Is crow meat good to eat?

Crow meat may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about what’s for dinner, but it has actually been consumed by humans for thousands of years. While not as mainstream as chicken or beef, eating crow does have some advantages worth considering.

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to some common questions about eating crow meat:

  • Is crow meat safe to eat? Yes, properly prepared crow meat is safe for human consumption.
  • What does crow meat taste like? Crow has a dark meat taste similar to duck or wild game birds.
  • Is crow meat legal to eat? Yes, there are no laws prohibiting the consumption of crow in most places.
  • Is crow meat healthy? Like other dark meat, crow provides iron, zinc, B vitamins and other nutrients. It’s leaner than farm-raised chicken.
  • Do people eat crow? Crow has historically been eaten in many cultures worldwide and is still eaten in some rural regions today.

The History of Eating Crow

Humans have been eating crow meat for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows that the ancient Romans and Greeks considered crow meat a delicacy and preferred it over more common birds like chicken or pigeon.

In fact, the earliest known recipe book, Apicius Roman Cookery which dates back to the 1st century AD, contains a detailed recipe for stewed crow. Apicius recommended flavoring the meat with herbs, pepper, nuts and spices.

Eating crow remained common in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. But as domestic poultry became more popular and available, crow consumption gradually declined. Still, grilled and marinated crow remained a traditional dish in parts of Spain, Portugal and France into the 20th century.

Early settlers in America regularly hunted and cooked wild crow, even serving it at Thanksgiving dinners during the colonial era. But its reputation soon changed from a tasty meal to a shameful last resort.

The Origin of “Eating Crow”

The phrase “to eat crow” took on its negative meaning in the early 1800s. This American slang phrase refers to being forced to retract an earlier statement or position and endure humiliation.

Some theories suggest it originated from a newspaper war between editors who were forced to retract attacks on rivals, likening it to choking down an unpleasant crow meal. Or from politicians reluctantly admitting defeat after losing elections.

Whatever its exact origin, the common use of “eat crow” cemented crow as a symbol of defeat and humiliation in American culture. Nonetheless, some cookbooks continued publishing recipes for braised, roasted and curried crow up until the early 1900s.

Nutrition Facts of Crow Meat

If you can get past its unfavorable reputation, crow actually provides healthy meat full of essential nutrients. Here’s how the nutrition profile of cooked crow meat compares to chicken and beef:

Nutrient Crow Meat (100g) Chicken (100g) Beef (100g)
Calories 184 239 250
Fat 7.9g 15g 15g
Protein 27g 27g 26g
Iron 3.7mg 1.2mg 2.9mg

As you can see, crow meat is exceptionally lean and lower in calories and fat compared to conventional meats. It provides more iron per serving than either chicken or beef.

Crow is also high in zinc, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and amino acids. Its dark meat contains more myoglobin protein than chicken or turkey breast meat.

Lower Risk of Disease

Unlike factory farmed chickens and cattle, wild crows are not confined in cramped, dirty quarters where bacteria can easily spread. As natural scavengers, they help clean up carrion and waste in our ecosystems.

Due to their varied diet and constant flight, crow meat tends to be low in harmful saturated fat. Wild crow lives an active, free-range lifestyle making the meat less likely to contain disease-causing germs.

Gamey, Rich Flavor

People describe the flavor of crow meat as similar to duck or quail – dense, dark and iron-rich. The taste varies slightly depending on the crow’s diet and age, but is often compared to wild turkey or grouse.

Owing to its leanness, crow meat can become dry if overcooked so moist braising, stewing or pan frying are best. The strong flavor stands up well to marinades and spice rubs.

How to Safely Prepare and Cook Crow Meat

If you want to sample crow despite its unsavory reputation, here are some tips for safely preparing and cooking it:

Step 1: Field Dressing

Crow intended for consumption should be field dressed as soon as possible after harvesting. Remove all internal organs and thoroughly rinse the interior cavity with clean water.

Step 2: Proper Storage

Store the harvested crow meat in a refrigerator set below 40°F for no more than 2-3 days until ready to cook. You can also freeze portions for longer term storage. Defrost fully in the refrigerator before cooking.

Step 3: Cooking Thoroughly

Always cook wild crow meat to an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Boiling it for 20 minutes ensures any potentially harmful bacteria are killed.

Step 4: Proper Serving

Fully cooked crow meat should reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Slice breast meat and legs off the bones before serving. Take care to remove any buckshot, which can damage teeth.

Health Risks of Eating Crow

While crow meat is safe when properly handled and prepared, there are some health risks to consider:

Potential Exposure to Bacteria

Like any raw meat, crow can contain traces of E. coli, salmonella and other bacteria that can cause foodborne illness if undercooked or handled improperly. Always cook thoroughly to 165°F.

Higher Iron Content

Crow meat contains up to 3 times more iron than chicken or beef. Too much iron can be unhealthy for those with pre-existing conditions like hemochromatosis.


Those with poultry allergies should avoid crow, as it may trigger an allergic reaction. Since crow is less commonly consumed than chicken, some people may not realize they’re allergic.

Buckshot Contamination

Crows are often hunted with shotguns, so meat may contain lead buckshot. Consuming lead fragments can cause lead poisoning, so carefully check meat while deboning.

Where to Buy Crow Meat

It’s unlikely you’ll find crow meat for sale at a regular grocery store. But some specialty game meat retailers and online stores offer crow:

  • Local hunters, foragers or taxidermists may sell dressed crow
  • Online stores like sell packaged crow breast
  • Some high-end restaurants may serve locally sourced crow on menus

Crow hunting is legal during designated hunting seasons in most states. You can hunt wild crow yourself or ask local hunters for sources.

Crow Meat Recipes

To highlight its adaptable flavor, crow can be substituted in place of duck, turkey, chicken or other game bird in recipes. Here are some tasty ways to cook crow at home:

Slow Roasted Crow

Brush crow pieces with olive oil, season with rosemary, garlic and pepper then slow roast at 250°F until tender, about 1 hour.

Crow Curry

In a skillet, brown cubed crow breast then simmer gently in an onion, curry powder and coconut milk sauce for 50 minutes.

Crispy Crow Stir Fry

Marinate sliced crow breast in soy sauce, honey and garlic. Stir fry in a hot pan with vegetables until browned and serve over rice.

Smoked Crow

Brine crow breasts overnight in saltwater. Rinse and dry crow pieces then smoke over applewood for 1-2 hours until nicely browned.


While the “eat crow” saying casts it in a negative light, crow meat has stood the test of time as a tasty dark meat full of nutrition. If sourced and prepared properly, crow can be an eco-friendly and healthy alternative to factory farmed chicken.

The rich, lean meat takes well to creative marinades and spice blends. Beyond the unsavory reputation, consuming responsible sources of crow meat provides many potential benefits. Just take care to cook thoroughly, check for buckshot and enjoy it in moderation.

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