Best Meats For Cooking That Aren't Beef

Take a bite on the wild side

For years, wild game was a topic best left to Andrew Zimmern as opposed to restaurant menus dominated by behemoth cuts of steak and infinite iterations of the chicken breast. Fast-forward to today, and you'll see a different story: From fine dining establishments serving ostrich filets to lowly dive bars slinging bison burgers, alt-meats are becoming permanent fixtures in restaurants around the country.

And it's not just because diners are getting more adventurous in their dining habits. Wild game, for example, takes less of a toll on the environment to raise, while their varied diets and active lifestyles make their meat both more flavorful and leaner than even the most prized cut of beef. So whether you're encountering them on a menu or cooking them at home, these seven meats will make you wonder why you haven't been eating wild boar pizza all along.


This flightless bird might technically fall under the poultry category, but the rich and sweet flavor of its meat bears a surprisingly strong resemblance to an extravagant cut of dry-aged beef. Plus, ostrich meat is leaner than the chicken breasts you've been buying in bulk at the grocery store, providing the best of both worlds. You'll most commonly find ostrich meat sold and served as steak-like filets.


While goat has long been a staple of various Mediterranean, South American and Southeast Asian cuisines, American restaurants are finally catching on as well to one of the world's most popular meats. Despite what you might've heard, good-quality goat, when prepared correctly, is mild and succulent, not offensively gamy. The meat can be naturally tough, which is why you'll often see it either braised in a stew or ground into a ragù.


You might only see the rabbit as your cuddly childhood pet or favorite cartoon character, but hear us out on this one. Long a mainstay of European cuisine, rabbit meat is similar in flavor to the dark meat of a chicken. On menus, you'll usually find this little fellow roasted or braised.

Wild Boar

Essentially a wild, free-roaming version of a domesticated hog, boar meat is decidedly deeper in color and nuttier in flavor than your everyday pork chop. Don't be fooled by how lean it is though—provided they're not being cooked past medium, cuts of boar can be treated exactly the same as their porcine counterparts.


A low fat content and myriad of nutrients make venison the go-to alternative for beef eaters. This red meat can also be treated the same way—venison most commonly makes appearances in the form of braises, rare-seared steaks and ground-up burgers (in which extra beef or pork fat is added to the mix to make up for the leanness). The taste varies depending on the deer's diet and can range from tasting eerily like a filet mignon to having a pronounced gamy flavor.

Guinea Hen

Also known as guinea fowl, this plump bird, once considered a high-end delicacy, has been making its way to more casual restaurant menus as an equally affordable option to chicken. And while the guinea hen can be prepared in the exact same manner, its flavor is often described as being an "extra-chickeny" chicken (not a scientific term). 


The dark-colored meat that comes from this young pigeon is prized for its luxurious, savory flavor and tender texture. However, squab meat has none of the funkiness that can be found in other wild game, making it the perfect gateway for diners dipping their forks into the world of exotic meats.