People can easily distinguish between a goat and a lamb when they see them together. However, when they are already served as cooked food, you might have difficulty telling them apart.
Whether you are a meat-lover or not, it’s nice to know the difference between goat meat and lamb meat.
This doesn’t simply help you know what food to choose, but it can save you a lot of trouble in the kitchen.
So, what is the difference between a goat and lamb meat? Read on to learn more!
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What are the main differences between goat meat and lamb meat?
There are various ways how goat and lamb meat differ. They differ in terms of the following:
- Fat content
- Nutritional value
- Way of cooking
Now, let’s take a look at each of them and better understand the difference between lamb and goat meat.
Before we go any further, it’s best to define some terms.
The term goat refers to an adult goat and young goats are called kids.
When talking about goat meat, you might encounter the term, “wethers.” It is a term that refers to male neutered goats typically slaughtered for meat.
Neutered males are commonly killed for their meat at around the age of 9 months. This is the ideal time when goats are mature enough to have a good amount of meat but young enough for the meat to be still tender, juicy, and flavorful.
If you want to be technical about it, the goat is scientifically known as the Capra aegagrus hircus.
It was first domesticated in Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia.
The goat has horns that curve backward and a beard in male goats.
The term lamb generally refers to sheep younger than one-year-old. Once it turns into an adult, it is now called sheep.
Baby lamb is also known as milk lamb (4-6 weeks of age) and spring lamb (3-5 months of age). A ram lamb refers to a male lamb under one year of age.
When it comes to lamb meat, you probably have heard the term mutton meat. It refers to the male and female sheep meat.
Most sheep are slaughtered after they reach the second year of their life. Like goats, male sheep that are meant for meat production are castrated or neutered.
Both lambs and goats produce red meats. If you’re not familiar with lamb and goat meat, you might easily confuse the two.
That’s why it pays to know the basic difference between these two types of meat based on their appearance.
The best way to point out which is goat meat and which is lamb meat is through marbling.
The term marbling refers to the flecks and white marks of fat that visibly appear between meat streaks or on the surface of the meat.
This marbling is known as intramuscular fat and can be found in red meat sourced from cows, goats, and lambs.
Lamb has a larger amount of marbling compared to goats.
So, if you’re going to identify which one is the lamb, you will probably have the right answer if you choose the one with more fat on its surface.
One thing you need to remember when it comes to red meat is the darker the meat, the older the animal is.
So, between the two, lamb and goat lamb is younger. This means the one with a lighter color, usually light pink, is the lamb.
As mentioned above, the lamb’s meat comes with more marbling. This is a sign that lamb meat has a higher content of fat compared to goat’s meat.
Some estimate that lamb has ten times more fat content than goat meat.
Aside from that, lamb has a higher level of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats.
Now, here’s probably the deal-breaker for most people — the flavor. We live for the taste, consistency, and flavor of the meat.
So, let’s break this down and see the difference between goat meat and lamb meat in terms of flavor.
The goat’s meat tastes delicious. The taste is characterized by its gamey and bold flavor.
This means that the meat comes with a stronger smell and taste differently from other bland tastes.
If you want to reduce the gamey goat meat taste or flavor, simply marinate the meat and pair it with other equally strong flavors.
Generally speaking, among the types of red meat, goat meat is leaner than lamb and beef. Goat meat is also sweeter than lamb but beef is the sweetest among the three.
Lamb’s meat also comes with a gamey flavor. However, it is tenderer than goat’s meat.
A lot of people describe the taste of lamb meat as a beefy but gamey taste. The taste of lamb and goat meat can be somewhat similar.
If you are not familiar with how the two taste, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
However, you might want to find that unique scent of lamb. The lamb’s meat is less pungent compared to that of a goat.
This unique scent is produced due to the caprylic acids found in the fats of the lamb.
Of course, all these would depend on the age of the lamb. The younger the lamb is, the lesser the fat content. So, this means that younger lamb meat would not have this unique scent.
Aside from that, the taste of lamb would depend on how it is cooked. Certain ingredients can cancel out or enhance the gamey flavor of lamb.
Both goat and lamb meats are nutritious types of red meat. Both can help you stay healthy, recover from diseases, and improve your overall physique.
When choosing meat, be sure to always choose the free-range animal. If they are kept in a large pasture, goats and lamb develop a healthier body, which means they produce healthier meat as well.
Now, in terms of the difference in terms of the nutritional value, goat’s meat is generally considered to be a healthier choice.
