Chicken-Fried Squirrel or Rabbit

Chicken-Fried Squirrel or Rabbit

  • Course

    Small Bites

  • Serves

    4-6
Chef’s notes

Pretty much everyone loves fried chicken, so why not apply that method to small game? My brother Matt asked himself that question years ago, and he became a huge advocate of browning squirrels and rabbits in a pan and then finishing them in the oven.

The biggest risk with chicken-frying small game is that the meat will be too chewy. Vigorously tenderizing the meat with a sharp-tined fork and then soaking it in buttermilk will solve that problem. This recipe will have you skipping work in order to hit the woods with your .22 rifle in search of more ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 squirrels or 2 rabbits, skinned and cut into 4 legs and 2 loins each (about 2lbs total)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Using a two-tined fork, pierce the quartered squirrels or rabbits many times.
  2. Lay the meat in a baking dish or a food-safe tub.
  3. Pour the buttermilk over the meat and add the hot sauce, stirring to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep cast-iron pan over low to medium heat until it reaches 325°- 350°. Use a deep fry thermometer to measure the temperature.
  6. In a pie plate or baking dish, combine the flour and the cayenne pepper.
  7. Remove the meat out of the marinade, let the excess liquid drip off, and set the meat on a plate.
  8. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge the meat in the flour.
  9. Working in batches, fry the meat on one side until golden brown and crispy.
  10. Using tongs, turn each piece over and fry on the second side until browned and crispy.
  11. Lift out a piece of meat and place it on a rack set into a baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  12. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat; it should be at least 160°.
  13. When all the meat is cooked, let the pieces drain.
  14. Sea­son with additional salt as soon as they come out of the oil.
Chef’s notes

Pretty much everyone loves fried chicken, so why not apply that method to small game? My brother Matt asked himself that question years ago, and he became a huge advocate of browning squirrels and rabbits in a pan and then finishing them in the oven.

The biggest risk with chicken-frying small game is that the meat will be too chewy. Vigorously tenderizing the meat with a sharp-tined fork and then soaking it in buttermilk will solve that problem. This recipe will have you skipping work in order to hit the woods with your .22 rifle in search of more ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 squirrels or 2 rabbits, skinned and cut into 4 legs and 2 loins each (about 2lbs total)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Using a two-tined fork, pierce the quartered squirrels or rabbits many times.
  2. Lay the meat in a baking dish or a food-safe tub.
  3. Pour the buttermilk over the meat and add the hot sauce, stirring to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep cast-iron pan over low to medium heat until it reaches 325°- 350°. Use a deep fry thermometer to measure the temperature.
  6. In a pie plate or baking dish, combine the flour and the cayenne pepper.
  7. Remove the meat out of the marinade, let the excess liquid drip off, and set the meat on a plate.
  8. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge the meat in the flour.
  9. Working in batches, fry the meat on one side until golden brown and crispy.
  10. Using tongs, turn each piece over and fry on the second side until browned and crispy.
  11. Lift out a piece of meat and place it on a rack set into a baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  12. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat; it should be at least 160°.
  13. When all the meat is cooked, let the pieces drain.
  14. Sea­son with additional salt as soon as they come out of the oil.
Shop
The Essential Meatcrafter Knife
Save this product
Benchmade

A hybrid hunting fixed blade with a fine, smooth edge to trim, debone, or slice your preferred cuts of meat. Makes just as much sense in the back of your truck as it does in the kitchen drawer.

Meater+ Bluetooth Thermometer
Save this product
Meater

With up to 165 ft Wireless Range, MEATER is the first truly wireless smart meat thermometer.

7 Seasonings Gift Pack
Save this product
MeatEater

Bring home the entire Mega Spice Collection and change the way you cook.

The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook
Save this product
MeatEater

The definitive guide to cooking wild game, including fish and fowl, featuring more than 100 new recipes.

Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content and gear
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
Your one-stop for everything waterfowl, with Sean Weaver
Get out on the water with the MeatEater Fishing crew
Technical hunting apparel
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls
Save this recipe

Chicken-Fried Squirrel or Rabbit

Recipe by: Steven Rinella
Chicken-Fried Squirrel or Rabbit
  • Course

    Small Bites

  • Serves

    4-6
Chef’s notes

Pretty much everyone loves fried chicken, so why not apply that method to small game? My brother Matt asked himself that question years ago, and he became a huge advocate of browning squirrels and rabbits in a pan and then finishing them in the oven.

The biggest risk with chicken-frying small game is that the meat will be too chewy. Vigorously tenderizing the meat with a sharp-tined fork and then soaking it in buttermilk will solve that problem. This recipe will have you skipping work in order to hit the woods with your .22 rifle in search of more ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 squirrels or 2 rabbits, skinned and cut into 4 legs and 2 loins each (about 2lbs total)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Using a two-tined fork, pierce the quartered squirrels or rabbits many times.
  2. Lay the meat in a baking dish or a food-safe tub.
  3. Pour the buttermilk over the meat and add the hot sauce, stirring to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep cast-iron pan over low to medium heat until it reaches 325°- 350°. Use a deep fry thermometer to measure the temperature.
  6. In a pie plate or baking dish, combine the flour and the cayenne pepper.
  7. Remove the meat out of the marinade, let the excess liquid drip off, and set the meat on a plate.
  8. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge the meat in the flour.
  9. Working in batches, fry the meat on one side until golden brown and crispy.
  10. Using tongs, turn each piece over and fry on the second side until browned and crispy.
  11. Lift out a piece of meat and place it on a rack set into a baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  12. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat; it should be at least 160°.
  13. When all the meat is cooked, let the pieces drain.
  14. Sea­son with additional salt as soon as they come out of the oil.