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Best Alligator Recipes

Best Alligator Recipes

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Gator, another white meat

These Grilled Citrus Gator Ribs are coated in a delicious orange marmalade glaze.

Beef, chicken, pork, or fish? After a while, the choices all start to seem the same. So how about alligator? Andrew Zimmern, the infamous host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, says, "With so many Americans living below the poverty line and so many going hungry, gator represents yet another healthy alternative to feedlot beef and factory-farmed hog or chicken." While we're a long way from having alligator every week, it does seem like that's something worth trying.

Click here to see the Best Alligator Recipes Slideshow

So what does alligator taste like? According to the folks over at Exotic Meats USA, purveyors of all types of interesting meats including alpaca, black bear, and lion, as with many other animals, texture and flavor vary according to what part of the animal you're eating. Overall, though, alligator tastes like chicken, but leaner, and often reminds people of rabbit.

The best cut of meat comes from the tail; it's white-fleshed and tender like veal if not overcooked. Meat from the rest of the body tends to be darker and more full-flavored, but is also tougher.
As for where to buy alligator meat, the easiest place to go is online. Exotic Meats USA ships to all 50 states, and some other reputable purveyors include Exotic Meat Market, Louisiana's Best Seafood, and Cajun Grocer.

So give it a shot, and surprise little Timmy at the dinner table. Let him take a bite of gator, get ready with the camera, and then tell him what it is — it'll be one for the family photo album.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.

Best Crispy Cajun Fried Alligator

An easy step-by-step on how to make mouthwatering Cajun Fried Alligator that has been marinated in cajun seasonings, and battered in buttermilk and seasoned flour. The biggest rule when frying alligator? Season every step along the way!

Don’t forget to check out the recipe right here.

Looking to make a meal? Try pairing this Cajun Fried Alligator with these Cajun Fried Port Wine Cheese Curds and these Crispy Oven-Baked Cajun Fries!

Ace Champion

Award winning Chef Ace Champion’s passion for cooking began years before his culinary career. Growing up in Louisiana, Ace found a passion for southern and creole cooking at a young age, but soon found himself quite successful on the football field. After a fifteen-year career as a semi-professional football player, Chef decided to follow his passion for cooking and has never looked back. With a firm belief that anyone can be a great cook and a focus on the mental and emotional aspects of cooking, Chef Champion brings a unique perspective to the kitchen.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 pounds ground alligator meat
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (32 ounce) bottle tomato-vegetable juice cocktail (such as V8®)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 dash hot sauce, or to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the green bell pepper and onion cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high heat and stir in the ground alligator. Cook and stir until the meat is crumbly, and evenly browned. Drain and discard any excess grease. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato-vegetable juice cocktail, black beans, kidney beans, and chipotle chile. Season with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika, celery salt, ground ginger, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring in water if the chili becomes too thick. Serve with hot sauce.

Whole Smoked Alligator Recipe

After having lived in Florida for over 13 years, it is about time we have a smoked alligator recipe on this site! And while I have cooked a decent amount of alligator, I have yet to put a gator recipe on this site, even after my husband Scott had a successful gator hunt a few years ago. Truth be told, I am still perfecting my gator gumbo recipe and when I get it perfect I will be sharing it with you!

That is why I’m so excited GrillGirl contributor Thomas Galleassi has shared his smoked alligator recipe, which is the perfect thing to cook for a truly unique and memorable cookout! Thomas Galleassi is a Pitmaster friend of ours from Pennsylvania who loves to cook for his friends and family and also does some catering. We sure are thankful he has shared his whole smoked gator recipe GrillGirl readers can replicate his success!

Have you ever asked yourself “what does alligator taste like?” For those of you who have never tried a smoked alligator recipe, it tastes like a cross between fish and chicken and the key to cooking it is to not overcook it, which is why it is perfect smoked! According to Thomas, whole smoked gator tastes more like ham or turkey than when you fry gator, which makes it taste more like chicken.

Gar in the Pan Recipes

There's a great organization that few outdoorsmen know about. It's called G.A.S.S. — the Gar Angler's Sporting Society. The gentleman who started it is, like me, a gar -fishing aficionado. He's been surprised by all of the interest in his group. Apparently there are lots of gar anglers out there, looking for new gar fishing tips, hoping their fishing buddies don't find out they're afflicted with the gar fishing disease.

Along the backbone of gars are long, while fillets. Remove them as you would the tenderloins from a deer.

I can hear the talk around the office now.

"You hear about Bobby Joe? His wife caught him looking at some gar fishing site on the Internet. Can you imagine that? Gar? The poor guy's sick."

Now imagine the same guy trying to feed his buddies some gar at a weekend fish fry.

