What Is Mutton?

Put simply, mutton is the meat of a mature domestic sheep. But surprisingly, that may not always be the case. For instance, the Caribbean and South African chefs use “mutton” to define goat meat. 

In most places, however, mutton refers to mature sheep meat. This type of meat is extremely popular in the Middle East, Europe, and India, where plenty of people prefer its toughness and strong flavor. 

Key Takeaways

  • Mutton is the meat of adult sheep, while lamb is from younger sheep.
  • Cooking methods like braising and stewing are popular for mutton dishes.
  • Mutton has a distinct flavor and a higher protein content than lamb.

One can find it in dozens of slow-roasting and slow-cooking recipes, kebabs, mutton curries, stews, and biryanis. 

The animals get butchered the same way cows or lambs are, so mutton chops, bacon, steaks, belly, and other sections are available. 

However, while praised for its strong and unique flavor, mutton is not straightforward meat to prepare. Many also confuse mutton with lamb, believing that both require the same treatment. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And to ensure you avoid making such mistakes, we’ve prepared the following guide. 

Mutton vs. Lamb

Speaking about lamb, it’s the meat of domestic sheep that is less than one year old. If we delve into the details, there are more classifications of sheep meat. For example, a lamb that is less than three months old is called a spring lamb. It has even less fat and a milder flavor than the one-year-old lamb does.

Young lamb contains little fat. It’s juicy, tender, and has a milder flavor than mutton. It tastes wonderful when cooked slowly and with a small amount of liquid. 

Regarding mutton, this is the meat of mature sheep that is older than one year old. However, younger mutton, between 12 and 20 months old, is called yearling mutton or hogget. 

Mutton is relatively fatty. It is also tougher and has a deep red color and a gamey flavor. Perfect for both long and slow cooking, the meat makes a wonderful meal.

How to Cook Mutton

There are several cooking methods for mutton. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.


Smoking is one of the best ways to cook mutton if you strive to get the brightest flavors of it. It’s a relatively slow process, but it’s definitely worth waiting a few more minutes. 

This method of cooking mutton meat brings out more flavor, retains all the meaty juices, and makes it softer.


Grilling is a perfect cooking method for those who enjoy gathering together with their nearest and dearest at campfires or having house parties. Just pick up some grill (don’t forget to oil it properly), light a fire, marinate the meat, and put it on the grill. 

It’s quick, easy to prepare, and perfect for mutton meat. 

Deep Frying

Deep frying has many fans. It’s no wonder: whether these are candies or mutton – everything tastes wonderful. The method is pretty simple. All you need is a little oil and batter. Heat up some oil, and submerge your sheep meat there. What a delicious and delicate dish!

Open Fire Roasting

Open fire roasting is a match with any type of meat. This method is extremely simple and effective. Be sure it will bring out the inner juiciness of the meat. All you have to do is start a small fire, marinate your mutton, mix it in spices, pour some oil, and slowly roast the meat over the fire. Voila! Enjoy your favorite dish with the sound of the crackling fire.

Benefits of Mutton

Many people around the world love mutton. That is not surprising: just look at the number of benefits!

Protein Bomb

An excellent component of a healthy diet, mutton is extremely rich in protein. It provides 28 grams of protein per serving of 3 ounces, or 56% of the daily value. The meat is a reliable support for your muscle maintenance, growth, and development.

Enhances Sexual Health

Mutton is a must-product for those who have low libido. It will spark your lackluster sexual appetite and boost it greatly.

A Great Source of Vital Minerals

Red meat is highly rich in iron and zinc. Iron, which is one of the most important minerals, also helps with body metabolism. Zinc is responsible for the development of the body’s natural immune system and the growth and condition of your hair and nails. If you have a deficiency of these two, eat mutton and stay healthy!

Packed With Vitamins

A normal portion of mutton contains around 32% of your daily serving of Vitamin B-12, which is a vital nutrient for producing healthy red blood cells. The meat is rich in Vitamin B-3, responsible for metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It’s also important to mention Vitamin B-9, which promotes the production of red blood cells for optimal development. 

Low in Saturated Fats

Consuming too many saturated fats leads to an increase in “bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. Mutton has about 1 gram of saturated fat per 3 ounces, which is lower than some other meats. 

The Peculiarities of Cooking Mutton

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There are plenty of recipes as well as cooking techniques for mutton. You should pay attention to several tips to get an uncompetitive taste of your favorite meat. 

First of all, it’s important to marinate the meat for a night before cooking. This process will make it more juicy and tender. While cooking, best of all, use such spices as cardamom, Coriander powder, ginger, garlic, and cloves to reach an incomparable taste and aroma.

Also, mind cooking your mutton meat at a high temperature until it releases juice. After that, you can lower the flame to maintain its tenderness.

Finally, don’t forget to watch the cooking process. Such meat as mutton demands constant attention while cooking.

How to Store Mutton

Keeping raw mutton meat is the same as keeping any other type of meat that is on the list of highly perishable foods. 

If used within a week, it must be fully wrapped, preferably in thick and good-quality polythene, and stored in the refrigerator. If the mutton is reserved for a later banquet, seal it in an airtight container or bag and put it into the freezer. Mind avoiding exposing frozen meat to the outside air both in the fridge and freezer. 

After being cooked, mutton can be kept in the refrigerator for nearly a week or frozen for future eating. Also, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. 

The Bottom Line

Mutton, which is one of the must-haves in Middle Eastern cuisine, Europe, and India, has a lot of reasons for such popularity. 

Its high content of iron, zinc, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-3, vital amino acids, and low level of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol makes the meat a healthier alternative among other types of red meat.

It will just suffice to mention the unique taste of mutton. Its rich flavor and hearty texture work great when stewed for a couple of hours in a spicy curry or vindaloo. Mutton is an integral part of many dishes, including diverse mutton curries, kebabs, cutlets, rolls, chops, stews, etc. Pick up your recipe and enjoy new taste discoveries.

What is Mutton? + Recipe

Here's a simple recipe for mutton curry:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 39 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, Indian
Servings 4
Calories 331 kcal


  • 1 kg mutton cut into pieces
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Coriander leaves for garnish


  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add chopped onions and fry till they turn golden brown.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook till they turn soft and mushy.
  • Add all the spices - coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix well.
  • Add mutton pieces and mix well with the masala.
  • Add enough water to cover the mutton pieces and pressure cook for 6-7 whistles or until the mutton is cooked and tender.
  • Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and cook on high flame till the gravy thickens.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.


Calories: 331kcal
Keyword mutton recipe, what is mutton
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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