Kalahari's Air-Dried Beef Chips Will Convince You to Ditch Jerky for Good
My love for beef jerky goes way back, so my interest is instantly piqued whenever a brand claims they have something even better than the classic.
Of course, most jerkies tend to be packed with lots of sugar, preservatives and nitrates. I don't love putting those things in my body, so when companies offer alternatives with smaller ingredients lists that don't include any of those unnecessary ingredients, they already have a leg up. Kalahari is one such brand, and when the folks behind it offered to send me their products—including their innovative air dried beef chips, Kalahari Crisps—I just couldn't say new. I tried it all, and here's what I have to say about all of it.
Kalahari's offerings come in two main categories: biltong and air-dried beef chips, all made with American top round beef. Biltong is a traditional South African beef snack made by air-drying beef, and Kalahari makes theirs by marinating their beef in a blend of vinegar, black pepper, coriander, rosemary and sea salt before hanging it to try until it's tender and tasty, with a few additional ingredients going into certain flavors. Absolutely no heat is involved in the process. Then, it's sliced against the grain and packed up to be enjoyed.
Their air-dried beef chips are a little different, also made with top round and simply seasoned, before being thinly sliced and slow-roasted until they have the perfect crunch. Both options are keto, paleo and Whole 30-friendly, while being free of soy, gluten and sugar. Plus, each 2 oz. bag of biltong has 32 grams of protein, while each one-ounce bag of crisps has 20 grams of protein.
The 2 oz. bags of biltong sell for $7.99 each, while the crisps are available started in three-packs for $14.99.
It seemed a good idea to start with the most basic version of Kalahari's offerings, so I began with their original biltong—and it was love at first bite. The meat itself was soft and tender, but with just a bit of satisfying bite, and the flavor was also lovely. It was lightly vinegary and complemented with delicious seasonings that made it the perfect jumping-off point for the brand. Plus, it made me feel pretty satiated, too.
Spicy Peri Peri Biltong
Next up, I tried the Spicy Peri Peri flavor. While this biltong had the same great texture as the flavor that came before it, it packed a lot of wonderful chili heat. However, I never found that it got too spicy, and the tasty heat just kept me eating until I'd demolished the entire bag. If you like spice, you're going to like this flavor.
Chili Lime Biltong
After the Spicy Peri Peri flavor, I wondered how the Chili Lime flavored would stack up in terms of spiciness, and while it wasn't quite as hot, it still had a delightful kick that made it super easy to snack on. The lime offsets the heat with citrusy zing, making it more tolerable if you can only handle a little spice.
Last of the biltong flavors was the garlic, which was far and away my favorite. It takes the delightful classic and complements it with a rich, warm and earthy garlic that makes every little bite taste even better. If you're not a garlic fan, stay far away, but if you do love the herb, I think this might be your new favorite, too.
The air-dried beef chips were the product I was most excited to explore, and I was not disappointed when I bit into the first one. The pieces were thin and crispy, like a potato or tortilla chip, with a bit more bend and bite to them, and all kinds of beefy flavor. Somehow, the meaty flavor of the beef is even better when it's crispy, and this product's simple seasoning makes it so that you're enjoying the beef above anything else, though vinegar is probably the second most prevalent flavor. I was instantly obsessed, and even made a point to eat all of the broken pieces and crumbs in the bottom of the bag because I didn't want any of it to go to waste!
Rosemary Citrus Crisps
I tried the Rosemary Citrus crisps next, and found they had the same wonderful bite of the original crisps, but with a slightly different flavor profile. With a blend of lemon and citrus, these were definitely on the tangier side, accented by aromatic rosemary. These weren't quite my favorite, but they were still plenty tasty, and I had no trouble polishing off the bag in one sitting.
Southwest Verde Crisps
Last of all were the Southwest Verde Crisps, which may be my favorite thing that Kalahari makes. These have the familiar air-dried beef chip texture, but with a flavor that's unparalleled by the rest, with a combination of green pepper, cumin and cilantro seasoning that makes it taste like a beefy salsa verde Dorito. It's so good, without any of the junk, and I might just have to buy myself several more bags.
If you love beef jerky and all of the wonderful flavors it has to offer but are looking for a healthier alternative with more protein and fewer junk ingredients, I highly recommend Kalahari. Everything they offer is delicious, and while their products can be a bit pricey (the $5 price tag per air-dried beef chip bag make it more of a sometimes snack than a go-to) they're reflected in the quality of what's inside each bag.
Looking for more jerky alternatives? Click HERE to find out why you'll love Vacadillos carne seca.