What Does Elk Taste Like? The Surprising Answer! 

Published Categorized as Guide, Meat Tagged

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Are you always searching for new foods to try to expand your palate?  Have you been thinking about trying elk and wondering whether you will enjoy the taste?  What does elk taste like, anyway?  Does it have a gamier taste, or is it more similar to beef?  If you’d like to find out the answer to these questions and more, continue reading!  We’ll share some information to help you know what to expect if you decide to try elk meat.

Table of Contents

What is an Elk?

Elk, which can also be called wapiti, are members of the deer family.  While they are similar in appearance to deer, Elk are significantly larger.  They stand nearly 5 feet tall and can weigh over 700 pounds!

The male of this species (referred to as bulls) grows very large antlers every year.  They typically shed their antlers in March or April, and begin growing new ones a few months later.  Some bull elks can grow up to 300 inches of new bone in their antlers each year, which they do to impress the female elks (cows).

In North America, elk can be found in Canada and the western portion of the United States.  Elk are also known to be very social creatures.  This means that if you see one elk, there are generally other elk close by.  

What Does Elk Taste Like?

So, what does elk taste like?  The taste of elk meat is often compared to beef and deer meat.  It has a relatively mild taste with a hint of sweetnessCompared to many other wild game types of meat, elk meat doesn’t have an overly ‘gamey’ taste.

Elk is dark red in color, which makes it look different from beef.  Elk meat is also much leaner than beef.  As long as it is prepared properly, elk can be more tender than beef as well. 

What does ground elk meat taste like?  Ground elk also has a very similar taste profile to ground beef.  Again, it isn’t very gamey.  Ground elk meat can make excellent burgers.  The burgers will be very flavorful without being overly greasy.

what does elk taste like_Alice's Kitchen

Wild Elk vs Farm-Raised Elk Taste

It is also important to note that the taste of elk can vary based on whether you’re eating farm-raised elk or wild elk.  The difference in taste can be attributed to the diet of each type of elk.  In the wild, elk eat various types of shrubs and grasses.  Farm-raised elk are generally fed a more controlled diet of alfalfa, oats, and corn.

Farm-raised elk will taste the most similar to beef, specifically grass-fed beef.  Wild elk, on the other hand, will have a gamier taste that may seem more similar to deer meat.

Elk vs Other Meats

We’ve started to touch on this a bit, but let’s explore how elk meat tastes compared to other meats you may have tried.  This can help you get a better feel for what you should expect if you decide to give elk meat a try.

Elk vs Beef

Some people believe elk meat has a very similar taste to beef.  This can be especially true in something like a hamburger.  However, if you pay attention, there is definitely a difference between the way the two types of meat taste; elk meat is more earthy than beef, particularly in cuts like roasts or steaks.

Elk vs Deer

One of the things many people like about elk meat is that it doesn’t really have that wild game taste that you find with deer meat. This is particularly true of farm-raised elk.

Elk vs Bison

Farm-raised elk and farm-raised bison have a very similar taste, with elk meat having a slightly richer flavor.  However, the taste of wild elk meat will be gamier than bison.

what does elk taste like_Alice's Kitchen

What is the Texture of Elk Meat Like?

The texture of elk can really vary depending on the cut of meat.  This is the same case with beef; different cuts have different textures and tastes.  Elk meat is much leaner than beef and will have less fat.

If you’re looking for a naturally tender piece of elk meat, opt for sirloin, medallion, or tenderloin cuts.  Elk flank steaks, roasts, and sirloin cuts can also turn out nice and tender when properly prepared.

As with beef and pork, there are also some more tough and fatty cuts of elk meat.  However, even these cuts can be processed to create delicious elk sausage, elk jerky, or ground elk.

Is Elk Meat Healthy?

Yes, like goat, bison, deer, and many other game meats, elk meat is a healthy pick. It has lean meat with less fat and calories than beef and other typical meats. Perfect for people who want to lose weight.

Additionally, help contains higher levels of essential vitamins and nutrients compared to beef.  When you enjoy a delicious elk meal, you’ll also be fueling your body with higher amounts of iron, B12, and protein than you’d get from a similar beef meal.

In addition to being healthy for your body, choosing elk meat over beef can also be a more environmentally-conscious choice.  Reputable elk ranching is more sustainable than farming cows.  The same amount of land that is needed to raise one traditional cow can support three female elk.  

Most companies that raise and harvest elk also do so with respect for the animal.  The elk are provided ample space to roam and graze on many of the same foods they’d eat in the wild.

Compared to many cows that are fed nutrition-lacking grain for the sole purpose of fattening them up, farm-raised elk enjoy eating natural foods.  This is part of the reason that elk meat has a lower caloric content and higher protein content than beef.

Additionally, many elk farmers are committed to raising their elk without the use of any artificial growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.  You can confirm that this is the case before purchasing any elk meat products.

what does elk taste like_Alice's Kitchen

How to Cook Elk

Elk meat is very versatile and can be cooked in a variety of different ways depending on the cut and the recipe you are preparing.  Here are a few different cooking methods to consider when preparing elk:

  • Hot and fast:  When you’re cooking a naturally tender cut of elk, a hot and fast cooking method is often preferred.  This prevents the meat from getting overcooked and dried out, which can make it taste too tough.  If you’re cooking elk steaks, you’ll likely find they have the best texture when cooked between medium-rare and medium.
  • Low and slow:  Some of the cuts of elk that aren’t naturally as tender, such as roasts, will typically taste best when cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.  Using a slow cooker (or even a pressure cooker, which delivers similar results) can be an excellent way to cook these cuts.  They may start out as slightly less tender, but when slow-cooked, you’ll be surprised by just how tender they turn out.
Try this recipe to cook a tender and juicy elk steak.

Elk: It’s What’s for Dinner

Hopefully, the information I’ve shared has helped to give you an idea of what elk meat tastes like.  Many individuals love the tender and relatively mild taste of elk.  It isn’t as gamey as some other wild animals, such as deer, and is leaner and healthier than beef.  So, what do you think?  Are you ready to give elk a try?


Is elk better than beef?

Since everyone’s tastes are different, it is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question.  Some will prefer the taste of elk, while others will enjoy beef more.  The individuals who prefer elk to beef cite its mild, yet flavorful, taste and the fact that it has less fat and calories, making it a healthier choice.

What tastes better bison or elk?

The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask.  Bison and elk generally taste similar to one another, especially with farm-raised elk.  Compared to bison, however, wild elk will taste a bit gamier.   Elk also typically tastes a bit richer than bison.