There are many places in the world that pride themselves on food delicacies that may be odd to those from other areas. Delicacies are usually geographically based, rare to find, and unique in many of their characteristics.
In some parts of the world, there is one delicacy that remains a mystery to most—moose meat. Yup, you read that right! People in certain places around the world love to eat the meat of this wild animal.
Considered a part of the venison family, moose meat is beloved by many, yet also a bit scary to some, as it is a mysterious meat that many around the world have not had the opportunity to try.
So, what does moose meat taste like? Moose meat tastes a bit like a much leaner, tougher, and meatier version of beef or bison. However, it has a very unique flavor that is much stronger and gamier than beef. Moose often also carries the flavor of their diet in the area they lived in, usually a floral taste from willow buds.
Keep reading to learn more about moose meat, its nutritional information, whether you can or cannot eat it raw, where you can buy it, and different ways to cook it.
What Is Moose Meat?
Moose are part of the Capreolinae family, also known as the New World Deer. Moose are the biggest members in this family, which also includes Western and Eastern Roe Deer, Caribou, Reindeer, and many other types of deer species.
Moose are about 6 feet tall and weigh over 1,000 pounds (they are a BIG animal!) Males have antlers while females do not.
When it comes to moose meat it is exactly what it sounds like—meat from a moose.
Most often the meat comes from the chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, hip, brisket, flank, and shank. Some people, though it is advised against, even eat the kidneys, tongue, and liver.
On average, a moose has hundreds of pounds worth of meat available for consumption.
Because moose are so large, one can produce enough meat to last a family nearly a year (talk about a packed freezer!)
The parts of the moose that are inedible are the skin, legs and hooves, and the rest of the head (minus the tongue).
Moose meat is an extremely rare form of meat that is only available in certain parts of the world including Alaska, Canada, Finland, Russia, and Sweden.
It is considered a delicacy or a regional food to these places around the world and cannot be found anywhere else (well, legally that is).
When looking at moose meat, it looks like any other cut of red meat like beef, but with a much deeper and richer red color to it.
Moose meat is part of the venison family, which also includes meat from a deer, antelope, or elk. In European and Asian countries, moose meat is often called elk, though in the United States Elk does not refer to moose.
Moose meat is illegal to sell commercially (more on this later) and can only be consumed by those who hunt it themselves. This makes it an even more exclusive piece of meat.
What Do Moose Eat (And Why Is It Important?)
Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat eats?” Basically, what this means is that whatever animal you consume, you have to take into consideration that you are also consuming whatever they have eaten.
Fortunately, moose are herbivores, meaning they consume only plants and wildlife.
Specifically, moose enjoy eating leaves, bark, twigs, and leaves. The trees they prefer to eat from the most are birch, aspen, and willow trees.
They also drink from water sources like rivers or ponds specifically in the summer months. They eat mostly from trees and shrubs because their height makes it difficult for them to eat off of the ground.
Though they obviously eat year-round, moose’s are best fed and obtain the most nutrition during the summer months as vegetation and water sources are in abundance after the winter has passed.
Because moose are wild animals and there is a lack of control over what they eat, it is important to consider their environment and season of hunting to determine the quality of the moose meat.
What Does Moose Meat Taste Like?
Overall, moose meat has a very distinct taste quite unlike any other meat on the market.
It has been compared to chicken, beef, and bison, but those who are moose meat connoisseurs argue that it does not accurately portray what moose meat tastes like.
If moose meat experts had to compare it to a meat, they argue it tastes like a mixture of beef and bison with a much tougher texture and gamey flavor to it.
Moose meat tends to be tougher due to its fat content. Where other meat is full of fat, moose meat is extremely lean due to fat placement on the animal.
The fat in a moose sits in between its extremely thick skin (otherwise known as hide) and the muscle. This results in a very tough piece of meat, with the texture being similar to a tough and lean piece of beef.
What we mean by gamey is that moose meat has a wild flavor to it that you only get when eating wild game animals. It is described as pungent and musky and may be difficult to consume for those who have never eaten wild meat.
Gamey meat can be almost tart and have a slight rancid or spoiled smell to it, but that is all a part of eating this kind of meat. It does not mean it is bad, it just means it is from a wild animal.
What Factors Affect The Taste Of Moose Meat?
There are also a few factors that can affect the taste of moose meat. Things like age, sex, diet, and season of hunting all can affect the taste of the meat.
Young calves tend to taste a lot more mild and bland compared to older moose. This is one of the biggest ways the taste of moose meat is affected—you want to go for the older moose.
Though some moose meat experts tend to disagree on this, many believe female moose taste better as they are less active and carry more fat than male moose.
