Goat as Food: The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition, Sustainability, and Cooking

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 30, 2022

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The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae.

Goat meat is gaining popularity globally as a nutritious substitute for other meats. It’s a low-fat, high-protein alternative, making it ideal for those seeking to lose weight or maintain a healthy (like these healhy smoking tips) lifestyle.

In this piece, I’ll delve into the origins of goat consumption, its health advantages, and how to prepare it for a delectable experience.

What is goat meat

Goat: A Delicious and Versatile Ingredient in Cuisines Around the World

Goat meat is a staple in many cuisines around the world, particularly in African, Middle Eastern, North African, East African, West African, Indian, Indonesian, Nepali, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Mexican, Caribbean (Jamaican), and Ecuadorian cuisine. It is used in a variety of dishes, from stews and curries to grilled and roasted meats.

Delicacy in Some Cuisines

While goat is a staple in many cuisines, it is also considered a delicacy in some. In Mexican cuisine, for example, cabrito (young goat) is a prized ingredient in dishes like birria and barbacoa. In Caribbean cuisine, goat is often used in spicy stews and curries, such as Jamaican goat curry.


There are countless recipes that feature goat meat as the star ingredient. Here are just a few examples:

  • Indian goat curry: A fragrant and spicy curry made with goat meat, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
  • Nigerian pepper soup: A spicy soup made with goat meat, peppers, onions, and a variety of spices like ginger, garlic, and thyme.
  • Jamaican jerk goat: A flavorful and spicy dish made with goat meat marinated in a mixture of spices like allspice, thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers, then grilled or roasted.
  • Mexican birria: A rich and flavorful stew made with tender chunks of cabrito, chiles, and a blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves.

Well-Known Dishes

Some of the most well-known dishes that feature goat meat include:

  • Moroccan tagine: A slow-cooked stew made with goat meat, vegetables, and a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
  • Indian biryani: A fragrant rice dish made with goat meat, spices, and sometimes vegetables like peas and potatoes.
  • Jamaican curry goat: A spicy and flavorful curry made with goat meat, onions, garlic, and a blend of spices like allspice, thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers.

Exploring the Characteristics of Goat Meat

  • Goat meat is classified as red meat and contains less fat and cholesterol than beef and pork.
  • It requires low-heat, slow cooking to preserve tenderness and moisture.
  • Physicochemical composition and sensory analysis of goat meat have been analyzed by researchers such as Benjakul.
  • Sodium chloride content, expressible moisture, and gel strength are some of the factors measured in the analysis.
  • The texture and taste of goat meat are influenced by factors such as the type of goat, method of preparation, and cooking time.

Uses and Preparation Styles

  • Goat meat can be used in different dishes such as stews, curries, and burgers.
  • Traditional Portuguese dishes such as goat stew and goat meat paste are popular uses of goat meat.
  • Ground goat meat can be used as a substitute for ground beef in recipes.
  • Goat meat can be prepared by chopping, slicing, or cooking as a whole piece.
  • The shoulder is a popular cut of goat meat for slow cooking.
  • Goat meat can be marinated with olive oil and black pepper for added flavor.

Production and Storage

  • Goat meat is produced locally in many regions and can be found in specialty food stores.
  • Fresh goat meat should be stored in a cool setting and used within a few days.
  • Goat meat can be stored for longer periods by removing excess fat and storing in a freezer.
  • Quality control measures should be followed during production to ensure the final product meets standards.
  • Samples of goat meat can be analyzed for physicochemical composition and sensory profile to ensure quality.

Note on Nutrition

  • Goat meat contains less energy than beef or chicken.
  • It is a good source of protein and contains essential amino acids.
  • Goat meat also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.

Why Goat Meat is a Nutritional Powerhouse

  • Goat meat is a great source of protein, containing 27 grams per 100-gram serving of cooked, roasted meatgoat.
  • Compared to beef, goat meat is lower in fat and calories, making it a leaner option.
  • Goat meat is rich in essential nutrients, including iron, sodium, and cholesterol, which are important for proper body function and development.
  • It also contains high levels of vitamin B12, which supports the nervous system and aids in the production of red blood cells.
  • Goat meat offers a natural source of riboflavin, which assists in energy production and supports the immune system.

Supports Growth and Development

  • Goat meat is a fantastic source of nutrients that support growth and development, making it a great food for young children and teenagers.
  • It contains high levels of zinc, which aids in cell production and supports the immune system.
  • Goat meat also contains selenium, which assists in thyroid hormone activation and wound repair.

