What's "gamey" to you?

As a lamb lover, I’m often confronted with non-lamb people who complain of a gamey taste. As someone who’s hunted, I never get the connection to rabbit, venison, squirrel (which really isn’t very “gamey” by my tastes), turkey (not very “gamey” to me), ducks, geese, etc.

Venison and rabbit scream gamey to me. Venison has little fat, and what fat there is tastes like a$$. I should have listed dressing out and processing a deer as my least favorite “kitchen”(backyard) chore. Even the much acclaimed backstraps have little flavor to me, save for “game.” I’m convinced folks just eat it because of the tradition of the hunt and flavor of childhood memories. My son loved rabbit hunting, and I don’t waste what is killed, save for rats and mice and such. Even with the removal of glands , it’s all game to me. Geese? Sweet Jesus! I made fajitas from it to cover the muddy taste (even after buttermilk).

To me, it comes down to feed. Good feed= good meat.

I love lamb and goat, and don’t get what’s gamey about them. I feel they’re more “meat flavored” than even beef.

What’s gamey to you?


I am one of those who prefer not to eat lamb. I do find a slightly ‘gamey’ taste to them, though that’s just half the reason I avoid lamb. My sister ad BIL love lamb and insist that well prepared lamb doesn’t taste gamey at all. At their suggestion I’ve tried said preparations and thought it still tasted gamey.

Funny - I think some pasture-raised beef is very gamey, and took a bit to get used to. A few times I’ve had mutton (in classic old traditional recipes soups and stews), that stuff tasted like I just saw a sheep and decided to take a bite out of its leg - blech.

The one time I had venison, I thought it tasted great. I’ve had pheasant and that definitely tasted more gamey out of any fowl I’ve had, while I enjoy eating duck and geese.

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I’d enjoy duck and geese raised, but wild ones aren’t what those taste like. It goes back to feed. Duck/goose/pheasant with good feed, good duck/goose/pheasant meat. I used to live by a store that only sold foul that was raised on a “farm.” As someone who had the wild versions of those meats, I couldn’t believe the flavor. Duck breast is one of those things hunters wrap in bacon to make it passable. Goose (wild)isn’t even passable with bacon.

I guess I’m like your sister and BIL. I just don’t get “game” from lamb. Mutton is another thing entirely. You have to braise it forever.

Fair enough - I don’t think I’ve ever had wild geese or duck. They remain two of my favorite proteins though, more for their classic Chinese preparations (though I’ve had great duck dishes in many cuisines). I can’t cook 'em, but I’ll eat 'em up readily.

Mutton still doesn’t taste good when braised for a long time (in my experience). :unamused:

You are what you eat.

I’ve never really understood the use of the word in this context by Americans. Lamb doesnt usually have the rich flavour of, say, venison pheasant or partridge. But has more flavour than, say, rabbit. Of course it depends on the age of the meat, how it’s been raised, how old it was when slaughtered, the time it was aged after slaughter, etc. But I generally find lamb to be a mild meat, almost with a slight sweetness. Older animals, which have become hogget or mutton, will have a fuller flavour, of course.

I’ve read a number of these threads - they used to pop up on Chowhound periodically. My conclusion (which I’m happy to accept is incorrect) is that when many Americans say “gamey”, they don’t mean it and, in fact, they probably have little or no experience of actually eating game, so are not making a comparision in reality. What I think they may actually be saying is “This is an unfamiliar flavour and I don’t think I like it”.

I come at this conclusion from a point of view that most Americans will be used to the bland taste of US beef and, when confronted with sheep meat, react negatively to a meat that actually has flavour. On the other side of that coin, I don’t like the lack of flavour in US beef and have rarely ordered a steak in some 40 years visiting.


Game meats. As they should be.

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Same conclusion here; right or wrong. I also use the adj “sweet” for lamb meat. Sweet fat flavor.

Mutton is hard for many to take, though. It is ,as you say, full flavor. Much stronger flavor. Even the lambers in my house won’t do mutton. Doesn’t taste like game to me, though. If you shoot a female wild sow, you get a much nicer gameyness than many other game animals. Turkey breasts off wild ones are very comparable to what you buy in the store. The legs would need much pressure cooker time, though. Good dog food.

I think it’s more than just feed. Animals in the wild have to go through elements, and the rabbit I shot might be oldish. Very different from domesticated rabbit flavor. If you’ve ever had a farm raised rabbit, they’re great. Can’t live off of rabbit meat, though.

