What are Biltong Spices? An overview

Spices not only add flavor but also help preserve the meat. Biltong spices are coriander, black Pepper, garlic powder, clove, nutmeg, allspice, and onion powder. These spices are combined to create a flavorful mix that brings out the best in cuts of beef or game used to make biltong. The flavor profile can vary drastically depending on which ingredients you use and how much is added to the mix.

Biltong is a unique type of cured meat from South Africa marinated in a mixture of herbs and spices. This mixture is “biltong spice,” which is essential to making this delicious treat. Do not apply the tips in this article to making Beef Jerky, as it’s a completely different manufacturing process.

Using biltong spices is simple; all you need to do is mix them in a bowl and add them to your marinade before letting it sit for at least 24 hours before putting them in a biltong box.

Of course, the longer it sits in the marinade, the more intense the flavor.

Not only does using biltong spices make for delicious dishes, but numerous benefits come with adding these flavors to your meals. Since these herbs and spices are full of antioxidants, they can help fight diseases like cancer and reduce inflammation, leading to better overall health.

Additionally, many of these ingredients have anti-bacterial properties, which can help keep food safe from harmful bacteria.

If you’re looking for a unique way to spice up your meals, why not try making your biltong spice mix? All you need is some coriander seed, black Pepper, garlic powder, clove powder, nutmeg powder, allspice powder, and onion powder.

Combine all these ingredients in equal parts, then store them in an airtight container until ready to use. You can even experiment with different ratios if you want a more customized flavor profile!

1. The classic biltong spices

Biltong spices come in all shapes and sizes – some are mild, and others are fiery. Depending on the biltong you’re making, you’ll need the right mix of spices to give it that signature flavor.

If you’re looking for a mild flavor, you can use traditional South African biltong spices such as coriander, ground cloves, ginger, and black Pepper. These spices will give your biltong a subtle sweetness balanced with a hint of warmth.

Salt is also essential when making biltong – whether you’re using store-bought salt or just regular table salt, make sure to add enough, so your biltong has enough seasoning.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want more kick, garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne Pepper can be added for some heat.

Nothing stops you from creating your signature blend if you don’t want to use pre-made spice mixes! Instead, combine whichever ingredients suit your taste buds until you get the perfect flavor profile for your homemade biltong.

Just remember to balance the bold flavors with milder ones like sugar or cinnamon – this will help create an interesting mix of flavors!

The 3 Essential Traditional Biltong Spices

1. Coriander

Coriander is the most common spice used in traditional biltong. It gives the meat a warm, slightly sweet flavor. Coriander is also a natural preservative, so it helps keep the protein moist and flavorful. You can find coriander in most grocery stores, which is also commonly used in Indian cuisine.

2. Paprika Powder

Red Pepper is a popular spice in many European, African, and American cuisines. It is a spice that originates from Central and South America. It is used in many Latin-inspired dishes, such as enchiladas and tamales. It contains vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system and has valuable therapeutic and antioxidant properties.

It has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor that is perfect for adding depth of flavor to meats and poultry. Paprika is a must-try if you want to experiment with different biltong spices.

3. Cloves

Cloves are one of the three essential traditional biltong spices. They add an intense flavor and aroma to your biltong. They are perfect for adding a touch of luxury to your biltong. Cloves add a unique flavor that is hard to find in other spices.

They are also high in antioxidants, which makes them a healthy option. When purchasing cloves, make sure to get whole cloves and not ground cloves. Already ground cloves will not give your biltong the same flavor and aroma.

2. The modern biltong spices

In recent years, biltong has gained increasing popularity outside South Africa, so people have been experimenting heavily with spices, and some have yielded fantastic results. We recommend that you like herbs on other dishes if you want to add any of these!

1. Garlic powder

This is my favorite to add, and I won’t make any biltong without it. It adds a bit of spice too. Garlic is a potent herb that can add a lot of flavor to your biltong. Garlic powder is available in most supermarkets and can be used interchangeably with garlic cloves.

2. Onion powder

Onion powder is another favorite additive for biltong; it’s a popular addition worldwide. Although it’s hard to describe the exact flavor it adds, there’s no doubt it gives your dishes an extra kick. We suggest keeping onion and garlic powder close to your base assortment of biltong spices.

