Can You Eat Squirrels?

Hunting enthusiasts may find it tempting to grab their shotgun when they see many animals in your yard. It’s possible to even ask if squirrels can be eaten from your yard.

It depends on where you live, and the answers to some other questions. The conclusion is likely to be yes. These are the things to think about:

  • The legality of killing squirrels
  • The method of hunting and trapping
  • There are other factors that can influence the safety of meat.
  • These are some of the recipes you can make

Each one will be discussed with insights and tips.

Hunting other game requires you to understand the legalities. This may also apply when you are considering whether squirrels can be eaten from your yard. 

Some areas allow landowners the freedom to skip these requirements. We recommend that you contact your state DNR, or department of conservation, to confirm your rights.

You may still be allowed to hunt squirrels even if it is not hunting season. These issues can be managed by landowners in many areas, often free of charge or for a small fee.

You should also check if they can be baited. If you are able to lure them with tempting treats, such as peanut butter, you will increase your chances of bagging a successful one.

Is it possible to trap or shoot squirrels?

There will likely be separate requirements for trapping and shooting. You may also need to consider the seasons, limits, and other available methods when you decide if squirrels can be eaten from your yard. 

The regulations are not always as strict because squirrels are plentiful.

There are white Eastern gray squirrels in some areas. These rare species are protected by a few towns. You won’t likely be able to hunt them in those areas.

Is it safe to eat a squirrel?

The main concern when considering whether squirrels can be eaten from your yard is the disease that they carry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is not usually an issue for small rodents.

We won’t give squirrels a free card to get out of jail because they could contract Salmonella. You should also be aware of tickborne diseases like Lyme disease.

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Pesticides are also a topic we need to discuss. Pesticides are not recommended for squirrel control because they pose a risk to pets and non-targeted animals

Even if you are aware of the dangers, it doesn’t mean that the rodent problem is not being addressed by these products.

Wearing gloves while skinning or field dressing will reduce your risk and help you to complete these tasks quickly. When you are done, make sure you get the carcasses into your fridge immediately.

How to Dress a Squirrel and Clean the Meat

This section will provide a brief guide on field dressing squirrels and cleaning their meat. This step-by-step guide for squirrel skinning will provide a more thorough guide.

1. A good knitting knife is essential.

Before you even consider dressing your squirrel, make sure you have a small and sharpened knife that can glide through the hide of the squirrel.

2. Start by cutting under the base of the tail

Start by cutting the tail from the base. Next, cut the tail towards the back. Finally, place the squirrel belly-down on a flat, sturdy surface. The tail bone will be broken and the tail pulled to release the hide.

3. Take off the front and hide your legs

You don’t need to remove the hind and front leg bones. Simply remove the hide with your knife and gloves.

4. Take out the Gut, Head, and Feet.

Use game shears to remove the head and paws of the squirrel. Next, cut open the chest and remove the meat.

5. Use a water hose to clean the meat.

Before you begin to prepare the meat for eating, make sure that it is washed again.

What you can make with squirrel meat

Although it may sound cliché, you can substitute squirrel meat for chicken in any recipe that calls for it. It is primarily darkened with some fat. Its flavor is mild, but not overly gamey.

A 3.5-ounce serving of roasted squirrel food has 172 calories and 4.7 grams of total fat. A similar amount of chicken leg meat has 184 calories and 9.16 grams of total fat. These nutrient profiles will allow you to prepare the game in a similar way as poultry.

Hunting fox and Eastern gray squirrels are a popular choice for most hunters. They are larger than the smaller red squirrel species, weighing in at 1.5 to 3 pounds. This puts them in the same category as a cornish game chicken, which weighs about the same.

It is a good rule of thumb to cook squirrels slowly if they are larger or older than you. A great way to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the meat is to braise it.

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Safe cooking habits are important in the kitchen. Before you begin your preparation, wash your hands. It is better to use a meat-specific cutting board than an all-purpose one.


By cutting the squirrel meat into 1-inch pieces, you can make it easy to eat them from your yard. To brown the meat, you can dust it with a mixture of seasoned flour and fry them in a little bit of olive oil. Transfer the meat to a plate.

