What Does Horse Taste Like?

Eating horse meat, while taboo in some cultures, is common in others. This article explores what does horse taste like and how it compares to more common meats like beef, pork, and others.

Overview of Eating Horse Meat

While the thought of eating horse meat is off-putting to some, it’s important to note that:

  • Horse meat is nutritious, lean, and high in protein. It contains less fat, cholesterol, and calories than beef.
  • Horse meat is consumed in many parts of the world including Europe, China, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
  • In the US, horse meat was outlawed for human consumption in 2007. However, some states allow it if the horses are exported to other countries first.
  • There are still taboos about eating horse in the US and UK due to horses being seen as companions rather than food.

Now let’s explore what horse actually tastes like and how it compares to more common meats.

What Does Horse Taste Like? Flavor Profile and Texture

Horse meat is described as having a slightly sweet, rich flavor and aroma. The taste differs depending on the cut, age, breed and preparation, but some common notes are:

  • Sweet, earthy, beef-like flavor
  • Subtle gamey or gamier notes than beef
  • Juicy, tender and fine-grained
  • Lean with a low-fat content
See also  Does Fennel Taste Like Licorice?

The meat ranges from dark to pale red in color when raw. When cooked, horse turns grayish pink and has a similar texture to high-quality beef.

The tenderloin and sirloin are considered the most tender and palatable cuts. Older horse meat can be tougher with more intense gamy notes. Meat from draft horses is also tougher than riding horses.

How Horse Meat Compares to Other Meats

Horse meat is often compared to high-quality lean beef in its taste and texture. Here’s how it stacks up to other types of meat:


  • Taste: Horse has a sweeter, richer taste than beef. Beef has more mineral and iron flavors.
  • Texture: Horse is leaner with a finer grain than beef. High-quality cuts of both meats have tender, melt-in-your mouth texture.
  • Fat content: Horse is much lower in fat and cholesterol than beef. A 3 oz serving of horse has 1 gram of fat compared to 15 grams in beef.


  • Taste: Horse is mildly sweet compared to pork’s more savory, umami flavor.
  • Texture: Horse is more tender, while pork can be tough if undercooked. Both are similarly juicy.
  • Fat content: Pork contains more marbled fat than the very lean horse meat.


  • Taste: Lamb has a more pronounced gamey taste than horse. Lamb is grass-fed so has a distinctive flavor.
  • Texture: Lamb tends to be tougher and chewier than tender cuts of horse.
  • Fat content: Lamb contains more saturated fat than horse.


  • Taste: Venison has a stronger gamey flavor than horse. Horse is mildly sweet.
  • Texture: Both meats are lean and tender when cooked properly. Venison can be tough.
  • Fat content: Venison contains slightly less fat than horse, but both are very lean.
See also  What does gin taste like?


  • Taste: Chicken has a mild flavor compared to the rich, beef-like taste of horse meat.
  • Texture: Chicken breast is tender but can become dry if overcooked. Horse has a tender, juicy texture.
  • Fat content: Chicken breast is very low in fat while dark meat contains more. Horse is fattier than chicken breast but leaner than dark chicken meat.

How to Cook Horse Meat

Horse meat is versatile and can be prepared in many ways:

  • Grilled – Quickly grilled horse steaks or kebabs have full-bodied, rich flavor. Grill on high just until medium rare.
  • Pan-fried – Handles fast, high heat. Cook steaks in a cast iron skillet to medium rare doneness.
  • Stews and chilis – Braises well for tender, fall-apart texture. Adds richness to stews.
  • Tartare – Raw finely chopped horse meat makes for a tender, lean tartare.
  • Carpaccio – Thinly sliced raw horse pairs well with arugula and parmesan.
  • Sausage – Often used in salami and other cured sausages. Provides a sweet, earthy flavor.

Cook horse meat rare to medium-rare to prevent toughness. Well-done is not recommended. Marinade tenderizes and adds flavor.

Where to Buy Horse Meat

In many countries, horse meat is sold in regular butcher shops and groceries. But due to taboos in the US, it can be difficult to find:

  • Specialty or ethnic butcher shops may secretly carry it in some states where it’s legal.
  • Ranches that breed horses for meat export may sell cuts or whole carcasses.
  • Online sites like https://dreamernaturalbeef.com/horse-meat sell fresh or frozen horse meat.
  • eBay sometimes has listings for horse meat from sellers outside the US.
See also  What Does Celeriac Taste Like?

Is Eating Horse Meat Healthy? Nutrition Facts

Horse meat is nutritious and lean:

  • Calories: Around 130 calories in a 3 oz (85g) serving
  • Fat: 1-5% fat content depending on cut. Much lower than beef or pork.
  • Protein: 20-25g protein per 3oz serving. Comparable to beef.
  • Iron: Contains high levels of iron, more than beef.
  • Vitamin B: Higher in B12 and niacin than cattle meat.

Potential concerns:

  • Drugs: Horses given medications like phenylbutazone are not safe to eat. Ensure meat comes from reputable source.
  • ** parasites:** May contain tapeworm if undercooked. Freeze meat for 2 weeks before cooking.

Overall horse meat is low in fat and calories while providing protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. It can be a healthy alternative to red meat if sourced properly.

Key Takeaways on What Horse Taste Like

  • Horse meat has a slightly sweet, rich taste with subtle gamey notes. The flavor compares to high-quality lean beef.
  • The texture is tender and fine-grained when cooked properly, similar to premium steaks. It’s leaner than beef or pork with a darker red color.
  • Horse meat contains less fat, cholesterol and calories than comparable cuts of beef. It provides high quality protein, iron and B vitamins.
  • Horse can be enjoyed grilled, pan-fried, braised in stews, as tartare and carpaccio, or in sausages. Cook to rare or medium-rare doneness.
  • Although taboo in the US and UK, horse meat is nutritious and widely enjoyed globally. With an open mind, more may find horse a tasty, lean protein option.