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All About Guinea Fowl

Guinea fowl is similar in size to a chicken and has multi-coloured plumage and a musky aroma. Originally from Africa, the guinea fowl was introduced to Europe by the Portuguese, who named it “pintada,” meaning “painted hen,” because of its streaked-white grey plumage. There are three varieties of guinea fowl: black, white and the domestic or common guinea fowl.

Guinea fowl is sold either fresh or frozen. Pair it with fruits such as peaches, apples or cranberries, dried fruits like prunes and raisins, or herbs such as thyme, sage and bay leaves. It’s also delicious with citrus—try oranges or grapefruit—and tropical fruits like pineapple and coconut.

Ideas for wet marinades

  • Combine fresh pineapple juice and lemon zest or lemon juice with crushed garlic.
  • Blend orange juice, lime juice, ground pepper, ground coriander and finely chopped fresh pimento.
  • Mix white wine, cider vinegar, cumin, allspice and a cinnamon stick. If you’d rather use red wine, stir in a cinnamon stick and cloves, or rosemary and marjoram.
  • Sherry vinegar is a nice complement to guinea fowl with thyme, sage and bay leaves.

Cooking methods

Roasted Guinea Fowl

  • Bard the bird or brush skin with butter.
  • Stuff and truss it, then place in a roasting pan on a bed of vegetables.
  • Roast in the oven until tender.
  • Calculate 40 minutes to roast a bird weighing 1.5 kilos (3 pounds) and about one hour to 90 minutes for a bird weighing 3 kilos (6 pounds).

Barbecue-grilled Guinea Fowl

Pieces of guinea fowl can be grilled the same way as chicken pieces.

  • To grill a whole guinea fowl on the barbecue, season both the interior and exterior well.
  • Brush with butter and oil.
  • Grill for 30 to 45 minutes over medium heat.

Guinea Fowl Stew

  • Tuck the neck and the wings under the bird and truss it.
  • Bard it with fine slices of lard.
  • Brown over medium heat in a lightly oiled casserole. Remove the bird and set aside.
  • Add carrots, finely chopped onions, and salt and pepper to the pan.
  • Bring the vegetables to a slow boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add bird to the casserole and enough cold liquid, such as red wine or bouillon, to cover the bird halfway.
  • Cover and simmer over medium heat or in the oven at 180°C (350°F) until the bird is tender and the liquid has reduced.

Braised Guinea Fowl

  • Cut bird into pieces and refrigerate overnight in a marinade of carrots, onions, cloves, celery, bouquet garni, spices, olive oil and red wine.
  • Brown cut guinea fowl over medium heat.
  • Add a small amount of cold liquid such as wine, beer, or bouillon, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Add fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables.
  • Cover and cook in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 2 hours or until tender.

Tips and advice

  • Guinea fowl can be substituted for chicken in most recipes or cooked like chicken.
  • The lean meat of the guinea fowl dries out easily, so it is important to brush it with lard or bard it before cooking. To ensure a tender bird, carefully slide a thin pat of butter between the skin and the meat of the bird before cooking.
  • Stuffing also helps keep guinea fowl moist. Make stuffing with diced bacon and apples, onions, mushrooms, giblets, aromatic herbs and a beaten egg to bind the mixture.
  • Whether it is stuffed or not, a trussed bird makes for an appealing presentation and easier carving.

How to know when cooked guinea fowl is done

The meat is eaten when it is still pink, so it should not be cooked for too long. Guinea fowl is ready when its juices run clear. If you’re using a meat thermometer, a whole guinea fowl is ready when its internal temperature has reached 82°C (180°F). Cook to 77°C (170°F) if you are using parts.

Nutritional value

Guinea fowl stands out from other meats due to its low fat content, and low cholesterol (if the bird is not barded). For the same size portion, it contains three times less fat then beef. A healthy choice!


Fresh guinea fowl can be kept for up to two days if placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

To freeze guinea fowl, make sure it is well wrapped in a hermetically sealed freezer bag or tightly wrapped in plastic and then foil.

A whole guinea fowl can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months, or less if the bird has been refrigerated or frozen.

Thawing the bird in the refrigerator is the safest method. Leave the guinea fowl in its freezer wrapping and pierce the bottom in a few places to allow juices to drip away from the bird. Calculate 10 hours per kilo (5 hours per pound).

Guinea fowl can also be thawed in cold water, which should be changed frequently. Calculate 2 hours per kilo (1 hour per pound).

Guinea fowl should be cooked within 48 hours of thawing.


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