21 Popular Food In South Africa – A Food Lover’s Guide

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South Africa is a country that is popular for its diverse cultures and cuisines. The Cuisine of South Africa is influenced by the indigenous people and the Dutch, Indian, Malay, and French.

South African Cuisine is a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and savory flavors that will leave you wanting more. Here we will take you on a journey through some of the most popular food in South Africa.

From Bobotie to Koeksisters to Rooibos Tea, and Pinotage Wine. We have also detailed the different regional cuisines so that you can get an idea of what to expect when you visit other parts of this beautiful country. Get ready to experience the flavors of South Africa like never before.

Popular Food In South Africa

Lists to 21 Most Popular Food in South Africa

South Africa offers a vast range of diverse and delicious Cuisine unique in its blend of African, European, and Asian influences. The country’s most popular food items, biltong, bunny chow, and Bobotie, will tantalize your taste buds. Bobotie, for instance, is a classic shepherd’s pie with a South African twist that blends curry powder with minced meat and is topped with custard.

Boerewors is another favorite- a sausage made of beef or pork served grilled as street food. Chakalaka and Pap are staples in South African Cuisine- the spicy relish made from vegetables goes perfectly with maize porridge to create a hearty meal. Here are the 21 most popular food in South Africa.

1. Bobotie

With influences from Indonesian, Dutch, and Malay cuisine, Bobotie is a delicious South African dish that is a must-try for any food lover visiting the country. This spiced minced meat dish is topped with a custard-like egg mixture and typically served with yellow rice, chutney, and various sides such as sambals or vegetables. Boboties can come with different meats such as beef, lamb, or pork. Its unique blend of flavors and textures leaves a long-lasting impression on those who try it, making it a favorite among locals and tourists.

2. Boerewors

Boerewors is a popular South African sausage that locals and tourists enjoy. Its unique blend of beef and pork, combined with coriander and cloves, gives it a distinct and savory flavor. Traditionally cooked over an open flame or braai, boerewors is a staple at social gatherings with friends and family.

Often served with Pap (a type of porridge) and chakalaka (a spicy vegetable relish), this flavorful sausage has become so well-loved that it’s now widely available in South African restaurants worldwide. Don’t miss out on trying this essential South African dish.

3. Chakalaka And Pap

Chakalaka and Pap are a beloved combination in South Africa. This dish has its roots in the townships of Johannesburg, where it was created due to cultural fusion. The spicy vegetable relish comes with onions, tomatoes, carrots, and seasones with spices like curry powder or chili flakes.

On the other hand, Pap a porridge, comes from maize meal that can serve in different consistencies. Together these two form a hearty and flavorful meal that South Africans of all backgrounds enjoy. It’s an excellent representation of how food brings people together and transcends cultural boundaries.

4. Biltong

Biltong is a snack that South Africans of all ages belove. It’s cured meat typically made from beef or game meats like ostrich or kudu. The heart is marinated in a blend of spices, which can vary depending on the region and personal preference, and then hung to dry for several days.

The result is a tasty, protein-packed snack perfect for on-the-go snacking or as an addition to meals like stews and salads. Biltong has become so popular that it’s now available in many other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

5. Potjiekos

Potjiekos is a stew that is more than just a meal – a social event. This traditional South African dish is simmered over an open fire in a cast-iron pot, allowing the flavors to meld perfectly. The ingredients vary depending on personal preference but typically include meat, vegetables, and spices.

Potjiekos often serves at outdoor events like braais (barbecues) and remains a beloved comfort food in South Africa. Its popularity has spread beyond the country’s borders, with many people worldwide enjoying this delicious and hearty dish.

6. Vetkoek

Vetkoek, a traditional South African fried dough bread, has become a favorite street food for many. This versatile dish often serves with savory fillings such as minced meat, cheese, or curried mince. Its popularity can attribute to its delicious taste and ease of making it home with flour, yeast, and sugar.

