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What does elk taste like, and how does it compare to other game meats? Some find it tasty, while others say it has a livery flavor. Read on to know more!

does elk taste good

Ever wondered what elk tastes like?

Many people have been raving about this game meat, so I’m sure you’re curious about what the fuss is all about. Even the iconic Joe Rogan enjoys eating elk.

However, some have also tried elk meat and didn’t like it.

I think it’ll be interesting to compare elk meat to other meats because of the contrasting opinions about it.

What Is Elk?

Elk is the meat from, well, elk.

If you’re unfamiliar with this animal, it’s the largest subspecies of red deer. However, it’s worth mentioning that elk meat is not the same as venison, even though elk is technically a deer.

Not all deer are elk, so if you’re buying game meats, don’t be confused if there are both venison and elk cuts. (Yes, deer meat can be confusing!)

What’s so special about elk meat anyway? I found out that elk meat is becoming more popular even though commercial elk farming is still a relatively new industry in the US.

Elk meat has been described as nutritionally superior to other animal meats because of its lower fat and cholesterol content.

I can see why some meat eaters will consider elk meat over, let’s say, beef if it means you can eat meat with less guilt. (Ha! I think that can be a good slogan for elk meat shops.😂)

But is this type of meat good?

what is elk meat

What Does Elk Taste Like?

So what does elk taste like? Those who have eaten elk meat describe it as livery with a bloody aftertaste and musky aroma. But while this description is not appetizing, how you prepare elk meat will still dictate its flavor.

I found a study where consumers tried beef, horse, elk, and bison. They associated elk meat with a metallic flavor, so this unconventional meat is often described as “livery.”

However, the USDA has a different description of what elk tastes like, and I know some people also agree with it.

According to them, elk tastes like mild beef with a faint venison flavor. 🤔

What Does Wild Elk Taste Like?

Wild elk meat tastes slightly gamey compared to farm-raised elk. It is said that diet is the main reason a wild elk has a different natural flavor from farm-raised elk.

What Does Farm-Raised Elk Taste Like?

If you got turned off by the “livery” description of elk meat, you might enjoy the meat from a farm-raised elk instead. Why?

Because farm-raised elk tastes close to grass-fed beef!

Does Elk Taste Like Venison?

Elk meat is not the same as venison, and the two don’t taste the same, especially if you compare farm-raised elk to venison. If you try ground venison versus ground elk, you will also notice that elk is not as gamey.

Does Elk Taste Like Beef?

Elk meat can taste like beef, especially if the animal is raised on a farm. However, meat from wild game will always have a distinct flavor.

Does Elk Taste Like Bison?

Bison is sometimes used as an elk substitute, which is unsurprising since it also has the same metallic aroma. However, the sweeter flavor of bison makes it preferable to elk meat.

Products Made from Elk

Elk steak

Having steak for date night? Why not get adventurous and try elk steak, which is great for marinating or pan-searing?

Ground elk

You can purchase ground elk for recipes that use ground beef. For example, make an elk burger, elk chili, elk-stuffed mushrooms, or elk quesadillas for dinner!

Elk sausage

Nowadays, it’s getting more common to find sausages made from game meat, including elk. Elk sausages also have a low fat content, so they’re a healthier alternative to pork sausages!

Elk jerky

You can also enjoy elk meat as a snack! Some even mentioned that there is not much noticeable difference between eating elk jerky and beef jerky.

Elk meat sticks

Elk is available as meat sticks, usually with other wild game meats. I recommend trying a box of elk, venison, and buffalo meat sticks to compare them yourself.

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Why You Should Try Elk Meat

  • Tasty Game Meat: Despite being livery, elk meat can be tasty if prepared and seasoned well. You can also try meat products like elk sausages or elk jerky.
  • Lean Protein: If you love meat, a great way to get your cravings fixed is with elk. It’s lean meat, so you’re getting protein with less fat.
  • Gastronomic Experience: Do not be afraid to try game meat. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s always nice to expand our culinary horizons.

How Healthy Is Elk Meat?

Elk meat is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc.

It’s also relatively low in fat, making it a potentially healthier alternative to other meats!

However, it’s worth mentioning that there are some risks in consuming wild elk, which are more exposed to diseases and parasites compared to farm-raised animals.

Eating an infected animal’s undercooked meat can put you at risk for diseases like brucellosis.

