Afrikaans Cuisine

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South African Cuisine

Afrikaans Food of South Africa

Afrikaans Cuisine: Koeksusters (plaited pastries that are steeped in syrup)
Afrikaans Cuisine: Koeksusters (plaited pastries that are steeped in syrup)

The Afrikaans culture in South Africa is an extremely diverse one, with plenty of influences (cultural, religious and culinary) from all over the world. This culture is unique to South Africa, and is the result of centuries of settlers streaming into the country and setting up their homes and farms here, alongside the indigenous tribes.

Originally, Dutch and French settlers colonised the open expanses of South Africa; setting up farms and vineyards and living off the rich produce of the land. The Afrikaans culture has its roots mainly in these two groups, but does, of course, have many other ties to European, African and Eastern elements. The Afrikaans language is marked by distinctive Dutch sounds and a linguistic structure, while many of the surnames have French origins.

As farmers, much of the original Afrikaans cuisine was based on what was available to them from their own land. Meat has always been a major part of this style of cooking. In fact, even sans cooking, meat features hugely. Biltong and dröewors are both forms of spiced, dried meat that can keep for extended periods of time without going off, despite never having been cooked.

Afrikaans Cuisine: Boerwors on the Braai
Afrikaans Cuisine: Boerwors on the Braai
At the time of the Great Trek, this was essential to their having protein and nourishment without being able to depend on a farm for fresh fruit and vegetables. These dried meats continue to be a firm favourite amongst South Africans and international tourists alike. Beef and game is used, traditionally, but more modern approaches include chicken. The meat is prepared by rubbing it with vinegar and spices (like coriander, salt, pepper, etc...) and then drying it.

Cooking meat over the hot coals of a fire has been done for centuries, but the Afrikaans folk have developed this into an art form known as the braai, which is the Afrikaans word for barbecue. Today, South Africans are proud of this important part of their culture, and it remains a characteristic of the local cuisine (See our annual event honouring the Braai!). However, braaiing is not confined to the Afrikaans folk. Rather, just about every South African loves a braai. This is a social form of entertaining, usually performed outside.

Whether in the garden at home, on a beach that allows fires or on a hike or picnic, braaiing is the cuisine of choice for many. Common braai meats include sosaties (kebabs), chops, sausage (known as boerewors), steaks and chicken pieces. It is common for the men to braai the food, while standing around the fire with cold beers, and the women to make the salads and breads that accompany the meat. Stywepap, which literally translates to “stiff porridge,” is often served with this meat as a starch, usually with a gravy or tomato and onion relish.

Afrikaans Cuisine: Potjiekos (a stew cooked in a 3-legged African pot)
Afrikaans Cuisine: Potjiekos (a stew cooked in a 3-legged African pot)
Stews are another popular Afrikaans dish, especially those cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot. This is known as potjiekos. It comprises meat (white or red), potatoes and plenty of vegetables, cooked slowly over hot coals until the meat is tender and the vegetables soft. Red or white wine is frequently added for fluids and flavour. This is then served on rice. These meals go a long way and remain a popular way of catering for big parties.

The farmers’ wives of yesteryear were acclaimed for their baking and cooking skills. Therefore, the homemade breads, preserves and pastries of this culture are still favoured. South African puddings are sweet and rich, with distinct influences from European dishes. Most famous of all Afrikaner desserts are, undoubtedly, melktert (milk tart with cinnamon) and koeksusters (plaited pastries that are steeped in syrup and sometimes dusted with coconut). Jams and marmalades are also important parts of the Afrikaans table, and can be made using just about any fruit. Common preserves are watermelon, fig, quince and apricot.

Visitors from all over the world are sure to enjoy the flavours of Afrikaans cooking. However, this cuisine comes with a warning – the portions are simply huge.

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Did You Know?
Thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of this country, the restaurants of South Africa offer a wide variety of international cuisine types too. These vary from Eastern favourites (Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and so on) to German eateries, English cafés, Moroccan food stalls and American-style diners. is not a booking agent and does not charge any commission or service fees to users of this site. You Deal Direct and Save on your bookings for accommodation in South Africa. If you prefer to search for hotels by map, select "Search by Map" in the main menu at the top of the pages. Below you will find a set of editor selected links to related pages and destinations which you may find useful for planning your trip to South Africa.
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