Is Alpaca meat the next big thing? A Hot Dish taste test

Photo by Kelly Dwyer
Broiled Alpaca leg steaks from La Pacos in Minnesota
On Wednesday, the Hot Dish introduced you to the Welcks, a Princeton couple who recently launched a business selling alpaca meat. We promised to deliver a review of the products available from La Pacos, and answer the question: Will anybody actually want to eat this stuff?

Let's begin with the dried meat products:
Jerky and Meat Sticks

Hillbilly Style Alpaca Jerky

La Pacos offers two kinds of jerky: Hillbilly Style and Appalachian Style. It's unclear why the fascination with extras from Deliverance but no matter. This jerky is as good or better than any beef variety on the pegboard at the local convenience store. One immediate visual clue that this is not beef is the absence of white ribbons of fat. The meat is a rich, dark maroon color and peels and tears identically to others. The jerky is satisfyingly chewy but not tough, and it retains a bit of moisture. Hillbilly Style provides more of a spice kick and boasts a soothingly shorter list of ingredients.

Old World Style Alpaca Meat Sticks
The meat sticks provide an even clearer contrast to similar products made of beef.  Where there's a person holding a Slim Jim, there's a person with greasy fingers and a sheen on their lips. Not so with these meat sticks.

At first bite, this meat stick seems to taste like pretty much every other meat stick. But these sticks don't leave grease on the hands or a waxy tallow buildup on the lips. The jalapeno variety is deliciously kicky, with visible chunks of bright green, fresh jalapeno peppers. These sticks do contain 3 percent pork, whose presence was explained as a binding agent. The Hot Dish provided samples to more than a dozen people and received zero negative responses. Alpaca sticks proved especially popular among sportsmen, for reasons we'll explain later.

Polish Sausage

Photo by Kelly Dwyer
Alpaca Polish sausage

The Hot Dish was unable to sample the bratwurst in time for this post (a human can only eat so much meat!), but we were able to sample the Polish sausage, pictured above. We broiled these sausages, which was likely a mistake. The filling is nicely and densely packed, and the casing provides a crisp snap to each bite. There are very few white chunks of gristly material.  This is when the realization begins to dawn: Alpaca meat is very similar to venison.

Next page: Alpaca burgers and steaks--and where to get them

My Voice Nation Help

I have been to Peru 3 times all 3 times the meat was horrible and the cheapest thing on the menu. Why not eat your cat it tastes like chicken. Obviously this breeder hasn't figured out how to breed quality fiber or does not know what to do with his fiber. Shame on you for taking a animal that makes numerous products without having to be killed to do so. The fact in point is that the most versatile fiber is in the 23 - 27 micron range and I would bet you are killing those to pad your pockets with people's animals that don't have a clue what to do with them. You disgust me.

Barbara BramletteDouble "O" Good Alpacas


Talk about your "green product"! Alpaca meat is not just a way to maintain a healthy diet, and a diverse one at that, but their fleece is amazing (and shorn repeatedly). It's soft, warm and non-itchy. I'll be searching at the markets for sure!

Candace Wetzel
Candace Wetzel

Either you're running a farm or an expensive petting zoo you decide for you...let others decide for themselves.  I recently butchered some fiber boys as the price tag to process last years fiber was too much.  I continue to research ways to develop the fiber aspect of my herd and I will cull those that are past their reproductive/fiber years.  I am running and managing a farm.


YOU DON"T EAT ALPACA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't get any fleece from a dead animal!

Now Trending

From the Vault