What Part of the Alligator Do You Eat?

Alligator meat isn’t for everyone, but it’s very popular throughout the Deep South. In general, the ribs and the tenderloin that comes from the tail are the parts of the alligator you typically eat. Most people stick with gator ribs because you can cook them as you do ribs from other animals.

Fried parts of alligator meat that you can eat
Alligator meat goes great with some dipping sauce!

How Does Alligator Taste?

We’ve all heard the expression “tastes like chicken,” and that’s applicable to alligator meat. In fact, like chicken, alligator has both white meat and dark meat. Alligator meat tastes slightly fishy as well, but it isn’t overpowering.

If you’re interested in trying alligator, here are a few things you might not know:

  • Alligator served in a restaurant is always farm-raised. These are usually two to three feet in length.
  • Busy restaurants can sell 50 to 100 pounds of alligator ribs every single week. That’s how popular they are.
  • One restaurateur who serves alligator dishes claims that 60% of the people who order it are women, but he’s not sure why!
  • You can hunt alligators yourself, and you can find them at 10 to 12 feet long! But you’re allowed to kill only one alligator each year.

How To Cook Alligator Meat

Alligator meat can be cooked in numerous ways. Gator ribs can be barbecued, broiled, or even slow-cooked. The meat is usually quite tender, but like with any meat, you have to be careful not to overcook it, or it’ll turn tough.

Gator fingers, legs, strips, and as an ingredient in some Southern dishes—such as étouffée and stew—are particular favorites. It’s especially good when you add a little Cajun seasoning to it, and it’s even better when slow-cooked because the seasonings have a chance to sink into the meat.

The tenderloin, or the tail part of the animal, is said to be extra tender and is sometimes called the “filet mignon” of the alligator. It’s also the most expensive cut. Try to find the meat in frozen pieces or fillets at your local delicatessen or seafood market. This allows you to buy meat from the best parts of the alligator. And in case you don’t like it, you can buy it in small quantities.

Sandwich made with alligator meat from the parts you can eat
Alligator po’ boy sandwiches are popular in Florida.

One piece of advice is to find out how long the alligator was, if at all possible. Why? Because most gators over five feet long have meat that is a little tough. Of course, it also depends on how you cook it.

If you find some red meat in the alligator, don’t be alarmed, but keep in mind that it’s the white meat that tastes the best!

Frequently Asked Questions About Alligator Meat

How Much Does Alligator Meat Cost Per Pound?

The price of alligator meat varies depending on the cut and the market. In general, you should expect to pay between $10 and $25 per pound of alligator meat. A pound of nuggets will cost you around $18, while tenderloin will cost around $22 per pound. Ribs are usually cheaper, sometimes selling for as low as $8.50 per pound.

What’s the Difference Between Alligator Meat and Crocodile Meat?

Alligator and crocodile meat don’t differ too much in taste. They both have a chickenesque flavor and texture, though crocodile meat tends to taste a little fishier.

As far as nutrition goes, a 3.5-ounce serving of alligator meat provides roughly 46 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat (no saturated fat), and zero cholesterol. The same amount of crocodile meat nets you around 21.5 grams of protein, 2.9 grams of fat, and 65 milligrams of cholesterol.

Can You Smoke Alligator Meat?

You can absolutely smoke alligator meat. This works particularly well when the meat is brined beforehand and the tail is stuffed with a cream cheese and sausage mix. Here’s a great video recipe for smoked alligator to get you started:

Is Alligator Meat Halal?

The halal status of alligator meat is a controversial subject. It isn’t entirely clear whether or not this food adheres to Islamic law. Some argue that it is lawful in the same way as fish, while others declare it impermissible because the alligator is a predatory animal.