Assists in Repairing Tissues and Muscles

  • Goat meat provides a high amount of total milligrams of amino acids, which are essential for repairing tissues and muscles.
  • It contains connective tissue, which supports joint health and aids in fluid production.
  • Goat meat also contains antioxidants, which assist in cell repair and protect against free radicals.

Recommended Daily Value (DV)

  • A 100-gram serving of cooked, roasted goat meat provides 3.7 milligrams of iron, which is 21% of the recommended DV.
  • It also provides 86 milligrams of sodium and 75 milligrams of cholesterol.
  • Goat meat contains 0.3 milligrams of vitamin B6, which is 14% of the recommended DV.
  • It also contains 0.1 milligrams of riboflavin, which is 8% of the recommended DV.
  • Goat meat offers 0.3 micrograms of vitamin B12, which is 13% of the recommended DV.

Choosing the Right Goat for Purchase: A Deliberate Process

When interested in purchasing a goat, it’s essential to visit the farm where the animal is being sold. This visit will give you an idea of the goat’s living conditions, health, and temperament. It’s also an opportunity to meet the farmer and ask any questions you may have about the goat.

Indicator of Health: A Fed and Friendly Goat

The most important thing to look for is a goat that enjoys being fed and touched by humans. A goat that is well-fed and comfortable around people is an indicator of good health and a happy animal. If you visit a farm and the goat you want runs the other way (and a group of you has to chase it down!), then you’ll probably want to choose another goat.

The Cute Factor: Don’t Let It Cloud Your Judgment

While it’s tempting to choose the cutest goat in the herd, it’s essential to focus on the goat’s health and temperament. A cute goat that is not well-fed or comfortable around humans may not be the best choice for purchase.

Deliberate Decision-Making: Taking Your Time

Choosing the right goat for purchase is a deliberate process that requires time and consideration. Don’t rush into a decision; take the time to observe the goats, ask questions, and make an informed choice.

Area of Purchase: Local is Best

When searching for a goat to purchase, it’s best to look for farms in your local area. This will ensure that the goat is accustomed to the climate and environment, making the transition to its new home easier.

Presented for Sale: Check for Signs of Illness

When a goat is presented for sale, it’s essential to check for any signs of illness. Look for discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing, or a lack of appetite. These could be signs of an underlying health issue that may affect the goat’s long-term health.

Goat Meat: A Sustainable Alternative to Traditional Livestock

Goat meat is a sustainable alternative to traditional livestock for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the key factors that make goat meat a sustainable food choice:

  • Goats are hardy animals that can thrive in a variety of environments, including rocky terrain and brushy areas that are unsuitable for other types of livestock.
  • Goats are efficient at converting forage into meat, which means they require less pasture and resources than other types of livestock.
  • Goats are also efficient milk producers, which makes them a valuable resource for dairy farmers.
  • Goats are smaller than cows and sheep, which means they require less housing and equipment.
  • Goat meat is a lean protein source that is high in nutrients, making it a healthy choice for consumers.

How Farmers are Embracing Goat Meat as a Sustainable Option

Across the country, farmers are recognizing the sustainability benefits of raising goats for meat. Here are some examples of how farmers are incorporating goats into their sustainable agriculture plans:

  • The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service recommends goats as a way to control brush and weeds on pastures without the use of chemicals.
  • The Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois has developed a plan for raising goats on Midwestern farms that emphasizes the use of forage and pasture resources.
  • In Napoli, Italy, farmers are using goats to help maintain the environment by grazing on the hillsides and preventing wildfires.
  • Albenzio and Sevi Caroprese, goat farmers in New York, have developed a sustainable model for raising goats that includes rotational grazing and minimal use of antibiotics.

Why Goat Meat is a Healthy Alternative to Other Meats

Goat meat is naturally lean and very nutritious, making it a healthier alternative to other red meats like beef, lamb, and pork. It has less fat and less saturated fat, more iron, and about the same amount of protein compared to beef, pork, lamb, or chicken. This makes it a great choice for people who are looking to gain lean muscle mass or maintain a healthy diet.

Lower in Fat and Saturated Fat

Compared to other meats, goat meat is lower in fat and saturated fat. This makes it a better option for people who are looking to reduce their fat intake or maintain a balanced diet. Goat meat is also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, zinc, and iron.

Unique Flavor and Appearance

Goat meat has a unique flavor and appearance that sets it apart from other meats. It is commonly consumed in Middle Eastern and African cultures and is making its way onto more tables in the Western world. The meat is classified as either kid (less than 6 months old) or adult (over 6 months old), with different breeds producing different varieties of meat.

