Meats that really do 'taste like chicken'

What does chicken taste like?

Try and describe it and you will probably find yourself saying words like pale, flavorless, or just "Chicken tastes like chicken." I can remember staring suspiciously at a mystery meat on my plate as a child and being coaxed into trying a bite with the all-too-common trope, “Try it. It tastes like chicken” — only to find out that, of course, it didn’t always taste like chicken at all.

But all kidding aside, some foods really do taste like chicken. Which raises the question, how can it ring true for such diverse breeds of animals from amphibians to fowl?

According to Joe Staton from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, evolution is to blame for this phenomenon. In his paper, “Tastes Like Chicken?” he claims that evolutionary traits are either adopted from many generations of ancestors or are developed later in the evolutionary process.

Birds share a similar flavor because they are all birds; they share evolutionary traits; whereas, reptiles share a common ancestor with chicken, dinosaurs.

Just because these meats taste like chicken, doesn’t mean you can use them freely in chicken recipes. Want to trade roast chicken for roast squab? Or swap out grilled chicken breasts for rabbit saddle? Handling these unusual meats will require some extra attention.

You still have to wonder, if all of these exotic foods taste like chicken, what does chicken taste like?

1. Alligator


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Often served as a novelty, fresh, properly cooked alligator is a far cry in flavor  from the frozen, then deep-fried, nuggets of meat you might find served at a fair. Overcooking alligator meat will result in a tough final product that just doesn’t do this “other white meat” justice. Alligators and chicken might not seem like they would taste the same, but according to Staton, from an evolutionary perspective they are more similar than they look.

2. Frog

fried frog thighs in a pan

fried frog thighs in a pan (iStock)

This amphibian definitely doesn’t resemble a chicken, but frog legs taste a whole lot like chicken wings when fried. Also like chicken, frog legs benefit from a quick soaking in milk or buttermilk before frying, but are also delicious served grilled or baked.

3. Quail



Quail is smaller and more delicate than chicken, and is best cooked quickly on high heat for a crisped skin. Quail is delicious grilled, sautéed, or stuffed and roasted in the oven.

4. Rabbit


Just like chicken, rabbit is delicious paired with salty bacon, garlic, or tangy mustard dressings. Also, like chicken, lean rabbit meat easily drys out, and benefits from slow cooking techniques like braising.

Check out recipes for these unusual meats and more foods that really do taste like chicken.

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