Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: July 8, 2023

Over the past five years, I’ve been a huge fan of rabbit meat and made it my mission to learn how to cook this type of meat. I spent years going from recipe to recipe and trying out different cooking methods until I perfected my technique.

Here’s everything you should know about how to cook rabbit so you can achieve perfect results every time.

Quick Summary

  • You can prepare rabbits using quick and slow cooking methods.
  • There are several things you should pay attention to when buying a rabbit.
  • You should defrost and cut the rabbit before cooking.

How to Choose the Best Rabbit Meat?

A top view of rabbit meat with different ingredients on the side

To choose the best rabbit meat, you must find meat that looks plump and pink and smells fresh. In case the rabbit still has a head on, check its eyes.

They need to be clear. If a rabbit has bruised flesh or lead shot damage, don’t buy it because it’ll have an unpleasant bitter flavor.

If a rabbit still has its kidneys check to see if there’s white fat surrounding them. Plenty of white fat indicates this is a young, healthy rabbit that had lots of food in its life.

You can also ask your butcher or gamekeeper about where the rabbit comes from. If they sell a farmed rabbit, you should find out under what conditions the rabbit lived.

If it’s a wild rabbit, you don’t have to worry as much. Those have a free-range life and more flavor.

Preparing Rabbit the Right Way

A top view of about to cook rabbit meat with spices

Here are the necessary preparations you need to make before you start cooking rabbit.

1. Defrosting

Fresh rabbit is difficult to come by, so chances are you’ll buy a frozen rabbit that you need to thaw before cooking.

Place the rabbit in a large dish and put it in the fridge. You need a deep dish so the rabbit juices don't go all over your fridge.

Most rabbits weigh around three pounds and need up to 48 hours to defrost in the fridge, so plan rabbit cooking ahead.

Also Read: How to Thaw Meat Fast?

2. Cutting

A butcher wearing black gloves cuts rabbit meat to cook

After your rabbit is defrosted, it’s time to cut it. Its bones are thinner than chicken’s, so it’s easy to cut.

I like to roast rabbit pieces separately in the oven: the hind legs, the front legs, and the back strap are cut into two parts. You can also divide the leg pieces in two.

Note: You’ll be left with the belly flaps and the carcass. The belly flaps can’t be roasted in the hot oven because they are too thin and tend to dry out.

You can use the belly carcass to make rabbit stock, which tastes like chicken stock.

Here’s how to cut rabbit meat into pieces:

  1. Lay the whole rabbit on the cutting board and find a sharp, large knife. Position the rabbit on its back.
  2. Cut the belly flaps.
  3. Cut the front legs by starting from under the armpit and cutting the shoulder. There’s no bone here, so it’ll come off easily.
  4. Cut the back legs by grabbing them with your hands and breaking them open. Find the tailbone and cut from here.
  5. Divide the loin by finding the vertebra and cutting there. You can also use a cleaver for this.
  6. Cut the backbone and ribs by finding the last rib and cutting along it. Repeat for the other side so that the cut looks like a V. Break apart the carcass and the back strap. Cut where you see the joint between the bones.

Read More: Best Knives for Cutting Meat

3 Ways to Cook Rabbit

A top view of roasted rabbit on a plate

As I said, I’ve been trying to find the best rabbit-cooking method over the past few years, and it finally boiled down to roasting, frying, and slow cooking.

1. Roasting Rabbit

Here’s how to roast rabbit step-by-step for the best cooking results:

  1. Place the cut-up rabbit in a roasting pan.
  2. Mix olive oil or sunflower oil, white wine, salt, ground black pepper, rosemary, fresh herbs, and minced garlic. Pour the mixture over the meat. Make sure the rabbit is completely coated.
  3. Cover the rabbit with cling film and let it marinate for around three hours in the fridge. Remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Pour 1/2 cup water into the roasting pan and insert the rabbit into the oven.
  6. Roast the rabbit for half an hour to 40 minutes. Flip the cooking rabbit every 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the front legs and the back strap after about half an hour of roasting. These are smaller and don’t need to be cooked as long, or you risk eating rabbit that’s dry.
  8. Rest the roasted rabbit before serving. Keep in mind the rabbit will continue to cook while it’s resting, so you can take it out of the oven when it reaches 155 degrees.
  9. Serve young rabbits with green vegetables, such as spinach, asparagus, and braised lettuce.

You’ll know the roasted rabbit is done when it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees [1]. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.

“For safety, USDA recommends cooking rabbit to an internal temperature of at least 160 °F. The use of a food thermometer is recommended to make sure that your rabbit is safe to eat.”
- United States Department of Agriculture

2. Frying Rabbit

A fried rabbit meat on a blue plate

Frying rabbit is a popular and quick way to cook rabbit meat. It resembles fried chicken: you brine the meat, dredge it, and fry until you have crips outside and a juicy inside.

Brining is crucial when frying rabbit. To make a brine, mix together buttermilk, salt, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, onion powder, and rosemary. Mustard and paprika give the cooked rabbit a subtle smoky flavor, and onion and garlic provide a savory flavor.

Thoroughly coat rabbit meat in the brine. Transfer everything to a zipper-lock freezer bag and keep it in the fridge for at least eight hours.

Tip: Flip the bag occasionally to ensure the rabbit pieces are evenly coated.

After you’ve brined the rabbit, it’s time to dredge and dry it. Whisk flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl and coat one rabbit piece at a time. Make sure the excess buttermilk drips off before adding it to the flour mixture. Flour should coat the rabbit in an even layer.

When you’re done coating the rabbit pieces, let the meat rest for 15 minutes. This prevents the coating from falling off the rabbit when you fry it.

Then, heat oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Add the rabbit pieces and fry until they become golden brown all over and the rabbit reaches 160 degrees. Overall, this should take about seven minutes.

Transfer the fried rabbit to a wire rack when you’re done frying, season the meat with salt, and serve.

3. Slow Cooking Rabbit

You should slow-cook rabbit if you want to make a stew, casserole, or rabbit ragu because slow cooking tenderizes the meat.

Also, rabbit is tricky to cook because this is lean meat. You can easily end up with chewy dry meat. Slow cooking is the best solution for this.

You should brine the rabbit or cook it over a long time submerged in a liquid, such as Worcestershire sauce or chicken broth. This brings out the best flavor, especially in farmed rabbits.

Rabbits live energetic lifestyles, which means all parts of their bodies are well used. This is especially true for wild rabbits rich in connective tissues.

This results in tough, gamey meat. Cooking it slowly breaks down the connective tissue and keeps the meat from drying.

Related Articles:


Do You Need to Soak the Rabbit Before Cooking?

Yes, you need to soak the rabbit before cooking. Use a simple brine and submerge the rabbit in it for about eight hours. This keeps the fried rabbit moist.

What Does Rabbit Taste Like?

Rabbit tastes like chicken, with a slightly stronger and meatier flavor.

What Country Eats the Most Rabbit Meat?

China eats the most rabbit meat. The country consumed 925K tonnes of rabbits between 2007 to 2017 [2].

How Should You Cook Rabbit?

If you like to eat roasted rabbit or fried rabbit, you can’t go wrong cooking rabbit with vegetable oil and fresh herbs on medium heat for a lighter dish.

Keep in mind the most important part of cooking rabbit is finding quality meat. I’ve tried countless meat delivery services and rounded up the four best places to buy rabbit meat.

Each of these sells sustainably sourced and responsibly raised meat without additives or hormones. Rabbits are allowed to roam free, which results in juicy meat. Check them out if you like to eat rabbit, and choose the best rabbit meat provider for you.


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