The Quintessential South African Food Pantry

Words: Jess Spiro

With Heritage Day around the corner, what better time to celebrate all things South African? As a diverse nation, we all have unique tastes, 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 brands and items that should be in your kitchen cupboard.

South african food Pantry

South African Food We Love

Some food items we can’t do without…

All Gold Tomato Sauce

Made with ’36’ tomatoes, and an unlimited amount of love, All Gold will always have 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’s blatjang.

Mielie Pap

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


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

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? Debatable. Delicious? Absolutely! We’ve upgraded from simply sprinkling the ‘general purpose’ seasoning over eggs to using it as popcorn flavouring. Don’t tell mom.

Ouma Rusks

If you had a cup of coffee and didn’t ‘dip ‘n Ouma’, did that coffee even happen?

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

Try our LCHF Pumpkin Seed & Nut Rusks recipe or this Buttermilk and Bran Rusk recipe.

Fig Konfyt

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


No introduction needed. We’re all partial to a Brandy & Coke, 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?

It’s also the perfect addition to these Moerkoffie Cookies.

Rooibos Tea

If ever there was a national treasure, this would be it! While it is, of course, a drink, our list of South African pantry staples would not be complete without it. Not only is it delicious, but has remarkable health benefits too.


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.

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

Try our cake version of the tart, or this Banting-friendly version.

Jimmy’s Braai Sauce

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

Castle Lager

It’s refreshing, crisp and 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, for sure.


The taste of childhood and reminiscent of sports day when it was served in large plastic dispensers.

*See how some of these South African foods fare when Americans try out our ‘weirdest’ and most wonderful foods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>