Meat has been a main staple of the human diet for thousands of years. Today, it usually comes from a small selection of animals but can still be cooked in several ways.
In this post, I’ll go over 14 of the most popular types of meat to eat. Some of these can be found on nearly any restaurant menu or in any grocery store, while others are hunted in the wild. Some meats are more regional, while others are popular everywhere.
The differences between meats can be extreme, such as comparing seafood to pork. But other times, meats can be quite similar and difficult to differentiate, like bison versus beef. In nearly all cases, they can be used to create flavorful, incredible dishes.
Types of Meat
Keep reading to discover the many different types of meat, how they are commonly used, and what you can expect them to taste like.
Chicken is a popular source of meat. Countries worldwide eat chicken and cook it in various dishes, including hot stews and cold sandwiches.
If you like chicken as I do, you either like white meat or dark meat.
Generally speaking, white meat consists of chicken breasts and tends to be drier, while dark meat comes from thighs, legs, and wings. Dark meat is juicier and has more fat.
You can grill, smoke, bake, boil, and cook chicken in about any way imaginable.
I like to grill chicken wings, cover them in a good barbecue or hot sauce, and eat them directly off the bone.
Now let’s talk about red meat. Beef comes from cattle and is one of the most well-known red meats.
It is slightly higher in saturated fats than other meats, like chicken, which means that it is full of flavor.
Like chicken, beef is a versatile meat that is used and cooked in countless ways.
While I love to grill up a nice simple steak seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper, perhaps the most common method of eating beef is also by lighting up the barbecue to fry up a burger.
But those aren’t the only two options. There are many different cuts of beef that you can prepare and season in nearly every way you can think of.
When I think of turkey, Thanksgiving comes to mind. For many people across the United States, it’s the day to cook a whole turkey, usually in the oven or deep fryer, and serve it up to the family.
The anatomy of a turkey is quite similar to that of a chicken, but turkey is generally much bigger and slightly leaner.
You don’t have to cook a whole turkey. You can eat it as a deli meat, precooked, smoked, and ready to eat in sandwiches.
I also like to use turkey regularly to substitute for other meals like ground turkey burgers and even turkey bacon.
Another type of poultry, in addition to chicken and turkey, is duck. It is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, giving it a rich and flavorful taste, making it a popular type of meat globally.
I have two dishes that I highly recommend for duck meat. The first is a simple duck confit with cured, marinated, and poached duck legs that can be incredible.
The other dish featuring duck that I love is Peking duck. It is a Chinese dish that features thin crispy skin that will make your mouth water. The skin of a Peking duck might be my favorite poultry item.
Many people consider pork the most versatile type of meat, a main or partial ingredient in scores of flavorful dishes.
The meat comes from domesticated pigs and pork is one of the most consumed meats on the planet. Pork has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years.
It can be consumed freshly cooked but preserved or cured pork products such as ham, bacon, sausage, and smoked pork are incredibly popular. Preserving them allows them to last longer and requires less refrigeration.
In my opinion, nothing compares to the smell or taste of freshly cooked bacon. It can be added as a topping for many dishes or consumed on its own, especially at breakfast. Not something easy to include on a low-calorie diet though.
While not quite as common as the other types of meat listed, lamb is another popular option for meat.
Lamb refers to the meat obtained from a less-than-one-year-old animal, while mutton is the name of meat from a sheep.
I think that lamb shanks might be the most delicious way to prepare lamb meat. The meat gets to fall off the bone and is packed with flavor.
Leg of lamb roasts are also quite common, as are cuts from the shoulder, rack, loin, and breast.
Lamb is also great barbecued and pairs great with sides like blue cheese and grilled asparagus.
Goat is not a common protein in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. However, goat meat is consumed in large swaths of the world.
The meat from a goat can be a bit gamier in flavor, and even though it is technically red meat, it contains less fat and cholesterol than many other types of meat.