"C'mon, Bobby Joe. People don't eat gars. What were you thinking? Are you trying to poison us all?"

Actually, gars are rather tasty, a fact that becomes obvious when you learn of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of gar meat being sold each year at Mom-and-Pop fish markets throughout the country. On a recent visit to a south Arkansas fish market, I watched as the proprietor sold hundreds of pounds of gar meat in three hours, at $3 a pound. Catfish fillets, selling for $2.50 per pound, were hardly touched by the customers.

"I can't get enough gars to meet the demand," the proprietor told me. "Once folks try it and find out how good it really is, they come back wanting more. The fish are difficult to dress, but the meat cooks up white and flaky, and tastes as good as any fish you ever put in your mouth.

To prove his point, he cooked me a steak freshly cut from the side of a 190-pound alligator gar. I figured the flesh of a fish this big and this old couldn't be very tasty. But I was wrong. The boneless gar steak, rolled in seasoned corn meal and fried golden-brown, was as flaky and delicious as any crappie I've ever eaten. I was duly impressed and have been dressing out the gar I catch ever since. (Yes, folks. I truly am afflicted with the gar fishing disease.)

I found this neat little poem about gar, and it's stuck in my mind ever since:

My pan at home it has been greased
For gar he is a tasty beast

I shall invite the local priest
To join me in this garish feast

Like any other flavorful white-meated fish, gar can be baked, fried, grilled or broiled.

The author, no doubt, had the courage at some point in his life to sample this armored fish, and discovered, as I have, that gar deserve more respect for their table quality than they'll ever get.

The few articles I've turned up on gar fishing have all had the same theme: "Hey, these critters sure are fun to catch, but they're not be worth a darn on the dinner table." Which indicates that the authors omitted one pertinent piece of research: they should have cleaned and eaten one. If they had done so, they would have been hugely surprised, for the gar is not only edible, but is, in fact, more tasty than most other freshwater species.

Next time you catch one, cut off its head and tail with a hatchet, use some tin snips to split the bony hide along the fish's length, then, wearing gloves to protect your hands, peel the meat from the armored hull and fillet the meat from along the length of the backbone as you might cut the tenderloin off a deer. Cut the loins into smaller eating-size pieces, and give them a try in the recipes that follow.

Gar is a delicacy. And why shouldn't it be? Gars feed mostly on small live fish as do black bass and crappie. And gars prefer clean, running water over still, muddy habitat. They're not scavengers, as many folks think.

The bottom line is, the myth of gar being inedible doesn't have a logical leg to stand on. Here are a few of my favorite Gar recipes, hope you enjoy them!

Click on Gar Stew Recipe for a larger view of the instructions.

Click on Gar Fish Cakes Recipe for a larger view of the instructions.

Click on Stir-Fried Gar Recipe for a larger view of the instructions.

Click on Gar Boulettes Recipe for a larger view of the instructions.

Click on Gar Fish Mississippi Recipe for a larger view of the instructions.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Dredge fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat add olive oil, and heat. Add gar fillets and brown quickly, about 1 minute on each side.

Pour hot water into a soup pot. Add cayenne, black pepper, salt and thyme. Add potatoes and onions and cook five minutes. Add carrots and cook 10 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender but not overcooked. Drain save water in which vegetables were cooked.

Place browned gar fillets in a large casserole. Add vegetables, and pour vegetable water over all. Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve piping hot from casserole.

4 pounds gar meat, chopped

5 potatoes, boiled, peeled, mashed

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

6 pounds meat from small gars, cut across in 3-inch pieces

1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce

2 large onions, chopped fine

1 cup mixed parsley and green onions, chopped fine

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Black pepper and salt to taste

1 slab of gar meat (6 inches wide, 8-10 inches long, 3-4 inches thick)

1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce

1/2 cup chopped green onions

Mix all ingredients except the meat and lemon in a large, shallow glass baking dish. Add the meat, cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, stir it up and place in a 400-degree oven for about 1 hour. Check twice during cooking and rake the juice over the meat. Squeeze lemon juice on the fish before serving.

Swamp People

So if you are curious and want to try your hand at cooking some of this wide range of alligator meat I will provide you with a few recipes to do just that.
Happy Cooking!

Stewed Alligator In Creole Sauce
2 tb Olive oil
1 c Chopped onions
1/2 c Chopped celery
1/2 c Chopped bell peppers
2 tb Minced garlic
3 c Peeled seeded, chopped tomatoes (preferably ripe plum tomatoes)
1/4 c Chopped fresh basil
2 tb Chopped fresh oregano
2 ts Chopped fresh thyme
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
3 c Chicken stock
1 1/2 c Chopped green onions
1 lb Alligator cut into 1" pieces
8 tb Butter at room temperature
1 Crusty loaf of French bread
2 tb Finely-chopped parsley

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, saute the onions, celery, and peppers for 1 minute. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and thyme. Season with salt, cayenne and black pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock. Bring the liquid up to a boil. Add the green onions and alligator, cover. Simmer the mixture for 12 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and swirl in the butter. Spoon the stew in a shallow bowl. Garnish with parsley. Serve with the crusty bread. This recipe yields 4 appetizer servings.

