Is Alligator Red Meat? Nutrition, Best Cuts & Health Benefits

Alligator meat, also called gator meat, is a versatile lean meat than can feature in many cuisines. However, it may be confusing what kind of meat it is because it sometimes tastes like chicken. So, is alligator red meat or not?

Yes, it is. Alligator meat is considered red meat; however, the tail cut of the alligator is considered white meat. While the rib, wings, and nuggets are considered red meat.

If you want to know more about alligator meat, its taste, its benefit, how to prepare it, how to buy the best cut, and storing tips, then read on.

What is alligator meat?

Alligator meat is lean meat from an alligator. It is a versatile meat that can be used in place of chicken, pork, veal, and fish. This is because its taste adapts to different seasonings perfectly.

The name alligator originated from Spanish explorers, who called it “el lagarto”, which means “the lizard”. Later on, the name was modernized into allagarto, and later alligator, the common term now.

Gator meat is used in many cuisines, such as alligator sausage & crawfish, fried gator tail with Creole Remoulade Sauce, and even gator tacos. Also, it can be stir-fried, grilled, and smoked.

In the 1800s, alligator meat was a central traditional cuisine, featuring in ceremonial occasions. It was mostly used to make gumbo; while the eggs were also quite popular, many farmers sold them as a source of income then.

In the United States, gator meat is a staple in certain areas. It is even legal to hunt for alligators in places like Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

What does alligator meat taste like?

The taste of alligator meat is best described as a cross between chicken and fish. It also feels firm to the touch like pork meat.

Is alligator red or white meat?

Surprisingly, alligator meat consists of both red and white meat. Although the white alligator meat is more sort after, this is the white tail of the gator, which can also be used for steak.

However, other alligator cuts such as the rib, the loin, and the legs are also sought after.

Nutritional information on alligator meat

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following is the nutritional information on a 100-gram serving of gator meat.

  • Calories: 232
  • Fat: 3g
  • Protein: 46g
  • Cholesterol: 55g

It also contains potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and monosaturated fatty acids.

Is alligator meat healthy?

Yes, it is. There are some health benefits you can get from eating alligator meat. They include:

1. High quantity of protein

Gator meat offers a fair amount of protein that rivals what you can get in other meats.

The protein found in gator meat, whether tail or other cuts, is almost twice the amount found in beef from similar serving sizes.

2. Reduced risk of obesity

Alligator meat is low in carbohydrates and saturated fat. It contains moderate amounts of iron and calories. All these are essential for weight control.

3. Reduce the risk of heart disease

The low cholesterol level and high omega-3 fatty acids in gator meat are crucial for your heart health. Unlike most other red meat, which contains high levels of cholesterol that may induce stroke.

The saturated fat in a 100-gram serving of gator meat is about 3 times lesser than that of beef. Saturated fat is known to increase cholesterol levels in your body if taken in excess.

4. Improves blood health

Alligator meat is loaded with a fair amount of potassium, which is crucial for regulating blood pressure.

Potassium is a type of electrolyte that enables proper nerve functioning, also helping your heartbeat stay regular.

Vitamin B12 is another nutrient in gator meat that helps your blood cells. It also helps prevent megaloblastic anemias, an anemia that makes one tired and weak.

What are the best cuts of an alligator?

If you are considering cooking gator meat, you probably want to know the best cut you can get. Below are some of the best cuts you should go for and some of the best ways to cook them.

1. Alligator tail

The tail is divided into various parts; the tenderloin and the lobe are some of the best. This is because of their tenderness and taste. The best ways to cook these cuts are grilled or pan-fried.

Some might suggest marinating; however, it is up to preference since it is already quite tender.

You can find this alligator tail meat on some restaurant menus, served as an appetizer, fried, or served with a rich sauce.

2. Alligator legs

The gator legs (often termed alligator wings) and body are red meat. They taste gamey but very delicious, especially when fried like wings.

Gator legs can also be enjoyed with spicy sauce or grounded and mixed with pork for sausages.

3. Alligator ribs

Alligator ribs are a delicacy to try, and they are best braised in the oven until the meat falls off the rib. They are also delicious when grilled or even smoked.

How to cook gator meat?

Cooking gator meat is not a hard task, as you can handle it the way you do chicken or beef. Below is a quick step-by-step guide to cooking gator meat.

Step 1: Tenderize the meat

Using a standard meat mallet, sprinkle your favorite meat tenderizer on the meat. This helps for an extra delicious result.

Step 2: Preheat the oven

Fire up the oven to an internal temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Cook for 30 minutes

After adding a little garlic butter and a smidge of lemon, place the meat in the oven and cook it for 30 minutes.

The garlic and lemon make the meat flavorful and spicy.

Step 4: Serve and enjoy

Take the meat out of the oven, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes, so the juices spread around the meat. Afterward, serve and enjoy.

Are there any downsides to eating alligator meat?

There are a few downsides to eating alligator meat if it is not cooked correctly. They include;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache

Tips on how to buy, handle and store alligator meat

When buying

  • Go for meat with no color blemish or discoloration
  • The meat should be firm to the touch
  • The meat should not have an off-putting smell

For handling

  • Keep raw meat away from other surfaces to avoid cross-contamination
  • Wash knives used in cutting the raw meat
  • Always marinade in the fridge


  • Do not keep the meat for more than 2 hours at room temperature
  • Wrap the meat tightly before storing it in the freezer to avoid spillage


Is it okay to eat alligator meat on lent?

Yes, it is. According to the lent guideline on meat, an alligator is considered fish under catholic law or standard.

How do you know if gator meat is bad?

You know it is bad when it develops an off smell or feels slimy when you touch it.

Can you eat gator meat raw?

Although it is common in some regions, it is not advisable. This is because eating raw meat has been linked with several health conditions.

How long can raw alligator meat last in the freezer?

Raw alligator meat can last up to 6 months in the freezer and days in the refrigerator. When cooked, it can last up to 3 months in the freezer and 2 days in the refrigerator.

Should you be worried about the mercury found in gator meat?

Only if you are pregnant; wild-caught alligator meat is known to contain some amount of mercury.

These species are unhealthy for pregnant women and children. However, farm-raised gators are safe and have no risk.


Alligator is both red and white meat. The legs and body of an alligator are considered red meat, while meat from the tail is white meat.

The taste of alligator meat is more similar to chicken and it can be handled similarly.

Finally, I recommend you opt for a farm-raised gator rather than a wild-raised one, especially for pregnant women and children.

Thanks for reading.

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