My boy was pretty jacked when he shot his first rabbit. less jacked when he tasted it. :man_running:

The lamb I’ve had in Europe is so much more flavorful than what you get in the US. I had many meals at Turkish places in Berlin, and the lamb is much better.

I once had Colorado lamb and I reckoned it equalled lamb we have in Europe.


I’m with you…every hunter i know says you just havent had the right venison…the jury is still out for me.

moose is really fatty and can be strong tasting…sausages, ground meat better

rabbit ive had can be as mild or even milder than chicken - i think i like that kind…but you know i really like Bugs and how the mf’er always wins every f’ing time, he’s the man…i don’t select this meat.

wild turkey–even the nasty whiskey tastes better…ill take makers mark and a regular turkey any day

elk to me is the top of the menu if i can get it … sort of lamb plus beef idk, i really love it.

also love lamb chops…all day long at those Brazillian bbq spots…its not gamey it’s actual flavor! lamb fat may reign supreme too for me. sure rare and medium rare chops are great but if you ever see smoked lamb ribs on any bbq menu hit that.

goat to me is mild im not sure i go out of my way to eat it…tacos sometimes really great

dry aged steaks…meh…some of them just aren’t for me.

i have a bunch of ground boar and elk in my freezer for chili season which this board has brought front and center! to your point about feed, these boars eat chestnuts up in sonoma so that works well i think

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The age of wild game can be a issue. Restaurants here which offer, say, venison, often used farmed animals as they are killed at a consistent age, so can be reliably cooked to the chef’s concept. But, for home cooks, wild, locally shot, deer is fine.

Rabbit isnt too common here. I think it’s cuteness comes into people’s thoughts. Supermarkets stock cubed rabbit, usually from China, and you need a specialist butcher, or the farmers market, for rabbit on the bone. When I was a volunteer at the local hospital, one of the security guys used to shoot as a hobby. He had a deal with a local farmer to shoot rabbit which, in the UK is always in nseason as it’s regarded as a pest. He’d bring me a couple now and again.

I often buy meat online from a butcher in the next county. They buy all of their lamb (and beef) from a single local farm, only a few minutes drive away. The sheep are Texels and these are hill sheep, so develop extra flavour running up and down the hill. After slaughter, they are hung for 7 days which seems about right for flavour to develop.

Maybe you should try other US lamb. Mine is raised by a 12 year old girl who feeds them oats and grasses the mill around and devour. I’m sure it has equal out there, but nothing I’ve had abroad, or otherwise, surpasses it. She’s raising like 14 of them , if you’d like a half. It just Mrs. Badger and me, so I only get a half. Want the other half? It’ll be late Sept./early Oct. when it’s ready.

You only have to try a eating a piece of wild mallard. Whoa! Wash it down with lots of wine or whisky.

Stay away from New Zealand lamb (and their dairy products). Hardly any lamb taste and the dairy industry is very intensive. So much that it has tarnished NZ’s “green” image.



One of my favorite actors and movies of all time…


Same. With looks and brain to match! (Not to mention she’s on “my team” :laughing:)

Back on topic: ever tried alpaca (in Peru)? Noice!

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Classic. Just the way he said her name. Buffalo Bill was perfect.

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I’m with you, there. Doesn’t look like they drained the blood, which is the best part of it. Czarnina!

I love me some Anthony Hopkins, but Jodie Foster just takes my breath away she is incredible!! What a movie! I can really relate to Clarise coming from a small town and a difficult situation and being in a man’s world there at the FBI and doing her best, Jodie played that role to a fucking T!

This is why I can’t eat rabbit, veal, or lamb either. :pleading_face: :pleading_face:
I try to avoid other animals that are adorable, but I try to be game enough to at least try most meats (alpaca, veal, suckling pig, deer, etc.) and be respectful of cultures where this is just food for sustenance. I understand this is an absolute contradiction for any carnivore, but I don’t care.

For me, gamey is a strong taste of the animal that I can’t quite describe. I suppose it really is more the smell, because it smells and tastes like what I imagine what they smell like (I don’t mean they are stinky). Lamb and goat I have familiarity with that smell; it’s a little indescribable for other animals since I haven’t sniffed pheasants before, but it’s maybe a bit of a musky smell?