What Does Reindeer Meat Taste Like?

Written by Phil Dubley
Published: December 2, 2022
© Tam and Trace Photography/Shutterstock.com
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Reindeer can be found near the north pole, mainly in mountainous regions of northern Siberia, Europe, and America. Its meat is prevalent in Norway, where it’s part of their traditional cuisine, and can be found in many different preparations. You can find it in steaks, sausages, jerky, minced meat, and more.

We’ll go over what reindeer meat tastes like further below. In addition, we’ll compare it in taste and in healthiness to other common meat sources. Let’s begin!

Reindeer Meat’s Taste

Reindeer meat (venison)
Reindeer meat has a “gamey” flavor and a certain metallic taste.

©iStock.com/Vesa Niskanen

Like other venison, reindeer meat has a “gamey” flavor and a certain metallic taste, probably due to its higher iron concentration. It is generally much more tender and leaner than beef, though this will depend on the cut and cooking. Generally, the gamey flavor can be described as a very strong meat taste. Gamey meat is a bit more acidic and presents a more metallic taste as well. It’s associated with wild animals’ meat, but farm-bred cattle can also be prepared to present a gamey flavor. 

Still, the overall taste will vary from animal to animal and depend on what they were fed. Other factors that can affect the meat’s flavor include the animal’s age, climate, and the way it was butchered. Interestingly, some people believe reindeer meat isn’t gamey at all. Instead, many call it extremely lean, making it quite different from beef. There is a slight tang of metal to the palette, though it is still pleasant.

Does Raindeer Taste Different Than Deer or Liver?

Reindeer meat may taste very similar to deer for some people but is a bit leaner and softer than other venison. It does share a similar gamey taste with deer meat, however. The difference in taste will depend majorly on how they’re fed. Mostly, reindeer that graze on natural or managed pastures, like bushes and grass, will have a much ‘gamey’ and ‘wild’ flavor. Animals that are fed grains will have a much milder taste, more akin to beef.

Many people associate the gamey flavor with liver, but reindeer meat will only get this taste when it is overcooked because it is more bloody than other meat. It is particularly tender when cooked properly. Moreover, reindeer meat is so lean and tender that if you want to make burgers or meatballs, you’ll need to add fat, or it will lose consistency and fall apart. 

Is Reindeer Meat Healthier Than Beef?

Reindeer Antlers
Reindeer meat can be said to be healthier than beef.

©Jeff McGraw/Shutterstock.com

Reindeer meat is much leaner than beef, and it also has a higher content of vitamins B and D and proteins. It also contains less overall cholesterol and fat — reindeer meat has a fat content of about 2%, compared to beef’s 9% — so it can be said to be healthier than beef.

However, it will also be more prone to have bacteria, especially if it’s game meat, as wild animals will not be raised with regular health checks and balanced diets like cattle. Tapeworms and other parasites are also commonly found in wild venison. For this reason, it is always recommended to freeze reindeer meat for at least 24 hours before processing it, which should eliminate most microbes. Cooking it to 160° F will also kill off parasites and tapeworms.

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The Featured Image

Two Reindeer in Snow
In North America, reindeer are also called caribou. Both the males and females grow antlers.
© Tam and Trace Photography/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

My name is Phil Dubley, I am a Canadian living in Argentina, but tomorrow I could be writing from anywhere else. Throughout my life, I've been in love with nature: plants, animals, people, and everything in it. I have a passion for wild animals - snakes, sharks, and felines have always fascinated me. As for plants, I love succulents. I have a collection of over ten different varieties on my terrace. Also, I use the hemp plant as CBD oil for sleep: it has been the only thing to tackle my insomnia effectively. I want to share all my knowledge about the areas I am passionate about with others who feel the same way. I hope you enjoy my articles, and in each one, you learn something new!

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Sources
  1. Bon Appétit, Available here: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/reindeer-meat-delicious
  2. Oxford Academic, Available here: https://academic.oup.com/af/article/4/4/55/4638824?login=false
  3. Wild Game Cookery, Available here: https://web.archive.org/web/20100323111827/http://www.extension.umn.edu/foodsafety/components/itsnogame/wildgamecookery.pdf
  4. Kitchen Frau, Available here: https://www.kitchenfrau.com/venison-burgers-moist-and-juicy
  5. TheFoodXP, Available here: https://thefoodxp.com/what-does-gamey-taste-like/