Southern Cuisine: Fried Squirrel

soul food

Many soul food recipes are for wild game, especially for small game. In the slave culture of the Deep South, many plantation owners weren't very generous when it came to providing their field hands and the slave families with meat, so a lot of the men supplemented their food stores by hunting and by catching wild animals in snares and simple traps. Squirrels were pretty plentiful in the woods and orchards, so squirrel meat was fairly common.

When I was married to my ex-husband, we lived on the family’s cattle ranch. They had acres and acres of woods, streams, lakes, fields, pecan orchards, and pastures. The woods were full of all kinds of wildlife, and we were both hunters. One of my favorite forms of the sport was squirrel hunting. The woods held a large squirrel population, made fat by eating pecans, acorns, and any corn the cows might waste. I was the only squirrel hunter on the place, so there was no hunting pressure.

My favorite spot for squirrel hunting was in the woods behind our house. This thicket of oaks and gums was adjacent to a creek, and it was a beautiful location. Far from the road, it was also peaceful and quiet. I’d walk there on autumn afternoons with my .22 rifle slung over my shoulder, along with a canvas bag that held extra ammo.

Finding a place to sit was easy. There were several fallen trees and stumps that made perfect chairs. I would sit quietly, enjoying the scenery, until I heard the tell-tale scurrying overhead. My rifle had a scope, and back then, I had amazing eyesight and was an excellent shot. I always aimed for the head to ensure a quick kill and to avoid damaging the meat.

I don’t particularly like to eat squirrel, but my husband and kids loved it. We made a deal: I’d kill it, he’d clean it, I’d cook it, and they’d eat it! It worked out great for all parties involved, except for the squirrels, of course.

I never came home empty-handed. I always got a “mess” of squirrels – enough for a family meal. After the ex cleaned the critters, I’d take them inside and wash them thoroughly in clear water, making sure to get all the fur off. Then I’d cut the squirrels in small pieces. The arms and shoulders would make two pieces, the hind legs would make two pieces, and the back would make a piece or two.

Here’s my simple recipe:

Fried squirrel

What you’ll need:

Dressed squirrels, washed and cut into pieces

Salt and pepper



Cooking oil


If the squirrels were killed with a shotgun, you need to remove the shot before cooking. Do this with the point of a sharp knife.

After the squirrels have been thoroughly washed, pat dry with paper towels and rub with salt and pepper. Cover the meat with buttermilk and let it soak in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Pour about a half-inch of oil in a black iron skillet and heat it on medium.

While the oil is heating, remove the squirrel from the buttermilk bath and dredge in flour. Place the pieces in the hot oil. If you want the squirrel to be extra crunchy, don’t let the pieces touch.

Cook until brown, then turn and cook the other side until brown. Drain on paper towels.

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Comments 23 comments

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 7 years ago from Central Texas

Good one, habee. Haven't had squirrel in years -- cooked a bunch in my younger days -- your recipe is right on target. Thanks. Best, Sis

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

Habee, you guys didn't waste anything that's for sure. If I were ever stranded on an isolated Island, I'd sure want you to be there. I'm absolutely sure you'd keep us alive with your ingenuity. :)

Cay profile image

Cay 7 years ago from America.

I ran across some squirrels today during my daily walk. I don't think I'll quite look at them the same anymore. Who knew they could be made into a tasty meal? (I've got my comment boxes up, thanks for giving me the heads up).

bonny2010 profile image

bonny2010 7 years ago from outback queensland

Never tried squirrel -but that will keep - ingenuity is a big must when you are cooking for more than one - when cooking for self - I'll pass

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

I wish you get those two in my garden. They drive me mad. I put out peanuts cage for the bird and they hang there. I wouldn't mind if they just eat their fill but they don't give up. They bury all the nuts which go to waste.

Woody 7 years ago

I've always heard there's a part of the year you can't eat them. Why is that, & what part of the year you can't eat them & why?

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 7 years ago

Dear habee,

I adore you, but there i no way I can eat this!

bat115 profile image

bat115 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

It must be heaven living on a cattle ranch!

I might try this next time my dog catches one. You only live once.

profile image

ralwus 7 years ago

Holle, I haven't had any for years. I do like it, good stuff. I always saved the head for the brains, no head shots for me.

For Woody, Warbles and such, best to wait until later in year, also we don't want to kill them when they are raising young. Same as with rabbits, by fall a lot of the old and sick are dead.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Squirrel!! Now come on Habee, do you guys eat everything. I might have to put the RSPCA on to you lol

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Sis! Good to see ya!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yeah, Veronica, I guess I'm a survivor!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Cay, I figure if things really bad in the US, we could survive on squirrels here for a few months!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Funny, Bonny. Glad you stopped by!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Mmm...peanut-fattened squirrels. Try 'em, HH!

akirchner profile image

akirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

I'm assuming by 'dressed' squirrels you don't mean in a tuxedo? Oy vey - not to squirrel yet either but I'll have to think on that one. There are a lot of cuisines out there - I've just not made it to squirrel - but super information and great stories!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Woody! Warbles, like Ralwus said.

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Bpop, I don't eat it, either, but my family used to like it.

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Charlie, want me to mail you some? lol

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Folks around here will eat most anything, Ethel! We're survivors!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Audrey! Always good to see you.

ateenyi profile image

ateenyi 7 years ago from Chicago

Good Hub!!!!

The recipe mentioned is very nice. The method of preparation very much simple and easy to understand. I will definitely going to opt for it. I enjoyed the whole hub a lot. Thanks for sharing such nice information.

Keep on Hubbing

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Teeny, for the kind words!

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