Although your first inclination may be to run away from a rattlesnake rather than to throw it on the barbecue, rattlesnake meat is perfectly safe, as long as it’s handled and prepared properly. Although you most likely won’t find rattlesnake fillets at your local grocery store, you can buy rattlesnake meat through several online vendors or at a "Rattlesnake Roundup," a southern festival of sorts where rattlesnake meat is often sold. After buying the meat, be sure to keep it refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to fire up the barbecue to cook a surprisingly tasty main dish.
Drizzle the snake meat with the oil of your choosing. You can use canola, olive, vegetable or any other cooking oil you like to use for grilling and cooking.
Use your favorite brand of dry rub, or make your own to spice things up even more. One example involves mixing equal parts of salt, black pepper and paprika in a small or medium bowl. To that, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, granulated sugar, thyme, onion powder, garlic power, crushed juniper berries and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Turn the grill burners on to medium, or light the coals to preheat the grill. While the grill preheats, wrap the rattlesnake pieces in aluminum foil. If you grill the meat directly on the grill grates, it will likely fall through.
Grill the snake for roughly 15 minutes on a gas grill, or up to 45 minutes on a charcoal grill. You’ll know that the meat is done once the juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted away from any bones reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using barbecue sauce, baste the meat with the sauce every 10 minutes or so while you’re grilling it.
Items you will need
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- 2 covered containers
- Cooking oil
- Salt and pepper
- Additional seasonings (optional)
- Aluminum foil
- Barbecue sauce (optional)
- Increase your rattlesnake's flavor by marinating it in barbecue sauce, or in oil and a dry rub, for 2 to 4 hours before you get the grill started.
- Cook the rattlesnake meat with the bones still in it. The cooked meat should fall away from the bones very easily. Alternatively, you can use a sharp filleting knife to cut the meat away from the backbone, although you’ll probably end up with smaller pieces of meat.
- Avoid eating raw rattlesnake meat, since the snakes typically carry harmful parasites that are killed during the cooking process.
- Global Delicacies; Andrew Nyakupfuka
- America's Best BBQ; Ardie A. Davis, PhB and Check Paul Kirk, CWC, PhB, BSAS
- Grampa's Wild Game Recipes; Grampa "JJ" Davis
- The Seattle Times: Recipe: Barbecued Rattlesnake
- Field and Stream: How to Make the Ultimate Dry Rub for Wild Game
- Colorado State University Extension: Wild Game Food Safety
- Abilene - Reporter News: Purchasing Rattlesnake Meat at the Sweetwater Roundup
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images