Can you eat hippopotamus?

In this brief guide, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat hippopotamus?” with an in-depth analysis of the hippopotamus, the taste of hippopotamus meat and some ways to cook hippopotamus meat.

Can you eat hippopotamus?

Yes, you can eat hippopotamus. The meat of the hippopotamus is a popular staple in Africa and is recognised as a delicacy.

The meat of the hippopotamus can be cooked in many different ways. It can be grilled; roasted over an open flame or spit-roasted on top coals from wood fires (a traditional method).


The hippopotamus, also known as hippo or water horse, is the third-largest land mammal on earth after the elephant and rhinoceros. They have a heavy body with stubby legs, a huge head and a small tail. Hippos have four toes per foot, each having a nail-like hoof. 

An adult hippopotamus has a weight of 1,500 to 1,800 kg with a height of about 1.5 metres. Physically, the male hippopotamus is the larger sex, weighing approximately 30% more as compared to the female hippopotamus. 

The hippopotamus is greyish brown with pinkish underparts. The skin of the hippopotamus is 5 centimetres thick on the flanks and thin everywhere else with almost no hair. The mouth is half a metre broad and can open 150 degrees to expose the teeth. 

Hippos are fully acclimated to marine life. Their ears, eyes, and nostrils are positioned on top of their head in a way so that the rest of the body remains submerged in water. The ears and nostrils can be folded to prevent water. Their body is so heavy that they can walk underwater, where they can hold their breath for 5 mins. 

Although hippos are frequently observed relaxing in the sun, they lose water quickly through their skin and get dehydrated without recurrent dips. 

Hippos feed mostly on short grass. They spend more than 5 hours eating every evening. They walk up to 5 miles during that period. They retain food for a long time in their stomach, where protein is obtained by fermentation. Their digestive process cycles large quantities of nutrients into the African rivers and lakes and thereby helps the fish that is so essential as a protein source in the diet of the locals.

The taste of hippopotamus meat

The taste of the hippopotamus meat is often considered similar to beef, with a mildly sweet flavour and hard texture that can be adjusted by marinating it prior to cooking or smoking above an open flame. 

The taste of hippopotamus meat also varies depending on how you cook it; if you cook the hippo meat with spices like cumin seeds then its taste will be similar to venison.

However, when cooked without flavourings, the hippo meat gives off more of a pork flavour as pigs are also omnivores who feed upon both plants and animals just to survive.

The thing that differentiates hippopotamus meat from other meats is its fat content. The hippopotamus meat has about 3 times more unsaturated fats as compared to beef, which means that it can be cooked without any added oil or butter and still taste juicy, even if you are following the traditional method.

The hippo meat also has a fewer amount of cholesterol as compared to other animals including cows, as they do not produce as much low-density lipoprotein as opposed to cattle who are served corn meals to make them fat.

Some ways to cook hippopotamus meat

There are many ways to cook the meat of hippopotamus. One popular way is grilling the steaks or ground patties over an open fire, which gives it a somewhat barbecue-like taste and texture that is both juicy and tender on your palate.

One more method of cooking the meat of hippopotamus is in stews like beef stew with vegetables including potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, peppers, tomatoes etc., but you can also use other seasonings if you want.

It is somewhat difficult to cook the meat of hippopotamus as it is very hard, but with a few tips mentioned below, you will be able to make it taste good.

  • Boil or simmer the meat of a hippopotamus for hours and then add in it some vegetables which will help tenderize and season the meat.
  • Marinate the meat of hippopotamus overnight before cooking, if possible try using vinegar-based seasonings such as soy sauce that is rich in acidity levels (which helps to break down proteins).


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat hippopotamus?” with an in-depth analysis of the hippopotamus, the taste of hippopotamus meat as well as some ways to cook hippopotamus meat.