American food/South African food

12 South African foods I miss the most – and their American equivalents

Sometimes it’s near impossible to imitate a South African taste…

American food/South African food

One thing about me you have to know is how much I love food. I love food so much that I have had to become an avid gym-goer to avoid weight gain. I don’t discriminate – I love sweets, savouries, meats, vegetables, all of it. As I am sitting here typing this, I am sipping a warm cup of raspberry white chocolate coffee and longing for a buttermilk Ouma rusk.

Here are some South African foods I miss the most and a few dupes I have found for them in America that come close:

1. Ouma Rusks

I have been dunking Ouma rusks into my coffee since the ripe age of five-years-old. This is also probably why I am so addicted to caffeine, but that’s besides the point. There is no American equivalent because literally nothing in the world that comes close to the buttery crunch of an Ouma rusk.

2. Biltong

My fellow South Africans who are moving to America, do not fall for the ploy of jerky as a replacement for biltong. It’s not even close. Biltong is salty, fatty and not dry.

Americans have jerky here but it’s extremely sweet and very dry. Just don’t even try it. You will be able to buy biltong at most South African stores but it’s expensive so eat it sparingly.

3. Top-Deck

This is my all-time favourite chocolate. There is good news for South Africans living America that love this chocolate as much as I do. If you like Top Deck and want something as delicious, creamy and extremely similar in taste, grab the Wonka Chocolate Waterfalls Bar – it’s heaven and pretty much an exact dupe for Top Deck.


4. Koeksisters

These are so sickly sweet they make my teeth tingle. I truly am surprised Americans have not started manufacturing these since they do love their sugar. I personally am not a fan of koeksisters but I know my mom would probably trade me in for one, so I thought I would include it on my list.

Apple Fritter
Apple Fritter

The closest thing you will get to this is an apple fritter and really it’s not the same at all its just the same sickly sweetness. My American boyfriend, who is a lover of everything over the top sweet, tried these and fell in love.

5. Vetkoek

My mouth is watering just thinking of the deep fried goodness that is Vetkoek. While I know that these can be eaten with strawberry jam, I personally used to like the savoury version of this filled with ground beef. Again, this is just one of those foods I cannot provide a dupe for.

6. Bread

America has bread and lots of it but the bread you find in grocery stores is not the white fluffy bread that is found in abundance in South Africa. Here’s a tip, skip buying bread at the grocery store and find a little Italian market or a bakery and buy your bread there. I promise you will have much better luck.

Bread in Boudin

7. Jungle Oats

I have oatmeal every morning. My recipe of choice is to add water and then a little coffee creamer but here’s what you do if you want the creamy jungle oats taste.

First of all, only buy Quaker Oats, (unless you enjoy tiny pieces of cardboard in your bowl). Quaker Oats is the only brand you should buy for oatmeal. To make it taste like Jungle Oats just add butter and some sugar and you are well on your way.

Quaker Oats

8. Candy Floss

We have this in America. This food item can easily be found at all festivals and carnivals, it just goes by the name of cotton candy.

9. Kiri Cheese

My mom would pack this in with my school lunch every day when we lived in South Africa. The good news is that it is available in America. The bad news is that you will pay a lot for it. Kiri cheese can be found at specialty stores such as Whole Foods. Alouette has a similar textured cheese and that can be found at almost every supermarket.

Alouette cheese by

10. Kingklip

I have yet to find a fish as flaky and buttery as kingklip. As I am sure you know, this is probably the most commonly eaten fish in South Africa. I love this with a little lemon, butter and garlic – YUM!

The closest you will find to this is Chilean sea bass. This fish is excellent but you must be prepared to pay as it’s one of the priciest fish options in America. Halibut is great too but I personally enjoy Chilean sea bass much more.

Chilean Sea Bass Flickr/Barbara Glickler Notarile

11. Scones

Do not every under any circumstances order a scone in America. You will be presented with an extremely dry pastry that you cannot put any jam and cream on. The closest thing to these are English muffins and you can buy these for a very reasonable price at the supermarket.

English muffins

12. Chipniks

I am going to end this mouth-watering list with my most missed food of all-Chipniks. There is literally no chip that even comes close to this in America. The closest you will get are shrimp chips in the Asian food isle of the grocery store, but it’s just not the same.

Prawn chips

If you love food as much as I do and you are living in a different country, know that although you might not find the same foods you love so much from home, you will have a fun time exploring new foods.

And who knows? You may even find some new favourites.