The First Taste Test of Lab-Grown Chicken: Does it Pass?

by Sophia Chen
cell-cultivated meat

When I disclosed to my loved ones that I was about to taste-test the inaugural lab-grown chicken meat, their initial reaction was, “Gross!” quickly followed by, “What does it taste like?”

The brief response (you may have heard this phrase elsewhere): It tastes like chicken.

This ‘chicken’ doesn’t come from a chicken; it’s ‘cell-cultivated’ meat. The U.S. Agriculture Department recently granted approval to two California-based companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, to begin selling this new form of chicken.

But the true thrill is in being one of the first to sample the pioneers of a revolution in meat production. A revolution aimed at ending the slaughter of billions of animals for food and significantly cutting down the environmental impact of livestock farming.


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As a lifelong carnivore, I’m subject to the “meat paradox”. This term, used by scientists, illustrates the psychological discomfort faced by people who enjoy eating meat but struggle with the idea of animals dying for their meals.

Having covered stories on food-borne disease outbreaks and slaughterhouse safety, I’m acutely conscious of the suffering the chicken on my plate likely endured. This thought, when considered in depth, stirs discomfort in me.

So, I was receptive to trying an alternative form of meat – and intrigued to find out whether it would resemble the real thing.

I’ve sampled plant-based substitutes like Beyond Meat sausage and the Impossible Burger. They were pleasant enough, but not perfect replacements. To be frank, the Beyond Meat sausage tasted great, albeit a bit grainy, and the Impossible Burger was a tad dry, though I might have overcooked it. In both instances, I appreciated the taste but was acutely aware that I wasn’t actually consuming pork or beef.

As for the synthetic nature of this new meat? It didn’t faze me that this ‘cultivated’ meat is derived from cells which expand remarkably in vast steel vats, only to be shaped – “extruded” was the rather unappetising term that came to mind – into recognisable cutlets, fillets and nuggets fit for the dinner table.

Ultimately, with all food, it boils down to taste. And in this case, to the more profound question: Is this new substance really chicken, or is it a fraud?


In January, I took a trip to the Upside Foods production facility in Emeryville, California. There, Chef Jess Weaver pan-fried a lab-grown chicken breast in a white wine butter sauce with tomatoes, capers, and green onions.

The smell was mouth-watering, like any fillet cooked in butter would be. The taste was light and delicate, the texture soft, just like a homemade chicken breast – if I were a professionally trained chef.

Last week, I dropped by the Alameda, California, facility where Good Meat is set to commence production of its chicken products. Chef Zach Tyndall prepared a smoked chicken salad with mayonnaise, golden raisins, and walnuts. He followed it with a ‘chicken thigh’ dish – darker meat served atop a bed of potato puree, accompanied by a mushroom-vegetable demi-glace, golden beets, and tiny purple cauliflower florets.

The taste was fuller than a chicken breast, akin to the darker meat of a thigh. The texture was both soft and slightly chewy, as a properly cooked chicken thigh should be.

That, according to Tyndall, is the ultimate goal.

“It must be as realistic as possible for it to gain popularity,” he stated.

While “realistic” is a peculiar word choice, from my viewpoint, I predict this will gain traction. There are still massive obstacles — scaling up production, reducing costs, and resolving the ongoing debate of whether chicken sans bird is truly chicken — but if the criterion is authentic taste, I’ll leave you with this:

May I have some more of the “chicken,” please?

The Health and Science Department of The Big Big News receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP retains full responsibility for all content. Follow Big Big News journalist JoNel Aleccia on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JoNel_Aleccia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about lab-grown chicken taste test

What is the ‘meat paradox’?

The “meat paradox” is a term scientists use to describe the psychological discomfort faced by people who enjoy eating meat but are troubled by the idea of animals being killed for their meals.

What are the two companies involved in the production of lab-grown chicken?

The two companies involved in the production of lab-grown chicken are Upside Foods and Good Meat, both based in California.

How is this lab-grown, or ‘cell-cultivated’, chicken made?

Cell-cultivated chicken is made from cells that are grown in large steel vats. Once the cells have grown significantly, they are shaped or ‘extruded’ into familiar forms such as cutlets, fillets, and nuggets.

Does the lab-grown chicken taste like real chicken?

According to the taste test conducted, the lab-grown chicken does indeed taste like real chicken. The lighter meat was described as delicate, while the darker meat was richer, both in line with their traditional counterparts.

What are the hurdles in the widespread production and acceptance of lab-grown chicken?

The main challenges include scaling up manufacturing, reducing costs, and overcoming the psychological hurdle of accepting meat that has been grown in a lab rather than coming directly from an animal.

More about lab-grown chicken taste test

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HealthNut345 June 22, 2023 - 10:33 am

okay but what about nutrients?? Can’t be as good for u as the real thing can it? Just curious…

EcoWarrior91 June 22, 2023 - 11:23 am

omg this could be a game changer for the planet!! Im so sick of hearing about animals suffering…i’d be up for trying this for sure!

FamilyDinnerDad June 22, 2023 - 5:56 pm

My kids won’t even eat veggies. Good luck getting them to eat lab grown meat! hah! But seriously, interesting stuff. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

GourmetGary June 22, 2023 - 8:19 pm

Intriguing… As a chef, i wonder how it cooks? Would it react the same way under different temperatures and techniques… hmm…

JanetLuvFood June 22, 2023 - 8:36 pm

Wow, this is mind-blowing! Kinda cool but also super weird. I mean, chicken that ain’t from a chicken? How does that even work? LOL

PeteTheSkeptic June 22, 2023 - 11:33 pm

r u serious?? This ain’t chicken, it’s just cells in a vat. Gimme a break. Real meat for me, thanks.


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