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What Is Boerewors?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Boerewors is a traditional South African sausage that was originally created by Dutch settlers using available meat and spices. The name of the food literally means "farmer’s sausage", and it often was made by farmers from the animals they raised. The original recipes for boerewors used beef, pork and sometimes lamb mixed with spices and fat and then stuffed into pork casings. The sausage is intended to be used and cooked while fresh and does not age well, unlike a similar variety known as droewors, which is dried. When prepared, the sausage is usually grilled and can be served as a picnic food or included in a common dish with cornmeal porridge.

The standard meats used to make boerewors are beef, pork and lamb. When the popularity of the sausage began to spread, the variety of meats that were used increased and started to include more exotic varieties of local wildlife, such as ostrich. In the mid-20th century, certain producers started to use less expensive types of meats, including byproducts, offal and other fillers. Authentic boerewors is almost entirely meat. One final ingredient that is mixed with the roughly diced meat is spek, which essentially is diced pork or beef fat, although many recipes actually call for the use of chunks of diced bacon instead.

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The meat in the boerewors is complemented by a variety of spices. The exact amounts are usually developed by the sausage maker and, in some situations, are kept as close family secrets. In general, the basic spices used are coriander seeds, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and thyme. They can be added raw to the mixture or can be roasted first to bring out a different flavor.

When boerewors started to be commercially produced, non-traditional ingredients were introduced. These included items such as cheese, garlic, tomato sauce and chicken. Although these varieties are still sold, they are not generally considered true versions of the sausage.

To make the actual sausage, the ingredients are chopped, combined and stuffed inside a pork casing. The most common shape for boerewors is a very long, continuous coil. It is not aged like some sausages and needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from spoiling.

Finished boerewors is normally grilled or fried. It can be served on a roll with onions or by itself with other vegetables. One classic dish uses the sausage diced and mixed with a very coarse cornmeal porridge called pap, which is similar to Italian polenta.

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