South Africa’s Most Popular Traditional Cuisine

With a truly unique melting-pot of cultures and traditions, South Africa is a tapestry of contradictions and our Rainbow Nation has come a long way since the fall of Apartheid.

One thing that the tourists enjoy most is South Africa’s traditional cuisine and here we explore the most popular dishes of all.


Chakalaka is a sauce made from tomato, onion, grated carrots, chillies, garlic, and grated cabbage, and beans and cauliflower are sometimes added as well.

All the ingredients are combined, seasoned according to taste, cooked until soft and typically served alongside meat cooked on an open fire.


Slowly cooked in a three-legged cast iron pot over open coals, potjiekos closely resembles a traditional meat and vegetable stew, but leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

Vegetables and meat are layered in the cast iron pot, seasoned, and left to cook slowly over the coals.


Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the outside, vetkoek is a traditional South African pastry made from dough deep-fried in oil.

Served either sweet with butter and syrup, honey or jam or savoury filled cooked ground beef (mince), vetkoek is a South African favourite.

Braai Meat

A popular event in South Africa is a ‘braai’, when family and friends gather together to cook meat over an open fire. Meat is seasoned and cooked over coals and served alongside salads, breads, and sauces.

Mielie Pap

Made from maize meal, mielie pap is almost as versatile as bingo Australia and can be served hot or cold with milk and sugar for breakfast or alongside a meat and tomato stew as a main course.

Especially popular amongst those on a tight budget, mielie pap is affordable and goes a long way when there are plenty of mouths to feed.


Quite possibly the most popular food in South Africa, boerewors is a sausage traditionally made from ground pork and beef and seasoned with black pepper, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.

A versatile protein, boerewors can be grilled in an oven or cooked over an open fire.


Typically made from lamb and vegetables, bredie is a heavily spiced and flavoursome stew popular across the country.

One of the most popular variations is the Tomato Bredie made from lamb, tomatoes, and vegetables and served with white rice or mielie pap.


Best described as South Africa’s answer to the meatball, frikkadels consist of ground meat, onion, bread, eggs, vinegar and spices.

Traditionally served baked or shallow-fried, the secret to creating the perfect frikkadel is the mix the ingredients gently using two forks.


Traditionally made from heavily spiced ground beef, curry powder, dried fruit, and topped with an egg-custard, bobotie is the national dish of the country similar in many ways to moussaka.

The sweet, tangy, and savoury elements combine to create a unique and delicious dish.


Similar to American ‘jerky’, biltong is arguably South Africa’s most popular and well-known food.

Meat is spiced and salt-cured over time to create a salty, chewy, and all-round mouth-watering snack.