What Does a Pheasant Taste Like?

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Having eaten several during my previous camping adventures, all I can say is that pheasant tastes more like turkey or chicken, but it’s a bit dryer and lean. If you love bird hunting, probably you’re familiar with pheasants.

These are popular wild birds whose meat continues to impress meat lovers. Their meat boasts a unique mouthwatering taste, and that’s why many modern hunters want to learn the art of hunting them. This article explores this topic deeper to help you appreciate the pheasant as an edible bird.

What Exactly Does a Pheasant Taste Like?

Do All Birds Taste the Same?

It’s somewhat shocking that most poultry tastes pretty much the same thing. But, this is except for fish-eating birds. There is a big difference between wild birds and their domesticated counterparts. The latter tastes more like the chicken.              

The wild birds, including the pheasant, possess some gamey taste but their meat is tastier than their domesticated versions once you eliminate the gamey taste. Most of the highly experienced hunters say that the pheasant meat tastes like turkey only that it’s dryer. The size also differs between turkey and pheasant despite their meat having similar tastes.

For a simple answer, a pheasant tastes like a chicken or a turkey. Most people agree that it possesses a chicken flavor, but some object. Some claim that it tastes more like a quail or turkey. So, which one is correct. I would say all these claims are valid because all these birds are related. 

Wild vs. Domesticated

 I’ve had a privilege to go for different hunting expeditions, and after eating most of the birds, I can’t recall any significant difference in taste. However, there is some room for discussion since I can undoubtedly say that domesticated and wild pheasants don’t taste the same.

After a series of cooking experiments, I found out that farm-raised pheasants taste the same as ordinary chicken. Do you know why? It is quite simple to understand since these two have similar activities and feed on the same material. Farmers feed them with certain ingredients while looking for a specific taste. 

On the other hand, wild pheasants live in the jungle and consume anything edible they can find. This explains their wild smell and meat flavor. The wild pheasants are very active as they are always on the move, gathering something to eat. And this one reveals the meat’s strong aroma and taste. 

Does Flavoring Affect the Taste of Pheasant?

Some things help in creating a unique flavor profile of this wild bird. In addition to the type of pheasant, the flavorings, mode of cooking as well as sauces used all have a way of determining the pheasant’s final flavor.

You’ll get a different flavor each time you cook your meat differently. 

Hanged vs. Fresh Pheasant Meat

Equally, hanging time is also a significant factor that affects the pheasant’s flavor. Freshly killed pheasants aren’t as tasty as the one that has been hung for a day or two.

How to Reduce Gamey Flavor in Pheasant Meat

While many people love the gamey taste of pheasant, some can’t handle it. That’s why I think it’s worth it to share a simple procedure of reducing gamey taste. 

Hanging your meat before cooking allows it to drain excess blood or water. This can remove a good portion of gamey taste though not all. You can remove the skin to enhance the process and leave leaner meat.

Also, you can cut your meat into small steaks and deep in ice-cold water for about two minutes and then dip them into warm water for the same duration. If you repeat this process about four times, the meat drains off excess blood, thereby eliminating the gamey flavor.

What’s Tastier between Duck or Pheasant Meat?

Most outdoor enthusiasts appreciate these two birds. However, duck meat needs more careful cooking; otherwise, it’s easy to mess up its taste. It can lose flavor easily if not cooked properly. 

On the other hand, pheasant meat preserves some good taste even if it’s cooked haphazardly. In short, pheasant meat tastes way better than duck meat.

Making a Delicacy out of Pheasant Meat

How Do You Skin A Pheasant Without Plucking It?

Proper preparation of pheasant meat requires removal of the skin first. Some people prefer wet plucking whereby they dip the pheasant in steamy water so that the feathers come out quickly. While in the woods, however, you won’t have all that time and resources to help in proper plucking. Thus, you’ll end up embracing skinning the pheasant without plucking a single feather. It’s quite easy when you master the trick.

  • First, you need to find a clean hard surface such as a dissecting board. Place your pheasant in an inverted position and the head facing the opposite sides and belly facing up. 
  • Grab the pheasant by its legs and tail while firmly stepping on the wings. The next step is to pull gradually and securely so that the hind skin part and comes out smoothly leaving the main body exposed, including the breasts.
  • Lastly, it would help if you used a knife to carefully remove the breasts, wings and legs leaving behind mere skin and fresh on the other side. Here is a video to demonstrate this procedure. Alternatively, you can start by cutting the head off then making an incision through the skin just below the breasts. Then the skin should be easy and quick to remove by simply pulling and peeling leaving legs, and the upper body naked as this short video demonstrates. Here is a list of the best knives to use for successful skinning.

