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How to Prepare and Cook a Rattlesnake for Good Eating

Updated on September 29, 2010

A Little Background on Cooking With Rattlesnake

First, be sure that you are allowed to hunt or kill rattlesnakes where you are located. It is against the law in some areas. If you buy rattlesnake meat, expect to pay a high price. The last time I saw it, the price was about $30 per pound. In the southwest, rattlesnake meat is a delicacy. Rattlesnake chili is a common and popular recipe.

Rattlesnake tastes like a Cornish game hen to me, with a hint of gamey flavor. It even has a similar texture, but it is a little chewier and a bit stringy. There is nothing to worry about regarding eating a poisonous snake. Even if venom is present in the meat, it will cause no ill effects if ingested.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes are delicious in recipes
Rattlesnakes are delicious in recipes

Some Precautions About Preparing a Rattlesnake for Cooking

You need to skin the rattlesnake before you can prepare it for eating. The first thing to do is turn it so that its underbelly is facing up. Cut off the snake's head about 4 inches below the head, unless you want to keep the skin.

Be careful when handling the snake's head, as it could still contain poisonous venom. Get rid of the rattlesnake's head immediately in a tightly covered container, away from kids and pets. Believe it or not, the decapitated head can still bite for a few hours. Be sure to wear gloves when cutting and disposing of the rattlesnake's head.

Instructions for Preparing a Rattlesnake to Cook

Hang the snake up just below the tail end. This will allow it to 'bleed'. Starting at the head end of the rattlesnake, make a cut down the length of the snake all the way to where the white part of the tail is located. Now cut all the way through the tail at this point.

The rattlesnake meat can simply be peeled away from the skin now. It is not difficult to remove. Start at the head end and peel the skin up toward the tail end.

The next step is to remove the intestines and other innards. Then wash the snake meat well in cold water. Cut the snake into two large pieces and freeze in salt water. Make sure the snake is put in a tightly covered container. If not, the snake will literally crawl out.

How to Cook With Rattlesnake

When you are ready to prepare the rattlesnake, thaw and rinse in cold water. Then cut the snake into suitable sizes for your rattlesnake recipe. Cook the rattlesnake as desired- grill, bake, fry or throw it into a stew or rattlesnake chili recipe.

Of course, with some rattlesnake recipes you will want to remove the bones first. To debone rattlesnake meat, simmer the rattlesnake in water with about 1/4 cup of lemon juice added to it. After the rattlesnake has cooked for about an hour, it should be easy to remove the rattlesnake meat from the bones.


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    • Kirimi Gertrude profile image

      Kirimi Gertrude 6 weeks ago from Kenya

      i didn't know it can produce such a meal but how do you even put it in the mouth??

      tho nice article

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      ric martnez 9 months ago

      my great grand father was 1/2 apache at the age of 79 he taught me how clean/cook rattler..19,75 lm 18 in the marines at 29 palms training ,our supplies, dump in wrongplace. 1:30am we are hungry, we stop next to long lonngg bedof cactus, when i reconised a musky smell ,used flash light ..spotted fat,fat rattler all curled up .. night in desert,cold. snake started move ,i pointed m16 10inches to head blow it off with blank round . there s more igive quick clean class ,15 marines start lookin.. retreived 37 rattlers some rattled some didnt ... we didnt get full,but everyone ate we were leaving my people were sayin cant wait to get ahold of more rattler !

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      Phlop 2 years ago

      Im just curious as to how someone who is so staunchly opposed to killing and eating a snake (or a frog, or a dove or a termite) end up on a website titled "how to cook a rattlesnake"??? Shouldnt you be on one titled "how to make tofu taste like rattlesnake"?

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      Bambi 3 years ago

      Seriously, though, you guys are a bunch of foul, inbred rednecks.

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      Jesus 3 years ago

      When I return I'm smiting the south first.

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      gypsywagon 3 years ago

      Never shot one always carry a shovel in the truck and cut their heads off. Yes there are yummy.