Because moose get the best nutrition in the summer due to the fresh flowing water and vegetation, it tastes the best when hunted in the spring and summer months.
Additionally, the way a moose is hunted can affect the taste of the meat. If it takes you multiple shots and the moose is running and scared for its life, that will pulse through the animal and affect your meat.
It is important to hunt in clear and precise shots to ensure the best tasting moose meat.
Can You Eat Moose Meat Raw?
There is another delicacy referred to as tartare that is traditionally made with beef, but that some choose to make with venison.
It is traditionally made by grinding or finely chopping the raw meat and mixing it with an egg yolk and other seasonings to be served over bread.
When consuming tartare you are consuming raw meat and raw egg so the risk for food-borne illness is relatively high in both the meat and the raw egg.
Some seasoned hunters will take the risk by making a moose or other venison meat tartare, but it is not highly recommended.
Raw moose meat may have Toxoplasmosis that stems from a parasite that can be extremely dangerous for consumption.
The risks range from flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches, fever, and headaches, that can last for days but sometimes weeks.
Because moose are wild game, it is impossible to gauge whether or not the moose you hunted does or does not have toxoplasmosis, therefore it is best to avoid raw moose meat at all costs. It is not worth the risk!
Moose Meat Health Benefits
Though it should not be consumed raw, there are quite a few health benefits to cooked moose meat.
Because it is an extremely lean piece of meat, compared to other meats it is extremely low in fat content.
Moose has about 1% fat compared to beef, chicken, or pork which can have fat that ranges from 35-55%. This also makes it low in calories compared to other meats.
Moose meat is full of protein coming in at about 25g of protein for every 3oz serving. In the same serving of 3 oz, moose meat produces about 20% of the daily value of iron.
It is full of minerals and nutrients including two types of vitamin B (niacin and riboflavin) zinc and nearly 300 grams of potassium in a serving.
Compared to other meats on the market, moose meat is also low in sodium and carbohydrates.
For a wild animal, moose meat is a great meat to consume for these types of health benefits.
Why Can’t I Find Moose Meat Anywhere?
Before we get into all of the different ways you can cook and incorporate moose meat in your kitchen, we have one more question to answer: where can I get moose meat in the United States?
Unfortunately, moose meat is not allowed to be sold commercially in the United State. In fact, most game meat is illegal to sell.
There are some farms across the US that have extremely special regulations allowing for game meat to be farmed and sold. However, moose are not included in this.
There is no such thing as going to a butcher and buying moose meat, even in places like Alaska and Canada where it is a popular delicacy.
To receive and eat moose meat requires the hunting of the animal, which depending on the state or country you are in, has its own set of rules and regulations.
Season of hunting, how much hunting can be done, and other factors are regulated that make hunting moose a difficult and expensive hobby.
Most moose meat consumption comes from people who have been hunting and eating moose for generations.
It requires not only the skills of hunting but also the ability to take apart an almost 1,000 pound animal and cut it into cookable pieces.
The one exception to receiving moose meat not by hunting is if a hunter donates the meat to a butchery or some other establishment. However, this is also rare and extremely hard to regulate.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for moose meat you are going to have to make friends with Alaskan and Canadian natives who have the moose hunting experience. Or get out there and hunt a moose yourself!
Tips For Delicious Moose Meat
Here are some tips to ensure the best tasting moose meat:
If you are hunting the moose, make sure to clean and get your meat on ice as soon as possible. Not only will this help with flavor, but it will help with avoiding any foodborne illness.
Make sure you cook it to the right temperature between 140-160°F. Undercooking puts you at risk for toxoplasmosis and overcooking results in extremely tough and jerky-like meat.
Cook with liquids like wine, broth, or a sauce. Do this by braising, roasting, or cooking in a crockpot or instant pot. Because moose meat is such a lean piece of meat, including liquid will help it from drying out.
How To Use And Cook Different Cuts Of Moose Meat
Because the moose is so large, has so many different cuts, and is a foreign meat to many people, here are tips on ways to use or cook the different cuts of moose meat:
The rib meat can be very tough, so it might be smart to use that for grounding meat and making burgers, meatballs, or sausages.
Use trimming and small pieces from the moose (like neck meat) in sausages, stews or also grind it up for burgers.
A piece of chuck moose meat tends to not have a lot of fat, therefore should be cooked with liquids and by using a braising technique.
The short loin of the moose should be grilled or cooked in a cast iron pan, similar to how you would cook a rib eye or T-bone steak. This would also be great in a cast iron right over an open flame.
