Why do we need to do a lamb vs. mutton comparison? Aren’t they the same? Although lamb and mutton both come from sheep, they are not the same. The main difference between them is the age of the sheep, and it is an important factor in determining the taste and the texture of the meat.
Lamb is more popular than mutton in the United States. Let’s look at the lamb vs. mutton comparison in detail.
Lamb vs. Mutton: How the Two Differ?
A lamb is a sheep that is less than a year old. If it is less than three months of age, is known as a spring lamb. Lamb as young as four to twelve months are slaughtered for meat.
Mutton, on the other hand, is a sheep that is older than a year. Usually, it is slaughtered for meat when it is older than three years of age.
Lamb meat is more tender as it is obtained from young sheep, while mutton is not as tender as it obtained from older sheep
What is the taste difference between lamb meat and mutton? Mutton has a richer and stronger flavor compared to lamb. It has a higher fat content with firm, white fat and is a tougher meat compared to lamb. Also, mutton meat has a lower water content over lamb.
Although lamb meat has a firm texture, it is more tender than mutton. Lamb meat is mild in taste. If lamb grazes on salt-rich grass, its meat has more flavor. Domestic lambs are grain-fed, while the imported ones are grass-fed.
Uncooked lamb meat is pink to dark red in color, whereas mutton is deep red in color. Mutton has white bones while those of lamb are pink.
A thin, white skin covers the lamb, and pink skin covers the mutton. The joints in lamb are smooth while those in mutton are jagged. The darker the meat color, the older the sheep.
Older sheep takes a longer time to cook than lamb. Mutton shouldn’t be pan-fried and needs to be cooked slowly in stews or casseroles, or as pot-roasts. It needs proper and even cooking otherwise the meat will be tough and difficult to digest.
You can cut mutton into cubes and cook it with curry or mince it to make burgers. Lamb can be grilled, braised, or roasted. However, it is recommended to marinate lamb meat in salt to help break down the proteins.
Lamb vs. Mutton: Which Is Healthier?
Which is healthier, lamb or mutton? Both lamb and mutton are a good source of protein, but mutton has a higher fat content compared to lamb.
Fat, when consumed regularly, may cause cholesterol to build up in the arteries and lead to heart disease like heart attack and stroke. So, lamb meat is a healthier option than mutton meat.
After our lamb vs. mutton comparison, we can say mutton is tastier than lamb, but consuming it in excess can adversely affect your health. As with all things, moderation is key.
Fayed, S., “Lamb vs Mutton: What Is the Difference Between Lamb and Mutton?” The Spruce, January 18, 2017; https://www.thespruce.com/the-difference-between-lamb-and-mutton-2356034.