Stryve Biltong Is the Healthier, Air-Dried (and Delicious) Alternative to Beef Jerky
Throughout my elementary school years, if you asked me my favorite food, I'd have undoubtedly told you it was beef jerky.
While my tastes have evolved a little since then, jerky remains one of my go-to snacks. Even though I know the majority of brands pack their jerky with junky nitrates and preservatives, I find it difficult to resist.
And that's precisely why Stryve Biltong Snacks caught my eye when I stumbled upon them on Instagram. While they resemble beef jerky, they're made with a better-for-you process that means they can omit some of jerky's less favorable ingredients. I had to reach out to the company, and was delighted when they offered to send each of their products over for me to try.
Stryve beef biltong may resemble beef jerky, but it's made using an air-dried preservation process from South Africa that dates back hundreds of years. Steaks get a vinegar soak before being coated in dry rub seasoning. They're then hung in a humidity-controlled room and air-dried to perfection before cut into ultra-thin, super snackable slices. This process keeps both flavor and nutrients in.
The result is a meaty treat that's all-natural, high-protein, keto-friendly, and free of sugar, MSG preservatives and nitrates. Biltong also has a higher protein than the beef jerkies you might be used to. Their 2.25 oz. bags contain 16 grams of protein and 90 calories per serving, while the 1 oz. sticks have 14 grams of protein and 125 calories each. The 2.25 oz. biltong bags sell for $6.99 each, or $39.99 for a six-pack, while the sticks sell in a six-pack for $14.99 or variety 12-packs for $24.99. They also sell full slabs for $19.99 that you can cut yourself at home for charcuterie-style enjoyment.
Original Beef Biltong
The first thing I noticed is that this biltong beef bag is small, but it's pretty well-packed. You're not going to open up a bag that's 60% air, which is always appreciated. While at first glance, these meaty pieces resemble beef jerky, upon closer inspection, their actually wonderfully thin slices cut from a steak slab.
When I took my first nibble, I found that it wasn't particularly strongly flavored, but it was still incredibly savory and satisfying. It was a little salty, but not to a dehydrating degree like some beef jerkies can be. The flavor was a little vinegary and a little peppery, allowing the natural flavor of the beef to come through, rather than concealing it behind strong flavors.
Teriyaki Beef Biltong
What made me most curious about Stryve's teriyaki flavor is the fact that their flavors contain no sugar. I'm used to super sugary and sweet teriyaki, and wondered how this brand would pull off the classic flavor. Indeed, when I gave it a taste, there wasn't any sweetness at all. What it did have was the strong umami flavor of soy, with a little garlic to elevate the taste. It wasn't what I expected (and personally, I'd probably call the flavor something different), but it was super tasty nonetheless.
Spicy Peri Peri Beef Biltong
This year, I've seen Peri Peri become a popular spicy flavor for all kinds of treats, and seeing as biltong originates in South Africa, it's a super appropriate flavor for them. At first bite, it doesn't appear all that hot. However, as you continue to chew, the heat of chili hits you hard at the back of the tongue and throat. That spice lingers, building as you continue to eat more pieces. I found that just a few slices at a time were hot enough for me, and I'd usually go for a palette cleanser (or another flavor) before returning to it.
Hickory Seasoned Beef Biltong
If you're looking for a classic beef jerky taste, you'll get the closest to that with the Hickory Seasoned Stryve biltong. Each bite is full of smokey, peppery barbecue flavor fills the whole mouth. At the same time, the flavor isn't too strong or salty. It hits all the right savory without going overboard.
Zesty Garlic Beef Biltong
If you like punchy, in-your-face flavors, the Zesty Garlic biltong is probably your best bet. The garlic flavor is hearty yet well-rounded with other spices, making it the strongest of the biltong slices. It might be the easiest to snack on—but you might want to give your teeth (and tongue) a brush after eating an entire bag.
Original Biltong Stick
Stryve's Biltong Sticks are like the healthy version of a Slim Jim, packing that natural biltong flavor into an easy-to-enjoy shape and package. This stick has essentially the same flavoring as the original biltong slices, but I found that this slightly different presentation made me enjoy it even more. The casing had a satisfying snack, and eating it left me feeling full and energized, and not like I'd just downed a stick of junk food.
Mesquite BBQ Seasoned Biltong Stick
I could eat Mesquite BBQ Seasoned Biltong Sticks all day. The smokey mesquite seasoning brought out the very best in the already hearty beef stick to make it my favorite of all of Stryve's offerings, and the stick shape makes it a slightly more versatile treat that's easy to enjoy on the go, or even at the desk.
Hatch Green Chili Biltong Stick
Despite their being the second item on the ingredient list, I was honestly surprised by how much this stick tasted exactly like green hatch chiles. The spice is slightly sweet and buttery, slightly rising in heat at the end of each bite but without ever getting actually spicy. It goes so well with the beefy flavor, and makes me curious to see what other tasty inventions the Stryve kitchen will invent in the future.
Spicy Peri-Peri Biltong Stick
Last but not least was the Spicy Peri-Peri Biltong Stick, which I was a little wary of after the ultra-spicy Peri Peri slices. However, I found the chili flavor in this one much subtler. While it did add up a little as I continued to eat the entire stick, it never got overwhelming. I think spice-lovers will adore it, but even the heat-adverse will be able to enjoy.
If you're a jerky fan but trying to avoid nitrates, preservatives and extra sugars, you should absolutely give Stryve a whirl. With slabs, slices and sticks on their menu, plus a number of well-thought-out flavors, any meat-lover is bound to find a favorite or two.
While the prices may seem to be a little pricey at first, compared to other specialty jerky shops, they're actually on par with typical prices. Though a bag will likely cost you more than what you'll find at your local grocery store, the quality and flavors show through in every product. They're not necessarily low in sodium or cholesterol, but no beef jerkies are, and for many, the big protein benefits will outweigh that.
If you love jerky but are trying to eat less meat, click HERE to read our review of Pan's Mushroom Jerky.