Beef Bobotie

Beef bobotie recipe

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 65 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Bobotie has been recognized as South Africa's national dish. With influences introduced by the spices of Cape Malay cooking, the medieval culinary practices of the Dutch settlers to the indigenous practices of rearing and eating beef, it is no wonder that this melting pot is the rainbow nation's national dish.​

There are many ways of making bobotie and a vast variety of recipes can be found on the net that at times it is difficult to tell which is the most authentic bobotie. A traditional bobotie is said to have 6 key elements which influence the flavor, cooking technique, and consistency of the dish. These are curry spice, cinnamon, jam, raisins, bread soaked in milk, and bay leaves. The result should be a balance between spicy and sweet, however, the sweetness should never overpower the dish.

Some people have described it as a type of meatloaf, or a dish not dissimilar to moussaka. The consistency of the bobotie varies from being a stiff meatloaf type of result to a more softer mincemeat sauce type of consistency. Traditionally, it is a meat dish made with minced beef, lamb, or even ostrich.

As people's preferences for specialized diets have grown, there are also vegetarian and vegan alternatives for this dish. It is custom to serve bobotie with spicy yellow rice, but any type of plain rice or a mildly seasoned pilau rice will go very well with bobotie.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Mrs. Balls Chutney (plus more for topping)
  • 600 grams minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 slices white bread (crustless, soaked in milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (leveled)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons double cream
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Handful bay leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for South African beef bobotie
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  2. Preheat oven to 340 F/ 170 C.

  3. In a large sauté pan, fry the onions, garlic, and ginger in the butter until soft and golden brown.

    Fry onions, garlic, and ginger
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  4. Add the spices, chutney, minced beef, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and stock cube.

    Add spices, chutney
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  5. When the mince has browned, add the pre-soaked bread and work into the mixture.

    Add presoaked bread
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  6. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake, covered, in the oven for 40 minutes.

    Transfer mixture to a baking dish
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  7. Meanwhile, beat the egg, milk, and turmeric to make the savory custard mix.

    Beat egg and milk
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  8. Add cream for an extra rich custard topping.

    Add cream
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  9. Season with a little salt and pepper.

    Season with salt and pepper
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  10. Remove the mince mixture from the oven, uncover, then pour the egg mix over.

    Remove mince mixture
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  11. Arrange the bay leaves on top then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

    Arrange bay leaves
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  12. The bay leaves should be fragrant and the surface of the custard, golden brown. 

    Bake beef bobotie
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  13. Serve with rice and top with additional chutney, if desired.

    South African beef bobotie
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  14. Enjoy!