Can You Eat A Rooster? {Yes & You Should!}

Can you eat a rooster? Yes, roosters can (and should) be eaten as food. And although rooster meat taste is quite different, in many parts of the world it is as common to eat rooster meat as it is to eat chicken meat. Roosters do require different preparation methods that might seem more difficult and time-consuming, but once you try a good recipe, you may find rooster to be more flavorful and delicious than you ever anticipated.

bresse rooster on pasture flapping his wings.
One of my Bresse roosters showing off.

A rooster is a male chicken that has reached sexual maturity — become a man. A rooster-man. Also called a cock. This generally happens when he turns 1 year old.

If you have never had the pleasure to raise chickens in North America and watch hens and roosters run around your yard, it is very possible you have never eaten a rooster like you have a chicken as they are not commonly found in grocery stores.

You have most certainly eaten male chickens though just as you have definitely eaten female chickens.

The vast majority of store bought chicken breeds are fast-growing hybrid birds that are slaughtered and processed when they are between 6-8 weeks old. They have been specially bred for meat production to put on a lot of weight fast and grow large breasts to satisfy the market demand for lean white meat. The males at that point, barely past the baby chick stage, are called cockerels which are really just young roosters.

(We have chosen a different route on our homestead and raise free range chickens of dual-purpose heritage breed alongside the slower growing red ranger breed and our various laying hens.)

At such a young age they do not taste any different from the female pullets and nothing special is required as to their preparation.

So although you have likely not eaten rooster, you have eaten cockerel or young rooster meat.

When a rooster reaches sexual maturity, however, it becomes very different meat and much more challenging to prepare properly if you do not know what you are doing.

Same can be said of old traditional breed chickens too.

Cooked rooster meat is tougher and denser and can have more fat than hen meat or a broiler chicken you can buy.

A black Orpington cockerel.
My black English Orpington rooster back when he was just a cockerel.

My backyard chicken groups are full of people that hatched out more roosters than they can keep.

Or bought straight-run chicks that always run the risk of being at least 50% male.

I actually hatched out 32 Bresse chicken eggs that turned out to be majority male — THIRTY roosters in all! What are the odds of that? I have no clue.

But we put all thirty roosters in the freezer and I definitely learned how to prepare and cook the meat properly.

Enter the classic French peasant recipe — coq au vin.

a white plate with mashed potatoes and homemade coq au vin.
A rooster cooked coq au vin and served atop mashed potatoes.

Most modern coq au vin recipes call for a common chicken and a much shorter cooking time.

Bu authentic coq au vin made with rooster simmers for hours in red wine, broth, and various vegetables and aromatics. The tough meat tenderizes and the result is a collagen-rich stew.

It is quite simply one of the most delicious meals I have ever made and the whole family absolutely loves it. And making it with a rooster makes a HUGE difference.

Can you eat a rooster? Yes. And like I said, you really should. We eat it regularly.

Roosters also make some of the best tasting bone broth or stock. Roosters taste much more chicken-y and that really shines in these long slow preparations.

black orpington rooster on a green field.
My orpington rooster all grown up and beautiful.

Roosters are illegal to keep in many suburban areas.

Even if you can legally keep roosters, it is cruel to the hens who might be over-mated, and you should only ever keep 10 hens to 1 rooster.

Since you don’t need roosters for your hens to lay eggs, you may very well end up with a surplus of roosters. And trust me, unless you have some magnificent breeding specimen, no one wants your extra roosters. (If you want to breed chickens though, it is quite useful to know how chickens mate.)

In my opinion, if you have taken on the responsibility of keeping chickens for eggs and you insist on hatching your own eggs or buying straight-run chicks, it is your responsibility and duty to do the right thing — eat your roosters.

Can you eat a rooster? Yes, they are suitable for consumption and are eaten in many countries as much as chicken. Preparing rooster dishes may seem complicated, but the flavours can be more intense and mouth-watering than you expect.

FAQ

What does a rooster taste like?

Whereas a young cockerel will not taste any different from a hen, a rooster will have a much more pronounced flavor. Rooster meat is stronger tasting and some compare the dark meat to game meat although I do not find that to b an apt comparison. A traditional bone broth made with rooster or an authentic coq au vin are incredible rooster recipes to try.

What is a capon?

A capon is a young rooster (a cockerel) that has been castrated before sexual maturity and the changing hormones take hold. A capon will become quite fat and the resulting meat is incredibly flavored and tender. Capons are still available in specialty butcher shops, especially around some holidays although they can be quite expensive.

Can you eat eggs if you have a rooster?

Fertilized eggs do not taste any different from unfertilized eggs and there is no difference between them. For a fertilized egg to develop into a baby chick, the egg must be incubated at specific temperatures for 21 days.

Can you eat a rooster like a chicken?

No. As a rooster requires specific cooking techniques unless it is a young cockerel which can be prepared the same way as a broiler.

At what age can you eat a rooster?

A rooster is a male chicken that is at least 1 year of age. You can eat roosters at any age, although the older the bird, the tougher the meat and the more care and time must be taken in its preparation. This is especially true for pastured and free ranged birds.

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

The Ultimate Guide to Homestead & Backyard Chicken Keeping 

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