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What Does Pheasant Taste Like?

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Have you ever wondered what pheasant tastes like? If you’re really that curious, you can probably find a restaurant that serves up pheasant in your local area.

Most of the time, it’s going to be a nicer restaurant along the lines of a fine dining establishment. You’ll find it in a variety of different preparations that can be quite delicious.

Pheasant, particularly farm-raised pheasant, will taste a lot like chicken.

There’s a lot of white, lean meat on these smaller birds. There will be a hint of gamey flavor to the pheasant, which can be expected because it is, after all, a game bird.

If you’re a pheasant hunter, you can expect any pheasants you kill to taste a lot gamier than your average farm-raised bird.

pheasant flapping wings

Cooking pheasant meat is also a lot less forgiving than chicken.

For the most part, you can cook chicken without worrying too much about ruining it. Slap some sauce on there, and you’re good.

With pheasants, though, there is a stronger and more distinct taste that raises the stakes on the preparation a bit more.

Let’s discuss a bit about how pheasant tastes and some good ideas on cooking them if you want to give it a try.

Raising Pheasants for Food

All across the country, families raise chickens as pets, to farm eggs, and for food. Pheasants can do the same things, though they are generally less common than chickens.

Still, if you’re interested in giving pheasants a try, then they can be good eating.

You can find a lot of places that will sell you high-quality pheasants of different breeds based on your needs. You can get them fully grown or as babies.

Raising pheasants isn’t the same as chickens.

Though there are some similarities, like their preference to roost, there are major differences as well. Pheasants, for example, are game birds, so will need game bird feed for food.

They also can fly, and given the chance, will escape your property and never come back. Most of the time you’re going to need a covered coop or enclosure to keep them long-term.

Eating Game Birds Like Pheasants

Game birds taste a bit like chicken, but they’re going to have an unmistakable taste that lets you know you’re eating something very different.

How gamey the flavor of the pheasant will be will depend on whether it was farm-raised or hunted. Also, how quickly the bird is dressed and hung will affect the level of the gamey flavor of the meat.

If you’re looking for something to compare it to, think about anytime you’ve had duck if you’ve had the chance to eat it in the past.

If you were to explain what duck tastes like to someone else, you’d tell them that it tastes like chicken but not quite the same. The same goes for pheasants.

A pair of pheasants sitting on a branch

Do males taste different than females? Not really.

They grow faster, so you’ll get more meat, but there isn’t much of a difference in how each gender tastes.

The food that the pheasant you eat was raised on will also affect the way it tastes. Farm-raised pheasants are likely eating processed and prepared game bird feed that’s full of vitamins, protein, fiber, and other things that keep them healthy.

Wild birds, however, are eating a wider variety of things based on where they live and what season it is. As you can imagine, different foods will change the way the meat tastes.

5 Tips on Pheasant Meat Preparation

Here are some things to help you prepare pheasant meat so you get the best experience.

  1. Give Your Bird the Smell Test – It’s hard to describe what a rotten pheasant smells like, but if you’ve cooked a lot, you should have a good idea of something that smells, “off”.

    Your bird shouldn’t have any strange smells before you cook it.

2. Add Some Strong Flavors – You’ll want to add some strong flavors into any roast or fried pheasant. The gamey flavor can be too strong for people who aren’t used to eating game birds.

Try adding things like bacon, pasta sauce, prosciutto, and other ingredients that will promote the flavor of the pheasant but dull the gamey edge that some birds can have.

3. Put It In a Casserole – If you’re eating pheasant for the first time or introducing the bird to a friend, think about putting it into a casserole.

Baking the bird can draw out some of the gamey taste, and using a crust with a creamy sauce is a great combination.

Grilled pheasant with bacon and spices and vegetables,

4. Hang Your Pheasant – Hanging game birds is a terrific way to draw out some of the strong flavors. Pheasants that are hung for three days or so will usually taste better.

You should keep them hung in temperatures no higher than 55 degrees. Don’t eat any of the innards. You should only eat the meat of a hung bird.

5. Keep Them As Dry as Possible – After your pheasant is killed, do what you can to keep them as dry as possible.

They’ll taste better and will be easier to pluck. Dry plucking your bird will make the meat more tender before you cook it.

5 Side Dishes that Pair Well with Pheasant

Try these side dishes with your pheasant for a perfectly rounded dish.

  1. Roasted Potatoes – Roasted potatoes go very well with pheasant. They go well with the earthy tone of game birds and can be prepared with a lot of salt, garlic, and butter to get you the intense flavor you need.
  2. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes, mashed with a lot of butter, will give you the creaminess that people love when they eat gamey meat.
  3. Pears & Apples – The sweetness of cooked apples and pairs, along with the citrus notes in the fruits, go extremely well with pheasant.
  4. Pasta – Make your pheasant into meatballs and serve them over pasta with a cream sauce or a ragu.
  5. Mushrooms – Mushrooms have a strong flavor that compliments pheasant excellently. Stir Fry them in butter with garlic and add salt and pepper to complete the dish.
Tasty grilled pheasant with bacon, spices and vegetables

Give It a Shot at a Restaurant First

If you’re thinking about raising your own pheasants for food, you may want to head to a restaurant that sells pheasant dishes first to see if you like it.

It would be a shame to go to all of that time and effort to raise pheasants and end up hating the meat.

Once you know what pheasant tastes like, you will be better equipped to decide whether to buy and raise baby pheasants.

Even if you don’t eat them, though, raising pheasants can be a lot of fun, particularly if you have experience raising chickens.

Do the research on how to get baby pheasants into adulthood like what kind of feed works best, how much space they need, and when they can start to go outside.

The more information you have, the better chance you’ll have to see your pheasants grow and thrive wherever they are.


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