Can You Eat Guinea Fowl?
Guinea fowl are a popular alternative to chickens when it comes to farm-raised poultry birds. Guinea hens produce eggs each laying season, just like chickens, and provide additional benefits in the form of pest control through their consumption of ticks, spiders, cockroaches, beetles, and worms. Unlike chickens, guinea fowl are much more unique in appearance and less tame. This may make people wonder whether or not they can eat Guinea Fowl.
Can you eat Guinea Fowl eggs and meat? It is safe to consume guinea fowl meat and eggs, which have a richer, albeit more gamey, taste than chicken meat. Guinea fowl meat is leaner, less caloric, and denser in protein than chicken meat, making it ideal for slow-roasting or crockpot recipes. Guinea fowl eggs are also delicious and safe to consume, with a more flavorful taste than chicken eggs.
Guinea fowl meat is often compared to that of other game birds, such as pheasant or quail, meaning purchasing it from a butcher can be an expensive undertaking. Usually, it’s more lucrative to raise your fowl, than butcher it yourself, but this can be a daunting process for the uninitiated. Before discussing other options for the faint of heart who are still interested in trying this delicious meat, let’s dive into the details of taste and nutritional value to determine if guinea fowl meat is right for you.
What Does Guinea Fowl Meat Taste Like?
What does Guinea Fowl meat taste like is the first question on anyone’s mind before they eat guinea fowl for the first time. What does it taste like?
The best way I can describe guinea fowl meat is rich and flavorful. As previously mentioned, guinea fowl meat is more comparable to game bird meat rather than chicken meat. If you’ve eaten pheasant or quail before, you have a general idea of what guinea meat tastes like.
Guinea fowl meat is typically darker than other white meats, making it easier to overcook than chicken or turkey meat. This is why it’s best to slow cook your bird, but more on that later.
Chicken Meat vs. Guinea Fowl Meat
The main difference between these two popular types of poultry is in their flavor profiles. As I’m sure you’re familiar with, chicken meat is typically light, juicy, and has almost no gamey flavor. Chicken meat appeals to most as it is easy to source and the texture, when cooked correctly, is tender and easier to chew than most red meats.
Guinea meat, on the other hand, is rarer and, thus, harder to source. Male guineas are usually butchered when they are young, around 13-20 weeks old. This is because their meat is leaner and more tender than older guinea fowl meat. The taste is more flavorful, albeit a tad gamey, but it is often used in upscale restaurants as an alternative to pheasant or quail due to its lower price and more beginner-friendly flavor.
Another difference between chicken meat and guinea fowl meat is in the individual yield from each bird. Guineas have two legs that do not contain tendons, making the legs easier to butcher and cook than chicken legs. Typically, one guinea bird will yield two breasts, two legs, and two wings. This means their meat to carcass ratio is about 70-80% in young males. On the other hand, Chickens have only about a 60% yield for their meat to carcass ratio. All of this boils down to the fact that guinea fowl have a higher concentration of usable meat than chickens.
Nutritional Value of Guinea Fowl Meat
In addition to being more protein-rich than chicken meat, guinea fowl meat has a ton of added nutritional benefits. The meat contains essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin E, B1, B2, and magnesium.
Vitamin E helps boost our immune system and help cells interact with each other, which can assist in carrying out many essential functions. Vitamin B1 helps the cells to convert carbohydrates to energy, allowing the brain and nervous system to function correctly. B2 works in conjunction with B1 to help the body produce red blood cells. Finally, magnesium is vital to regulate muscle and nerve functions within the body.
Like most other proteins, guinea fowl meat is rich in iron and calcium, essential to the body’s proper functioning. Guinea fowl meat is tasty and flavorful, but it also contains many essential nutrients that the body needs to operate suitably.
Options for Obtaining Guinea Fowl Meat
While guinea fowl meat is harder to source than chicken meat, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find. The first option in obtaining Guinea Fowl meat is to raise your guinea fowl then slaughter them at around 13-25 weeks old. This is the most monetarily sensible way to procure the meat, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. To learn how much it costs to raise Guinea Fowl, check out my article Guinea Fowl Cost: Cost to Purchase and Raise.