The reason is that goat’s meat comes with higher protein content compared to lamb’s meat. Not only that, but goat’s meat has fewer fat and calories.
It’s worth noting that when it comes to glucose, carbohydrates, and fiber, these two types of meat don’t have them or if there is, only minimal.
Aside from what we have mentioned above, goat’s meat has a higher content of sodium, potassium, and iron.
On the other hand, lamb’s meat contains more calories, cholesterol, vitamin B6 and B12, and magnesium.
With this in mind, you’ll see that goat meat is generally a better choice if you’re trying to lose weight or build some muscles. On the flip side, lamb’s meat comes with more nutrients.
Way of cooking
Like what was mentioned before, both lamb and goat meat is red meat. So, it is not surprising to see that there are some similarities in how they are cooked.
The ideal internal temperature of lamb and goat meats is 160˚F (72˚C). Now, that’s just the minimum. If you go below this, you will have undercooked food. You’ll also need a higher heat level if you want your stuffed goat cooked.
Notice as well that lamb and goat meats are not like beef that there’s a scale on which you can cook them. For example, you can’t have well-done, medium, and rare cooked goat and lamb meats.
When cooking goat and young sheep meat, you need to remember that goat has a gamier flavor compared to lamb.
So, whatever cooking methods you choose, you need to adjust the gamey flavor according to your preference.
With that being said, you can cook lamb meat in the same way you cook goat meat and vice versa.
Both types of meat are commonly cooked in curry or stew for good reasons. Goat and lamb curry is a good way to lower the gamey flavor of these meats while stew can bring out their tasty unique flavor.
Different cuts, different cooking
Generally, you need to use the slow cooking or slow roasting method when it comes to goat and lamb meats. However, please remember that it will also depend on which cut you are cooking.
For example, goat and lamb chops from the neck, shoulder, hindshank, and foreshank are ideally cooked slowly. High heat and quick cooking methods are ideal for cuts from the rib and loin section.
If you want to grill or roast, choose the cuts from the flank and breast section.
Here’s a quick tip: the older the meat source, the fatter it gets. Adult sheep meat and goat come with tougher meat than their younger counterparts. If you don’t know how to best cook your meat, you won’t go wrong with slow-cooking methods such as stewing and braising.
Popular lamb meat dishes
Here are a few inspirations if you want to enjoy some meat dishes:
- Roasted lamb leg – this best-loved dinner recipe is popular during holidays and special occasions. The boneless leg of lamb is marinated with herbs and olive oil. It is then roasted in an oven until perfectly done.
- Racks of lamb with red wine sauce – the meat dish is prepared by browning racks of lamb in a pan. From there, it is transferred to the oven where it is roasted. Red wine and herbs are then used to add a delicious finish.
Popular goat meat dishes
Because of the many ways to cook goats, you should easily find delicious recipes. But to just give you a list to start with, check the following:
- Curried goat stew – stew is a great cooking method for goat meat. However, for this recipe, you would need to add curry powder along with onion, ginger, garlic, paprika, and other flavors.
- Roasted leg of goat – if you can roast lamb’s leg, then you can do it with goat’s leg as well. Prepare your marinade and mouth-watering spice rub to add tasty flavor.
Remove fat or not
Lamb has a higher fat content. Thankfully, some of these fats are easy to find. You can easily remove or trim them down if you want to lower the fat content.
Removing the fat can also decrease the gamey taste of your lamb meat and its strong smell.
Of course, remember as well that fat adds extra delicious flavor and juiciness to your dish. It even gives creaminess and richness to whatever you are trying to prepare.
So, you just have to decide how much fat you are willing to keep in your meat.
Cooking tools for lamb and goat meat
To make things easier for you, you should have the right cooking tools. These tools are not just going to help you cook efficiently, they will also improve the quality of your cooked meat.
Here are some of the cooking tools you’ll need when preparing lamb and goat meat:
- Meat thermometer
- Cast-iron skillet
- Aluminum baking sheet set
- Roasting pan
- Roasting rack
- Butcher twine
- Carving board with a channel
Which one is better; goat or lamb meat?
Now that you have read a comprehensive discussion of the difference between goat and lamb meat, you might still be sitting on the fence and not completely convinced which one is better.
The truth is that each of these types of meat has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you like meat that is leaner and healthier, then you can choose goat meat.
If you like meat that is more tender and juicier, then choose lamb’s meat.
Of course, you can have both. No one says that you can only choose one.
So, enjoy both types of meat. In the end, it is only you who can decide which one is better.