Sirloins should be roasted or grilled, just like the short loin.
The hip is where the moose meat becomes a roast and is a similar cut to a chuck roast or rump roast of beef. You should cook this piece, like you would beef, long and slow with a lot of liquid.
You can eat the tongue, kidney, livers, and hearts, (tongue can be pickled, and the other pieces should be sauteed) but many advise against it.
Some argue there are extreme heavy metals or other toxins, specifically in the organ meat, so it is up to you if it is worth the risk.
Moose Meat Recipes And Uses
There are many different cuts of moose meat, as we just discussed, so there are many different recipes to make delicious moose meat meals.
One of the most popular ways is to make sausages, burgers, or meatballs with the ground meat or scraps.
You can eat these like you would any other sausage, burger, or meatball: with sauces like mustard, on buns, or with pasta and marinara sauce.
Ground moose meat can also be used in dishes like shepherd’s pie, an English delicacy, or any other casserole or chili as they usually contain some type of liquid.
Another extremely popular recipe to use moose meat in is moose bourguignon because moose meat is such a lean piece of meat.
Bourguignon is a French dish that typically uses beef. It requires cooking the meat low and slow with red wine and lots of herbs. It also usually includes pancetta or bacon.
Because of the low and slow process and inclusion of fat with the pancetta or bacon, bourguignon is the perfect dish to use moose meat as it needs liquid and fat to ensure it is juicy and tender when cooked.
Many people also like to put moose meat in a pressure cooker, like an instant pot, or a crockpot with broth and herbs and spices. With this kind of meat you can make tacos or create a stew or soup.
If you have moose steaks, you can cook them like you would a rib eye or t-bone beef steak. A cast iron pan works best here. Just make sure to include enough butter or oil to ensure the meat does not dry out.
Regardless of how you choose to cook the moose meat, you need to ensure you are using a liquid of some sort.
Whether that be cooking it low and slow with broth, or adding a sauce after it is cooked, liquid is necessary for this lean piece of meat.
Other Wild Game to Try
If you are now interested in moose meat but are disappointed to learn how hard it is to come by, there are other wild game meats on the market that are much more accessible and have similar qualities and uses.
Moose is considered venison meat, but it is illegal to purchase, so when you are looking online or at your local butchery at venison meat, you are most likely looking at deer meat.
Deer meat is the closest venison meat to moose meat in texture, flavor, and uses. Where moose meat is described as beef and gamey, deer meat is described as gamey but also rich and earthy.
Deer meat is also quite lean like moose meat therefore they require similar cooking processes. Both types of meat need a lot of liquid or fat and taste best when cooked low and slow.
Antelope is another option that is available for purchase in the United States. It is actually considered one of the least gamey meats on the wild game market.
However, it does require similar cooking processes to other wild game meats as it is also extremely lean.
Another wild game meat that is much more accessible is rabbit. Unlike moose and deer meat, there are actually restaurants in the United States that include rabbit on their menu.
Some states include California, Illinois, and Louisiana.
Compared to deer and moose meat, rabbit tastes more like a gamey and pungent flavored chicken. It is also quite lean and needs a lot of liquids and fats when getting cooked.
Now that we’ve gone over the flavor of moose meat and how to use it in your next recipe, as well as some other kinds of wild game to try out, let’s take a look at few related questions on the subject!
How do you store moose meat?
The best way to store moose meat depends on whether it is cooked, uncooked, and when you plan on consuming it.
Raw moose meat can stay in your fridge for about 2 days before cooking. These two days, though, are from the moment the moose is hunted and cleaned.
Because raw moose meat does not have a long shelf life in the refrigerator, it is best to store your moose meat in the freezer. You want to wrap it in freezer paper to ensure freshness. It can last in the freezer for up to a year.
For cooked moose meat, it should last in the fridge for about 3-4 days, though 3 is probably safest.
How can you tell if moose meat has gone bad?
There are a few factors that can determine whether or not your moose meat is safe to consume.
The first, and best way, to tell if your moose meat has gone bad is the smell. It will smell obviously spoiled and rancid if it is inedible.
Remember, this is different from smelling gamey. Bad moose meat will smell obviously rancid compared to the gamey smell.
If the moose meat is slimy, sticky, or feels like it has a layer of film on it, it is inedible.
Any signs of mold or freezer burn is also a sign to throw your moose meat away.
Discoloration could also be a sign of bad moose meat. However, oxidation sometimes turns the bright pink meat slightly brown, so do not be too worried about that.
Instead, if the moose meat is grey and extremely dull, it may not be edible.
Up Next: What Does Bone Marrow Taste Like?