If you are on the more squeamish side, another option is to outsource a local butcher to your farm. You can pay the butcher to slaughter and prepare your birds without doing dirty work yourself.
Finally, if you don’t want to participate in any part of the procurement process, it’s possible to purchase guinea fowl meat from a local butcher or online. Many online retailers ship frozen birds directly to you, which is a convenient way to obtain fresh guinea fowl meat without going through the process of finding a local butcher who sells it.
This option, due to its hands-off nature, is more expensive than raising your fowl yourself. Usually, guinea meat retails online for between $10 and $15 a pound and is sold in whole bird form. If you’re only purchasing one guinea bird, it can cost upwards of $40, depending on the size of the bird in question. This excludes shipping and handling costs as well.
Tips for Cooking Guinea Fowl
Now that you know everything there is to know about procuring guinea fowl meat, you’re ready to cook it! There are a few tried and true methods for cooking your bird, but they all involve a slow-cooking process to avoid drying out the meat. Due to its lean nature, guinea meat is straightforward to overcook, resulting in dry, stringy meat. And nobody wants that!
Slow roasting your bird in an oven is a great way to ensure that the final product is juicy, tender, and delicious. Recipes online recommend roasting a whole bird, similar to a turkey, in a bath of vegetable stock to help it steam in the oven. By covering the bird in liquid, you’re helping to keep it moist, which will result in a tastier final product. Check out this fantastic recipe if you’re looking for a more detailed instructional guide on roasting your bird.
Another way to cook your guinea fowl is with a crockpot or instant pot. Most recipes that I found follow the general rules of crockpot cooking:
- Cover the bird with liquid.
- Add extra aromatics like onions and garlic to get a rich flavor.
- Make sure to use lots of fats such as butter or oil to pack in moisture.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance crockpot recipe for your guinea fowl, check this one out.
Guinea Fowl Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs
Guinea fowl eggs contain about a 50-50 ratio between yolk and egg white, significantly more than the average chicken egg. This results in a richer tasting egg, as much of the egg’s creaminess lies in the yolk. They are also smaller than chicken eggs; in fact, guinea fowl eggs are about half the size!
Guinea fowl also tend to lay about half as many eggs in one season as chickens, meaning that their eggs aren’t typically used for commercial production. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth a little extra work. If you’re raising guinea fowl on your farm specifically for egg production, it may be best also to raise chickens in tandem with fowl. Can you keep Guinea Fowl and chickens together? To learn more, visit my article Can You Keep Guinea Fowl With Chickens? (Read Before Trying.)
Another difference between chicken eggs and guinea fowl eggs is the shell. Many people will try to open guinea fowl eggs the same way that they crack chicken eggs, which often results in a hilarious sight to behold. See, guinea fowl eggshells are much sturdier than chicken eggshells, meaning that they’re harder to crack! Instead of a soft tap against a countertop, guinea eggshells require a swift knock to break open.
How to Cook Guinea Fowl Eggs
Though you can consume guinea eggs in basically the same ways that you consume chicken eggs, it’s crucial to account for their size differences when following recipes.
If you’re making hard-boiled guinea eggs, you’ll want to cook them from anywhere between 3-7 minutes (depending on how cooked you like your eggs, of course). Due to their smaller size, they don’t need to be cooked as long as chicken eggs, so make sure you’re paying very close attention while boiling!
Guinea eggs can also be used in baking or other cooking recipes that require eggs. Just bear in mind that most recipes are measured out for chicken eggs, so you’ll likely have to double the number of eggs you add when using guinea eggs in these circumstances. It may take some experimentation to get your measurements correct, but be patient and keep trying until you get something delicious!
Are you looking to raise Guinea Fowl? Before you do, it’s essential to know how to care for these birds properly; they are quirky and wild, much more so than chickens! To get an overview on how to care for Guinea Fowl, visit my article How to Care For Guinea Fowl: Ultimate Guide For Beginners.