the meat in the dehydrator at 95F for 18 hours — 60% weight loss. OMG, it turned out so good, and my husband said, no more Jerky in the house.

  16. Hi ERic,
    I used to live in South Africa in the Karoo region, and its home for the biltong. Your recipe and presentation is 100% spot on. What I like about your videos is you do not hide any secrets like others do. I made few other sausages from your videos and they are so delicious. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

  17. Hello, I’ve made this a few times now and it has turned out great. If someone doesn’t have a computer, for whatever reason, how do they figure out how much Rice Wine Vinegar and Worcestershire Sauce, Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes and Coriander to use? I know you’ve said the salt is 2.2% What percentage would be the other ingredients?
    Thank you for sharing.

  18. 5 stars
    Hi!

    I travel from the US to South Africa fairly often and I fell in love with the butcher shop biltong so I figured I’d give it a try!

    I’m giving this 5 stars hoping that it all turns out well. Just hung the steaks to dry. 75deg/50%RH.

    My only concern is that the steaks are smallish (used 7 pounds of bottom round) but they are cut with the grain. The pieces vary from 280g to 55g with an average of 120g. With them smaller will they dry more quickly than the 4-6 days listed in the recipe? I don’t want to screw this up!

      1. 5 stars
        Day 2 and the smaller ones are ready. Tastes great! However next time I will search for a larger roast for bigger steaks!

        Thanks so much

  19. Excited to try this recipe, but I live in the desert and it’s basically zero humidity. I made the biltong box, is there something I should do to boost humidity

  20. 5 stars
    Love your youtube channel, thanks for sharing all this knowledge! I followed this recipe and it tastes great, but the meat came out pretty grey (aside from a little red in the dead center). I assume that is from too much vinegar and the meat? Any idea where I went wrong?

    I cut thumb sized pieces, used the stated amount of vinegar and vac sealed in the fridge for 36 hours. Perhaps 36 hours was too long or maybe my vac seal was too tight?

    1. It could be a multitude of different things. Oxidation/vinegar/time in the fridge. Next time I would only let it marinate overnight then start the drying process. You should have a prettier looking product

  21. 5 stars
    Hi Eric… I´m right in the middle of drying biltong. My first try. So far so good. I have a question… Can I use the biltong box for making jerky or is it better to use a dehydrator/oven? Thanks

  22. Hey Eric I have a question before starting this recipe. Where should I buy the meat? at a butcher or the grocery store?

  23. Howzit,
    I’m a South African Girl that used to make biltong from Game
    My husband would go a hunt for us during Hunting season and then we’re set for the year.
    Now we live in Israel and unfortunately Biltong is not really well known round here.
    So what’s a South African Girl gotta do to get me some biltong,
    I made the Biltong box according to your video. And now my meat is curing 🤩🤩🤩🤩 super excited to have me some Biltong
    Thanks for sharing

  24. 4 stars
    Ive made this recipe a few times now with your biltong box and ive come back with a few questions. Since I live in Georgia the lowest humidity I experience is ~66%RH in April, is there anything i could do to lower the humidity the the 50%-60%RH year round? and what are the percentages in mL of the red wine vinegar and Worcestershire to beef by weight?

    1. The RWV is 2.6% and the W Sauce is 1.3%. If you want to figure out on your own just adjust the weight of the meat to 100. All of the totals will give you the % used. 66% is fine for biltong. It should come out great!

  25. Hi Eric,
    If you are substituting the Morton Salt Kosher (linked in your recipe) with regular table salt, how much less salt would you use?

  26. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe and corresponding videos. I also saw your collab video with X man & company. Built a box. Truly wonderful flavor. Used the brown malt vinegar and fresh butcher shop top round. Flavor and texture is amazing. Had white flecks show up on Biltong but it is not fuzzy and doesn’t affect flavor whatsoever. Thanks for making this seem easy, so worth it!

  27. Dear Eric,

    I am a South African, now living in Florida. I friend of mine in Johannesburg sent me your link, it had been while since I’d had a taste of my favourite snack and decided to give it a chance. The results were really amazing and I ended up making a biltong box using a usb fan from target and a plastic storage container.

    Just wanted to reach and say a big thank you for giving me a taste of home..

    1. You could technically use pork. I would add a curing salt to the recipe at a rate of .25% for added safety. Other than that you can process the exact same way.

  28. I have not made the biltong yet but I will be soon. I want to comment on your YouTube presentations in general. I have many interests and I believe that if you want to find out how to do something, anything you can find out about it on YouTube, this is to say I watch a LOT OF YOUTUBE.

    Your YouTube presentations are the VERY BEST of any YT videos on any subject that I have seen.

    You know what you want to say and you deliver it at a pace that I can keep up with. Some presenters make up their comments as they go, umm and ahh ing as they go, wasting my time and losing my interest.

    So, when it comes to my learning the subjects you are interested in I need go no other place. You are It.

    By the way, Two Guys and a Cooler, I have seen only ONE Guy and a Cooler. Where is the other Guy? Behind the camera I suppose.

    Keep up the good work, I will follow with interest.

    Rocky

  29. Kim, use the calculator and type in 1 kg of meat, then you can write it down and easily multiply it for the amount of meat that you want to use.
    Eric, you’re a star! We’ve regularly make biltong and I’ve learned from you! Thank you for the tips you share, I’ll definitely cure my biltong longer. 😉

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