The Quintessential South African Food Pantry

Words: Jess Spiro

With Heritage Day around the corner, it’s time to celebrate what makes South Africans different. As a rainbow nation, with a country filled with all manners of races, creeds, religions and beliefs, it’s hard to establish a standard, but the one thing that we can agree on is what our quintessential South African food pantry items are. We look at some of the most iconic South African food items that should be in your kitchen cupboard.South african food Pantry

South African Food We Love

All Gold Tomato Sauce

Made with 36 tomatoes, and an unlimited amount of love, All Gold always has a spot on our shelf.

Mrs Balls Chutney

Whether you like it spicy, peachy or just keeping it classic, there’s nothing that reminds us of the taste of home like old Mrs B.


The finely ground maize meal works hard as a sweet and savoury dish. What would a braai be without it?


While we’re on the subject of pap, you simply can’t have it without chakalaka. The fiery tomato and onion relish is a necessity on top of creamy maize meal.

Peri Peri Sauce

Some people make theirs, some buy it ready made. No matter how you get your fix, peri-peri sauce is right up there with tomato sauce in the pantry-staple department.


Good for you? We’re not sure. Delicious? Absolutely. We’ve upgraded from simply sprinkling the ‘general purpose’ seaoning over eggs, to using it as popcorn flavouring. Please don’t tell mom.

Ouma’s Rusks

If you had a cup of coffee and didn’t ‘dip ‘n ouma’ did that coffee even happen? Why not try our LCHF Pumpkin Seed and Nut Rusks recipe or this Buttermilk and Bran Rusk recipe.

South African food pantry - Rusks
South African food Pantry Buttermilk & Bran Rusks Recipe

Fig Konfyt

We’re quite serious about our cheese, and serious cheese calls for serious accoutrements, where only fig konfyt will do.


Needs no introduction. We’re all partial to a little brandy, even if we’ll never admit it.

Ultra Mel Custard

It’s like they boxed up the flavour of childhood happiness.

Koo Apricot Jam

This tastes so good, even grannies all over the country passed this off as their own.


Probably the quintessential South African food if ever there was one. A household staple, we’ve even known the odd vegetarian to gnaw on a snapstick.

Condensed Milk

What else would South Africans use to over-sweeten their coffee? Pairs exceptionally well with Ouma rusks.

Rooibos Tea

If ever there was a national treasure, this would be it. While it is, of course, a drink, list of South African food would not be complete without it.


The hearty, creamy porridge-like mixture is what powered most school children through until lunchtime.

South African food Pantry
South African food Pantry

Black Cat Peanut Butter

What else would you put on your witbrood sarmie?

Peppermint Crisp

Potentially the single most important chocolate for South Africans, and forms part of an iconic dessert – the classic Peppermint Crisp tart. Try our cake version of the tart or this banting friendly version.

South African food Pantry Peppermint Crisp Cake
South African food Pantry Peppermint Crisp Stack

Jimmy’s Braai Sauce

Almost a non-negotiable when throwing a chop on the braai.

Castle Lager

It’s refreshing and crisp and is a stock standard at nearly every organised sports game.

Nik Naks

They’re cheesy, they’re crispy and they coat your fingers with weird orange dust. What’s not to love?

Creme Soda

As a kid, it was a weekend treat. As an adult, it’s a weekend hangover cure also known as a green ambulance.


The chunky, comforting anytime dish always has a place in our pantry. A South African food staple.


The taste of childhood if ever there was one, reminiscent of sports day past when it was served in large plastic dispensers.

Fish Paste

You either love or hate old Anchovette, but there’s no denying that it’s a staple in nearly every South African home.

Our South African food may be a little odd, but we love it nonetheless. See how it fares when Americans try out our weirdest and most wonderful foods.

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