3. Nutmeg

Oh, nutmeg is a spice that is often overlooked and only put in mashed potatoes. It can be quite innovative when used in biltong. It belongs to our favorite ones with garlic and onion. Nutmeg gives the biltong a unique flavor not found in other types of jerky.

Nutmeg also has health benefits, as it is highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. When used in moderation, nutmeg can be a great addition to your biltong recipe.

4. Thyme

Many believe that thyme is the key or secret ingredient in making biltong taste great. If you like thyme, you’ll want to add it to your biltong.

5. Oregano

Because of its earthy, woodsy flavor, oregano is a great addition to any biltong mix. Although oregano is often used in Italian cuisine, it shouldn’t be limited to that. Making your biltong is an adventure where you can experiment and make things the way you like them.

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the innovative spices that add a touch of luxury to your biltong. It is also a popular biltong spice. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage, so it’s not only is it a great flavor enhancer, but it also has other health benefits.

7. Ginger

If you like it (many people don’t): Ginger is an excellent spice to add to your biltong. Ginger can also help improve digestion and relieve headaches. Ginger is the perfect option if you want a unique spice that will elevate your biltong experience.

8. Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are a great addition to any biltong recipe. They add flavor and crunchy texture to the finished product. Not only are they delicious, but they are also a natural anti-inflammatory.

If you’re looking for a unique spice option, fennel seeds are a great way to experiment with your biltong recipes.

9. Rosemary

Rosemary is a great herb to add to your biltong spice rack. Rosemary has a strong flavor that pairs well with other spices, like thyme and sage.

10. Basil

Basil is a great herb to add to your biltong spice mix for an extra kick. Basil is known for its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which make it ideal for preserving meat. Adding basil to your biltong spice mix increases the flavor and prevents bacteria from growing.

11. Star Anise

Star anise is a spice that adds an extra flavor, either loved or disliked. Its sweet, licorice taste goes well with wild boar and venison meat dishes.

3. Like it hot? Here are our hot biltong spice ideas

1. Harissa sauce

Harissa is made from roasted red capsicum, garlic, olive oil, and several aromatic spices, including cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds. This combination gives harissa its unique flavor, which can be enhanced by adding sugar or dried herbs if desired.

Added to South Africa’s favorite snack, it results in elevated flavors that will get people talking!

1. Cayenne Pepper,

Cayenne Pepper is a spice often used to add a touch of luxury to your biltong. This Pepper is high in capsaicin, which makes it a hot additive. Cayenne Pepper can add a fiery kick to your biltong and is perfect for those who want something more unusual.

If you are looking for a unique way to flavor your biltong, cayenne Pepper is the spice for you. However, watch out for overdoing it if you buy good quality (potent) cayenne Pepper.

2. Black Pepper and White Pepper 

You can’t go wrong with black and white Pepper when adding flavor to your biltong. Black Pepper has been used as a spice for centuries, and its popularity is only increasing. Not only is black Pepper a great addition to biltong, but it’s also a great flavor enhancer for many other dishes. Black Pepper is the star of many luxurious recipes.

3. Jalapeño pepper

Jalapeño peppers are a great addition to biltong for an added kick. They add a level of spice that will give your meat a little more flavor. They blend well with cumin or paprika to create your custom blend. Use dried and ground Jalapeño pepper to make it easier for yourself.

4. Red pepper flakes

Another spice that can be used to add an extra kick to biltong is red pepper flakes. These flakes can be easily added to the mix before smoking or drying the meat. This gives it a spicy flavor and a slightly burnt taste.

5. Tabasco sauce

The next herb we will talk about is Tabasco sauce. Many people don’t consider Tabasco an herb, but it can be quite spicy. Adding a tablespoon or two to your biltong mixture will give it a kick that many will love. Not only that, but it also adds some great flavor.

Try adding a teaspoon to your next batch of biltong for an extra zing!


This article is part of a Biltong Spices series:

  1. Buying Already Made Spices vs. Making Your Own?
  2. What are Biltong Spices? An overview
  3. How to Make And Use Your Biltong Spice Mix
  4. Biltong Spices: Benefits and FAQ

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