Biltong-Inspired Beef Burgers

Summer in the UK has arrived! And with that so has BBQ season which means eating al fresco is at the order of the day.

One of the most recognised South African foods is biltong. No matter where in the world you may go, there is always one person that is familiar with the meaty beef sticks that is so popular to the good people of South Africa.

As I was developing this recipe my hubby wafted in and out of the kitchen to grab a quick drink of water when he remarked excitedly: ‘Why do I smell biltong? Did you get me biltong?’

I had to disappoint him slightly that I wasn’t making actual biltong, but beef burger patties infused with biltong spices. These patties were such success that he asked me to make them again!

History of Biltong

Biltong-Inspired Beef Burgers

Early South Africans have brought over the skill of preserving meat all the way from Europe. In 1835 my ancestors trekked their way over the mighty Drakensberg to move away from British Colonists in order to establish their own land. This Great Trek (that lasted until 1846) required the people to be self-sufficient and resourceful. This meant that it wasn’t enough to just preserve meat in salt, but it also needed to be dried since the South African sun is hot and harsh and fresh meat will decay very quickly if it cannot be kept cold.

Oxen was needed to pull the wagons and livestock took a long time to rear, however, in winter time game was easy to get and this is where biltong originated. By hanging the pieces of meat on the wagon in the chilly wintery days, it dried quickly and provided enough meat to last well into the summer months.

Biltong Spices

The most common ingredients in traditional modern day biltong recipe is:

  • Meat (ok, this is an obvious one!)
  • Coriander seed (not the leaves…)
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Vinegar

This is also what I have been using for the most part of this recipe, however, I’ve made a few additions, because, well why not!

My wishes for you:

Love, laughter and biltong

Life, with clotted cream

The steps

When handling raw meat the first thing you should ideally do is to get everything ready:

  • Take you your meat board
  • Get your cookie cutter, burger press ready
  • Set up your weighing scales
  • Measure out and grind the spices
  • Take out a glass bowl

The reason why I do this is because it is a bit of a faff to keep washing my hands before taking something out of the cupboard.


Put everything into a glass bowl and with clean hands squish the meat together over and over until it is all combined. Now measure out balls of approximately 125 grams each. The reason why I like to measure out the meat is to ensure all the portions are the same size which, in turn, ensures an even cook throughout.


Once you’ve measured out your meat, the forming is easy.

  • You can either keep them in the round meatball shape and then smash them with the back of a spatula once they hit the griddle pan. This ensures that there are tonnes of crispy bits all around your burger.
  • Place the ball of meat into a burger press that will ensure that all your patties will be the perfect burger size.
  • Take a set of cookie cutters, grab the one that is either the same size or just smaller than your burger bun. Now place this cookie cutter on a meat board and place the ball of meat inside. Press the meat down evenly until it is nicely compacted. When you take the cutter off, smooth off the edges to make a fine-looking beef burger patty.

Cooking and serving

I like to cook my burgers as part of a spread outside on the fire. Ensure that the grid is very hot before you put the meat on, otherwise it may stick.

You can also cook this inside on a griddle pan by heating a pan on high heat before placing the burgers on. Leave it alone for at least four-five minutes before checking if it has been browned. Turn it over and cook for another five minutes or until your desired doneness.

Serve as you desire, but I like to keep it simple by putting the burger into a (sometimes) toasted brioche bun along with some Emmental cheese, lettuce, red onion rings, gherkins and grilled flat mushrooms. Give it a squirt of ketchup, a smear of mustard or even the much sought-after pink sauce from South Africa’s Spur Restaurants and you’re good to go! If you are feeling very adventurous you can even pile a tablespoon or two of coleslaw onto your burger.

Biltong Flavoured Beef Burgers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1kg 12% beef mince
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, ground in a pestle mortar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • teaspoon dried chipotle chilli flakes
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated


  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. By using your hands, mix all the ingredients together until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Measure out 125g of meat and shape your patties by either using your hands, a cookie cutter or a burger press.
  5. Cook either on the fire or on a griddle pan for around 5 minutes each side until cooked through.
  6. Any uncooked burgers can also be successfully frozen by placing them on a tray lined with parchment paper before placing in the freezer for 4 hours until they are solid. Once frozen solid, pop them in a freezer bag to ensure they don’t suffer from frostbite. It will keep well for about a month.

Fancy some more bbq recipes?

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