Health Benefits

Goat meat offers numerous health benefits, including:

  • Lower total fat and saturated fat content compared to other meats
  • Higher iron content, which is essential for growth and providing energy
  • Rich in protein, which helps to build and repair muscle tissue
  • Low in calories, making it a suitable option for people on a diet
  • Sourced from animals that typically graze on grass and produce leaner meat

Cooking Methods

Goat meat can be prepared in numerous forms, including stews, curries, and roasts. It is important to choose the best cooking method based on the cut of meat and the desired result. Some commonly used methods include slow cooking, braising, and grilling. When cooked properly, goat meat is tender and flavorful.

Reviewed by an APD

According to a review by an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), goat meat is a healthy and nutritious option for people looking to diversify their protein sources. It is naturally lean, low in fat, and provides a range of essential vitamins and minerals.

The Not So Great Side of Goat Meat

Goat meat has a strong gamey flavor that some people consider a downside. Additionally, if not cooked properly, it can be quite tough and difficult to chew. Cooking it at low temperatures for longer periods of time can help bring out the flavor and tenderness of the meat.

Low Fat Content

While some people consider this a positive aspect, goat meat’s low fat content can also be a negative for those who prefer fatty meats. Compared to pork and beef, goat meat contains less fat, which means it can be difficult to control the cooking process and can result in dry and tough meat.

Higher Restrictions in Some Countries

In some countries, there are restrictions on the production and consumption of goat meat due to religious or cultural reasons. This means that it may not be widely available or may be more expensive compared to other types of meat.

Not as Nutrient-Dense as Other Meats

While goat meat is an excellent source of protein, it lacks some of the essential nutrients found in other meats. For example, it contains less iron compared to beef and pork, which is critical for the body’s function to produce red blood cells and build energy. Additionally, it contains double the amount of sugar compared to beef, which means it may not be the best choice for those trying to maintain a balanced diet.

Unwanted Parts Included in Cuts

Unlike other meats, goat meat is often prepared with the inclusion of unwanted parts such as the head, feet, and organs. While some people may enjoy these parts, others may find them unappetizing.

Cheaper Alternative to Traditional Cuts

While goat meat may not be as widely consumed in Western countries, it is a popular choice in numerous other countries. In these countries, it is often found in a wide variety of dishes and is considered a cheaper alternative to traditional cuts of meat.

Remember, while there are some negative aspects to goat meat, there are also numerous impressive benefits. It is a lean and natural source of protein that can help protect our bodies and maintain our health. As with any type of food, it’s important to choose the proper cuts and cooking methods to ensure the best possible result.

How to Cook Goat Meat: A Flavorful and Easy Jamaican Curry Stew Recipe

When buying goat meat, make sure to choose a cut that is suitable for the recipe you want to make. Goat meat is usually sold in large pieces, so you may need to cut it into smaller pieces for cooking. The size of the pieces will depend on the recipe you are making. Also, make sure to buy goat meat that is fresh and contains no excess fat or red meat.

Preparing the Ingredients

To make a flavorful Jamaican curry stew, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of goat meat, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 habanero pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups of chopped vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, and celery)
  • 1 cup of rice, cooked according to package directions (optional)

Cooking the Jamaican Curry Stew

Follow these steps to cook the Jamaican curry stew:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the goat meat and brown it on all sides for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pot and set it aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and habanero pepper (if using) for 2-3 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the thyme, curry powder, allspice powder, salt, and black pepper to the pot and stir well.
  5. Add the goat meat back to the pot and stir to coat it with the seasoning.
  6. Pour in the vegetable or chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the stew simmer for 2-3 hours, until the goat (here’s the best wood to use for smoking it) meat is tender and the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  8. Add the potatoes and chopped vegetables to the pot and simmer for another 30-45 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
  9. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Serve the Jamaican curry stew hot, with rice on the side (if desired).

Safety and Benefits of Cooking Goat Meat

Cooking goat meat requires a long cooking time to ensure that it is safe to eat and tender. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 160°F to kill any harmful bacteria. However, goat meat is highly nutritious and contains many beneficial features, such as being low in fat and high in protein. It is also a sustainable food source and easy to buy in many grocery stores.


So, that’s why goat is such a great food, and why it’s so versatile. You can use it for meat, you can use it for milk, and you can even use the hair to make wool! 

You can use it for meat, you can use it for milk, and you can even use the hair to make wool! So, don’t be afraid to try something new, and you might just discover your new favorite food!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.