Top 7 South African Snacks You’ve Never Heard Of

Here at TopUniversities HQ, we like to explore the real issues surrounding higher education… including food (essential for maintaining energy throughout your studies). To celebrate the release of this year’s QS University Rankings: BRICS, we’ve indulged in an exploration of South Africa snacks… So, just in case you were thinking of studying abroad in South Africa but weren’t quite sure about what to eat, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

1. Droëwors

The taste: A variant on the traditional Boerewors sausage, Droëwors is a thin dried coriander-seed sausage made of beef or venison and various spices, including cloves, nutmeg and marsala and a splash of brandy. How does it taste? Beefy. Vinegary. Fragrant and spicy.

At first glance: Erm. Well, it doesn’t look great; does it? 

Score: 10/10. It’s a delight.

2. Vetkoek (or fat cakes)

The taste: These deep-fried buns are usually served as sandwiches, with minced meat, curry and hot sauce, or with jam or cheese.

At first glance: Love.

Score: 10/10. Or to quote the Irish novelist James Joyce, ‘yes she said yes i will yes’.

3. Melktert

The taste: Afrikaans for ‘milk tart’, melkterts are a South African twist on the traditional Dutch dessert. Lighter, and with a stronger milk flavor, than its Dutch, Chinese and Portuguese cousins, the melktert is basically a custard-like pie topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and baked.

At first glance: Looks like a cloud resting atop sweet pastry crust and wafting with heavenly vanilla buttery scents.

Score: 10/10. Pretty much.

4. Beef biltong

The taste: Little strips of dried cured meat, biltong falls somewhere on the spectrum between cool bacon and what you would get if you set out to make beef jerky but gave up after a day. Intensely satisfying.

At first glance: Wrinkly finger tips from bathing.

Score: 7/10. Not quite fat cakes, but up there.

5. Koeksister

The taste: The South African dessert is prepared by deep frying braided dough rolls in oil and submerging them in icy syrup. Koeksister tastes like an improved doughnut, basically.

A first glance: This looks like glazed macaroni.

Score: 6/10. Wins extra points for being 1) a doughnut and 2) one of South Africa’s few non-meat-based and non-savory snacks.

6. Peck’s Anchovette

The taste: This anchovy fish spread is enjoyed on toast, with crackers or in sandwiches. A South African household essential, it has a peculiar taste that could probably be best described as chicken liver pâté with a slightly fishy twang. 

Sniff test: Smells like cat food.

Score: 5/10. Divisive like Marmite (or Vegemite, for the Aussies among our readers).

7. Rusks (or beskuit in Afrikaans)

The taste: These tea-time treats are basically twice-baked bread dough and come in all sorts of flavors such as buttermilk, mosbolletjies (like sweet brioche), all-bran or orange juice.

At first glance: Crumbly biscuits you may want to dip into your rooibos if you’re fun-loving.  

Score: 4/10. Not quite on par with glazed pasta, fishy paste or cool bacon.