Vetkoek can also enjoy sweet toppings like syrup, honey, or jam. With its wide range of flavors and versatility in preparation, it’s no wonder that vetkoek has become a staple in many households across South Africa.

7. Durban Bunny Chow

If you’re looking for hearty and flavourful street food in South Africa, look no further than Durban Bunny Chow. This iconic dish features a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with spicy curry made with chicken or lamb.

What’s unique about this dish is its portability – it was created by Indian immigrant workers who handy the bread as a lunchbox. Today, Bunny Chow has become beloved South African dish locals, and tourists enjoy. Don’t forget to try it with sambals, condiments made with chopped vegetables, and spices.

8. Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding is a classic South African dessert that has become a cultural icon. The pudding’s caramelized texture and sweet sponge cake made with apricot jam make it a favorite among locals and tourists.

Often served hot with custard or ice cream, Malva Pudding has a rich and indulgent flavor that makes it perfect for special occasions. With its Dutch origins, the dish is a testament to South Africa’s diverse culinary heritage and is a beloved dessert throughout the country.

9. Koeksisters

Koeksisters are a beloved South African pastry that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who tries them. These sweet, deep-fried treats have a unique texture and are coated with desiccated coconut, making them a popular dessert or snack option. While their origins are Dutch, they have become an essential part of South African Cuisine and can be found in many country bakeries and cafes. Whether enjoyed alone or with coffee or tea, Koeksisters are a must-try for any food lover visiting South Africa.

10. Cape Malay Cuisine

Cape Malay Cuisine is a unique blend of culinary cultures that has created something extraordinary. With its mix of Indonesian, Indian, and African influences, the Cuisine is popular for its bold flavors and use of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.

Visitors to Cape Town can try an array of authentic dishes, including Bobotie – a savory meat dish with an egg custard topping -bredie – a slow-cooked stew -and samoosas – similar to samosas. The popularity of Cape Malay Cuisine has led to its spread throughout South Africa, making it possible for food lovers to sample this delicious fusion fare across the country.

11. Western Cape Cuisine

Western Cape cuisine culminates in various cultures that have influenced the region. The Dutch, British, Malay, and African cultures have contributed to the distinctive flavors of Western Cape dishes. Fresh seafood is a staple in many Western Cape meals, with snoek and yellowtail being popular choices.

Meat dishes like Bobotie and biltong are also commonly enjoyed. Local produce is vital in many traditional recipes, with fruits like apricots and peaches and vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkin being handy extensively. Visitors can experience the unique flavors of Western Cape cuisine by attending food festivals or dining at local restaurants.

12. Eastern Cape Cuisine

Eastern Cape cuisine uniquely blends traditional Xhosa dishes and European flavors. One of the signature dishes of this region is Umngqusho, a stew made from beans and samp (crushed maize). The dish has historical significance as it was a favorite of Nelson Mandela, who referred to it as his favorite comfort food.

Another popular dish in Eastern Cape Cuisine is the Durban Bunny Chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry. The Cuisine reflects the region’s rich cultural heritage and is a must-try for food lovers visiting South Africa.

13. KwaZulu-Natal Cuisine

KwaZulu-Natal Cuisine is an excellent reflection of the unique cultural blend in the region, heavily influenced by Zulu and Indian flavors. The Bunny Chow, a local favorite, is a must-try for visitors. It consists of a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry and is often served with sambals (condiments).

Other popular dishes include samoosas, deep-fried pastry filled with spiced meat or vegetables, and breyani, a spicy rice dish with meat or vegetables. The seafood dishes are also a crowd-pleaser, especially the fish curries and prawn dishes. It’s hard to resist the delicious aroma emanating from the many food markets in KwaZulu-Natal.

14. Gauteng Cuisine

Gauteng Cuisine is a melting pot of various culinary traditions that African, Indian, and European cooking styles have influenced. The region offers a unique take on classic dishes such as bunny chow and boerewors, which are popular among locals and tourists.

