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What Are the Best Tips for Cooking Bear Meat?

By Anna Harrison
Updated May 16, 2024
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When properly prepared and cooked, bear meat can be extremely tasty. It requires special preparation and cooking methods, however, to prevent the meat from being grisly and tough. Brown or black bear meat are most commonly eaten, and can be served as roasts, steaks, stew, and even sausage. Like other wild game meat, bear may carry several types of parasites, so proper cooking is essential to eliminate the possibility of foodborne diseases.

This meat is naturally strong flavored, tough, and extremely fatty, so parboiling is usually necessary to remove excess fat. After boiling, the meat can be added to stews or sauces. It is best to cook it over very low heat or in a slow cooker. This helps to eliminate the gamey taste and also tenderizes the meat.

If boiled bear meat is not desirable, such as with steaks or roasts, the meat can be marinated prior to cooking. Some bear hunters swear by a buttermilk, cola, or vinegar marinade, which are all said to kill the unpleasant bear smell and improve taste. Acidic marinades that contain vinegar, tomato, wine, or lemon juice will break down and soften the tough meat fibers.

This type of meat is likely to have off-flavors due to the fact that bears will eat anything and everything. Since they are omnivores and often raid garbage cans and dumpsters, there can be any number of offensive items that will reflect in the taste of the meat. Meat from bears that live in wide open wild regions often tastes far better than from those that have been taken from more populated areas. Younger bear meat is also far more tender and usually tastes better than older animals.

Bear hunting has become more popular in recent years in the United States due to the ever increasing bear population. In many other parts of the world these animals have been a diet staple for centuries, including Russia, Scandinavia, and Canada. In these countries, the meat is even served in restaurants and is sold commercially.

Raw or undercooked bear meat can contain parasites. The most common is the trichina worm, which is also sometimes found in undercooked pork. This is the parasite that causes trichinosis, a very dangerous disease that can be fatal. Thorough cooking kills this parasite, so bear meat should always be served well done.

The variety of trichinosis that infects bears is known as T. nativa. This type is not killed by freezing like other kinds of trichinosis. It often remains viable for months or years in the freezer, which makes thorough cooking even more essential.

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Discussion Comments

By LisaLou — On May 11, 2012

When it comes to cooking any kind of wild game, one of the biggest things is to make sure it doesn't get dried out.

This is the biggest reason I seldom grill any kind of wild game. I have prepared pheasant, quail, turkey, deer, elk, and moose meat, and always make sure the meat is tender.

Cooking them is a crock pot or slow cooker is one of the best ways to do this. While I have never cooked bear myself, I have tasted it, and agree that it has more of a wild taste to it than many of the other wild game I have tasted.

This is one that I would definitely not go out of my way to eat again. Some people say if you don't prepare bear meat right the first time, you will probably never try it again.

By julies — On May 11, 2012

It is hard for me to imagine that people would like the taste of bear meat. I have never tried this, but really don't like the taste of many kinds of meat.

I am not a vegetarian, but just don't prefer the taste of much meat - especially red meat.

When I think about all the junk that a bear consumes it would scare me to eat their meat. Even thinking about it kind of grosses me out.

I don't think it would matter how it was prepared, as I would have a hard time eating it if I knew it was bear meat.

It is hard to believe that you can actually buy bear meat in some countries. I wonder if you would ever be able to do that in the United States?

By Mykol — On May 10, 2012

@bagley79 - There can be a big difference in the taste of meat depending on how it is made. I have a bear meat recipe that is similar to beef stew.

If you didn't know it was made with bear meat, you probably wouldn't know the difference. First I flour the meat and fry it in a skillet.

Once it is added to the broth with all the vegetables and spices, the meat becomes tender and I think it tastes very good.

I have eaten a lot of dry, tough wild game that is not very good - and I like most kinds of meat. The secret is knowing the best way to prepare it so the meat is tender and flavorful.

By bagley79 — On May 09, 2012

My husband is a hunter, so I am used to eating wild game. It is not unusual for us to have a freezer full of deer meat. Although he has never shot a bear, I have been to a wild game feed where you could taste bear meat.

I think this meat has a taste that you either like or you don't. I don't care for meat that has a strong game taste to it, and I don't care for bear meat.

My preferred wild meat of choice is elk meat, but we don't get that very often. I have only tasted bear meat the one time, and have never tried it again.

It might have been the way it was prepared, but I hope my husband never comes home with any bear meat.

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