How Do You Remove Pheasant Tail Feathers?

Pheasant tail feathers are beautiful, and many people use it for ornamental purposes and other functions. Removing these tail feathers is simple. This would be best if you had a sharp knife and cut around the tailbone area while holding the bird by its tail. The cutting should be a careful process to ensure you preserve as many feathers as possible.

 After cutting, you need to apply borax on the exposed area and leave it to dry. Also, you shouldn’t remove all the meat to ensure the feathers stay together. This video gives a more precise explanation of the same.

Do Pheasants Need to Be Hung? 

Just like other birds, pheasants need to be hung to allow the meat to rest and develop flavor. Freshly killed young pheasants possess tender meat which isn’t much favorable. Also, hanging will enable the adrenaline levels in the meat to go down. Typical hanging time for game birds including pheasants is two to four days. Hanging time depends on age, room temperature and how the bird was killed.

Should You Wash Pheasant before Cooking? 

Skinning and removing internal organs of pheasants can leave the meat contaminated with some stains and feather particles. 

Proper washing entails using running water from a sink. After washing it thoroughly, you still need to dry it. I consider hanging as the best method of drying pheasant.

Important Cooking Tips for Preserving the Aromatic Flavor of Pheasant

You can roast, grill or fry or bake pheasant meat. I consider roasting as easy and manageable, even when I’m out there in the wild.

In my case, I have to stuff it just like when roasting turkey. You can stuff it with vegetables, onions, carrots, bell peppers, celery and other ingredients. Doing this will ensure you get the taste that satisfies your craving.

For you to cook pheasant like a pro, brining is ideal, and you have to pay close attention to moisture. Add the correct amount of water, bay leaves, sugar, and salt in a saucepot. 

After steaming, the next step should be cooling the water and soaking the meat in water, then cook it using whichever method you wish. You can try the following pheasant recipes: roasted pheasantCreamy Pheasant and Mushroomand Smoked Pheasant. Note; overcooked pheasant isn’t appetizing as the one cooked with strict recipe conditions and timing.

What More Does Pheasant Meat Offer Apart From a Flavorful Taste?

Apart from the tempting aroma and taste, pheasant’s meat has more to offer. This unique bird’s meat is a high nutrition boost and offers myriads of health benefits. I couldn’t hesitate loving it more when I realized that it’s a great source of potassium, protein, iron, B vitamins.

Moreover, it is a lean meat with very low-fat content and therefore often advised by nutritionists. Research has shown that pheasant meat contains half of the fat that’s in beef. Besides, you can lower the fat content further by removing the skin before cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Pheasant Better Than Chicken?

Pheasant is better than chicken in almost all aspects. The pheasant meat is high in protein, and other useful ingredients more than chicken and its meat possess gamey flavor. It’s lower in calories, making it better than chicken for anyone who wants to cut weight.

How Do You Tenderize Pheasant? 

The pheasant thighs and legs are somewhat tough. To tenderize them when grilling or roasting, you need to soak the meat in your marinade for a couple of hours. This will imbue the flavor and make the meat tender. Buttermilk is ideal for tenderizing legs if you want them to cook properly.

How long is Frozen Pheasant Good For?

As long as your refrigerator is working correctly, you can preserve your meat for as long as you want. Top chefs suggest a maximum of six months which is quite long. Thus, you can harvest as many pheasants as you can.  But you’ll need to prepare your meat well before hanging it in the fridge.

Can You Reheat Cooked Pheasant Meat?

 You can reheat cooked pheasants for as many times you want. The trick is to ensure the meat doesn’t go dry. For proper reheating, you need to place the meat in a bottomed saucepan with the gravies or juices from the dish though you can add water if there’s no juice.                                        


Pheasant’s meat tastes more like chicken or turkey though it has a gamey flavor. Different factors can affect the final taste. The wild pheasants possess leaner meat than the domesticated versions. If you cook it in the right way, you’ll enjoy a great flavor and benefit from myriads of nutritional benefits. You don’t need to worry if you’re a novice hunter since pheasants are extremely easy to hunt. 

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