What Is Colorado’s Fascination With Rocky Mountain Oysters?

Bull | © HCE70 / Pixabay
Bull | © HCE70 / Pixabay
Photo of Stephanie Harper
6 October 2017

Rocky Mountain Oysters have made their way into the hearts and stomachs of Coloradans as a sort of novelty dish of the West. Now, you might be thinking, “Where do they get oysters in a landlocked state?” Well, these Rocky Mountain delicacies are a different variety: bull calf testicles that are typically sliced and served deep-fried. But before you completely discount this dish, here’s why Coloradans are fascinated with Rocky Mountain Oysters.


Rocky Mountain Oysters have a long history in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado and other western states and even up into Canada. Cattle ranchers in the early west needed inexpensive food sources, so they would often experiment with different cuts and types of meat.

Ranchers often castrate young bulls as a type of breeding control and to help manage the animal’s temperament. When food was scarce, and nothing would go to waste, these early ranchers found quite a delicacy cooking up bull testicles over branding coals.


Today, people prepare Rocky Mountain Oysters in a number of ways, from sautéed and braised to broiled and even poached. The most common preparation involves serving them battered and fried with a side of cocktail sauce. Bull testicles are also rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as high in protein.

RMO from Buckhorn Exchange | © jan go / Flickr

Where to eat them

There are a number of places to try Rocky Mountain Oysters throughout Colorado. The most well-known restaurant is the Buckhorn Exchange, located in Denver and open since 1893, making it the city’s oldest restaurant. The Fort is another fine choice to give them a try, as well as enjoy a delightful menu of frontier-inspired cuisine.

If you’re not quite brave enough to try the real thing, be sure to check out Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. This limited-release beer is brewed with 25 pounds of sliced and roasted bull testicles and might at least get you in the Rocky Mountain Oyster spirit.

Buckhorn Exchange | © Jeffrey Beall / Flickr