Gauteng Cuisine has much to offer for food enthusiasts, whether it be traditional dishes at local restaurants or the vibrant street food scene. Visitors to Gauteng can also enjoy the region’s famous Pap and wors, biltong, and melktert. With its diverse flavors, Gauteng Cuisine is an experience not to miss when visiting South Africa.

15. Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea is a beloved South African beverage that has gained popularity worldwide. This herbal tea comes from the leaves of the rooibos plant, which is native to South Africa. Rooibos tea has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is naturally caffeine-free.

However, its popularity isn’t just because of its taste; it’s also high in antioxidants and linked to numerous health benefits. Whether hot or iced, with or without milk and sugar, rooibos tea is a refreshing and healthy choice for any beverage lover.

16. Pinotage Wine

Pinotage wine is a unique and distinctly South African wine that has gained global recognition in recent years. This red wine grape originated in the country and is a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes. Its rich flavor profile boasts dark fruit, smoke, and earthiness. Medium to full-bodied with moderate tannins, Pinotage wines are versatile and pair well with many different types of food.

Pairing them with traditional South African dishes such as braaivleis (barbecue) and Bobotie (spiced meat dish) often recommends. With its complex flavor profile and versatility, it’s no wonder why Pinotage wine has become a signature beverage of South Africa.

17. Amarula Cream Liqueur

Amarula Cream Liqueur is a beloved South African beverage that has gained popularity worldwide. Made from the fruit of the marula tree, this sweet and creamy liqueur boasts hints of caramel and vanilla.

Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for sipping on its own or using as a mixer in cocktails. Amarula Cream Liqueur has won numerous awards, including Best Cream Liqueur at the 2019 New York International Spirits Competition. It’s no wonder why this South African specialty is a must-try for any food and drink lover visiting the country.


South Africa is a food lover’s paradise, with diverse cultures and cuisines that offer unique flavors and textures. From traditional dishes like Bobotie and Boerewors to the modern delights of Cape Malay cuisine, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget about the famous Rooibos tea, Pinotage wine, and Amarula cream liqueur that will tantalize your taste buds.

So why not journey through South African Cuisine and indulge in these delicious foods? Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this guide will help you explore the best popular food in South Africa. Don’t wait any longer; start planning your culinary adventure today.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What Is The Most Popular Food In South Africa?

Ans: Braai, or barbecued meat, is the most popular food in South Africa and a staple of the country’s Cuisine. Biltong, a dried and cured meat, is also widely popular. Bunny Chow, a curry dish in a hollowed-out loaf of bread, is another popular food.

2.What Is The Name Of The National Dish Of South Africa?

Ans: The national dish of South Africa is called “Bobotie.” This savory baked dish has spiced minced meat, egg custard, and raisins. It typically serves with yellow rice and chutney. Other popular South African words include boerewors (sausage), biltong (dried meat), and Pap (porridge).

3.What Is The Most Common Food In Africa?

Ans: Africa is a diverse continent with many different cuisines, so it isn’t easy to pinpoint one single most common food. However, some popular African foods include couscous, injera, and fufu. In South Africa, biltong, boerewors, and Pap are popular dishes. The most common food in Africa varies by region and culture, so it’s essential to explore the unique culinary traditions of each area.

4.What Are Some Traditional Foods?

Ans: Some traditional foods include biltong, a dried and cured meat snack similar to beef jerky; Bobotie, a baked dish made with spiced mince meat and topped with an egg custard; boerewors, a type of sausage made with beef and pork seasoned with spices like coriander and nutmeg, bunny chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry (typically vegetarian or meat-based), and Pap and wors, a staple dish made with maize meal porridge and boerewors sausage.

5. What Fruit Is Indigenous To South Africa?

Ans: The Marula fruit is indigenous to South Africa and is handy in making various products, including jams, juices, and liqueurs. This fruit is popular for its high vitamin C content and antioxidant properties, making it nutritious.

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