Can You Eat a Rooster? Are Male Chickens Edible?

There are a number of reasons why someone would consider eating their rooster. Maybe they can’t have more than one male chicken in their yard. Maybe the bugger is really aggressive and would be better suited in a stew. Of course, these thoughts often lead to the more pressing question of, “Can you eat a rooster”? Hens are usually the ones who end up used as poultry, so are male chickens edible?

Whether you are truly planning on serving up your rooster or simply want to learn something new, this article will cover all the details on eating male chickens. Let’s get started.

rooster with green background

Can You Eat a Rooster?

Though it is uncommon in North America, yes, you can eat male chicken. Just like hens, roosters have dense breasts, wings, and thighs. Though roosters are not usually reared for their meat, they are the same as female chickens and, thus, can be consumed.

Why Is Rooster Meat So Uncommon?

You may have noticed that most poultry meat in North America comes from hens. This has led to many people wondering if something is wrong with male chickens. There is nothing wrong with eating rooster; it’s legal, according to the USDA.

The main reason rooster meat is a rare sight is economics. Roosters are a bit more problematic when it comes to raising many of them, for both commercial farmers and homesteaders. Many states and counties have regulations about how many roosters can be present, for example. Furthermore, breeding female chickens is less costly.

Hens can lay eggs, offsetting the cost of raising and feeding them. Once the hen has stopped laying eggs, she can easily become a meal for the family.

Furthermore, poultry often comes from broiler breeds, which are raised only for meat. They mature quickly and grow large enough to feed the average American. In short, farmers make far more money from raising broiler chickens for their meat.

The other reason is that many male chickens are culled after birth. Once they have been sexed, many male chickens are sadly disposed of. Despite this practice being frowned upon, many commercial farms continue to rid themselves of the males so they do not have to deal with an added financial burden.

Are Roosters Safe to Eat?

black white rooster in the chicken coop

Yes, roosters are perfectly safe to eat, just like hens. Using a home-raised rooster for meat guarantees that the chicken will be loaded with protein and vitamins, which is far better than many store-bought packs of poultry.

As such, you do not have anything to worry about when it comes to the quality of the meat. What you do want to watch out for, if you are concerned about safety, is bacteria from unclean chicken farms. Furthermore, commercial farms do tend to use lower quality feed with their broilers, which can lead to meat that is far less succulent than it could be if the chickens were allowed to free range.

At What Age Can You Eat a Rooster?

It depends. Many people who raise their chickens at home will wait until their egg-laying days are over. However, since roosters do not lay eggs, you may wish to use them for meat once they have reached an old age. For reference, most broiler breeds become food for the table before reaching maturity. It is not uncommon for birds to be merely months old before they are used for their meat.

That said, other breeds of chicken, such as heritage breeds, take about 5 months to mature. At this age, a rooster is usually large enough to eat for meat. You may wish to let them grow a little larger, though. As a general rule, most people will use their roosters for meat prior to them terrorizing the hens.

The older the meat, the stringier and gamier it gets. Thus, if you want the most flavorful chicken, consider culling your roosters before they get too old. Otherwise, you will need to slow cook the meat to make it more tender and tasty.

Is There Any Nutritional Value in Rooster Meat?

Yes, there is nutritional value in rooster meat. Male chickens are more muscular, and so they contain far more protein than fat, as well as reduced cholesterol levels. Since roosters do not have as much fat in their meat, you would also consume less calories when eating rooster meat.

If you do find fat on a rooster, it is going to be right beneath the skin, making it easier to cut away from the leaner pieces of meat.

Like meat from hens, rooster meat contains numerous B vitamins and essential zinc.

Watch this short and easy video on the subject:

What Does Rooster Taste Like?

You may think that rooster meat would taste exactly like hen meat, but that’s not entirely true. Because of the difference in fat and proteins, it changes the taste and texture. Compared to regular poultry, you may find that rooster meat is a bit more salty and spicy. The meat is a bit tougher, making it harder to chew when not cooked properly.

Rooster meat has long been popular in Asian cooking, especially in Korea and China, where spices are readily used in dishes. Asians will use longer cook times and salt to tenderize the meat.

The Best Way to Cook Rooster

If you want to cook rooster meat, then you are going to have to know how to cook it properly. As mentioned above, there is a right way to do it. Otherwise, you are going to end up with gummy chicken that you can barely swallow.

Think of rooster meat like a tougher steak. You will want to give the meat a marinade before cooking it. Marinades that taste best with rooster meat include ingredients like olive oil and garlic. Herbs like thyme and rosemary can also take away some of the gamey tang of rooster meat.

Rooster meat should never be roasted or baked with dry heat. The protein in the rooster is already drier than typical poultry, and so it will become too hard to consume.

Thus, stews, like coq-au-vin or chicken and dumplings, curries, and anything with sauces to add some moisture will come alive with rooster meat. Rooster bones and feet can also be used to make a delicious bone broth.

Not sure how to cook your rooster? Here is a recipe that will hopefully make you both inspired and hungry:

chicken soup bowl

Chunky Rooster Orzo Soup

You will need:

  • A full rooster, already plucked and skinned
  • Water
  • Broth, either chicken or vegetable
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Vegetables of your choice, such as zucchini, carrots, celery, onion, and pepper
  • Orzo pasta

Directions

  1. Place your rooster, whole, inside a full sized crock pot and cover it halfway with water. Cook the meat on low for about 6 hours.
  2. After 6 hours, remove the rooster and start to pull out the bones. Set the bones aside if you plan on making bone broth later on. As you remove the bones, loosely shred the rooster meat.
  3. Remove some of the water and any of the gunk that has formed around the edges of the crock pot before adding the meat back in. You can use a little mesh strainer to get any residue out.
  4. Add in your seasonings and some broth so that your pile of chicken is halfway covered. Continue cooking on high for about 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prep your vegetables of choice. Heat a skillet on medium high with a little oil. Optionally, you can roast your vegetables. Once softened, add the vegetables to the crock pot for 1.5-2 hours.
  6. Cook up your orzo according to the directions on the box. If you do not want orzo, you can substitute in brown or wild rice. Dump the grains in once they are done, letting them soak up some of the broth for the time remaining on the crock pot.
  7. Once the time is up, turn off the crock pot, give the ingredients a slow stir, and ladle some of your soup into a bowl. You can top with fresh herbs or some cheese, if desired.
  8. Bon appetit!

Final Thoughts on Eating Rooster

Can you eat a rooster? The answer is yes. However, rooster meat is not for everyone. It’s a bit of an acquired taste. That said, eating a rooster that has gotten too aggressive or too old is perfectly fine. You will at least have very nutritious meat for dinner.

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