From Farm to Plate: Everything You Need to Know About Squab

Squab, a sort of fowl flesh, is frequently compared to dark chicken or duck. It is frequently offered in upscale restaurants and is regarded as a delicacy in many cultures.

Traditional Cantonese roast Squab

Young domestic pigeons that are less than four weeks old are often used to make squab. Because the birds are too young to fly, their muscles have not yet matured into tough ones, giving the flesh its well-known soft and juicy feel.

Originally used to describe all types of doves and pigeons, including the wood pigeon and mourning dove, the term “squab” is of Scandinavian origin, with the Swedish word “skvabb” meaning “loose, fat flesh.”

Yet, in modern usage, the phrase is frequently used to specifically refer to the meat of young domestic pigeons.

Squab is a fantastic source of protein and is also a good source of vitamins, minerals, and potassium. The meat’s nutritional value might, however, change depending on how it is prepared.

For instance, the nutritional profile of deep-fried squab will differ from that of grilled squab.

Squab is a popular dish among foodies, but some people might be reluctant to try it because of the pigeon associations it has.

But when done right, squab can be a tasty and nourishing addition to any dish.

What is Squab?

A form of bird meat called squab is derived from young pigeons. Squab is a pigeon that is under four weeks old and has not yet mastered flight.

roast squab pigeon

Squab meat has an extremely sensitive and delicate texture as a result.

The squab’s breast contains the majority of the flesh, with minor amounts in the legs. Squab flesh is black in color and tastes somewhat gamey, like duck.

The meat is less fibrous than that of duck or goose, though, making it more tender and succulent.

Squab is frequently regarded as a delicacy in a variety of international cuisines, including Cantonese, Moroccan, and French.

Usually eaten whole and roasted or grilled, it is frequently filled with herbs and spices to improve its flavor.

While being a common dish, squab is not as popular as other fowl varieties like chicken or turkey. This is in part because it is more expensive and less widely accessible in many regions of the world.

Squab is definitely worth a try for individuals who appreciate eating new and unique dishes, though.

Types of Squab

Pigeon Squab

The most popular variety of squab available on the market is pigeon squab. It is made from the meat of tamed pigeons grown solely for that purpose.

Ready to eat Roast Squab with bacon on crumpled

These birds are typically harvested at roughly four weeks of age, and the meat is tasty and delicate.

The dark-colored meat of pigeon squabs has a flavor that is frequently compared to duck or lamb and is rich and gamey.

Roasting pigeon squab is among the most common methods of preparation. The meat is frequently spiced up with herbs and served with a side of salad or vegetables.

Pigeon squab meat can also be added to stews or casseroles to give the food a rich, complex flavor.

Although pigeon squab is the most popular variety, other varieties are also available.

They include guinea fowl squab, which is obtained from juvenile guinea fowl, and wild squab, which is acquired from wild pigeons.

Other Types of Squab

Compared to pigeon squab, wild squab is typically slimmer and has a stronger flavor.

oriental roasted pigeons meal served

Also, it is typically more expensive and more elusive. Contrarily, guinea fowl squab, which is frequently used in French cooking, has a milder flavor than pigeon squab.

When purchasing squab, it’s crucial to search for birds that were raised sustainably and humanely.

Choose birds that have grown up eating a natural diet, roaming freely, and without the use of antibiotics or hormones.

Squab is a tasty and adaptable meat that can be used in a wide range of cuisines.

Whether you prefer guinea fowl, wild, or pigeon squab, you are sure to love this flavorful and unusual meat.

Culinary Uses of Squab

Preparation and Cooking

Squab is a flexible meat that may be cooked and prepared in a number of different ways.

Roast pigeon,Crisp baby pigeon,

It can be grilled, sautéed, or fried in addition to being frequently roasted whole.

It is advised to cut off the head, feet, and internal organs before cooking.

It’s crucial to keep in mind when cooking squab because it is a lean meat and is easily dried up if overcooked. Squab should be prepared to medium-rare or medium-well for the best results.

Squab has appeared in a wide range of historical cuisines. It is frequently served with a red wine reduction sauce in French cuisine.

Two braised pigeons being air-dried

It is a crucial component in pastillas, a sort of savory pie popular in Moroccan cuisine.

Squab is frequently roasted and served with hoisin sauce in Chinese cuisine.

Some popular dishes that feature squab include:

  • Squab with Red Wine Sauce
  • Moroccan Squab Pastillas
  • Chinese Roasted Squab with Hoisin Sauce
  • Squab Risotto
  • Squab Salad

Squab is frequently regarded as a delicacy and may be seen on the menus of upscale restaurants all over the world because of its flavorful and soft texture.

Squab Farming and Sustainability

Squab farming is a difficult task that needs a lot of care and consideration.

Ready to eat Roast partridges with bacon on crumpled paper.

Since 1943, the farmer-owned cooperative Squab Producers of California has been raising squab.

Whichever angle you choose, they take satisfaction in providing a premium squab that is always superior.

Squabs grow swiftly and are ready to consume at around 26 days old, or when fully feathered under the wings, which is one of the reasons squab farming is sustainable.

As a result, raising squabs requires less time and money because they have a short production cycle.

Squab farming is sustainable for another reason since they take up less land than other poultry. Little coops or cages can raise squabs, negating the need for vast barns or pastures.

Squab farming is therefore perfect for small-scale farmers with restricted areas.

Squabs are additionally effective feed converters. They use fewer resources to raise them because they consume less feed per pound of meat than other fowl.

Squab farming is therefore a more environmentally friendly choice than other kinds of poultry production.

In general, raising squabs is a sustainable method of producing high-quality meat. Squabs are effective feed converters, have a quick production cycle, and need minimal space.

Squab farming is a more environmentally friendly choice than other kinds of poultry production because of these considerations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to cook raw seasoned partridges

What is squab?

Squab is a young pigeon that is about four weeks old and weighs about 12 to 16 ounces, including giblets. The meat is very tender and has a dark, delicately flavored meat. Squab is often stuffed whole and roasted.

Is squab healthy?

Squab is a good source of protein, iron, and zinc. It is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy choice for those looking to eat a balanced diet.

How is squab prepared?

Squab is often roasted whole and then broken down, but it can also be grilled, sautéed, or braised. It is typically cooked like beef or other “red meat” and is tender and relatively mild in flavor. Squab can also be stuffed with a variety of ingredients before cooking

Where can I buy a squab?

Squab can be found at specialty meat markets, gourmet food stores, and online retailers. It is important to purchase squab from a reputable source to ensure the quality and freshness of the meat.

How do I store squab?

Squab should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. It should be consumed within two days of purchase or frozen for later use. If frozen, it should be thawed in the refrigerator before cooking.

roast squab pigeon in a plate


Young pigeons provide the meat known as squab. It is considered a delicacy in many cultures and is prized for its rich and soft taste. Squab meat is rich in protein and has a wide range of vital amino acids and trace elements for optimal health.

Squab can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as roasting, grilling, and braising. Chinese cuisine that relies heavily on personal experience and has no theoretical underpinnings is braised squab.

To enhance the flavor and consistency of the meal, current research has been done to track changes in the physicochemical properties of squab meat during the braising cooking process.

Comparative studies have also been carried out to compare the egg morphometric traits of various pigeon breeds and the post-hatch development of the squab.

The breeds that yield the best squab meat have been identified thanks to these studies.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.