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Unpleasant smells from cooked meats

Hello, I'm new here. I've never been much of a cook, but I want to learn. One thing I would like to resolve(something that has perplexed me) is why do some cooked meats emit a very unappetizing smell? I don't want to gross anyone out, but it's sort of a fecal smell. It's very light, but definitely present at times. I've smelled it in beef, chicken, and pork in the past. I've smelled it in frozen dinners and freshly cooked meats. I've smelled it in diners and nicer restaurants. I haven't encountered it regularly, but on several occasions over the years. At one time I thought it might have had something to do with the cooking process, but I just don't know. I've tried to look up info on this and I've read of others having the same experience, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer. Is there any way to avoid this problem when preparing meat?

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  1. Sorry. Can't help you with the meat thing. Cooked meat smells wonderful to me. Feces doesn't. Overcooked collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are another story though.

    1. I haven't smelled a smell with raw meats I associate with fecal, but perhaps using marinades or dry rubs on your meats will help you get past the smell.

      1. Cook something fragrant first, or at the same time you are cooking meat. Vegetable side with garlic, ginger, onion..,

        1. Are there any meats in particular you notice this with? I'm not familiar. Fish can sometimes leave an odor, but I love the smell of most cooked meats even the "stench" of the collards, broccoli and sprouts.

          1 Reply
          1. re: fldhkybnva

            I don't smell it on a regular basis in anything, but I have noticed it in various products....sausage, grilled pork chops, steaks, ground hamburger, grilled chicken. I've never smelled it in anything fried before. I do notice some fish gives off an odd smell, but what I'm talking about is a very different scent. The various ways I've encountered the same smell led me to believe it had something to do with the cooking process maybe? Or perhaps some sort of bacteria in the meat that wasn't done away with properly?

          2. Grass fed meat will have a more how should I put it--- Carcass smell to it...it can be quite unpleasent also of course game meats will have a strong smell. tenderizers that a mold like ingredient similar to cheese... some cuts are closer to the organs like the livers and kidneys.... but fecel? the only thing I can think is if you buy your meat in those packages that have those styrofome plates under it and it sealed up in plastic rather than at a butcher shop the meat doesnt get oxygen this can cause cause a weird stuff like off flavor and bad smell flavor/aftertaste it has to do with gases used in packaging, residual oxygen and reactons to the enymes. You are suppouse remove the meat when you get it home and store it in a different container and let it sit at room temperature or in the fridge for a certain amount of time cooking

            2 Replies
            1. re: girloftheworld

              I mostly eat grass fed beef and lamb and never really smelled anything other than beef or lamb. I'll keep notice though as perhaps it's there but I never stopped to note the difference in smells.

              1. re: girloftheworld

                I read something similar to this on other sites. I've yet to find a consensus, but some have mentioned grass fed beef and issues with packaging. What's strange is that I've smelled this scent in various types of meat. I actually remember the first time I ever sensed it because it was only a few years ago. I was eating a sausage and pasta dish at a college dining hall and it leaped out at me as soon as I put the first piece of sausage to my mouth. I don't ever remember smelling that when I was growing up or even cooking on my own. It's just been in recent years and only on occasion.

              2. Some herbs smell "funky" to some people. For me, thyme smells like 3-week-old gym socks. Meals got a lot better when I learned to substitute oregano in home recipes, and avoid ordering restaurant dishes that featured thyme in the description. Perhaps ask what seasoning was used on the meat / meal the next time so you can track down possible culprits.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                  Welcome to Chowhound, Tusker.

                  Midwesterner's guess would be mine, too. Cumin smells funky to a lot of people.

                  If you have a friend that cooks a lot at home and has an ample collection of spices, take a whiff of cumin, thyme, etc and see if it rings an unpleasant olfactory bell.

                2. how are you cooking things when you notice this?

                  Can't say I've ever noticed that type aroma, whether I'm cooking American, French, Italian, Mexican, Cuban.....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I haven't actually noticed it when I've cooked anything, but I have smelled it in foods prepared for me.

                  2. When I thaw meat in the microwave, if the meat begins to cook (i.e. it's past thawing and now actually cooking), I'll notice an off smell that carries to when it is cooked. I also sometimes get the smell from microwaved leftovers and frozen dinners. I don't know if it's a fecal smell, but I can't think of a better way to describe it, so maybe we're talking about the same thing.

                    To avoid it, I try to give frozen meat a couple days to thaw in the fridge. I try to eat leftovers up quickly and not to overheat them in the microwave. I prefer vegetarian frozen dinners.

                    I should mention, I have a really sensitive nose -- especially when I'm pregnant. During my last pregnancy, I could smell from inside my house (windows closed) when my neighbors mowed their grass. When they grilled, I thought my house was on fire because of the smoke smell!

                    1. I think you might be referring to the carbonization that occurs when you fry meats. Hamburger meat depending on the fat content for example can get quite a bit of carbonization and that burnt smell can linger. Perhaps you are very sensitive to smells and if you brown meats in butter the smell can be overwhelming. As well raw meats that are exposed to air can get oxidized and cause an off smell. Are you sure you are not wavering on being a vegetarian?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        No, I enjoy meat very much usually. It's only on occasion that I smell this scent. At first I thought it might be a sign of improperly cooked meat. That's what I was hoping actually because I didn't want to be turned off of any meats.

                        1. re: tusker

                          Sometimes the diaper under the meat can smell but the meat is still good. I am becoming much less of a meat lover. I was preparing a chicken for roasting, and for whatever reason got grossed out and think my meat days may well be numbered. Meatloaf is or was a favorite dish of mine, and one that I prepare well.

                      2. Did you wash or soaked your meat with a several splashes of vinegar or lemon or lime juice in a bath of water before it gets cooked? it could be that you left it in the fridge for a little too long, and it was suppose to be washed, seasoned, and then frozen as soon as u get it home if u don't use it that day, thaw it outside or in the fridge for the next day to use it, sometimes it could be the temperature of the freezer section at your local store that's not being monitored correctly if that's the case and u buy it, check the dates, and if you just purchased it with a smell you might want to speak with the supervisor/manager about this and get a refund even with the package already opened, take it with you with the receipt. Meats that are organic or grass fed has nothing to do with odor, it all depends on how you handle the meat once you have purchase it. If suddenly you forget and left the meat in the fridge for a bit too long and it starts giving a small bad odor this is what you can do, in a larger pot add your already seasoned meat with water about a little over halfway of the amount you are cooking and place a lid on it and cook it on very high heat, be sure to check it often to prevent it from overflowing over the pot, open the windows when you do this because it could give off a bad odor while its being cooked at first but at the end hopefully the meat it still good and it won't smell after that. if it still does then you should throw it out and start using this method from now on.

                        1. I can't stand the smell of rabbit cooking and well cooked lamb ( I love lamb rare though). I have no idea why.