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      Weyman Jones 4 years ago

      Killed a 5 foot rattlesnake today. We cleaned soaked in salt water for about an hour and cut the meat from spine and ribs in little chunks. We salted and battered it in Southern Crispy fish fry. It was very good. It reminded us of cailimari. It was yummy.

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      Southern cook 4 years ago

      Getting ready to grill first ever rattler, want to do it right. Just not sure yet if I will spice it up or lemon herb and garlic it ! Looking forward to end result.Though I would DE-bone it and grill it unfortunately I don't think the meat would hold up well after DE-boning. guess I'll just grill it

    • Rick Pugh profile image

      Rick Pugh 5 years ago

      I just killed a pretty good sized Rattler here in N. California. It's bleeding out. I'm going to make Fajitas with the fried meat. The snake was in the yard and I have pets so? Bad timing for ol' snake boy. I wouldn't ever seek one out just to kill it and eat it but if It's in the flow of life so be it. I can't grasp the mentality of people that don't understand these facts.

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      rayburn 5 years ago

      When it's on the porch, I would rather kill a snake, than take a risk at it striking my kids or pets. Plus your not killing it to be mean, your protecting yourself and also providing some good meat. Yummmmm

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks, I would have never thought to bleed a snake. Why do you say to freeze the snake in salt water in this article? can't I just chop it up and prepare it?

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      cas4 6 years ago

      I hike a lot across th foothills just killd 1 i got home snake still moven like crazy.done cut its head off an barried it. i say it wasabout a houran half by th time i got home.cleand it. an didn't no how long meat was good 4. i kill deer,hogs,u name it ill try it but i wont 2 b safe.

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      Slick Dude 6 years ago

      If God intended for people to eat rattlesnakes he would have put hoofs on them, I much rather to to store and buy a package of brats they much easier to prepare and cook and probably taste better too

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      Dextrick 6 years ago

      Regards to Snake Hatter 3, snakes are not evil, they are needed to keep rodent populations down. I do love to eat the meat of rattle snakes. I just don't agree with killing an animal for the sake of killing. No animal is evil, god put them here for a purpose. Just saying you could have choose your words better. When I kill an animal I try to use the skin, and cook most of the animal organs as well. I have only ate it fried but want to try other cooking methods as well.

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      Snake Hater 6 years ago

      Darian,for your information snakes are very evil and you should not say you hate people that kill snakes ,wait till one of this dangeriouse creature take a bit from one of your family member ....them we will see how much love ypu have for snakes ... Good luck to Darian!!!! YOU SOUND VERY STUPID

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      kiley 6 years ago

      i skewed my first rattler with my shooting sticks while hunting for mule deer in A zone (southern california) with my shooting sticks which have nails on the ends to secure them into the ground. the SOB kept trying to turn around and bite my sticks so i simply removed it very quickly and got it right through its head. i then skinned it and removed the innards before placing it in my pack. as i have had rattle snake before and enjoyed it i wanted to cook it.but i did not know how to do so, this helped alot.


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      Tamara 6 years ago

      Just killed a 4 ft 6 inch timber rattle snake about to get ready to cook it!

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      Alicia 6 years ago

      How quickly should you cook the meat? It's been in our fridge for about 3-4 days. Is there a time limit, should we cook now or can we still freeze the meat? Thanks!

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      Scott Brandt 6 years ago

      @RedneksRock OMFG.. that's gross.. funny as hell but gross.. ive been looking for the right way to prepare rattlesnake. every youtube video of people eating it.. its REALLY tough.. don't want that. In Cali its illegal to shoot em but if they're on my yard threatening my dogs, and family, well best not let the meat go to waste anyway.

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      Mike m 6 years ago

      Got one last night in Shreveport LA first one I've ever seen 5 foot long skinned it and froze the meat I think fried sounds pretty good to me I killed it so I must eat it

    • GameCameraExpert profile image

      GameCameraExpert 6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I've always wanted to try rattlesnake, but I'd rather buy it in a store than find it under my feet!