To add the delicious caramelized flavor, we like to sautee cut vegetables such as celery, carrots, and onions. Add the meat and enough vegetable broth or chicken broth to cover it. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is tender.

The squirrel can also be boiled in milk to make a delicious sauce. The acids will tenderize and melt the meat.


This is an old-fashioned tailgating recipe that can be used in place of plain-old chicken wings. Buttermilk can also be used to make a batter, making it tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can also add a teaspoon of baking soda to the mix. This will make the pieces crispier and less likely to absorb fat. To help the batter stick to the meat, it is possible to place the coated pieces in the refrigerator for around 20 minutes.

To 350 degrees Fahrenheit, heat a skillet heavy-weighted with either neutral oil or shortening. To avoid crowding the pan or lowering the temperature too much, fry a few pieces at once. To get a beautiful golden brown color, they should be fried for a few minutes on each side.

Place on paper towels, drain and then serve with your favorite dip sauce.

Beer-battered squirrel tenders are another variation of this theme. Let the meat pieces marinate in beer overnight with a splash of orange juice. After draining, roll the meat in a mixture of flour, panko bread crumbs, and spices, before deep-frying in oil.

There are many other ways you can enjoy prepared squirrel meat. We love the following:

  • Squirrel jerky
  • Squirrel sausage
  • Marinated squirrel kabobs
  • Country-fried squirrel steaks

There are so many possibilities!

What to Eat with Prepared Squirrel

Squirrels don’t eat a lot of meat because they are so small. We don’t recommend that you make the squirrel the centerpiece of your meal unless you have shot and skinned many squirrels.

 We’ll share our top side dishes that go well with prepared squirrel meat in this section.

1. Biscuits and Gravy

This is the best way to eat fried squirrel. The small size of the squirrel makes it easy to add biscuits and gravy to your fried squirrel dinner. This woodsy breakfast dish is great with orange juice and fried eggs.

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2. Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

For a traditional southern meal, treat your cooked squirrel as chicken fried chicken or steak. Pair it with homemade mashed potatoes and green bean casserole for a delicious Southern classic.

3. Stew the Squirrel Meat

Squirmeat in a stew is not a side dish. However, it is a healthy, filling, tasty, and nutritious option. You can make a squirrel chili, for example, by substituting the chicken in your family’s chicken and dumplings recipes.

4. Garlicy Oven-Baked Potatoes & Carrots

Oven-baked anything is good, especially with garlicky oven-baked carrots and potatoes. Either make a sheet-pan dinner with the veggies and the squirrel, or you can cook them separately and serve the vegetables as a side dish.

Practical Self Reliance has collected 40+ of the best squirrel recipes that we have ever seen. For more inspiration, make sure you check out these sites.

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Putting Meat on the Table

Ask any hunter for tips and tricks on how to capture squirrels. Remember to choose the right habitat for them and to use your senses quickly to find them.

The tracks of the squirrel are distinct and easy to spot in the snow or mud. The larger rear feet have four toes while the front ones have five. 

The hind feet are placed in front of each other when they move across the ground. 

A rabbit’s track is different than that of a squirrel, which often has one foot in front of the other in a longer stride than squirrels.

After spotting one, shoot them on the ground. Squirrels are naturally cautious. You will alert them, and any wildlife, if you missed it.

For a quick kill shot, we recommend aiming at the head to minimize any damage to the meat.

To alert hunters and others to your presence, follow the best hunting techniques and wear blaze orange. 

Avoid areas with limited food resources such as close to waterways and forests containing trees like oak, hickory, and black walnut.

It may be helpful to survey your hunting area before you start to load up and look for trees that are producing. Some species may produce nuts or fruit every two years.

Final Thoughts on Eating Squirrel

You might not think of this animal when you are preparing game dishes. Their abundance and easy preparation make them a great choice for fall meals. 

With similar preparation techniques, the nutritional value of this product is comparable to that of dark chicken meat.

Start with the legalities before you start to wonder if squirrels can be eaten from your yard. 

There are many ways to cook the meat, and you can feel the joy of eating food grown on your property for localvore living.

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