Soul Food Fried Alligator

Today is the second in a series of three posts, featuring Soul Food dishes from the All-American/Southern Soul Food page here on Ethnic foods R Us. This Soul Food Fried Alligator recipe is not only delicious it’s a unique ethnic culinary experience you’ll not soon forget.

(Photo Attributed to Author: Toni Kaarttinen)

Southern Deep Fried Alligator is about as American “Soul Food” as you can get. If you’re too squeamish about the idea of eating alligator meat, you can substitute pork or chicken. But for the real ethnic experience, hey – turn the tables on those man-eating amphibians and serve some up on the table.

Soul Food Fried Alligator Recipe-

  • 1 pound alligator meat, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • freshly ground black peppercorns and coarse sea salt
  • all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 bottle store-bought ranch dressing, for dipping
  • fresh lemon wedges, for condiment
  1. Heat a deep-fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can get one by clicking here)
  2. Lightly season gator meat with salt and pepper prior to dredging them in flour.
  3. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce into 1 mixture.
  4. Dip the gator meat into the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture and dip, once again, in flour. Then place in deep fryer until golden brown, just a couple minutes.
  5. Drain on paper towels and serve your Soul Food Fried Alligator with ranch dressing and lemon wedges on the side.

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Make the frosting and set aside.
Heat the maple syrup and 1/4 cup butter until butter melts. Stir in the confectioners' sugar until smooth.

Dissolve the yeast in about half the milk let stand 5 minutes.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, 3 tablespoons melted butter, remaining milk and the yeast mixture. Gradually beat in the 2 1/2 cups flour. Knead to make a smooth dough, about 6 to 8 minutes. Let dough rest for 30 minutes, covered with a clean towel.

Roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle, about 16 by 20 inches. Spread 1/4 cup of the softened butter on top. Fold the dough into thirds. Repeat 2 more times, rolling and then spreading with the remaining butter. Allow dough to rest 30 minutes.

Fried Alligator with Srirancha

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for serving

Fried Alligator
1 pound alligator tail meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder

To make the Srirancha: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, Sriracha, lemon juice and vinegar. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.

To make the fried alligator: Lightly season the alligator with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and Sriracha. Add the alligator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

While the alligator marinates, begin heating 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Alternatively, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer following the manufacturer’s directions. Line a large plate with paper towels.

While the oil is heating, whisk together the flour and Old Bay with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper in a second large bowl.

When the oil is hot, remove the alligator from the buttermilk and thoroughly dredge in the flour mixture. Tap off any excess flour and carefully transfer one half of the alligator to the hot oil. Fry the alligator until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Let drain on prepared plate, lightly season with salt and then transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining half of the alligator.

Transfer the Srirancha to a serving dish and garnish with the chives. Serve the sauce alongside the hot alligator.

Photo Credit: Maura Friedman


Country Boy Gator in Eunice, La. is a unique supplier of alligator meat. Not only do they sell gator legs, plain and marinated, they also sell fillets as well as pre-breaded, ready to fry meat. I used the small legs of the gator to make this recipe. I first prepared this dish for Bob Kellermann with Lodge Cast Iron at a log cabin in the swamps of Louisiana. It is an old recipe from the Creole kitchen and one of the best methods of cooking alligator is slow braising in a Dutch oven and smothered in a rich Creole sauce.

4 pounds Country Boy Gator® trimmed alligator legs, bone-in
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (10-ounce) can RO*TEL®
1 (10-ounce) can tomato purée
2 cups chicken or beef stock
½ cup dry red wine
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 bay leaf
2 cups sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped parsley, divided
½ cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Season alligator legs well with salt, pepper and granulated garlic and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Dust alligator lightly with flour, shaking off excess. Place legs in hot oil and brown lightly on all sides. Remove alligator from pot and set aside. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic and sauté 5&ndash7 minutes or until golden brown. Add tomatoes, RO*TEL®, tomato purée, stock, wine, thyme, basil and bay leaf, scraping the bottom to release browned bits. Return alligator to pot and add mushrooms. Cover and bake for 2½&ndash3 hours or until meat is tender. Remove from oven and stir in ¼ cup parsley and green onions. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and granulated garlic if necessary. Remove bay leaf and discard. Serve hot over steamed white rice, pasta or grits and garnish with additional parsley.