    • profile image

      R winnett 6 years ago

      Got it hog hunting almost bit me and my dogs . So was looking for way to bite it But with flavor thanks! Very helpful

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      willie sumlin 7 years ago

      killed a timber rattler 4 ft 12 rattlers in fort valley ga gettin ready to eat

    • profile image

      Colo Wild Food 7 years ago

      I have tried fried alligator...I have had frog legs...I have had chicken...I guess is just another variation on the reptile/anphibian theme...they all pretty much taste alike. The secret seems to be in how they are prepared. DANG IT! Now I am hungry again. Cheers All1

    • profile image

      Junior Billings 7 years ago

      I ate rattlesnake once in Louisiana not knowing what i was eating and it was so good,but when she told me what it was i was sick but i would love to try it once again

    • profile image

      RedneksRock 7 years ago

      Tasty! Also, I want to try the baby human foetus' people throw away after aborting them. Nothing like a bit of seasoning and oil can't fix, right? You should write a recipe for that Angela! And the best part is that, they're already dead. Probably taste like chicken but without the gamey flavor. Hee-haw!

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      T1922 7 years ago

      My dad used to take me camping in the California deserts.,one time a rattlercame around too close to me where I was sitting playing. My back was to it so I never saw it waving towards it. I it was large and I was very small quiet girl. He had to shoot it. Since it was preparng to bite me, I had no hesitation about watching prepare it. He fried it up with some bacon grease and onions and we had it with scrambled eggs and potatoe. I was a very petite girl, but my dad taught me how to survive in the wilds.

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      Wil 7 years ago

      I work on a ranch in south texas and we've killed 5 rattlers in 3 days. All were over four feet long. One of which was over six foot! All of these snakes were right where the children have played or where they play daily. It'll be nice to finally bite one back. Haha

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      gaby 7 years ago


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      jack 7 years ago

      got a 4 footer today should be a nice change from elk and deer my neighbors will not be coming for dinner had them over for some barbecue dove the other night and that did not go over so well for their taste buds. some people have no taste for the finer things in life.

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      zach 7 years ago

      I wanna try this but im takin the 22

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      redass 7 years ago

      thanks for the recipe. got a live one in my shop right now. relocate or eat, needed a recipe. eat!!!!! thanks

    • profile image

      MEAT EATER 7 years ago



    • profile image

      Sandi 7 years ago

      Hey -- thanks for the information. Found a fresh one in the road by our driveway last night and quickly parked the car and ran back with a stick to pick it up -- I collect the skins. This one was quite large -- four feet at least - with LOTS of meat. I'll be cooking it, but I won't eat it -- hubby wants to try it. We're in the mountains of Southern California.

    • profile image

      Allyson 7 years ago

      Darian, do you go out to eat at McDonald's or Burger King? Where do you think there meat comes from? Animals! There are many different animals that are good eating. What would the population of rattlesnakes be if we didn't eat that good meat? Try it cause you'll love it!

    • profile image

      1948 7 years ago

      i just spent the weekend camping in azusa canyons and was fortunate to kill a rattlesnake.of course i was anxious to eat it,so i did.i kept the skin and wrapped it around my cowboy hat,it was pretty good!i just had to do it,next im fixin to get me a coon!!!!!good eatin'

    • abidareacode profile image

      abidareacode 8 years ago from Areacode , Kerala, India

      Eating rattle snakes!!!!It is strange to me.

    • profile image

      scott 8 years ago

      Going camping in sep can't wait to kill and eat a snake thanks for the info

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      kevin 8 years ago

      like black rawb said, you don't have to shoot them. i picked one up today, alive. now hes in my freezer cuz im gunna eat him all up. and make ear rings with the bones. and a knife sheath with the skin . then ill make my niece a rattle. I LOVE ANIMALS

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      Alex 8 years ago

      The next time I see a rattlesnake camping his ass is mine.

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      Nicklas 8 years ago

      I shot my first rattler today :)

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      Tory Doyle 8 years ago

      Thank you for your instructions on how to cook this snake i live in a very populated area of this snake so why not just be useful with what you kill.....its all about the food chain you start at the top and work your way down. Thank you

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      mikeoxard 8 years ago

      you can attach the skin to leather with a product called "leather weld". it is sold at Tandy Leather. You can search it online. You need to treat the skin first. Tandy also has snake skin treatment stuff.