Where to Find Elk Meat

  • Farms and ranches: It’s unlikely to find game meats like elk at your local grocery store. Instead, check the nearest farm or ranch in your area that follows the recommended practices for animal welfare and product quality.
  • Online: You can also find elk products online and have them delivered to your doorstep. There is elk jerky in Walmart, elk strip loin in Amazon, and even Etsy has dog treats made from elk meat!
where to find elk meat

5 Best Substitutes For Elk Meat


You can always substitute the elk meat in the recipe with beef. It’s easier to find and a sure way to satisfy your cravings for delicious meat if you’re not a fan of gamey taste.


Want to try a game meat burger but can’t find elk meat? Try bison burgers which taste like beef but slightly sweeter. 🤤


If you can’t find elk sausage, the next game meat sausage worth trying is venison sausage! I like that venison meat is also low-fat, which is something I would prefer for my breakfast.

Wild boar

You might assume that wild boar will taste like regular pork, but it also makes sense as an elk substitute because its flavor is a cross between beef and pork. However, its rich and strong taste might not be for everyone.


Reindeer sausages can be an alternative to elk sausages. Often compared to beef but leaner, this flavorful meat can substitute for other high-fat proteins. (Just don’t tell Santa.)

Does Elk Meat Go Bad?

As you can expect with any animal meat, elk can go bad.

If you refrigerate raw elk meat, it’s recommended that you use it within 2 days. But for longer storage, it’s safer to freeze it because frozen elk meat can last as long as 6 months!

It should be easy to spot if your elk meat has gone bad because it will turn slimy from the bacteria.

Sounds gross, but at least this takes out any guessing game if we should use the meat or throw it away. 🤢

How To Store Elk Meat

Place elk meat in a plastic storage bag and keep it in the fridge at 40°F.

Can you freeze elk meat? Freezing elk meat is actually the best way to store it, especially if you won’t use it immediately.

Just remember to cut the pieces in a number that would suit your intended portions per meal for less freezer burn. Then, wrap the elk meat in plastic wrap and freezer wrap.

I should also add that seasoned and cured game meat is recommended to be used within four months if frozen.

Recipes That Have Elk Meat In It

There are many ways to prepare lean elk meat.

For example, try this pan-seared elk steak recipe, which is not that different from how you prepare beef steak.

If you love beef burgers, you can also order ground meat and make elk burgers! 😋

What To Eat Elk Meat With

Simple seasonings

You can roast elk with simple ingredients like beef broth, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs have shared this recipe, which they recommend with red wine. 🤤


If you love butter-basted beef steak, you can use the same recipe for this delicious game meat. However, don’t make the mistake of overcooking your lean elk steak.


Try elk meat with a marinade made from lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, onion, and canola oil. The flavors from this zesty marinade pair perfectly with the flavor of this fantastic meat.

What Is The Texture Of Elk Meat?

Besides the gamey flavor, one of the characteristics that will help you easily distinguish elk meat from other meats like beef is how lean it is. Therefore, it’s easy to overcook elk and be left with a dry and tough piece of protein.

Different types of meat cuts will also vary in texture. For example, the chops tend to be soft, while ribs and tenderloin have a tender texture.

How To Cook Elk Meat

In general, never overcook your elk meat because it’s lean meat. And with any wild game meat, they should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F to avoid foodborne illnesses.

According to the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association, you can cook elk by pan-frying, grilling, broiling, or roasting.

I’m also trying their tips, like cooking in shorter times and using lower temperatures to keep the meat moist. And the best doneness?

They recommend not going further than medium for elk!

FAQ About Elk

Is elk meat gamey?

Elk meat, especially wild elk, can taste gamey. However, farm-raised elk taste less gamey than other game meats like venison.

Is elk meat expensive?

Elk meat is more expensive than beef. Depending on the cut, the price of elk meat range from $2 to $18 per pound for tenderloin.


So what does elk taste like?

The flavor of elk meat is described as livery, but meat from a farm-raised elk is not as gamey. Instead, it’s like a cross between beef and venison.

Does elk taste good? It’s a matter of preference, but testing different cooking methods and seasoning is guaranteed to make you crave this unconventional protein.

what does elk meat taste like

Imagine butter-basted elk steak, juicy elk burger, or perfectly roasted elk meat! 😍

It’s also healthier than other meats, so try it as a substitute for beef or pork.

For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few suggestions for you:

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