Can You Eat Cow Skin?

Many of us love to eat many parts of beef cows, from burgers to steak! 

But if you think about it, there are quite a few parts we don’t typically think of as edible. 

One of these areas is the cow skin. 

Is cow skin safe to eat?

Cow skin is edible and tasty when properly processed, prepared, and cooked. It contains necessary nutrients like protein and phosphorous, and cultures worldwide have eaten it for centuries. 

Keep reading to learn about the different nutrients found in cow skin, why the nutrients are necessary for healthy bodily functions, how to prepare it for dinner, and how to make cow skin food. 

can you eat cow skin

Nutritional Value of Cow Skin

Instead of the leather industry using it, turn it into a nutritious meal. 

Chances are you have eaten the animal skin before, like off a chicken leg or Thanksgiving turkey. 

While poultry skin is rather thin due to the size of the bird, cows’ is much thicker. 

This makes it possible to substitute a meat source in different recipes.  

Beef skin contains many of the same nutrients and minerals found in beef and other meat. 

Every 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces, of boiled cow skin contains the following nutritional makeup.

Energy224.65 kcal
Protein46.9 g
Carbohydrates6.80 g
Fat1.09 g
Phosphorous36 mg
Fiber0.02 g
Iron4.3 mg
Calcium61 mg
Magnesium12 mg
Zinc6.79 mg

Additionally, beef skin also contains collagen, a type of protein. 

Collagen makes up connective tissue, a major component of bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. 

There haven’t been sufficient studies on the benefits of consuming collagen, but there are claims that it increases skin elasticity, reduces the effects of skin aging, and improves joint health. 

The other nutrients and minerals in cow skin are necessary for a balanced diet. 


Protein is made of amino acids, the building blocks of life. Amino acids build and repair muscles and bones, creating hormones and enzymes. If you’ve ever tried to bulk up, chances are you supplement your diet with high-protein foods or powders. Protein is also an energy source. 


The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then converted into energy. Carbs are needed to support physical activity and all bodily functions.


Our bodies need phosphorous to produce DNA and RNA, repair tissues and cells, and use vitamins and minerals like magnesium and zinc. 


Our digestive tracts need fiber to move waste smoothly through the body. Fiber also encourages healthy gut microbiota, which is necessary for healthy digestive processes. 


Hemoglobin transports oxygen around the body and needs iron to function properly. An iron deficiency will lead to fatigue due to a lack of red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout the body. 


The mineral calcium helps with blood clotting, muscle contraction, and regulating heart rhythms. It also helps with teeth and bone formation and growth. 


Chronically low magnesium levels increase the risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure because magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle and nerve function. 


Even though our bodies only need a small amount of zinc, it is necessary for DNA creation, healing damaged tissue, vital chemical reactions, and immune system support. 

How to Prepare Cow Skin

Cow skin preparation requires multiple steps. 

It is very hard to chew and eat if not properly prepared and cooked. 

  1. First, boil a pot of clean water and add the cow skin. Make sure it is fully submerged. 
  2. Once it has softened, remove and transfer to a bowl of cold water. 
  3. Next, use a sharp knife to remove any flesh or hair sticking to the skin. You don’t want hairy skin!
  4. Clean the skin and remove any dark spots. 
  5. Discard the used water and add fresh water. Let the skin soak for a few hours.
  6. The skin can then be boiled or roasted, depending on your recipe. 

What to Eat Cow Skin With

Although people in the U.S. don’t commonly eat edible cow skin, it is popular in cuisines worldwide, especially in western African countries. 

Some places even consider it an expensive delicacy. 

If you found yourself with some cattle skin but are unsure how to cook it, traditional recipes abound online. 

One of the most common ways to eat it is in a soup or stew with root vegetables, peppers, and spices. 

Jamaican cow skin soup is renowned as a hangover cure, and there are delicious versions of the soup from around the world.  

If you’re feeling particularly brave, attempt to make your own soup or stew recipe by subbing the usual beef for chunks of cow skin. 

Other Oddly Edible Cow Parts

The demand for beef is high, and when you go to the supermarket for beef, you likely only buy brisket, sirloin, or one of the other muscle cuts. 

However, many parts of cattle are edible, including organs and body parts. 

One of the most delicious organs is the heart. 

Beef heart is boiled or prepared in a similar way to steak. 

Liver goes well with onions, or it makes a great pâté. 

While these organs are harder to find than your traditional meat cuts, local farmers and butchers might be able to help you find them.

If you are butchering your livestock, thoroughly rinse the blood off and out of the organs as soon as possible. 

The longer you wait, the stronger the iron taste will be. 

Related: What age should you butcher a cow?

Soaking the organs in cold water or milk will also help neutralize the bloody taste if you are not eating them right away. 

One of my personal favorite odd body parts is the tongue. 

It might sound gross at first, but don’t worry. 

The skin and taste buds are peeled off, so you only eat the actual muscle meat. 

Beef tongue is very tender, full of nutrients, and eaten worldwide in tacos, soups, and other dishes. 

Another body part eaten in other parts of the world is tripe, part of the stomach lining. 

This versatile food is eaten in pho in Vietnam and haggis in Scotland. 

Even animal bones turned into broth make cow bones edible. 

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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