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      dethscul 8 years ago

      Hey Darian, why don't you come down here to Texas and pet a rattlesnake? I'm sure it won't bite you, since you stand up for animal rights.

      As for the rest of us, does anyone know how to attach the skin to leather? I'd like to make a belt, or some boots, but I don't understand how that's done.

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      Anthony  8 years ago the lemon/acid that helps the meat easy to remove from the bones? I just cooked 2 last night and had a heck of a time removing the meat. I eventually got frustrated and threw away much of the meat.

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      gusty 8 years ago

      Darian, everything needs to kill something else to live, even if its plants.

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      Theresa 8 years ago

      My Dad used to use rattlesnake meat in our chili, it was his "secret ingredient".

    • profile image

      darian 8 years ago

      this is so horrible. no one should have the right to go out and kill a snake. you people should be ashamed. that's a living animal. i hate people that kill animals.

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      Blak rawb 8 years ago

      Salt water keeps from ruining the meat, but freezes the muscle so that the snake doesn't keep squirming off the grill, my snake moved for over a half hour, which is why you DO NOT get near the head after you've cut it off. The involuntary muscle movements on a snake are far greater than in other animals.

    • profile image

      Blak Rawb 8 years ago

      Ate some tonight, you don't have to shoot them. Rattle snakes are very docile. I just noosed and decapitated, skinned , gutted, cleaned and grilled mine.

    • profile image

      Jarred 9 years ago

      what does freezing it in salt water do?

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      AJ 9 years ago

      Ana, personally one of my relatives had advanced cancer and doctors were just waiting for her to die, that is until we met a man how told us he had the cure....which was eating rattlesnake. I was doubtful about it but we had nothing to loose....needless to say her cancer is completely gone and living a healthy lifestlye with no recurrence of it again. I would recommend you do give her rattlesnake. Best wishes!!!!

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      amother3 9 years ago

      Weird, ass was not mentioned in the rattle snake meat page.

      Ana, a friend of mine is searching to try this. Her breast cancer has mastisized into the liver and other areas of her body. There was an Indian man who did this with his wife. She WAS cured. The problem faced is salmonella poisioning. If the immune system is compromised it can be dangerous. Will keep you posted if she finds the meat. I understand it can be purchased in Texas. Keep googling.

    • profile image

      weird  9 years ago


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      ana 9 years ago

      i need to know, have you ever used rattlesnakes to cure cancer? i have a "recipe" if you wanna call it that, to give my mom snake to cure her cancer. i was told to; cut four inches from the head, and four inches from the tail, skin the snake, cut down the middle and take out its insides, put in salt water for about 3 min, and then let it dry out. then grind it up and give it to my mom to eat. the guy said we'd need to give her ten snakes to cure it. i have no idea if it works but im willing to try anything. :( im so desperate, everyday my mom gets worse. and i need her to be what she was before. so please if you could tell me this will work, it'll give me some ease.

    • profile image

      Tyrone Sipes 9 years ago

      This information is usefull but its what I already know I'm just looking for a good recipe for the rattler I'm eating tonight. Even my wife is looking forward to tonights dinner.

    • profile image

      boston 10 years ago

      yea i cant wait to eat the snake meat i live in south africa and most of the chinese restaurants don't prepare them i gotta eat one this month

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      I personally don't prepare them myself, no way. I just watch. I leave that part up to my husband. And then I eat them.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 10 years ago from United States

      Hey, if I get close enough to one to shoot him, I will claim self-defense! LOL


    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Eastern Pennsylvania is seeing an increase in rattlesnakes because of continuing land development.  I'm definitely going to check with our wildlife and game folks to find out if I can legally shoot one!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 10 years ago from United States

      LOL Sorry, Angela! I tried to read all of this hub but I just feel something crawling up my spine. Especially when I saw the picture. I did give you a thumbs up because from what I was able to read it is a well written hub as yours usually are. No need to doubt that! This is just one of those subjects with me LOL> It is beyond me how so many people can have a snake as a pet! Ewwww!



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