If you travel to many parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, you can find goat meat served in many delicious dishes.
Slow roasting goat meat is an excellent method to use as it can transform the otherwise tough meat into a delicate and savory meal.
Many hunters love pheasant because of the excitement of hunting it for their meal.
It is a widely known game bird. Many areas artificially introduce pheasants for hunting.
As expected from a wild bird, the meat from a pheasant has a gamier flavor and can be tougher than other bird meats like chicken. But it can also be farm-raised, which decreases the gamey flavor.
Pheasant works well roasted with lots of herbs, spices, and flavors to let its natural flavors shine. It can also bring brightness to a stew.
While not popular in the United States, rabbit is a great source of protein and many people choose it as their go-to meal.
People also hunt wild rabbits with the help of falcons or dogs and farm them for their meat and fur. Either way, rabbit meat is a delicious treat.
You can serve rabbit in many different ways, including stewing, barbecuing, and pan-cooking it. I find that rabbit has a similar taste to chicken but a slightly earthier flavor and tougher meat.
I like mine the best when in a stew with some great root vegetables.
If you want a lower-fat red-meat alternative to beef, bison is the place to go. Bison meat, also called buffalo or American buffalo meat, is similar to beef in many ways.
Ground bison meat is a popular alternative to beef patties used in hamburgers. I think you might get away with serving either interchangeably.
If you know how to cook them the right way, your guests will likely not be able to tell whether they’re eating beef or bison burgers.
I like bison done on the grill after marinating it to make sure the steaks are juicy. If you’re tempted by a steak, make sure that you adjust your cooking time because the fat content of bison is less than the fat content of beef.
Another popular game meat that people still hunt in the wild is venison. Venison refers to meat from elk, deer, and antelope. It can be finer in texture but also slightly leaner than beef.
Having less fat makes venison a bit of a challenge to prepare well. Some venison recipes call for an additional source of fat added to the dish.
Even though you might start with a lower-fat meal, adding some bacon might negate that.
As many people are trying to maximize their protein intake, venison is worth checking out.
The only problem is that it is generally harder to find unless you’re willing to head out on your own to hunt it.
As a broad category, seafood refers to essentially any form of sea life considered food by humans. It includes varieties of fish and shellfish.
Shrimp, crab, lobster, squid, salmon, trout, herring, cod, tilapia, and bass are all common types of seafood.
They can be prepared in various ways, but I enjoy grilled seafood the most, especially a Cajun-style shrimp with a robust flavor.
My favorite type of seafood is oysters. Served raw on half of their shell, then drizzled with a bit of ketchup, hot sauce, and horseradish, they are a delicious treat when fresh.
Boiled lobster served with melted butter is another top choice of mine for seafood.
Wild boar is an ancestor to domesticated pigs and has been part of human diets for millennia.
In certain places, wild boar have been part of the natural ecosystem for a long time, while other areas are dealing with a problematic foreign invasion.
The meat from a wild boar is somewhat similar to pork, but it is a deeper red and usually has a more intense flavor, often described as nutty.
Boar also generally has less fat than pork, so marinated dishes and slow cooking methods enhance the juiciness.
While beef is the meat from mature cows, veal is the meat of young calves.
It is generally a more expensive meat than beef, and with that premium price comes a premium taste and texture.
Veal is usually more delicate than beef. You can use it in flavorful Italian, French, and Mediterranean dishes.
I love veal cutlets, but you can also use them in a stew if you prefer leaner meat.
Types of Meat
- Wild Boar
You are now aware of the most common types of meat found today. Did anything come as a surprise? Perhaps you didn’t know that people regularly consume rabbits or goats!
Maybe you were surprised to find out that hunting for meat is still a thing, not only for small pheasants but also for larger venison and more aggressive wild boar. Remember, some of these game meats might be more challenging to prepare.
I love meat and don’t have any dishes I won’t try at least once. But everyone has their favorite type of meat, and it’s up to you to find out what yours is.
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