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What Does Horse Taste Like? Here’s Everything To Know About Horse Meat

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Horses are one of the most popular domesticated animals in the world. If they’re not kept as a companion, they’re used for equestrian sports and transportation.

In some of the rarest cases, horses are kept for their meat. 

What Does Horse Taste Like Here’s Everything To Know About Horse Meat

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find horse meat in the United States. It’s actually illegal to sell horse meat for commercial human consumption in the U.S., making it very difficult to find a cut of horse from a grocery store. It’s a bit of a taboo subject, but there are loopholes. 

If you’re lucky enough to come across horse meat sold by a reputable butcher, you’re probably wanting to know what it tastes like before you buy it.

Alternatively, if you’re merely curious, you might want to know whether horse meat tastes good or not. 

So, what does horse taste like? Here’s everything to know about horse meat!

What Is Horse Meat?

As the name suggests, horse meat is the meat derived from a horse. It is often called cheval, Caballo, or equine depending on the butcher. These names are also often used as a loophole for selling horse meat in places where it is taboo. 

Horse meat has been eaten throughout history thanks to its lean nature and high-protein content. However, some countries have banned the selling of horse meat for various reasons.

One of these reasons is that horses are believed to carry parasites and diseases, though this has yet to be proven. 

In countries like France, however, horse meat is considered a delicacy. As a result of mixed global opinions, horse meat is considered a rare meat that comes with various cultural superstitions. 

What Does Horse Meat Taste Like?

If you’re visiting a country that legally sells horse meat for human consumption, or if you’re just curious about what it tastes like, here’s what you need to know.

Horse meat is said to taste like a cross between venison, lamb, and beef. It’s slightly gamey with notes of sweetness, though the flavor will largely depend on various factors. These factors include age, diet, season, and sex of the horse. 

For example, young horse meat tends to be pinker than older horse meat, which is reddish and darker. As a result, older horse meat is more flavorful than young horse meat. 

The cut of horse meat will also determine what it tastes like. The same applies for cow meat, where the heart will taste different to the liver, for example. 

Horse meat is a particularly lean meat due to the animal’s muscular bodies. As a result, the fat content of the meat is considerably lower than beef, and has more protein, fewer calories, and less cholesterol than cow meat. 

Because of its lean nature, horse meat is considerably tougher than beef, which is generally more tender due to a higher fat content. Its toughness is comparable to venison or lamb, though the flavor is said to be sweeter. 

Is Horse Meat Good For You?

Aside from its taste, there are several reasons why horse meat is popular in certain countries like France. It’s often a staple in children’s diets for its nutritional value. 

Not only is horse meat packed with protein and low in fat, but it’s also filled with iron and zinc. Iron and zinc are vital for bone growth and repair, making it ideal for growing kids.

It also contains double the amount of vitamin E compared to beef, and has a better ratio of omega-six to omega-three acids. 

It is also argued that horse meat is healthier than beef because of their diet. Horses raised for consumption predominantly eat grass, while cattle are fed soybeans or corn.

While both are good diets, grass-fed horse meat is substantially tastier and better for human consumption. 

Is Horse Meat Dangerous To Eat?

One of the reasons why horse meat is banned from several countries and states is the belief that horse meat is dangerous for human consumption. 

While this has yet to be proven by science, horse meat is like any other meat, in that it carries bacteria. If the horse meat is not cooked properly, it can make humans sick.

Not only this, but there’s no way of telling whether the meat has been contaminated with pesticides, medications, and other harmful substances. 

For example, the horses may have been grass-fed, but the grass may have had traces of pesticides. Not only is this dangerous for the horse, but it can also carry through to the meat itself. 

It’s a common misconception that horses carry parasites and diseases because they are not a common food animal. This has yet to be proven.

Still, this belief means that there is less monitoring for horses raised for human consumption compared to common domesticated animals like pigs or cows. 

As a result of superstitions and lack of knowledge, there is little research done about the advantages of horse meat. 

Why Is Horse Meat Illegal In The USA? 

It is illegal to sell horse meat in the USA for commercial human consumption. 

The biggest reason why horse meat is illegal in the USA is because of the way Americans view horses.

Horses are seen as companions and beings for sport or transportation rather than food sources. It’s the same as why eating dog meat is illegal in the USA. 

It’s mostly a cultural issue rather than a scientific one. Horses are seen as animals for companionship, or pulling carriages in Central Park, or trotting around an arena. They simply aren’t seen as a food source in the states. 

The slaughter of horses became illegal in 2006 with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. This act prohibited any animal with equine diseases from being slaughtered for human consumption. 

How Do You Eat Horse Meat?

Horse meat is typically sold in the form of ground meat, though it can also be sold as sausages or other processed meats. It’s very rarely sold as a steak due to its lean nature. 

When sold as ground meat, it is used as a substitute for beef, and cooked similarly in the form of burgers, minced meat for pasta, or in chili. It’s a versatile meat, and as with any form of meat, comes with various cooking methods and rules. 

In parts of Europe where horse meat is not only legal but is enjoyed, it is most commonly cooked in pastissada – a stew found in Verona.

It is also served as steaks, made into bresaola, or as carpaccio. The fat is saved to be used in other recipes, including pezzetti di cavallo. 

In the USA, however, you’ll struggle to find horse meat to eat as it is illegal. 


So, there you have it! Hopefully, this guide has told you everything you can expect from horse meat. If you’re traveling abroad and want to try horse meat, this guide will have given you an idea of what to expect.

Otherwise, hopefully this guide has satiated your curiosity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Horse Nice To Eat?

In the countries where horse meat is legal, it is considered a delicacy and a meat no different from beef or pork. It is often compared to beef, venison, and lamb, due to its gamey flavor and lean texture.

Horse meat is considerably tougher than beef because of the lean nature of a horse. However, it is slightly sweeter than venison and lamb.

Why Do We Not Eat Horse Meat?

The reason why we do not eat horse meat is because it is illegal in the USA. There are lots of reasons for its illegal nature, but the main reason is that horses are seen as companions rather than a food source.

Horse meat is also believed to be contaminated with parasites and diseases, though this has yet to be proven.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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