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Ground Turkey Tastes Gamey: Why and How to Fix It

Say goodbye to gamey ground turkey! These tips and tricks will help you make that ground turkey meat irresistible.

You know what’s the news with ground turkey, right? It tastes like it came straight from the horse’s mouth.

But don’t you worry, fellow poultry eaters, because we’ve got your back. Your ground turkey doesn’t have taste gamey. With a few simple tricks, you can turn that ground turkey into a true flavor powerhouse. So let’s you and I talk about what causes ground turkey to taste this way and what steps you can take to take your turkey to flavortown.

Get your turkey ground to order at the butcher’s:

First off, you want to buy high-quality ground meat. What you want is ground meat from a bird that was fed a good diet. If the turkey didn’t eat right, it won’t taste right, you get what I’m saying? When in doubt, go for birds raised on an all-natural diet that’s free from antibiotics and hormones. They will produce meat that’s not only better for your health but also irresistible for your taste buds.

Second, get that turkey meat ground to order if you can. When ground turkey is processed, the meat is subjected to a lot of friction and heat, which can release a lot of the natural oils and fats in the meat. This can lead to that greasy, gamey taste. To avoid this, choose ground turkey that’s processed in small batches and handled with care, from a butcher you know and trust.

Marinade, season, and pair the ground turkey meat well:

Now, let’s talk about how to flavor ground turkey so it tastes amazing.

One of the best ways to improve the flavor of ground turkey is to marinate it. Marinating your ground turkey in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper for at least 30 minutes before cooking can mask a lot of that gameyness. You can also try marinating it in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic for that bold Asian flavor. The marinade will not only add flavor to the meat but will also help keep it tender and juicy.

When it comes to cooking, don’t be afraid to get creative. Try making ground turkey meatballs, stuffed peppers, taco filling, turkey kebabs… all recipes where the turkey’s aroma and flavor can meld together with other ingredients capable of standing up to its gameyness.

And when it comes to seasoning, don’t be shy! Add spices like cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika to give your ground turkey a deep, smoky flavor. A little bit of chopped fresh herbs, like cilantro or basil, can also go a long way in bringing out the flavors in your dish. And don’t forget garlic—the czar of all alliums.

Give the ground turkey a good browning to elevate the flavor:

One of the key steps in making delicious ground turkey is to give it a good browning. Browning the meat not only gives it a nice texture and color, but it also produces new aromas and flavors that mask out the gamey taste. That’s because when the poultry is exposed to high heat, the Maillard reaction takes place.

To brown ground turkey, heat a pan over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. When the oil is hot, add the meat and let it cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. This will give it a chance to brown on the bottom. Once it’s browned, use a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces, and continue to cook until it’s browned all over. This process can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Serve your dish with sauces:

A delicious sauce can also make all the difference. A sauce can add moisture and depth to a dish, while also balancing out the taste of the turkey. The two sauces particularly great for ground turkey are yogurt-garlic sauce and BBQ sauce.

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Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.